Opinion | Columnists

No end to violence in Iraq

Latest bombings remind us of the days when the Al Qaida in Iraq created havoc on the streets and villages of the country.

  • By Mayada Al Askari, Staff Writer
  • Published: 22:53 August 14, 2009
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AP

Hundreds of people were killed in bombings across Iraq in the past few days. The attacks are the most serious since the withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi cities at the end of June.

Kurdish villages, with mixed populations of Sunnis and Shiites, were targeted heavily. Nearly 3,000 kilogrammes of explosives went off near a small coffee shop in the forgotten village of Khazna, where poor labourers were killed.

It is no secret that everyone in the country was expecting the violence to continue, but neither at such large scale, nor in such remote locations.

It has been quite some time since Iraq witnessed simultaneous blasts, synchronised in this precise manner. It reminds us of the days when the Iraqi wing of Al Qaida created havoc in the streets of the country.

"The enemy is still lurking, still trying to undermine the success that we have made," Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki said as he addressed his commanders in Baghdad just hours after the bombs went off last week.

While the prime minister blamed Al Qaida for the attacks, opponents of his predominantly Shiite government say it is time to focus on the enemy within. They accuse Al Maliki of alienating Iraq's Sunni population and allowing corruption to infect all parts of the government.

Sami Al Askari, Al Maliki's close adviser and Iraqi parliament member, said that the blasts were aimed at undermining the government's achievements made over the past three years. He added that more violence was expected as the elections draw to a close this year.

So, who is behind all this new bloodshed and what do the terrorists behind this violence hope to achieve in Iraq?

Looking at the new map of Iraqi political coalitions, it is not too hard to guess that the road leading to the upcoming elections is going to be very chaotic.

The usual Shiite coalition is hoping to have Al Dawa party as a part of its alliance, an issue resisted by Al Maliki and his 'state of the law list'.

Al Maliki who gave Iraqis a semblance of peace, albeit fragile, is the leader of Al Dawa party.

Under Al Maliki, Iraq tasted a new kind of democracy that has nothing to do with the Western-style democratic system which the US had supposedly intended for Iraq.

And despite the fact that Iraq has not seen any sort of re-construction - electricity is almost non-existent, water is scarce, unemployment is widespread, infrastructure in shambles and rampant corruption - Al Maliki still holds a winning card.

Lawlessness

He fought against the lawlessness in different Iraqi provinces, and was backed and supported militarily by the US, and emotionally by a major percentage of the Iraqi population.

This support was reflected last February through the governorate council elections, where candidates backed by Al Maliki won most of the seats in the country.

By trying to disrupt the fragile peace provided by Al Maliki, the message is loud and clear: Al Maliki's only achievement is falling apart like a house of cards.

Who is behind the mayhem?

Military analysts from both Iraqi and American sides insist that Al Qaida in Iraq no longer has the ability or strength to bring the country to near chaos, as it did in 2006-07.

Iraqis do believe that the Islamist radicals of Al Qaida are too weak to coordinate the massive attacks of the past, and certainly not in Baghdad.

Despite the fact that the finger prints of the synchronised blasts in the north of Iraq and elsewhere signify and point to Al Qaida operatives, that does not mean they are the only ones who can carry out such operations.

Al Maliki and his Dawa party do not want to be a part of the classical Shiite coalition. The Shiite coalition on the other hand is pressurising Al Maliki to join barracks in the next elections, same as Iran which is insisting that Al Maliki does not go in solo, or with the Sunnis.

Given the fact that the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council headed by the ailing Abdul Aziz Al Hakim who commands a huge armed militia, in addition to Muqtada Al Sadr who too has a militia but has kept a low profile for some time now, one cannot help but wonder about those responsible for the renewed violence.

Iraqis dream of peace, water, electricity, schools, and a semblance of the minimum requirements of an ordinary life, away from the fact and possibilities stemming from the sad truth that Iraq is an island floating over oil, and most probably the land where the last oil barrel in the world will be exported from.

Instead of concentrating on people's needs and requirements, the new power struggle in Iraq will not cease until the fresh coalitions takes form in the Iraqi political scene.

The road towards January 2010 will be paved with the blood of poor Iraqi civilians who will elect another government, not very much different from the current one.

Gulf News
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