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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

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  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

Violence in Iraq: Terrorism, Insurgency or Resistance? Or maybe something altogether more powerful?

by Lily Hamourtziadou

1 Oct 2006

'This year's violence was the worst since liberation, and probably the worst over all since 1991', write Nina Kamp, Michael O'Hanlon and Amy Unikewicz (Brookings Institute in Washington) in the New York Times 1 October 2006.

Who is behind this violence? Who are the culprits? 'Terrorists' or 'Insurgents' are terms favoured by western media and western politicians. Sometimes those killed by western forces in Iraq are not even that: only 'suspected terrorists'. It is sometimes enough to ensure their deaths and those of their families. Not all use such terms, however; occasionally violent clashes are reported between 'Iraqi resistance and US occupation forces' -but not in any western media.

Yet even assuming 'terrorists' or 'insurgents' or even 'rebels' are the culprits of those massacres, bombings, shootings that take place daily in Iraq does not let the west off the hook, for they -their political leaders- are the moral culprits.

This is reflected in Iraqis' attitudes towards US and British forces, illustrated by a report published this week; PIPA (Program on International Policy Attitudes) conducted a poll in Iraq that found that 6 in 10 Iraqis approve of attacks on US-led forces, nearly 8 in 10 say the US presence in Iraq is provoking more conflict than it's preventing, while 8 in 10 lack confidence in US troops to protect their security. As IRIB reported on September 27, the Iraqi Sunni Scholars Council criticised President Talabani for condoning the long-term presence of american forces in the country -forces described as 'occupiers' whose goal has been to 'dismember the country on race and tribe'. Talabani, according to Sunni scholars, 'has ignored the feelings of Iraqi people.'

Another poll, conducted by the State department and independent researchers, found this week that in Baghdad nearly three-quarters of residents polled said they would feel safer if foreign forces left Iraq, with 71% being in favour of them departing within a year. Interviews with Baghdad residents suggest one central cause for Iraqi distrust of Americans: they believe the US government has deliberately thrown the country into chaos; that is, that the American military is creating a civil war to create an excuse to keep its forces there. Much as they want foreign forces to leave Iraq, they realise that their departure could also trigger even more violence.

...And the violence in Iraq this week claimed many lives: over 350 deaths were reported, bringing the total for September 2006 to around 1,500.

Monday 25 September, and the week started with around 40 deaths reported, including 15 bodies found. The media were full of stories about the killing by British forces of an Al-Qaida terrorist.

On Tuesday 26 September around 50 people died, 23 of whom were bodies (5 headless) found in the streets. Among the dead an ambulance driver and a medic rushing to hospital; their ambulance was blown up by a bomb.

Over 70 died on Wednesday, 44 of them bodies, including 11 Sunni worshippers on their way to attend prayers. A controversial incident: 8 people (7 from the same family) are killed by US forces during a raid in Baquba. Their family claims their relatives were not terrorists.

On Thursday 28 September the 60 deaths reported include 3 children, a fruit seller, 2 shopkeepers and relatives of Oreibi al-Khalifa, the new judge appointed in the trial of Saddam Hussein. Gunmen kill the judge's brother in law and 10-year-old nephew as they drive away from their house to move to a new place.

On Friday 29 September around 35 die and a total curfew is imposed in Baghdad from 11:00pm. No motorists or pedestrians are allowed in the streets of Baghdad until 6:00am Sunday.

Despite the total curfew, over 100 people died during Saturday and Sunday in Iraq. Among the dead were 4 children, killed in Tal Afar and in Baghdad on Saturday 30 September, while fierce battles between Iraqis and US forces were reported in Tikrit and in 3 Baghdad neighbourhoods. On Sunday 1 October the week ends with the discovery of over 60 bodies. Of the 5 bodies pulled out of the Tigris, one was that of a schoolgirl. During US raids a young woman and a 10-year-old girl sleeping on a roof are killed. US soldiers also shoot dead 3 people in a car driving too close to their patrol.

Who is responsible for these deaths is sadly becoming clearer every day.