Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Grisly Rituals in Iraq



Two car bombs in the city of Hillah that killed at least 23 civilians and a rocket attack that left dead two children who were playing on the bank of the Tigris River in Baghdad have raised the political temperature before Wednesday’s transfer of sovereignty. A further 58 people were injured in the blasts in Hillah, south of Baghdad, including Noor Ahmed, a two-year-old whose right arm had to be amputated.

Yesterday’s rocket attack in Baghdad, which came as President George Bush posed for a photograph with other Nato leaders in an Ottoman palace in Istanbul, was followed by the seizure of a US Marine. The hostage, like three Turks whose capture was announced on Saturday, has been threatened with beheading. The cycle of violence appears to be worsening in the run-up to the handover of sovereignty from the US-led occupation to the interim Iraqi government on Wednesday. The toll from the Hillah bombs, late on Saturday night, mean that more than 100 people have died and 300 been injured in bomb attacks in Baghdad and four other Iraqi cities in the past few days.

Iraqi insurgents tightened their stranglehold on Baghdad yesterday when they hit an aircraft taking off from the airport with ground fire. It had to turn back; one person on board was killed. The attack threatens for the first time the main lifeline to the Iraqi capital, which is already partly cut off from the rest of the country by guerrillas in control of the roads.

The US military sought to play down the importance of the C-130 transport plane being hit by gunfire. The military spokesman, General Mark Kimmitt, stressed that “there was no significant damage to the aircraft”. Insurgents have tried in the past to shoot down aircraft using the vast airport west of Baghdad but have until now failed to kill anybody flying into or out of Baghdad. Since last November guerrillas have had more success in shooting down US military helicopters with ground-to-air missiles.

The US military command has been surprised by the ferocity of the co-ordinated assaults by insurgents on cities across central and northern Iraq. The threat to Baghdad’s air-link to the outside world and the ground assault led by Islamic militants shows that the overall military situation in Iraq is still deteriorating. American officials in Baghdad have been trying to foster a sense that the worst of the crisis in Iraq has now passed in the run-up to the handover of sovereignty to the Iraqi interim government.

The captured marine, who is of Pakistani origin, was seized by gunmen who said they would kill him within three days unless Iraqi prisoners were released. “This man was taken after an attack on a US base in Balad,” said one of the masked gunmen on a tape released last night by Arabiya television. “You must release our prisoners held near the US base in Balad, in Dujail, in Yathrib, in Samarra and near Abu Ghraib. You have three days from the date of this recording and after that we will behead him. We have warned you.”

Militants are also threatening to behead the three Turkish hostages tomorrow during the Nato summit. They demanded that Turkey stop working with the US forces in Iraq.

The grisly rituals surrounding the murder of foreign hostages in Iraq are now well established. A video sent to an Arab television station shows the three Turks kneeling in front of two black-clad gunmen. Behind them is the black banner of the organisation led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant seen by the US as the mastermind of terror in Iraq.

The Turkish government dismissed the kidnappers’ demands contemptuously, saying: “Turkey has been fighting terrorist activity for more than 20 years.”

Iraqis, like many of the foreigners in their country, are nervous as the so-called transfer of power looms. Some Baghdad businessmen have fled to Jordan or Syria.

The belief that insurgents will launch suicide bombers into Baghdad as sovereignty is being transferred is widespread. In the Iraqi capital residents say they will avoid all but the most essential journeys over the next few days. When they do travel, they try to avoid US or Iraqi government positions.

There were also explosions yesterday in the the Green Zone, where the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority has its headquarters. The US army said that three mortar bombs or rockets had landed but had caused no damage and inflicted no casualties. It is a measure of the failure of the US army over the past year to gain military control of Iraq that the bombardment of US headquarters in Baghdad by guerrillas is now a matter of routine, drawing little comment.

Iraqis would like the government of Iyad Allawi to succeed, but fear that it will be a puppet of the US. Earlier this month General Kimmitt said that for US armed forces in Iraq, all that was happening was a change of name. “I don’t think that July 1st is particularly significant on the part of the coalition military operations, with the exception we will now be known as the multinational forces.”

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”