The LA Times is putting the death toll of Tuesday’s series of 17 bombings of Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad at an astonishing 113, one of the biggest one-day tolls in recent years. Over 200 were said wounded. The Sunni Arab guerrillas have long had a strategy of attempting to provoke Sunni-Shiite civil war as a way of destabilizing the new Iraqi government and hastening a US departure, in hopes that they could then make a coup and come to power.
It is a stupid strategy and has already failed. In 2006-2007, the guerrillas did provoke a civil war, and all that happened was that Shiites ethnically cleansed Sunni Arabs from mixed neighborhoods in the capital, expelling hundreds of thousands of them. One of the reasons that I doubt Tuesday’s atrocities will kick off a repeat civil war is that the Sunni Arabs are mostly gone from the formerly mixed neighborhoods, and Shiites would have to travel for a while to find a Sunni to kill. Moreover, the normal, sane Sunni Arabs know that they lost the last civil war badly, and are not eager for another whupping.
That said, the level of sectarian violence clearly could increase if security remains this bad. And it does not help that no new Iraqi government has been formed. The caretaker government suffers from increasing lack of legitimacy.
Russia Today has video on conflicts among neighborhood-based sectarian militias:
Meanwhile, hundreds of Christians took part in funeral processions on Tuesday for those killed by al-Qaeda terrorists in a church on Monday during a botched Iraqi military rescue attempt. Al-Ra’y in Jordan reports that the office of the Rector of al-Azhar Seminary, among the top religious authorities in the Sunni Muslim world, reaffirmed that Islam recognizes freedom of worship and forbids attacks on Christians. All this, as al-Qaeda” in Iraq (the Islamic State of Iraq) announced that it would now systematically target Christians.