Over 40 Dead in Morning Bombings in Baghdad

Iraq woke up to a bloody Monday morning, with three major bombings that left more than 40 dead according to Middle East Online writing in Arabic. The biggest attack was on the village of Khazna north of Mosul, where two truck bombs killed 25 persons, wounded 70, and leveled 35 houses!

This attack was not just mindless violence. Khazna is inhabited by the Shabak, a Kurdish people with their own dialect and their own form of religion, a form of folk Shiism. An attack on Khazna at the present juncture suggests an attempt by the Sunni Arab guerrillas based in Mosul to ethnically cleanse Shiites in Ninevah Province, and possibly to begin the long-feared Arab-Kurdish civil war.

Likewise, the bombings in Baghdad of day laborers targeted Shiites in neighborhoods like Amil that had been mixed but from which the Sunni Arabs had been subjected to ethnic cleansing. These attacks, in short, were revenge by displaced Sunni Arab guerrillas for the loss of their neighborhoods to Shiites who had advanced west and north. (Update Xinhua is now reporting later further bombings in Sunni Adhamiya (north) and Saadiya (southwest), suggesting Shiite reprisals for the morning’s carnage.)

The bombings tell two different kinds of story. The one in Khazna near Mosul signals a low-intensity Sunni-Shiite and Arab-Kurdish struggle in Ninevah province, from which some Sunni Arabs would like to ethnically cleanse other groups. Minority Shiites in Ninevah form a support group for the influence in the north of the Shiite government of Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad. And expansionist Kurds want to annex Ninevah to the Kurdistan Regional Government, or at least the parts of it (like Khazna) that have a largely Kurdish population (about a quarter of the province). Hundreds of Shabak have been killed by Sunni Arab guerrillas since 2003, and some have demanded incorporation into the Kurdistan Regional Government. At other points, independent-minded Shabak have complained about being strong-armed by the Peshmerga, the Kurdistan paramilitary. The Baghdad story is in contrast not about the future but about the past, about Sunni Arabs sulking over what they have lost.

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