Bombing Wounds 37, Kills 5 at Shiite Mosque in Baqubah
The WP reports that on Friday in the eastern city of Baqubah, guerrillas detonated a bicycle bomb in front of a Shiite mosque as worshippers were leaving. Another huge car bomb had been found and deactivated in front of the city’s other major Shiite mosque. Shiites reported anger with Sunnis, who they said had more than once targeted them. Iraq is majority Shiite but has been dominated by Sunni Arabs, probably 15% of the population.
AP speculated that this action might be a sign of growing sectarian strife in Iraq, along with the communal riots in Kirkuk. I suspect however, that instead it was an attempt by Baath remnants to foment sectarian strife. Baqubah is the capital of the mixed Diyala province and is near to Iran. If the Sunni nationalists and Baathists could provoke major Sunni-Shiite violence there, they could make another part of Iraq ungovernable and also perhaps draw the hardline Iranians in. That is, I don’t think the bombing was the work of fundamentalist Sunnis who just don’t like Shiites. It was a strategic act, aimed at producing political consequences that are unpleasant for the US Coalition Provisional Authority and for its appointed Interim Governing Council.
The Shiites will probably decline to take the bait in part because local Iraqis suspect the “Americans and Israelis” of attempting to divide and rule them. How ironic, if the Baath remnants can’t succeed in producing communal violence because they had earlier spend decades fostering a conspiratorial mindset that displaced all problems onto American and Israeli plots!