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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

Federalism, trenches, reconciliation and dead bodies everywhere

by Lily Hamourtziadou

17 Sep 2006

Iraq Prime Minister Al-Maliki was quoted this week urging Iraqis to reconcile: 'Only those who recognise the other and accept them as partners will enter reconciliation' he said. Yet the question still remains: who exactly is the other? Is it the US forces Iraqis should accept as partners? Is it other foreign troops? Is it those who plant the bombs that kill them? As Iraqis are attacked and killed on so many fronts, by so many different attackers, the 'other' is not easily identified or accepted as a partner -perhaps to even consider this would strike most Iraqis as irrational.

As Al-Maliki urges Iraqis to reconcile, plans are lain for Iraq to be split into three federal republics, or three ethnic enclaves: a northern Kurdistan, a southern Shiite zone, and a western Sunni region. So what does reconciliation mean then, if Iraq is to be split? It seems it does not mean living together in peace, not if the solution lies in separating them and putting them into different 'zones'. Perhaps reconciliation in this case simply means not killing each other. Yet the problem of ethnic cleansing remains, as the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds of Iraq are scattered around the country. If Basra becomes Shiite, where will the 1 million Sunnis go? And what happens to the capital, Baghdad? Whose will it be? Or will it be partitioned too, just like another 'peaceful' Jerusalem?

Baghdad's short-term fate is to be surrounded by trenches and 28 checkpoints -the only entry and exit points- creating a 'security belt'. This was announced this week, and is to be implemented in the coming weeks. This 'security belt' sounds a bit like a jail. It is hard to see how or why Iraqis would be happy with something like this.

All this in a week in which over 350 civilians lost their lives in violent attacks.

On Monday 11 September 16 young men who had just signed forms to join the army and boarded a minibus to go home were blown up by a suicide bomber. At least 40 people died on Monday, including 7 killed when a Shia mosque was blown up.

On Tuesday 12 September the dead bodies start being discovered: 65 between Tuesday and Wednesday. One severed head found had this note stuck to it: 'This is the fate of those who deal with US forces'. 6 of the bodies found were beheaded, and most had been tortured. In Mosul, 4 members of a Kurdish family were shot in their house, while a 5-year-old girl was shot dead by US soldiers in Hit. Finally, militants kidnap 14 students sitting their exam in Shula. Their fate is still unknown.

More dead bodies are found on Wednesday 13 September, some in rubbish dumps, and around 40 people are killed, mainly by car bombs.
The chairman of the Iraqi journalists union is killed by gunmen in Diyala, as is a journalistic photographer inside his photo shop in Baghdad. The bodies of 5 bakers are found in Saidiya, probably targeted for providing bread for the army, and US soldiers shoot dead an old man in his car, as he was leaving his house in Falluja. Tony Snow, President Bush's spokes man, says the US cannot go and 'subdue every bad guy' in Iraq.

On Thursday over 30 more bodies are found, while 6 members of a Shiite family are shot and killed at home . Among the dead: 2 women and 3-month-old Seif.

On Friday 15 September 51 bodies are discovered, and on Saturday 16 September nearly 50 people die, one of them a rubbish collector.

Between Wednesday and Friday 3 blasts at soccer games kill 23 civilians, 6 of them children.

Sunday 17 September brings many reports about blasts in Kirkuk that leave mote than two dozen civilians dead, some of them women and children visiting relatives in police custody. Also, 34 more corpses turn up. Throughout the day there are clashes between US forces and 'rebels' in Falluja that leave many Iraqi dead and many more injured. Ahmed Al-Karboli, another journalist, is shot dead.

Reconciliation seems to be an impossible dream for Iraq's suffering ethno-religious groups. It may indeed be so, as it may turn out that, after all that has happened in the last 3 years, their security requirements are in fact incompatible.