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Resurgence of Violence in Iraq Worries Region, Not U.S. Gen.

August 29, 2009 Leave a comment

In July, some senior defense officials attributed the spike in violence in Iraq to a last push by Sunni extremist groups.

We knew that if al-Qaeda in Iraq had only five bombs left, they were going to use them all as the last of our forces left the cities,” said a senior defense official who follows Iraq. “They wanted to create the narrative that they had driven us from Iraq. Next, they’ll want to build the narrative that the Iraqi security forces can’t protect the people.”

Indeed, two months after the withdrawal of American troops, a series of attacks have all but convinced Iraqis that the security troops cannot quell the violence.

A string of coordinated attacks on government ministries and a number of deadly bombings in the north, have rapidly chipped away at the legitimacy of the troops.

“Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari says the security forces are partly responsible for allowing the worst attack to happen outside his ministry,” reported the BBC.

Iraqis name corruption as the reason why the bombers have been able to get through the checkpoints. Bribes and other underhanded dealings take the place of inspection, undermining security measures. One of the organizers of the 19 August truck bombing that killed 68 spoke of paying $10,000 to get a truck laden with explosives into the center of the capital.

Nevertheless, U.S. army chief of staff General George Casey said the U.S. military is pushing ahead with its schedule to reduce the 130,000 American troops.

Advisers expect sectarian tensions to flare by the January elections.

BBC LIST OF KEY ATTACKS SINCE US PULLBACK

19 Aug: At least 95 killed in wave of attacks in central Baghdad

31 July: Bombs outside five Baghdad mosques kill 27

9 July: 50 die in bombs at Talafar (near Mosul), Baghdad, elsewhere

30 June: US troops withdraw from Iraqi towns and cities. Car bomb in Kirkuk kills at least 27

Update:

A bomb attack on a cafe in a remote Iraqi village in northern Iraq today killed 18. The visiting Iranian foreign minister said that instability in Iraq affects the region, reports the AP.

The Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki called on neighboring countries to help stabilize Iraq. Since the U.S. pull-out, bombers have been exploiting the vulnerability of small remote villages. These attacks allegedly target ethnic minorities especially, including Kurdish Yazidis and Sunni Azamiyah.

According to the AP, the Iraqi government has blamed an alliance of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Saddam loyalists based in Syria for the truck bombings.

— Tina Carter, Trinity ’10
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Iraqis Unmoved by US Pull-out

The withdrawal of American troops from Iraq June 30th was celebrated with an almost-hysterical show of joy on the streets by law enforcement officers. However, according to the Associated Press, National Sovereignty Day passed without revelry among civilian Iraqis, many of whom recognize that 130,000 troops will remain until 2011, ostensibly.

The Associated Press reports,

“The celebrations were contrived, almost like a farce,” said Salman Hassan, who runs an electrical supplies store in eastern Baghdad. “The Americans did not go anywhere far, they are on the outskirts of our cities.”

Like many others in Baghdad, Hassan says he will not remember the Americans kindly. But, ironically, he says he finds comfort in the fact that the Americans remain close.

“Our forces are not ready yet to take sole responsibility. They need two more years to be ready to defend us.”

Iraq’s security forces, which number 650,000, have spent years in the shadow of their better equipped and more disciplined U.S. mentors, learning counterinsurgency tactics, intelligence gathering techniques and combat skills.

But the Iraqis continue to struggle with logistics and professional conduct. It is not uncommon to see soldiers at checkpoints speaking on their mobile phones or dozing off while sitting aside in the shade.

They also lack reliable networks for fuel distribution, equipment repairs and salary payments. Chipping away at the public’s confidence in their abilities is the adoption by some of the younger soldiers of an “American look”-dark, wraparound sunglasses, bandanas and knee and elbow pads-accessories Iraqis see as alien to their military traditions.

Many Iraqis also see hints of sectarian bias in the Shiite-dominated security forces, particularly the national police, and a disregard for human rights. There have been numerous reports in recent weeks about the torture of detainees in jails run by Iraq’s interior ministry, which oversees the police, but the government insists that offenders risk the full weight of the law.

In the days approaching withdrawal, insurgents attacked cities with renewed force, killing 30 in pre-dominantly Kurdish and oil-rich Kirkuk.

President Obama told CNN, “The Iraqis are rightly treating this day as a cause for celebration,” Obama said Tuesday. “The very fact that Iraqis are celebrating this day is a testament to the courage, the capability and commitment of every single American who has served in Iraq…. Through tour after tour of duty, our troops have overcome every obstacle to extend this precious opportunity to the Iraqi people.”

— Tina Carter, Trinity ’10
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