FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

All-Out Civil War in Iraq?

by PATRICK COCKBURN

Iraq is edging closer to all-out sectarian war between Sunni and Shia Muslims as a series of car bombings and shootings killed at least 90 people and left many others injured.

Casualty figures are returning to a level not seen since the civil war of 2006-7. Most of the car bombings targeted markets, bus stops and other places crowded with civilians. A total of 10 car bombs killed 46 people and injured 150 in Baghdad, and another two bombs in the Shia port city of Basra in the south killed a further 13 and injured 40. In the town of Balad, north of Baghdad, a car bomb exploded next to a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims, killing six Iranians and one Iraqi, a police officer said.

In the overwhelmingly Sunni province of Anbar in west Iraq, 12 policemen, kidnapped from a bus travelling on the main road between Baghdad and Jordan on Saturday, died during a botched rescue mission. The policemen were reportedly all shot in the head, suggesting that they had been executed by their captors during an attempt to free them.

The Sunni Arabs in Anbar, which sprawls across the west of the country, are increasingly in a state of armed rebellion. The security situation has deteriorated sharply since an attack by government forces on a peaceful protest by Sunni at Hawaijah in Kirkuk province on 23 April in which at least 44 people were killed. Eight policemen, including two officers, were killed in an attack on a police station in Haditha yesterday and a further four police were killed and three wounded in an attack by tribesmen in Rawa. Both places are in Anbar.

On Saturday, in the provincial capital of Ramadi, security forces tried and failed to arrest Mohammed Khamis Abu Risha, nephew of a powerful tribal leader, alleging that he is connected with the killing of five soldiers. Armed tribesmen fought back to prevent the arrest during which two people were killed.

The overall level of violence in Iraq has increased markedly in recent weeks as al-Qa’ida in Iraq gains in strength. The Sunni, one fifth of Iraq’s 33 million population, are emboldened by the Sunni uprising in Syria. Their protests against discrimination and persecution were largely peaceful for the five months up the Hawaijah massacre, but they are turning to armed resistance against government security forces.

“The moderate Sunni are losing ground,” says Iraqi political scientist Ghassan al-Atiyyah. Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has been criticised for failing to conciliate the Sunni protesters before the current wave of violence. The dominant Shia majority in Iraq are frightened that they will be the victims of a Sunni counter-revolution. The Shia-run security forces are likely to retaliate in kind over the killing of so many policemen in Anbar.

The bombing and shootings have killed over 200 people since last Wednesday, with Sunni and Shia bombers alternating in attacking each other’s neighbourhoods. These tit-for-tat bombings are different from those over the last five years when bombings were almost all carried out by al-Qa’ida against Shia and government targets.

Bomb attacks on Sunni in the last few weeks suggest that Shia militias, responsible for mass slaughter of Sunni civilians in the past, are again active. During the civil war  Sunni were driven from many mixed areas in Baghdad into a few enclaves.

PATRICK COCKBURN is the author of “Muqtada: Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq.

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

More articles by:
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail