2006 July 18 Tuesday
Civilian Death Rate Up In Iraq

Can we build a handbasket big enough to fit Iraq into? If not, how is it going to hell? The latest killing spree was carried out by Sunnis trying to play catch-up with the Shia killing squads.

BAGHDAD, July 17 -- Masked attackers with heavy machine guns mounted on pickup trucks slaughtered at least 40 people in a crowded market area south of Baghdad on Monday, hurling grenades to blow up merchants at their counters and shooting down mothers as they fled with their children, witnesses and authorities said.

The military-style assault on unarmed civilians in the mostly Shiite city of Mahmudiyah lasted 30 minutes and was vicious even for a country besieged daily by bombs and coldblooded attacks. At one point, the assailants entered a cafe and shot dead seven men -- most of them elderly -- while they were having tea, said Maythan Abdul Zahad, a police officer. He said the gunmen stepped on their victims' heads to keep them still.

Which Shia militia can do the best job exacting revenge? The Mahdis or the Badrs?

Iraqi security forces didn't treat this latest attack as an opportunity to shine.

Survivors said Iraqi soldiers let the heavily armed, highly visible attackers pass through a checkpoint near the marketplace. Witnesses described Iraqi security forces largely leaving the civilians to their fate, although survivors gave conflicting accounts as to whether Iraqi police, soldiers or Shiite militiamen had tried to fight off the attackers.

US forces deny survivor accusations that they saw what was going on and did nothing.

The Sunnis have so many reasons to kill Shias that they can't make up their minds what caused them to go on a killing spree.

In statements, Sunni insurgents gave different explanations for why Mahmudiyah was targeted -- some saying that it was because Sadr's Mahdi Army militia had allegedly driven Sunni vendors from the market a week ago, others saying it was because of the recent killing of a Sunni cleric. A written statement in the name of the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq said the attack targeted local leaders of the Mahdi Army.

A report from the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) claims the civilian death rate in Iraq has been steadily rising.

According to the report, 2,669 civilians were killed in May and 3,149 were killed in June. Those numbers combined two counts: from the Ministry of Health, which records deaths reported by hospitals; and the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad, which tallies the unidentified bodies it receives.

The report charts a month-by-month increase in the number of civilians killed, from 710 in January to 1,129 in April. In the first six months of the year, it said 14,338 people had been killed.

I'm betting the July death toll will surpass June. How about you?

Are all these deaths a necessary prelude to serious negotiations between the factions? Or will the desire for revenge continue the ratcheting up of the civil war?

Gulf War I is starting to look like the mother of all battles. The Turks are ready to cross over into Iraq to hunt down Turkish Kurdish guerillas.

Turkish officials signaled Tuesday they are prepared to send the army into northern Iraq if U.S. and Iraqi forces do not take steps to combat Turkish Kurdish guerrillas there - a move that could put Turkey on a collision course with the United States.

Turkey is facing increasing domestic pressure to act after 15 soldiers, police and guards were killed fighting the guerrillas in southeastern Turkey in the past week.

That's not good.

The small Turkmen faction in Iraq would welcome Turkey's intervention.

Iraqi Turkmens, targets of a series of attacks recently, complain their safety in Iraq is not guaranteed, lamenting that Turkey is not sufficiently interested in their grievances.

The International Crisis Group fears a big battle over the Kurdish attempt to turn Kirkuk back into a Kurdish city.

Amman/Brussels, 18 July 2006: Unless the international community acts soon to resolve mounting tensions in Kirkuk, the result could well be yet another violent communal conflict in Iraq, risking full scale civil war and possibly outside military intervention.

Iraq and the Kurds: The Brewing Battle over Kirkuk,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the dangerously neglected looming conflict in and around the northern Iraqi city. The struggle is equal parts street brawl over oil riches; ethnic competition over identity between Kurdish, Turkoman, Arab and Assyrian-Chaldean communities; and titanic clash between two nations, Arab and Kurd.

“Notwithstanding all the other crises on decision-makers’ plates right now, the stakes here are too high for the international community to stand by, allowing yet another element in the Iraq equation to slip into chaos by default”, says Gareth Evans, Crisis Group President.

Do you suppose oil production could rise while the civil war escalates?

The U.S. Secretary of Energy says it may take about six months to restore Iraq's oil output to pre-war levels of 2.5 million barrels a day.

We need to develop technologies that will replace and obsolesce oil.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 July 18 11:05 PM  Mideast Iraq Ethnic Conflict


Comments
Half Sigma said at July 23, 2006 8:30 AM:

"We need to develop technologies that will replace and obsolesce oil."

Or you can just buy a Chevy Aveo which gets 35mpg on the highway and costs only $10,000. What a bargain.

Randall Parker said at July 23, 2006 8:50 AM:

Half Sigma,

But very few people want to buy such a car. A solution is only a solution if you can get people to do it.


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