FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Bird Market Bombings

 

Baghdad

At least 72 people were killed in Baghdad this weekend when two female suicide bombers, each wearing long black cloaks to conceal explosives strapped to their bodies, blew themselves up at two bird markets.

The attacks were the deadliest in the Iraqi capital since 30,000 more US troops flooded into the centre of the country last spring.

People crowding around cages and boxes containing doves, pigeons, eagles and falcons at the popular Ghazil market in the city centre were torn apart by a bomb that was almost certainly the work of al-Qa’ida.

The bodies of victims, 45 dead and 82 injured, lay amid the shattered stalls and scorched carcasses of dead birds. Twenty minutes later, a second female bomber killed 27 people and wounded 67 at a market in the south-eastern suburb of Jadida.

There were unconfirmed reports that the bombers were both mentally impaired and their explosives were detonated remotely.

Al-Qa’ida has mounted a series of attacks in the past week, mostly targeting leaders of the Sunni tribal militia, al-Sahwah, which opposes al-Qa’ida. The bombing of Ghazil, in a predominantly Shia part of the city, will also have been aimed at provoking Shia retaliation against Sunni Muslims, who might then look again to al-Qa’ida for protection.

The Ghazil market takes place every Friday and is primarily for people who keep pet birds. This is common among Baghdadis, often very poor, who lavish care on their animals. There are also dogs for sale and for protection, as well as tropical fish in tanks and the occasional snake, monkey or exotic birds such as parrots.

Since the market is on one side of a wide street, it is impossible to protect from the crowds who visit it, and it has been attacked three times in the last year.

Al-Qa’ida has increasingly been using women as suicide bombers because they are never searched by male police officers men or soldiers, and there is a shortage of women to do the job in Iraq’s overwhelmingly male security forces.

The atrocities show that al-Qa’ida is still a powerful force with many recruits willing to kill themselves, and is backed by an organisation with intelligence, explosives and the means to detonate them. In recent weeks, it has been targeting al-Sahwah leaders and has often succeeded in penetrating their security. Last week, a car bomb exploded next to the house of Abu Marouf, an al-Sahwah leader commanding 13,000 men, in the village of Khan Dari, between Baghdad and Fallujah.

When I met him four days earlier, he was surrounded by guards and chose which of his many vehicles to travel in at the last moment to prevent assassination. Even so, al-Qa’ida was able to get a bomb close to his home and wounded four of his guards.

Baghdad was a very fearful city even before yesterday’s attacks and will now be more so.

PATRICK COCKBURN is the author of ‘The Occupation: War, resistance and daily life in Iraq‘, a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for best non-fiction book of 2006. His forthcoming book ‘Muqtada! Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia revival and the struggle for Iraq’ is published by Scribner in April.

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

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

September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail