Iraq: insurgents hit oil refinery?

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.”

See our last posts on the Iraq, the insurgency, and the struggle for the oil.

  1. Iraq: more sectarian terror
    From AP, Dec. 12:

    Three car bombs exploded in quick succession in the market district of a southern Iraqi city Wednesday, killing at least 41 people and wounding 150 in a Shiite region that has largely escaped the country’s sectarian bloodshed, authorities said.

    The police chief in Amarah was fired, an immediate driving ban went into effect, and Iraqi soldiers were deployed on the streets. Hospitals were quickly overwhelmed with the casualties, which mounted as bodies were pulled from the rubble, according to a provincial spokesman.

    In a Christian neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, a parked car bomb apparently targeting a passing police patrol killed five civilians, police said. Thirteen people were wounded in the late afternoon explosion in Ghadeer, police said.

    Shi’ite militant adopting the tactics generally associated with Sunni insurgents against rival Shi’ites? And meanwhile, without anyone much noticing, attacks continue on Christians and other Iraqi minorities…

  2. Iraqi “resistance” strikes another blow against liquor stores
    Two sophomoric observations.

    1. Gee, maybe the “surge” isn’t such a big success after all.

    2. Um, do you think maybe these heroic “insurgents” could maybe choose some more appropriate targets?
    Just asking.

    From the New York Times, Dec. 14:

    Homemade bombs hit two Baghdad liquor stores early Thursday, and attacks in several other parts of the city killed two people and wounded at least seven others. Another 11 deaths were reported from attacks outside Baghdad, and 19 bodies were found in Baghdad and elsewhere.

  3. Iraqi “resistance” in yet another blow against liquor stores
    From the IHT, Dec. 20:

    Blood and ouzo mingled on the sidewalk outside a shattered Baghdad liquor store Thursday after three people died in a car bombing targeting alcohol sellers during the Muslim religious festival of Id al-Adha.

    The attack was in one of the heaviest-protected areas of Baghdad, when the alcohol merchants were among the very few plying their trade on a public holiday.

    The blast scattered shrapnel and body parts along Sadoun Street, the detritus coming to rest incongruously alongside concrete blast walls brightly painted with tranquil scenes of camels and marshland waterways as part of an American-funded beautification effort.

    Another suicide bombing Kanaan, Diyala province, killed 13 neighborhood patrol volunteers and a US soldier. (Reuters, Dec. 21)

  4. Iraqi “resistance” in another blow against random civilians
    From the Baltimore Sun, Dec. 26:

    BAGHDAD – Two suicide bombings killed at least 24 people and injured as many as 100 others north of Baghdad yesterday, the latest attacks to take aim at Iraqi security forces and local volunteers credited with helping to bring about a major drop in violence in former insurgent strongholds.

    The attacks in Baiji and Baqouba shattered a period of relative calm as Muslims marked the four-day Eid al-Adha festival, which ended Monday for Shiites and Saturday for Sunnis.

    For the first time, the government extended the holiday until yesterday, when the country’s tiny Christian minority celebrated Christmas…

    In yesterday’s worse attack, a suicide bomber blew up a truck at a checkpoint in Baiji, site of a major oil refinery 125 miles north of the capital.

    Police and hospital officials said at least 25 people were killed and 75 injured. The U.S. military put the toll at 20 dead and 80 injured.

    The blast, on a road leading to an oil industry housing complex, ignited cooking gas that was being sold nearby, police said. A series of secondary explosions collapsed walls, shattered windows and scattered burning canister pieces for hundreds of yards.

    Iraqi security force members and local volunteers who were manning the checkpoint were among the dead. But most of the victims were civilians, including women and children who had gathered to buy the fuel, hospital officials said.

    “What kind of Islam is this?” asked Ali Arkan, who was asleep in his bed when a large piece of glass from the explosion smashed into his shoulder. “Surely this is not the Islam that we know. These days we are living are very holy days for Muslims and Christians. … Those people have no respect and no relationship with either Christianity or Islam.”


    In Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, police said a suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to his waist during a funeral procession for a member of the volunteer force and his adult son. At least four people were killed and 21 injured, they said.

    Police and two members of the volunteer force, known locally as the Awakening, said U.S. troops had mistaken the father and son for Sunni Muslim militants and shot them the previous night.

    The U.S. military said that it had killed two “unknown enemy,” one of whom turned out to be a member of the Awakening group, which it has dubbed “concerned local citizens.”

    Four other people were detained during the raid, the military said in a statement.