Violence Engulfing Iraq

From Dahr’s weblog:

Several of us are sitting in the hotel room having lunch, watching the news trying to keep up with the violence daily engulfing Iraq. Let me give you a quick rundown from the last 24 hours.

Late last night fighting continued in Sadr City between the Mehdi Army and occupation forces … leaving at least five Iraqis dead, three of them civilians.

This morning the Republican Palace, where Bremer is headquartered, was blasted by a rocket.

Shortly after 9 this morning, a huge blast rocked Baghdad when a car bomb detonated near Camp Cuervo, a U.S. Army Camp in the northern part of the capital. The explosion left 12 Iraqis dead, 4 of whom were policemen.

Another car bomb exploded this evening north of Baghdad in an attack on U.S. troops – killing one soldier and wounding 2.

According to the Washington Post, there have been 16 car bombs this month thus far, and today is June 13th.

Assassinations of government officials continue unabated. Last night in Baquba, an attempt on Majeed Almani Mahal, a senior Iraqi Police official, left him wounded in a local hospital.

Also yesterday, the chief of the border police in Iraq, Major General Hussein Mustafa Abdul-Kareem was wounded when assassins attacked his convoy in Baghdad.

The attempts grew more lethal yesterday when the Iraqi deputy foreign minister, Bassam Kubba was shot dead while driving to work.

Today Kamal al-Jarah, an official from the Education Ministry, was assassinated near his home.

While we were watching all of this news, small, black helicopters of special operations forces and private security contractors buzzed like flies over central Baghdad and sirens blared randomly from the blazingly hot streets.

As footage of cars with broken glass and bullet holes in their frames flashed across the screen of the television, my friend’s translator, Hamid, an older man who has grown weary of the violence, said softly: "It has begun. These are only the start, and they will not stop. Even after June 30th."

And the news of more assassinations continues to roll in. Last night Iyad Khorshid, a popular Kurdish cleric in Kirkuk, was killed in the city where tensions between the ethnic groups is rising each day.

All of this atop the ongoing killings of the intelligentsia in Baghdad, where over the last year of occupation there have been a monthly average of 10-15 assassination attempts on Iraqi professors, scientists and academics, about 5 of them successful each month.

Yet another example of this occurred today at Baghdad University, where a geography professor, Sabri al-Bayati, was executed in the streets.

Of course, foreign contractors can’t be left out of the slaughter. On this front, today we got the news that the brutally butchered body of a Lebanese construction worker was found yesterday near Fallujah. He had previously been kidnapped.

Nor can we forget about the journalists – two Iraqis working for the U.S.-controlled Al-Iraqia TV station were found dead near the border of Syria. Apparently they were killed yesterday.

Lakhdar Brahimi announced his resignation yesterday from his position of the UN envoy to Iraq due to what he described as great difficulties and frustration from his assignment.

Not long ago Brahimi said: "Bremer is the dictator of Iraq. He has the money. He has the signature. Nothing happens without his agreement in this country."

Presenting what was apparently the U.S. idea of a solution, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said of the military plans in Iraq after the "handover" on June 30th; "We will not be pulling out of the cities. We will not be relocating."

Author: Dahr Jamail

Dahr Jamail has reported from inside Iraq and is the author of Beyond the Green Zone.