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Daily Column
Iraq Papers Thu: Security Breakdown?
Media Links Proliferation of Bombings to Upcoming US Withdrawal
By AMER MOHSEN 04/22/2009 6:44 PM ET
News from Iraq is relatively scarce today, except for security incidents and assassinations, which are still rampant in several Iraqi provinces. In Mosul, Az-Zaman reports, three explosions hit the city today, two of which caused by suicide bombers who targeted the local leader of the Kurdish Peshmerga militias and an Army patrol. Both attacks, sources say, resulted in no casualties, but an IED that was planted near a police station killed two individuals and injured three more.

In nearby Kirkuk, the daily adds, the personal status judge (a Muslim cleric) was abducted by an unidentified armed group near his home in the Khadra district. And near Baghdad, al-Jazeera reports, at least five Iraqis were killed in a suicide attack that targeted a mosque north of the capital. The news channel said that a local Sahwa leader was rumored to be among the injured, but the police later denied these reports. According to police sources, the attacker was a teenager no older than 16.

Al-Mada, meanwhile, spoke to the head of the Baghdad “Security Plan,” General Qasim 'Ata, who affirmed that al-Qa'ida will attempt “three waves of attacks” to disrupt the Parliamentary elections as well as the coming withdrawal of US troops in Iraq.

Al-Bayyna al-Jadeeda also focused on the increase of attacks and bombings in the country, predicting a worsening of the situation and putting a conspiratorial spin on the affair. “Are Americans preparing for a great slaughter in Iraq?” said the front-page headline. Sensationalism aside, the paper’s editors warned that several fault lines in Iraq could erupt in the coming phase: between Arabs and Kurds, Ba'this and anti-Ba'this, in addition to domestic attempts to unseat Maliki (which the pro-Maliki paper views as the greatest possible threat to security in Iraq.)

The paper quoted unnamed sources who said that attacks and bombings will increase in the stage preceding the US withdrawal from Iraqi cities in June, claiming that “the Americans wish – through re-igniting the security situation – to send a strong message to the effect that security will be catastrophic if they left Iraqi cities.”

Meanwhile, al-Hayat focused on al-Qa'ida statements adopting several of the suicide attacks that took place in recent days. Reportedly, al-Qa'ida-friendly websites relayed a statement from the organization recounting suicide attacks against US forces and Iraqi security forces that the organization took credit for. In parallel, the leader of al-Qa'ida in Iraq (the Islamic State of Iraq) Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (AKA Abu Ayyub al-Masri) made a recorded speech calling upon Sahwa fighters to abandon their dealings with the US and the government, and promising “slaughter” to “those who do not repent.”

The speech was largely dedicated to the Sunni factions in Iraq, and made few references to the US. The ire of the extremist leader, however, was directed at Iran, and described the 2003 occupation of Iraq as “a foul deal between (the US) and the Majus (a pre-Islamic derogatory term that refers to Iranians,)” describing Iranians as “the staunchest enemies of Muslims” and affirming that “the Majus will never rule Baghdad.”

Al-Muhajir also attacked nationalist and Arabist factions that are fighting the US in Iraq “under patriotic or nationalist slogans,” affirming that “ (the purpose of) fighting is raising the word of god, the liberation of the homeland is included in that larger objective.” Speaking to Sunni factions that joined the Sahwa and fought against al-Qa'ida, al-Muhajir said “we shall try to push you into the path of righteousness ... we did not raise our weapons against you until we were certain that you became the main collaborators of the occupier and his eyes.” The leader of al-Qa'ida in Iraq also divided the Iraqi tribes into three portions: those that supported the Islamic State of Iraq, those that remained neutral, and “those who collaborated with the occupier and fought against the Mujahideen,” exclaiming that this latter section “fell for the lies of the Islamic Party.”


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