Sadr City Car Bombs Kill 41; Violence in Baghdad returns to 2008 Levels

AP reports that two car bombs ripped through a commercial district in Shiite East Baghdad (Sadr City) on Wednesday evening, killing at least 41 persons and wounding 68.

McClatchy challenges President Obama’s assertion that violence is way down since last year. McClatchy figures show 200 killed in Baghdad alone in April, compared to 99 in March and 46 in February. The last time McClatchy recorded 200 deaths in the capital in a single month was March, 2008. So violence at least in Baghdad is back up to 2008 levels.

Ghaith Abdul Ahad explains the extra-constitutional mechanisms whereby Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his Islamic Mission Party (Da’wa) have gained control of key intelligence, military and political units. It sounds to a lot of people like “Saddam lite.” Although Abdul Ahad’s article is as usual highly informed and perceptive, he does not talk about money. My guess is that al-Maliki is doing what he is doing with Iraq’s oil revenue reserves, which give him enormous leverage over a poor, weak society. There are no oil countries that are true democracies with the sole exception of Norway; it is a tough thing to pull off, when the state can overwhelm society through its vast independent wealth.

Meanwhile, Aljazeera English reports on Arab-Kurdish political divisions and violence in Mosul in the north:

The government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is demanding a formal apology from US Gen. Ray Odierno for a special operations raid in Kut that left two persons dead and stirred controversy in Iraq. The demand is probably related to the dispute between Iraq and the US over whether all combat troops should be withdrawn from major Iraqi cities (including Mosul–see above) this summer.

McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Wednesday:

‘ Baghdad

In three separate incidents the Iraqi Security Forces detonated under control three parked car bombs in Abu Disheer and Hay al Mualimeen in southern Baghdad, and in Amil neighbourhood in southwestern Baghdad Wednesday morning.

A roadside bomb targeted a U.S. military convoy in Shaab neighbourhood, northern Baghdad at 3 p.m. Tuesday. No casualties were reported.

– Three parked car bombs detonated in sequence in a busy street in Sadr city in eastern Baghdad around 5:15 p.m. Forty one people were killed and sixty eight others were wounded.

– Around 6:50 p.m. a car bomb detonated in Risala neighborhood in west Baghdad on Wednesday. Five people were wounded. – Around 7 p.m. a roadside bomb targeted an American patrol in Khadraa neighborhood in western Baghdad on Wednesday. No casualties reported.

– Two car bombs detonated in Hurriyah neighborhood in northwest Baghdad around 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday. Two people were killed and eight others were wounded.

Nineveh

A roadside bomb targeted a police patrol in Qahira neighbourhood, downtown Mosul Tuesday injuring three policemen.

A roadside bomb targeted a police patrol in New Mosul at 8 a.m. Wednesday injuring two policemen.

Kirkuk

A thermal grenade targeted American soldiers near a marketplace in Riyadh district, western Kirkuk, Wednesday afternoon, local police said. The American returned fire, killing two civilians and injuring four others, one of whom was a woman, the police said. An American military spokesman said the attack targeted a joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol that was distributing micro-grant money requested by the people in the town to stimulate small business. The joint patrol was attacked by several individuals using a grenade and small arms fire and the unit returned fire, the U.S. said. The Americans added, “Current reports have been two enemy killed and one wounded. All three were taken to the Riyadh medical clinic. Coalition forces sustained one wounded, who is reported in good condition.”’

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