In Baghdad, two bombs went off near a falafel stand and killed 8 and wounded 21 persons
Al-Zaman [The Times of Baghdad] reports in Arabic on other attacks on Sunday. In Fallujah, armed guerrillas invaded the home of a policemen, killing 4 family members and wounding 3 others. They then blew up the house, in the Al-Bu Du`aij distict of the city.
In Mosul, guerrillas wounded Qusay Abbas, the only representative of the Shabak community on the Ninevah Provincial Council (in the al-Hadba’ List, which generally favors secular Arab nationalism). The Shabak are Kurdish speakers who practice a folk religion tinged by Shiite Islam. Two of his aides were also wounded in the bomb attackon his automobile in downtown Mosul.
Responsibility for the attack on Abbas and for other recent attacks on heterodox Kurds (Shabak and Yazidis) became a point of contention between Arab and Kurdish leaders. AFP reports that Arab politicians in Mosul accused the Kurdistan national guard, the Peshmerga, of being behind the attacks, as a wily way of having the Yazidis and Shabak demand the stationing of Peshmerga in their areas, which in turn would be a step toward Kurdistan’s annexation of those districts. A Kurdistan spokesman retorted that two brothers of Ninevah’s governor, Atheel al-Nujayfi, a secular Sunni Arab nationalist, were behind the bombings. Nujayfi replied that the Kurdish spokesman was speaking hastily, and he called up the Kurdistan leadership to formally renounce designs on annexing parts of Ninevah province to their Kurdistan confederacy.
Al-Zaman says that in Mosul, as well, in the Suq al-Sha`arin, a guerrilla threw a hand grenade that wounded two policemen and 4 civilians. In Baghdad, a bomb in a parked car was detonated in Karrada (a chic Shiite district at the heart of the city), wounding a policeman and a civilian. Six other civilians were wounded the night of Saturday into Sunday by a bomb blast. Buildings in the al-Qahirah Quarter were damaged by two bombs. In Salahuddin Province, eight persons were severely wounded by a roadside bomb in northern Tikrit city. A bombing in Babil, a Shiite city just south of Baghdad, wounded 3.
Fear of its possibly explosive effects on relations between Kurds and Arabs caused the Iraqi government to back off conducting a nationwide census. It is common for ethnic tensions to forestall official censuses in troubled multi-ethnic societies. If I am not mistaken, the last full government census in Lebanon was 1931.
Likewise, the Arab and Turkmen communities are attempting to cancel the referendum in Kirkuk province on whether it should join the Kurdistan Regional Government, as mandated in the 2005 constitution. They will attempt to cancel out article 140 and toput the change to a nation-wide referendum on January 15. If the Sunni and Shiite Arabs get on board with this move, they could outvote the Kurds both in parliament and in the referendum. But cancelling the referendum could provoke a violent backlash from Kurds, who are now probably a majority of the Kirkuk population.
The day’s news, full of boiling tension between Arabs and Kurds, is alarming. Having the leaders of Kurdistan and Ninevah accuse each other of terrorism is a very bad sign. Having a provincial council member almost assassinated is reminiscent of the kind of communal violence that characterized Iraq’s Sunni-Shiite Civil War of 2006-2007. Forestalling a referendum in Kirkuk through a parliamentary maneuver, without offering any other mechanism for resolving the status of the disputed oil province, could kick off violence. Northern Iraq, and with it the whole Eastern Mediterranean, could be lurching toward a crisis that will make everything that came before look like a picnic.
Tomdispatch.com on ‘Withdrawing by Bike from Iraq.’ As always, Tom Engelhardt is clear-sighted and provocative.
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