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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

Actions, reactions and their consequences

by Lily Hamourtziadou

6 May 2007

The US led a war against Iraq in March 2003. As a result of that war, bombings, invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq, terrorism has skyrocketed. Of the 14,338 reported terrorist attacks worldwide in 2006, 45% took place in Iraq, and 65% of the global fatalities stemming from terrorism occurred in Iraq.

The US-led actions resulted in violent reactions from those opposed to them, creating an insurgency and terrorism in the country. The main armed groups operating in Iraq, apart from the US and British military, are: Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Mujahideen Shura Council, Sunni nationalists, Ansar al-Islam, Mehdi Army, Badr Brigade.

The daily killings are one of the consequences of the invasion and subsequent reaction of armed groups; another is poverty. Azzaman reports that, according to an Iraqi government survey (conducted by the Central Statistical Bureau), 43% of Iraqis suffer from ‘absolute poverty’, lacking the necessary food, clothing or shelter to survive, while 11% live in ‘abject poverty’, lacking a minimum income or consumption level necessary to meet basic needs.

The reactions and consequences of this invasion should not surprise us. We didn’t go to war for the sake of Iraq, or the Iraqis. We went to war to change the regime, to gain control of the region and its oil, at the expense of Iran, China, Russia, to have more influence over other countries that depend on that oil. A ‘friendly’ regime was the desired end, a seemingly legitimate government that would allow the west to control Iraq. The security of the Iraqis was never a consideration. The feelings of the Iraqis, their beliefs, their attitudes, their view of the invading westerners, were not important in this. The British and American public were simply told that the oppressed Iraqis would be grateful. Or should be grateful.

Yet this was not a response to a humanitarian crisis. Rather, it led to a humanitarian crisis.

Iraqi civilians are paying daily with their lives: 2,590 were killed in April. During the past week, another 660 lost their lives.

On Monday 30 April the month ends, taking 144 lives with it. In the worst attack, a suicide bomber kills 32 inside a funeral tent in Khalis. Gunmen kill 11 people inside a minibus near Iskandariya, the British kill 4 civilians in Basra, while police find 45 bodies dumped in Baghdad, Suwayra, Khalis, Mosul, Baiji and Kut.

On Tuesday 1 May the dead exceed 70. They include a blacksmith burnt alive in Kirkuk, 8 blown up by a car bomb in Basra, 2 employees of a mobile phone company shot dead in Udhaim, 4 fuel tanker drivers killed in Falluja, 9 killed in Baghdad, and 30 bodies found in Baghdad and Baquba. A head is found in Baiji.

On Wednesday 2 May around 110 die. Among them 2 university professors killed in Mosul, 10 victims of a car bomb in Sadr City, Baghdad, 11 blown up by a bomb in a minibus in Mahmudiya and a little girl killed when her school is hit by a mortar in Iskandariya. Another 55 bodies are found in Baghdad, Hilla and Baquba. It is reported that 3,700 more US troops arrive in Baghdad.

Nearly 80 die on Thursday 3 May. Gunmen kill a family of 9 in Bayaa, Baghdad, a car bomb kills 6, 4 of them children, in Kirkuk, while police finds 40 bodies in Baghdad, Falluja and Baiji.

Friday 4 May is the quietest day of the week: only 46 civilian deaths are reported. A doctor, shot in Mosul, and an interpreter, killed in Baghdad, are among the dead. In Baghdad, police find 15 bodies, and in Suwayra they pull 8 bodies from the Tigris river.

On Saturday 5 May the death toll is up again, as nearly 80 are killed, including 10 police recruits killed by a suicide bomber near Abu Ghraib prison. In Baghdad, 3 youths playing football are killed by mortars, 6 die in a US bombing of 3 houses, and around 40 bodies are found in Baghdad, Khalis and Falluja.

Around 140 die on Sunday 6 May, 42 of them in a Baghdad market. The blast in Bayaa kills shoppers at a vegetable market, several children among them. In Kut, 3 children under 10 are killed by a bomb planted outside their home, a university professor is shot in Baghdad, 12 policemen are killed in Samarra, a family of 4 is shot dead in Balad Ruz, a 15-year-old boy is killed by a bomb in Diwaniya, a journalist dies when the US military patrol he is travelling with is blown up, and over 40 bodies are found in Baghdad, Falluja, Khalis and Suwayra.

The second international conference on Iraq, in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, has produced very little. Iraqis have varied opinions over the outcome, as some describe the results as positive, while others are sceptical. Raed Mohammed, a lawyer living in Baghdad, told Voices of Iraq ‘the steps taken in the two conferences in Sharm al-Sheikh came late as all states concerned about Iraq should have made such commitments as early as 2003. If such pledges were made earlier, it would have spared Iraq all its tragedies’ (Voices of Iraq, 5 May 2007). In the conference, Arab nations committed to stop foreign fighters from crossing their borders to join Iraq’s insurgency. The Iraqis, in turn, vowed to do more to include Iraq’s Sunni Arabs in the political process.

Many Arab papers rank this conference as one of many that achieve nothing.

Again, this is not surprising. The Iraqis are nobody’s priority. Just like the Americans and the British, the Iraqi government is interested largely in securing its own objectives. The insurgents, reacting, are interested in achieving theirs. And the consequences don’t particularly interest anybody.