Women Bombers Open Gates of Hell in Iraq; 61 Dead, Hundreds Wounded; Kurdish Mobs Attack Turkmen Offices in Kirkuk

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that four female suicide bombers killed or wounded 350 persons on Monday. Late reports give 61 as the number of those killed. Al-Hayat says the bombings reminded Iraqis of the bad old days when this level of destruction was a common, almost daily occurrence.

The bombing of an enormous crowd of thousands of Kurds in Kirkuk protesting the recent provincial election bill, which would have evenly divided political representation among Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs, was blamed by a prominent Kurdish figure on the Turkmen. Rumors flew that the crowd had been fired on from a Turkmen building, though police denied them. Then angry Kurds attacked Turkmen political party HQs throughout the city.

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that the speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Mahmud al-Mashhadani, fainted in the middle of the parliamentary debate on the events in Kirkuk. He had fainted the day before, as well, but had insisted on leaving the hospital to come back to work. Sunni fundamentalist MP Khalaf al-Ulyan of the Iraqi Accord Front alleged that someone had poisoned al-Mashhadani after parliament passed the provincial elections bill (he was implying that Kurdish MPs were trying to murder their Sunni Arab colleagues on the floor of parliament. So much for “reconciliation.”)

The bombing in Kirkuk killed at least 23 and wounded 150.

Just logically speaking, it appears that these four bombings were planned out by elements of the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement, which has tighter command and control than is usually realized. Given this modus operandi on this day, it would be odd if the bombing in Kirkuk were done independently by Turkmen.

I discussed the Kirkuk crisis with Ambassador Peter Galbraith on the Lehrer News Hour on Monday evening.

With Turkish Prime Minister Rejep Tayyip Erdogan all but blaming the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) for bombings on Sunday in Istanbul, Turkish-Kurdish tensions are at a boiling point.

McClatchy presents a connected account of the bombings in Karrada, Baghdad and in Kirkuk. Vali Nasr is quoted, “People wrote the requiem for sectarian conflict and AQI too rapidly,” said Dr. Vali Nasr, of the Council on Foreign Relations. . .”In the absence of a final settlement, the country is always vulnerable to regression, and we still may end up back where we were.”

Antiwar.com gives all casualties of political violence in Iraq on Monday, totalling some 87 dead and 288 wounded.