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The Week in Iraq is a weekly assessment of significant incidents and trends in Iraqi civilian casualties by IBC's news collector and Recent Events editor Lily Hamourtziadou.

The analyses and opinions presented in these commentaries are personal to the author.

Recent weeks

Healing the wounds of the past
  18 Jan 2009

Happy New Year
  11 Jan 2009

The sad numbers
  31 Dec 2008

  21 Dec 2008

The farewell kiss
  14 Dec 2008

Regrets –he’s had a few…
  7 Dec 2008


The Week in Iraq

More of the same

by Lily Hamourtziadou

21 Jan 2007

General George W. Casey Jr., top US military officer in Iraq, has this week said that the primary focus of the additional US forces will be to secure a violent Baghdad, but ‘ that’s not going to happen overnight.’ In fact, ‘it’s probably going to be the summer, late summer, before we get to the point where the people of Baghdad feel safe’ he told reporters in Southern Iraq on Friday. Almost in reply to this, senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid declared President Bush’s new plan to be ‘more of the same.’

It certainly seems to be so: more of the same from the Americans, more of the same for the Iraqis; more soldiers, arms and an increasingly tighter occupation, and more attacks, violence, death and anarchy. A bleak past, a bleak present, a bleak future.

Another man hopeful his plans will end the violence, Prime Minister al-Maliki, is asking for more arms to be given to the Iraqi army. After Condoleezza Rice’s humiliating comment that the Iraqi government is living on ‘borrowed time,’ a comment which, according to al-Maliki, ‘gives moral boosts to the terrorists…making them believe they have defeated the American administration,’ al-Maliki has suggested to President Bush that he supplies weapons to the Iraqi army and leave them to deal with ‘security.’ Moreover, he is firm that the terrorists ‘haven’t defeated the Iraqi government.’

But it is a defeated government that allows hundreds of civilians to perish in violence within a week. Yes, it was more of the same for Iraqis this week, as another 600 of them died.

On Monday 15 January over 100 civilians are killed, most of them murdered after being abducted and tortured. In Karbala 80 unidentified and unclaimed bodies are buried.

Tuesday 16 January is even bloodier: 155 civilians are reported killed, 70 of them students and staff at Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad, killed when bombs explode outside the University. Another 65 people are killed in Baghdad on Tuesday, while a woman is killed with her son in Iskandariyah, 2 brothers are shot dead in Mosul, 2 brothers shot dead in Mahaweel, and dead bodies are found in Mosul, Diwaniyah and Iskandariyah. In Karbala 85 more unidentified bodies are buried at the ‘anonymous graveyard,’ reaching 1,977 since June 2006.

Around 100 more civilians die on Wednesday 17 January. In Sadr City around 20 are reported dead at a market explosion, while 7 die in US air strikes in Muqdadiyah. A further 5 are killed in clashes between US troops and gunmen in Hit: a mother, her daughter and 3 men. Al-Iraqiyah reports that 100 militia have been killed near Balad Ruz. The death that makes the headlines, however, is that of American National Democratic Institution (NDI) employee Andrea Parhamovic, killed with 3 of her guards at an ambush in Baghdad. The young woman’s mission was to ‘teach Iraqis how to vote.’

On Thursday 18 January 90 more deaths are reported. 10 die at a fruit and vegetable market in Baghdad, 2 at a wedding in Mosul (one of them the bridegroom), 5 in Kut (one of them a 5-year-old child), and dozens of others in Baghdad, Baquba, Mosul and Kut. In Khalis 2 civilians are shot dead by US soldiers.

On the quietest day of the week, Friday 19 January, 35 civilian deaths are reported, including a pharmacist, guards at a mosque, a traffic policeman, and 2 children on a bridge.

Over 70 die on Saturday 20 January, 3 media workers among them. A judge is killed with his brother in Khalis and 43 bodies are found bound and tortured in Mosul, Baghdad, Basra, Baquba and Hilla.

On Sunday 21 January the week ends with over 50 deaths, just as 3,200 US troops arrive in Baghdad.

The troops’ arrival marks an allegedly ‘new’ phase in America’s ‘War against Terror’. As if terrorism was something one could make war against. As if there was even one main, identifiable enemy whose removal would ensure the end of terror. As if there had even been a link between Iraq and global terrorism.

‘Even if I were to die, Mahdi would continue to exist,’ said Moqtada al-Sadr this week. ‘Men can be killed. Faith and ideas cannot.’ It is true. It is also a noble phrase, yet one that is actually starting to sound terribly ominous, promising, threatening more of the same.