Iraq: illusion of stability

With last month’s Arab League summit in Baghdad, Iraq’s leaders boasted that the country has emerged from instability and taken its place in the international community. But on the eve of the summit, a car bomb killed a police officer at a Baghdad checkpont, and while the summit was underway March 29, three rockets were fired around the capital. One broke windows at the Iranian embassy; another exploded on the edge of the heavily fortified Green Zone, where summit was being held. With the region’s Sunni leaders suspicious of the Shi’ite-led Iraqi government, only 10 leaders of the 22-member league showed up for the summit. After the summit Iraq’s fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, a Sunni, left the autonomous northern Kurdish region for Qatar. The Kurdish region has meanwhile again halted oil exports, accusing the central government in Baghdad of failing to make payments to companies working there in the latest escalation in the struggle for Iraq’s oil. (Reuters, April 1; The National, UAE, March 31; Fox News, Reuters, March 29; CNN, March 27)

Amid the official optimism in Baghdad and Washington, leave it to the arch-coservative Jewish Policy Center on March 20 to call it like it is:

An estimated 26 coordinated explosions targeting police rocked more than a dozen Iraqi cities on Tuesday, killing at least 49 people and wounding more than 200 in the country’s deadliest day in nearly one month. The blasts came on the nine year anniversary of the American invasion and one week before Iraq is set to host the Arab League summit meeting for the first time in 20 years. They are an apparent message from insurgents set to prove that Baghdad cannot maintain the state’s security following the U.S. troop withdrawal and the official end of the war in December…

Prior to Tuesday, a wave of coordinated attacks blasted through Iraq on February 23, killing 60 people and wounding dozens. Indeed, despite U.S. withdrawal, Sunni Muslim insurgents have said they will not stop fighting against the Shiite-led government, leaving many Americans to wonder, what did the U.S. accomplish in Iraq?

The Economist, in a piece aptly entitled “Bombing a charm offensive,” notes that the bombings especially targeted the divided northern city of Kirkuk and the Shi’ite holy city of Karabala.

See our last posts on Iraq and the sectarian war.

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  1. Wave of bomb attacks in Iraq
    A series of deadly blasts struck a number of Iraqi cities, killing at least 23 people and injuring many more early April 19. Explosions were reported in Baghdad, mostly targeting Shi’ite neighborhoods, as well as in Baquba, Kirkuk, Samarra, Dibis and Taji. Reports said that security forces appeared to be the main target. but the casualties were overwhelmingly civilians. In Baghdad, police said roadside bombs and car blasts targeted security patrols and Health Minister Majeed Hamad Amin, as his convoy was driving him to work. Iraq has seen a decline in the overall level of violence in recent years but still suffers bomb attacks on a daily basis. (AP, BBC News, April 19)

  2. Iraq: Shi’ite pilgrims targeted —again
    A coordinated wave of car bombs struck Shi’ite pilgrims in Baghdad and several other Iraqi cities June 12, killing at least 66 people and wounding more than 200. The blasts were the third this week targeting the annual pilgrimage that sees hundreds of thousands of Shi’ites converge on a golden-domed shrine in Baghdad’s northern district of Kazimiyah to commemorate the eighth-century death of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim. (AP, June 13)

  3. Iraq: Shi’ites targeted for terror —again
    Two bombs tore through a market full of shoppers in Baghdad on June 22, killing 14 people and wounding more than 100. The explosions, timed within minutes of each other, came at midmorning in the open-air market in the mostly Shi’ite neighborhood of Husseiniyah. (AP, June 22)

  4. Iraq: Shi’ites targeted for terror —again
    Bombings in and around Baghdad killed at least 21 people and wounded over 100 on June 28. In the deadliest incident, at least eight people were killed and 30 wounded when a bomb in a parked taxi exploded at the entrance of a Baghdad market in the mainly Shi’ite Muslim district of Washash. (Reuters, June 28)

    Four Awakening Council members were killed and four others were wounded June 29 when gunmen attacked a checkpoint in Diyala province, about 40 kilometers north of Baghdad. The checkpoint was manned by members of the local Awakening Council in the town of Khan Bani Saad. The councils, also known as Sons of Iraq, are composed predominantly of Sunni Arab fighters who turned on Iraq’s al-Qaeda militants in 2006. (CNN, June 30)