June Attacks in Iraq at All-Time High
Da’wa Party Protests Saudi Jihadis
Reuters obtained from the US Department of Defense statistics that show there were an average of 177.8 attacks on Iraqi military and civilian and US targets per day in June– an all-time record for Iraq. The only other month during the past 4 years with such a high rate of attacks was October, 2006, with 176.5 per day. Somehow I don’t think these statistics bear out the sunny talk by the Bush administration and US military spokesmen about how much better things are in Iraq now that we have had the surge. If you listen to the American Right, the surge is working, things are “improving,” and the US is fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq.
But where the Department of Defense gives us actual statistics, we find that they only have like 135 foreign detainees out of 19,000 suspected insurgents in their custody (with the rest being mostly just Iraqi Sunni Arabs who don’t want foreign troops in their country). So al-Qaeda is a tiny part of the insurgency and the US is mostly fighting Iraqi nationalists, whether religious or secular. And now instead of a substantial improvement of the security situation because of the “surge,” we discover that there were more attacks in June than ever before during the Iraq War (and probably more than ever before, except during hot conventional wars, in the whole history of Iraq. And that is saying something, since you’re going back past Hammurabi).
The prescriptions of the Right for Iraq also make no sense in the light of these numbers. The US doesn’t have to worry about “al-Qaeda” taking over, since 135 guys can’t take over a country. (See Josh Marshall, below). And, the US military presence is not reducing the number of daily attacks.
Nearly half of the 135 are Saudis. Al-Zaman reports that on Friday the offices of the Islamic Call (Da’wa) Party staged a protest outside the Saudi embassy in London. Da’wa, a Shiite Iraqi party dedicated to erecting an Islamic state, is led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Da’wa activists in London were protesting the failure of the Saudi government to stop Saudi jihadis from sneaking into Iraq and blowing up Shiites. For its part, the Saudi government has been refusing to meet with al-Maliki, on the grounds that he heads a “sectarian” (i.e. Shiite) government. Al-Zaman suggests that the Da’wa Party demonstration, which is unprecedented for this covert group in recent years, may be a prelude to the breaking off of relations between Iraq and some of its Sunni Arab neighbors. (Note that while US figures keep blaming Iran for instability in Iraq, Iraqi politicians typically do not, but rather blame close US allies such as Saudi Arabia).
Al-Zaman also reports that the National Dialogue Bloc (secular Sunni Arab), with 11 seats in parliament, is vowing to continue to boycott parliamentary sessions as a way of pressuring the government to change its procedures.
Sheikh Ahmad al-Safi of Karbala, the representative in that city of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, in his Friday sermon lambasted Iraqi government ministries for failing to provide services. He said he knew for a fact that the Iraqi government had only expended 1% of its allotted budget this year. (The Iraqi government is said to have over $20 bn in reserves, supporting al-Safi’s charge). He warned of the rise in Iraq of new dictatorships that resemble the former one (i.e. that of Saddam Hussein).
Turkish Prime Minister Rejep Tayyip Erdogan, facing an election and opposition from secularists, is talking tough again. He threatened to invade Iraqi Kurdistan in hot pursuit of Kurdish separatist terrorists given safe harbor there by Massoud Barzani. (For more on the elections, see our our group blog, Global Affairs.)
Manan Ahmed explains the significance of the reinstatement of Supreme Court Justice Iftikhar Chaudhri in Pakistan, and wonders if Gen. Musharraf can survive.