Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Neighbourhood Watch

Composite graphic showing residents preparing for to protect their neighbourhood Scenes such as this are now common in Baghdad. The outbreak of inter-communal violence involving rocket attacks, mortars, grenades, shootings, and of course car and roadside bombings have escalated dramatically since last Thursday night.

In this composite graphic of scenes today in the Ghazaliya district going clockwise:

  1. A resident behind his garden wall pockmarked with bullets holes.
  2. A manned machinegun emplacement on the roof of the al-Muhajeeren (Sunni) mosque.
  3. Inside the mosque residents prepare medical kits for distribution to casualties and their families

The proximate cause of the violence in Baghdad is the attempt by the American occupation and the Green Zone Government to reestablish control over Baghdad. To achieve this goal they mounted several operations against the Mehdi Army Militia which is (very loosely) under the control of Muqdata al-Sadr. The broader aim is to remove or at least severely diminish his power base. As might be expected in any operation involving artillery and air strikes in a very densely populated area there were many civilian casualties. Baghdad's Shia population (particularly in Sadr city) already feel themselves under siege, and as anybody with a shred of sense could have predicted Baghdad as a whole erupted. Armed gangs stormed neighbourhoods seeking victims for revenge attacks. Repeated frantic efforts by clergy on all sides to rein in the violence have so far proved ineffective. I expect this situation to continue.

Two boys crying baqouba hospitalOutside of Baghdad the situation in the usual "hotspots" continues to deteriorate in Baquoba this morning there was a driveby shooting of a row of textile shops.

Gunmen traveling in a car fired at random at the shops two shop owners including the father of these two boys were killed four and customers wounded.

Body of engineer being removed from his carIn the north of the country as might also have been expected determined efforts to prevent seccessionist Kurds from taking over Kirkuk completely are also intensifying. The Kurds have long dreamt of a homeland of their own. Understandable considering how they are treated. Several discoveries of oil are intensifying their efforts to establish an independent Kurdish state. This is particularly problematic in Kirkuk which has been an arab town since ancient times. Saddam savagely repressed the Kurds and mounted what can only be described as pogroms against them. to this end he tried to further "arabise" the town by importing population from other parts of Iraq. Following the fall of Sadam's regime Kurdish militia engaged in an orgy of looting and killing in Kirkuk against arabs and turkmen. The photo to the left shows the body of a petroleum engineer shot this morning being taken from his car. I expect attacks against anybody involved in the petroleum industry in the north to intensify sharply.


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