Bombings in Mosul, Baghdad kill 11; Maliki’s Conflict with Kurds Deepens; Anbar Sheikhs Angered by US Handover

DPA reports that “Seven people were killed in a car bombing in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul city Tuesday . . . a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle near an Iraqi army checkpoint in the eastern al-Quds neighbourhood, killing seven people and wounding seven. . . In Baghdad twin attacks that targeted police patrols left four people dead and 14 injured, the Voice of Iraq (VOI) news agency reported.”

Reuters has more.

Among the dead was one US soldier, who died in a non-combat related incident.

Kurdistan president Masoud Barzani calls the al-Maliki government “totalitarian,” comparing it to Saddam’s tyranny. He warns that if a referendum is not held soon in Kirkuk province over whether it will join the Kurdistan Regional Government that Barzani heads, he will act to support the Kirkuk council’s call for the city to be annexed into Kurdistan. Barzani’s frustrations are clearly boiling over in this interview, and signal how near a military confrontation his Peshmerga security forces are with the Iraqi army and other Iraqi groups such a s Arabs and Turkmen.

Jonathan Steele’s sources underline that if the Iraqi army insists on going into Kurdish regions in the north of Diyala Province, there could be a military confrontation between it and the Peshmerga. The crisis over control of security in the city of Khanaqin remains unresolved.

Joost Hilterman writing at Abu Aardvark also sees the situation as dire.

Time reports that America’s tribal allies in al-Anbar province are angry that the US turned the province over to the Iraqi government. The Awakening Council and tribal leaders fear that the Baghdad government will use its control over the police and army to benefit the Iraqi Islamic Party, which currently controls the province but was elected with only 2% of the vote in January, 2005. The IIP is part of the Iraqi Accord Front, made up of Sunni fundamentalists, who recently rejoined the al-Maliki government. Money graf:

‘ Only a handful of the 40 or so Awakening leaders attended the ceremony in Ramadi, a snub that Sheikh Natah says was intended as a clear message to the government. At heart is a power struggle between the Awakening council and the Iraqi Islamic Party . . . Unlike the last time around in 2005, the Sunni tribal elders are eager to contest the polls, and say they wanted U.S. troops to remain in Anbar until after the elections to help ensure a free and fair ballot. They also want their key ally, police chief Major General Tareq Youssef al A’sal al Dulaimi, reinstated to the position he was ousted from just a few days ago. (Dulaimi was removed for unspecified “administrative” reasons.) The Awakening members say Dulaimi’s sudden removal, which was approved by the Interior Ministry, has cemented their fears that their local Sunni rivals in the Iraqi Islamic Party are maneuvering to gain control of Anbar’s 28,000-strong police force and purge it of tribal loyalists. . . . “If the Islamic Party continues to pressure the government to remove the Awakening members from the security forces … then there is a high likelihood that Anbar will return to violence,” Sheikh Natah says.’

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that the US military has decided not to hand over security to the Iraqis in 6 ethnically mixed provinces until after the US elections. They include Salahuddin, Mosul, Baghdad, Diyala, Kirkuk and Hilla. The 12 provinces in which the US has given the lead to Iraqi forces on security are more ethnically or religiously homogeneous, in the Shiite south or the Kurdish north.

AP reports that Baghdad is still very dangerous despite lowered death tolls from political violence:

‘ Small scale bombings and shootings persist in the capital — each a reminder that the war is not over and that Baghdad remains a place where no trip is routine and residents are still guided by precautions. Most won’t drive at night. Many try to avoid heavily clogged streets, remembering that suicide bombers and other attackers intent on killing large numbers of civilians favor traffic jams or congested areas . . . [in August] at least 360 civilians were killed and more than 470 wounded in violence throughout the country, according to an Associated Press count. ‘

That would be 4,320 civilians killed in political violence every year if the level stayed that low. (I take it this number excludes killed ‘insurgents’ and Iraqi security forces, so that actual number of war-related deaths would be much higher annually.)

It is estimated that 75,000 persons have died in the civil war in Sri Lanka since 1982, or 2800 a year.

Iraq is higher, just with regard to civilian casualties.

The Kashmir conflict is estimated to have killed 70,000 persons since 1988, or about 3500 a year.

Iraq is higher.

In the Lebanon Civil War of 1975-1990, it is estimated that at least 100,000 persons were killed, 75,000 civilians and 25,000 military.

If we extrapolated out Iraq’s August death rate for civilians over 15 years, that would be 64,000 or not far from the toll in Lebanon’s war.

Let me repeat: The level of violence at this moment in Iraq is similar to what prevailed on average during one of the 20th century’s worst ethnic civil wars! It is still higher than the casualty rates in Sri Lanka and Kashmir, two of the worst ongoing conflicts in the world.

Only in an Orwellian society could our press declare the relative decline in monthly death tolls in Iraq to constitute “calm” in an absolute sense.

And that is if the August levels are taken as the baseline and if the numbers continue to be that low. If we averaged deaths during the previous 12 months, the baseline would be much higher.

The current Iraq Civil War is one of the world’s most deadly continuing conflicts, worse than Sri Lanka and Kashmir and on a par with the 15-year long Lebanon Civil War!