Civil War Violence Explodes Throughout Iraq
At Least 80 Dead, Dozens Wounded
6 US Troops Killed
al-Zaman says that [Ar.] Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been forced to make alterations in his cabinet only 100 days after its formation by two crises– the lack of fuel and the lack of loyalty.
Sources told al-Zaman that Petroleum Minister Hussein Shahristani, a nuclear engineer with no petroleum experience, might have to go. He was appointed to keep the position out of the hands of the Fadhila or Virtue Party, which is strong in Basra and is said already to control much of Iraq’s petroleum exports there. But as the fuel crisis has worsened this summer, Shahristani has been blamed. The Virtue Party is saying that it will not lead a movement to unseat Shahristani in parliament. (But that is probably because they won’t need to.)
The LA Times reports that at least 80 Iraqis were killed in the country’s low-intensity civil war on Sunday. This article says that killings are down substantially in Baghdad itself, what with thousands of US and Iraqi troops making security sweeps through the most dangerous neighborhoods. The first question is whether the decline in deaths in Baghdad (which is only relative) has been offset by violence in Mosul, Baqubah and elsewhere. The second question is whether the violence will remain lower when the sweeps end, as inevitably they will. Can the Iraqi troops take over at that point and continue to be effective against the guerrillas? My guess is, “no.” In which case the US “Battle for Baghdad” is just a delaying tactic, putting off the day when the west of the capital falls altogether into the hands of the Sunni Arab guerrillas. If that happened, the Green Zone might not be far behind.
Prime Minister Maliki had the misfortune to come on US television noonish on Sunday and pronounce that violence is lessening in Iraq.
The LA Times reported 6 troops killed or announced dead on Sunday.
WaPo probably had an earlier deadline and only counted up to 69. But it largely spared us the recitation of how things are much better in Baghdad now.
Details on the smaller attacks are provided by Reuters
The most costly attacks with regard to loss of life occurred in Khalis northeast of Baghdad. A massive bombing in the morning was followed some 10 hours later by a massacre when a kidnapping almost went wrong and townspeople came to the aid of the victims, but were mown down by machine gun fire. 21 persons died in the two attacks, and 40 were injured. Khalis cannot be that big, so these were enormous events there.
Despite the security sweep of Baghdad by thousands of US and Iraqi troops, a minibus bombing in Shiite Karrada killed 9, the offices of al-Sabah newspaper were car bombed, killing 2 and wounding 18, and 20 bodies showed up in the streets, executed gangland style.
The range of violence was truly nationwide, with 7 killed in a bombing in the far south at Basra, but also 3 shot to death in Mosul.
Two bombings in Kirkuk underlined the collapse of security in that city. Al-Zaman says that the violence in Kirkuk every day during the past 3 days is unprecedented in its severity. Kurdish Peshmerga control the city, and the governing council is being boycotted by its own Arab and Turkoman members. A bombing of the takyah or Sufi center left 9 dead and 53 wounded. The Sufi center belonged to the family of Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq. (I presume that this center is for the Naqshbandi Sufi order, which predominates among Kurds.) In a separate incident, the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan were attacked. Al-Zaman is speaking of the “collapse” of security “in Kirkuk.”