A fire broke out at one of Iraq’s main oil refineries Dec. 10, with the US calling it was an industrial accident—but Iraqi officials insisting it was an insurgent attack. The Dora refinery was built in the 1950s and is the country’s oldest. One of three main refineries in Iraq, the Dora facility—like most of the industry—is operating at half capacity because of pipeline attacks since the 2003 US invasion, said Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad.
Also Dec. 10, mortar shells slammed into an Interior Ministry prison, killing at least five inmates and wounding 25. That same day, hundreds marched in Hillah to mourn Maj. Gen. Qais al-Maamouri, the police chief of Babil province, assassinated in a roadside bomb explosion targeting his convoy a day earlier. Mourners chanted and fired guns into the air.
At least two Islamic militant Web sites assailed al-Maamouri and broadcast old audio clips of the slain “al-Qaeda in Iraq” leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi describing him as “God’s enemy.” Said the late al-Zarqawi: “We swear to God that no one like him can remain alive.” (AP, Dec. 10; Al-Sumaria TV, Dec. 11) Yet the suspects arrested in the assassination are said to be Shi’ite militants—even though al-Maamouri himself was a Shi’ite. (AP, Dec. 10)
On Dec. 11, two police were killed and 12 others wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a car bomb near the headquarters of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and the house of head of National Dialogue Front Saleh Al Motlaq in al-Harithiya. (Al-Sumaria, Dec. 11) As we have noted, the National Dialogue Front is one of the few groups to reject sectarianism and protest the walls the US is building in Baghdad to separate Sunni and Shi’ite districts.
Iraq’s Defense Minister Abdul-Qader al-Obeidi pledges to open a new offensive in a Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, where militants are now regrouping. Suicide attacks have killed more than 20 people in the last three days in Diyala, a patchwork of Sunni Arabs, Shi’ites, and Kurds that stretches from Baghdad to the border with Iran. Al-Obeidi said the new crackdown will begin in the provincial capital, Baqubah. (AP, Dec. 10)
So now Iraq appears to have a Shi’ite civil war in the south, a Sunni civil war in the north—as well as the ongoing sectarian civil war of Sunni against Shi’ite and both against Iraq’s ethnic and religious minorities.
Forgive us if we do not share in the official optimism about the “surge.”