Decoding Iraq Violence
US Planes Take out Elementary School, Kill Children
Kufa Blast Kills 16: US Blamed
Irbil Bombing Kills 12
Violence in Iraq at first seems episodic and hard to decipher. It doesn’t take much speculation, however, to see patterns. For instance, the bombing on Wednesday morning in Irbil, Kurdistan, which killed at least 12 and wounded 40. This strike was likely the work of Sunni Arab guerrillas along with maybe some Kurdish Salafi Jihadis. They were probably replying to the deployment of several thousand Kurdish Peshmerga troops in Baghdad as part of the surge. The Peshmerga have been fighting Sunni Arab guerrillas on behalf of the Americans and the Shiite government of Nuri al-Maliki. The bombing may also be related to competition for the oil city of Kirkuk, which the Kurds intend to claim for their provincial confederacy.
Or take the truck bombing of a market in Kufa on Tuesday. A minibus driver guided his vehicle into the midst of a market and detonated the payload. He killed at least 16 and wounded 70. So, why Kufa? Because this small city neighboring Najaf is a stronghold of young Shiite nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The bombing took place not far from the mosque where Sadr and his father preached.
There are two possibilities. This was probably, as Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Sa’id al-Hakim said, a strike by Sunni Arab guerrillas at the heart of one of Muqtada’s major constituencies. It is just like hitting East Baghdad. What message is is being sent? “Hey, Mahdi Army militiamen! Where are you now that the American troops are wiping the mat with militiamen? Come out and fight like men!” Nothing would please the Sunni guerrillas more than to maneuver the Mahdi Army into coming out to man checkpoints such that they come into military conflict with the US Army and Marine Corps.
But, the Sadrist crowds blamed the United States for the bombing, chanting against Washington. And, some apparently suspected the [Shiite] Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq of the bombing. There has been increased faction-fighting between its Iran-trained Badr Corps paramilitary and the Mahdi Army in recent days.
Reuters reported that in Baghdad, “Police said they recovered 30 bodies in Baghdad, including 17 in the religiously mixed southern neighbourhood of Amil in the past 24 hours.”
Thirty bodies is a lot of bodies. The daily toll is creeping back up. Most of these corpses were produced by Mahdi Army death squads killing Sunni Arabs at night. Their hope is that after a while, Amil would be Shiite. One impetus for this activity is fear that guerrillas are basing themselves in Sunni Arab neighborhoods and hitting Shiites from them. If this cycle of attack and counter-attack cannot be broken, the surge will fail, no matter what else it might accomplish.
Reuters also reports, “FALLUJA – The bodies of seven people were found shot in and around Falluja, 50 km (35 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.”
There are few Shiites in Falluja, a major city in largely Sunni Arab al-Anbar province. These bodies are produced by Sunni on Sunni violence. Falluja is a major exception to the general trend toward less violence in al-Anbar in recent months. Presumably these deaths are the result of in-fighting among Sunni Arab guerrillas. Some young men have been joining the Iraqi police and army and are therefore coded as collaborationists by the Salafi Jihadis, who take revenge on their families. There is also infighting within the “Resistance,” with neo-Baathists fighting the Salafi Jihadis (“al-Qaeda”).
Then there was this, from McClatchy: “Around 8am, Major Ibrahim A.Al-Nabi an officer of interior ministry was assassinated by gunmen on the high motor way near the ministry as he was going to his work.”
So the Ministry of the Interior in Iraq is the body concerned with internal security, and its special police commandoes are drawn from the Badr Corps, the Shiite militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The police commandoes have been known to track down and kill Sunni guerrillas.
Or also from McClatchy, there is this item: “Around 10.30 am , an American helicopter opened fire on a primary school at Al-Nida ( 9 km north west of Mendli )killing 7 pupils and injuring 3 other pupils with huge damage to the school building . Eyewitnesses confirmed this report while the American side said that they opened fire on the building after being fired from it.”
It could be a mistake. Or, it is entirely possible that a guerrilla positioned himself in the building and fired on the Americans from it, knowing that they would return fire and kill some little children. Sunni Arab guerrillas have been playing that game with US troops for several years, shooting at them from civilian crowds, e.g. If the guerrillas regularly do that, it makes it more likely that the US will make a mistake even when not actually fired on.
The Salafi Jihadi organization, the Islamic State of Iraq, announced Tuesday that it had captured 9 Iraqi security guards and would kill them if female Sunni Arab prisoners were not released by the Iraqi government and the US military.
Sunni vice president Tariq al-Hashimi met with PM Nuri al-Maliki about the benchmarks he had demanded. He backed off a threat to withdraw his Sunni bloc from the national unity government. He later met with President Jalal Talabani and Shiite vice president Adil Abdul Mahdi. Talabani is said by the Arabic press to be attempting to expand the prerogatives of the presidential council and to have it function as a sort of senate, overseeing al-Maliki.
Bush’s evangelical supporters who wanted an Iraq War imagined Iraq as a target for missionary work. Not only have no Iraqis to speak of become Southern Baptists, but Bush’s war has displaced tens of thousands of indigenous Iraqi Christians from the country.