2.2 Million Internally Displaced Iraqis; Sadrists Warn US on Basra; 37 Killed in Bombings, Shootings Saturday

The Sadr Movement in Basra is warning the US military not to try to come into the province to replace the departing British troops. Suspected Mahdi Army roadside bombs have inflicted unusually high casualties on British troops in the deep south this year.

The International Organization for Migration is reporting that its data show that 2.2 million Iraqis have been kicked out of their homes by threats and violence, about half of them since the February, 2006, bombing of the Askariya Shrine in Samarra.

That is, 1.1 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their neighborhoods for other places in Iraq in the past 18 months, which is an average of 61,000 per month. But in fact, the rate was a bit less than that in 2006, and accelerated to 100,000 a month beginning in February, 07. That’s right. More displaced people by far since the troop escalation began. What is worse, there are fewer and fewer places for them to go. The Sunni Arab provinces are very dangerous. So you’d go to the Shiite areas, which are mostly quieter. But 11 of 15 provinces in central-south Iraq have put restrictions on immigration from other provinces! It is like it already isn’t one country (inside your own country surely you can live in any province you like).

KUNA reports:

IOM says 2.2 mn Iraqis internally displaced

GENEVA, Sept 7 (KUNA) — A new report issued by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says nore than 2.2 million Iraqis were internally displaced.

IOM spokesperson Jean-Philippe Chauzy said that data . . . estimates that the number of persons displaced since the bombing of the Al-Askari Shrine in Samarra on February 22, 2006 to be 1,011,870 individuals.

This figure combined with the 1.2 million individuals who were internally displaced before February 22, results in a total of over 2.2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Iraq to date, he said.

According to Chauzy, eleven out of fifteen central and southern governorates are now severely restricting the entry and registration of IDPs. . .

Sawt al-Iraq reports that 2,000 Iraqis are fleeing into Syria every day. That’s 730,000 a year! Syria is reaffirming that it will require visas, so this flow may taper off. Otherwise, about 35 years, and the Iraq problem would be solved; no Iraqis left there.

And you wonder why the Pentagon’s figures for ‘sectarian conflict’ are falling. Most of those fleeing are Sunni Arabs. [A kind reader corrected this; Sunnis are over 30% of those fleeing to Syria; I think they would be higher among those fleeing to Jordan.] Since February 15 when the troop escalation got underway, 420,000 Iraqis would have gone to Syria alone at that rate, 120,000 of them Sunnis. There were only 5 million or so Sunni Arabs. Then we have the 600,000 internally displaced since February, the proportion of Sunnis among them being not specified. It is probably the case that nearly 10 percent of Sunni Arabs are no longer living in the same neighborhoods as they were just this past January! A lot of mixed neighborhoods are obviously much quieter; nobody here but us Shiites, boss. And lots of Shiites gone from Sunni neighborhoods.

Robert Reid of AP confirms that many mixed neighborhoods in Iraq are now monochrome. He also confirms that nearly 1/5 of US troops killed this year in Iraq were killed in al-Anbar Province, which isn’t as quiet as Fred Kagan thinks it is.

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that 37 Iraqis were killed in bombings or shootings on Saturday.

Reuters reports that: “Police said a parked car exploded near a police station in Baghdad’s Shi’ite area of Sadr City at dusk, when people were shopping. The blast killed 15 people and wounded 45, they said.”

McClatchy adds: “11 unidentified bodies were found in Baghdad today by Iraqi Police. 1 in Sadr City, 1 in Ur, 1 in New Baghdad, 2 in Amil, 2 in Hurriyah, 1 in Jami’a, 1 in Saidiyah and 2 in Bayaa.”

and

“Tikrit – 2 civilians killed in IED explosion in Dor district, this evening.”

Reuters reports other civil war violence on Saturday:

[KUFA] – A roadside bomb exploded in a market in the holy Shi’ite town of Kufa, killing five people and wounding eight, a police official said. . . [Near the shrine of Muslim bin `Aqil]

NAJAF – Gunmen killed an official in the office of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, Mohammed al-Gara’awi, on Friday in front of his house in northern Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

KIRKUK – A car bomb exploded near a police station in the Shi’ite Turkmen town of Basheer, 20 km (12 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, police said. One police source said one policeman was killed, while a second said two died. Police said Turkmen residents launched a revenge attack on the Sunni town of Albu-Faraj, burning six houses.

KIRKUK – Police found two bodies with gunshot wounds and signs of torture in a small town north of Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. . .

DAQUQ – Four bodies, including one of a woman, were found with gunshot wounds in Daquq, 45 km (28 miles) south of Kirkuk, police said. . .

AL-ZAB – Gunmen killed three people in a drive-by shooting in Al-Zab, 35 km (20 miles) southwest of northern Kirkuk, on Friday, police said . . .

MOSUL – Gunmen killed three policemen in a drive-by shooting on Friday in eastern Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. . .