Bombings Roil Iraq as Sunni Arabs Re-arm

The death toll in Thursday’s bombings and attacks in Baghdad and environs rose to about 67 dead, with hundreds wounded.

Most of the attacks honed in on soft targets (schools and markets) in Shiite neighborhoods, though some Sunni areas, considered collaborationist by the guerrillas, were also hit. The Sunni Arab guerrilla groups believe that the Iraqi government as stood up by the United States is an unholy alliance of Shiites and Kurds against their community, and that it is fragile and can eventually be overthrown if the situation is sufficiently destabilized. They have been launching big coordinated strikes about once a season, with the last in August. This one comes as the Sunni-backed Iraqiya Party, which had been willing to cooperate with the Shiite-dominated government, has suspended its participation in the cabinet and the parliament after Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused a vice-president from Iraqiya of plotting terrorist attacks.

Aljazeera English has a video report:

Al-Hayat writing in Arabic says that a security official in the Iraqi government told it that armed groups are reemerging in Sunni Arab provinces such as Mosul, Al-Anbar, and Diyala. The USG Open Source Center translated his further remarks:

“The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that “armed groups have taken advantage of the US withdrawal period to rearrange their ranks and bring more weapons and ammunition from inside and outside Iraq.” He added that “these groups have taken great advantage of the recent sectarian rallying and the feeling of marginalization among the political class and Sunni tribes to persuade some of them to provide new protection for these groups.” He stated that “the situation is to a great extent similar to the situation at the beginning of the occupation of Iraq and the formation of armed groups and militias.” He warned that “the two sides have completed their preparations, rearranged their ranks, and only need the spark that will reignite sectarian conflict once again.”

One way the US under Gen. David Petraeus had reduced violence in the Sunni Arab regions was to form pro-American militias (Awakening Councils, Sons of Iraq) wherein each fighter was paid $300 a month to fight radical cells. Some 100,000 men joined up. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, head of the Shiite Islamic Mission Party (Da’wa), vehemently disagreed with this plan. He is alleged to have ceased paying most of these salaries and to have refused to employ more than about a sixth of the fighters in local police and security positions, leaving the rest still armed but unemployed and bitter. Some were even prosecuted for previous guerrilla activity (before their turn to the US) by al-Maliki’s government, while others, having lost their units and fighting effectiveness on being demobilized, were targeted by the radicals.

In the meantime, the political soap opera unleashed this weekend when al-Maliki charged VP Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni Arab leader of the Iraqiya Party, of plotting terrorist attacks, including al-Maliki’s own assassination, continued to unfold.

Hashimi accused al-Maliki and his Da’wa Party of colluding with Iran in smearing him. He denied that two other major Shiite parties, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq led by young cleric Ammar al-Hakim, and the Sadr Movement of Muqtada al-Sadr, were involved in the effort to destroy him politically. Al-Hashimi has fled to Iraqi Kurdistan, where he has more or less sought political refuge from al-Maliki in Baghdad.

He demanded that Kurdistan officials be the ones allowed to investigate him, and threatened to go to international institutions with a complaint if he were not treated justly. Kurdistan officials maintain that Arab Iraq does not have the authority to send security forces into the Kurdistan Regional Government’s territory after Hashimi.

In the southern Shiite province of Babil, dozens of angry residents gathered in a demonstration against Hashimi, likening him to Usamah Bin Laden and blaming him for terrorist attacks in which their friends and relatives were killed.

11 Responses

  1. Gee, what a surprise! “We” create armed and half-trained battalions of men with no honest work, then when “the war is officially over,” what do they do next? Ask Osama bin Laden or a bunch of others…

    Many of them have discovered you can live pretty well on what you can take at the point of a gun barrel, especially where there’s pallet-loads of shrink-wrapped $100 bills being handed out by spooks and geopolitical creeps and hacks with Stratego on their minds? Where corruption is so thoroughly institutionalized, and shielded from view by the blinders of tribal rage?

    Many have also discovered that once the thin veneer of civilization is skimmed off by that “training” and participation in organized violence, well hey, killing other humans, especially ones you already have a tribal authorization to whup up on, is just so much dang FUN! It’s exciting to set an ambush! Blowing another human’s unaware head into pink mist from a thousand meters is a stitch! It’s a real giggle to detonate a car bomb in the middle of a crowded market or even in the midst of nominally fellow believers! And Ethnic or Sectarian Cleansing? Wow, what could be more satisfying than removing the “roaches” from your compounds and village markets and places of worship? And gee, what opportunities for would-be warlords to gather a following, create some destruction, and snowball the violence into personal power and wealth?

    Old, old story. Another chapter was written out by Barbara Tuchman, about the 14th century in Europe, under the title “A Distant Mirror.” Not so distant at all. And now the same “military geniuses” and “policy specialists” who have brought “victory, Vietnam-style” to Iraq and will bring “victory, Vietnam-style” to Notagainistan, and maybe Iran and where-ever-else, are about to dump a bunch of half-broken humans out of their military cocoons and into the bazaars and souks of America the Beautiful. A real mix of the sociopaths, the True Believers, the PTSD-hobbled, the actually patriotic in the best sense, the just-trying-to-earn-a-living, and a lot of other flavors of people who enlisted to take part in the imperial exercises that make the Milo Minderbinders of our age rich beyond (well, almost beyond) greed. Dumped by “the Pentagram” from the parallel, parasitic culture that feeds and clothes and arms them, with wealth taken by fear and force from the “civvie” real-wealth-creating culture, just so the real warlords can keep cadging tax money and debt from the rest of us to keep building generation after generation of weapons, all in search of that ultimate Game Changer, that Universal Autonomous Thingie that will guarantee some general officer ultimate hegemony over the rest of the planet. If, like Dr. Frankenstein, or Rabbi Loew, he can control the creature.

    A whole host of our fellow humans, skilled in the REAL game of “Call of Duty,” stripped of the heavy meds and support of their Bands Brothers and Sisters (not without the marks of Cain amongst them, of course) that let them continue day to day in the idiocy of “counterinsurgency” and the “war on terror.” It’s kind of amazing how adaptable humans are, and what they can do, and can get used to as business as usual…

    Gee, I wonder what will happen as “the troops we support” (a physical and financial truth and spiritual falsehood) come “home” to a place they find stranger than Helmand or Fallujah, a directionless and bottomless and mission-less consumer pit, where the kleptocrats are currently on the ascendant? Where weapons are so freely afloat in the populace? Where anomie is the order of the day? Where the effort to form up a national paramilitary fitted out with the tools and tactics of oppression and control is well under way?

    Gee, I wonder what the Dickkopf contingency planners in the Pentagram have up their Networked Battlesleeves to deal with what might happen next?

  2. Wanted to pose a question: Might al-Hashimi’s decision to seek refuge in Kurdistan be a harbinger of a budding Kurdish-Sunni alliance to counter-balance the al-Maliki gov’t – with Iran behind it? Of is there too much lingering bad blood between Kurds & Sunnis dating back to the repression under Saddam?

  3. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.

  4. This actually more like the foreign-jihadi-led terror campaign against Shiites, culminating in the bombing of the Golden Mosque, in 2006, than like the native-Iraqi-Sunni-led insurgency that began in 2003. As you say, yesterday’s attacks targeted soft targets associated with Shiite Iraqis, not government forces, which (along with American military forces) were the primary targets of the Sunni insurgency.

    Remember, the al Qaedist terror campaign was designed to provoke revenge-killings against Iraqi Sunnis, thus leading to a civil war. It worked, resulting in the ethnic cleansing of many thousands of Sunnis. The Sunnis lost that civil war very, very badly. Why would Iraqi Sunnis, as opposed to foreign forces, want to replicate that episode?

  5. Americans of a certain persuasion always like to build Iran up as the bogeyman justifying all manner of extremist behavior on the part of The Empire. In the current Iraqi case, however, Iran is surely not the source of arms pouring into Iraq to arm the Sunni. It would seem fairly obvious to me that arming the Sunni for revolt is not exactly in the best interests of US national security.

    Do you have any indication of who is supplying such arms?

  6. It was a given this was going to happen. Very Sad. Very sad, indeed.

    They will finish off the Bush invasion among themselves. Do people ever learn, do they ever see? I don’t think so.

      • Seems to me, if you follow the money and the “news,” that both those groups, neocons and war profiteers (which overlap quite a bit, I would bet) have “learned” pretty darn well. They’re having a lot more success controlling the shape of the board, the position and value of the pieces, and the rules of play than anyone else, even if their skills at actually defining and achieving any kind of “victory,” other than perpetuating and extending the incursion of their disease, in the increasingly divergent asymmetry of the reality outside the parameters and perimeter of the Networked Battlespace, are pretty demonstrably slim.

        I would bet that a lot of the “Muslim hating” is just window dressing and eyewash, in service of that hegemony and wealth-transfer thing.

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