Is the storm building?
Ominious new about events in Iraq as reported by the Times of London:
- At least 140 killed yesterday
- In worst incident 47 killed by gunmen at roadblock. Bodies discovered in Nahrawan, on outskirts of Baghdad
- At least 53 killed in Baghdad in 24 hours
- At least 25 killed in Basra. Overnight 12 prisoners removed from Basra prison and 11 killed
- Bomb aimed at Iraqi Army foot patrol kills 16 in Baquba, 40 miles northeast of Baghdad — 8 soldiers and 8 civilians
- Also in Baquba, gunmen kill one at Sunni mosque
- Bomb kills policeman, wounds four in Iskandariya, south of Baghdad
- 7 US soldiers killed in northern Iraq
- Convoy of Iraq’s Minister of Housing and Reconstruction stoned in Samarra
- Journalist for al-Arabiya TV killed with two members of her crew in Samarra
- Police and army leave cancelled
- Curfew hours extended in Baghdad and major cities from 8pm-6am
- Road to Abu Hanifa Mosque, most important Sunni mosque in Baghdad, closed by army
- Several thousand in Basra demonstrate near governing council offices
- About 1,000 demonstrate in Samawa, 170 miles south of Baghdad. Police guarding Sunni mosque in the town
- Leading Sunni group, the Muslim Clerics Association, blames Shia leaders for fuelling tensions
- Main Sunni bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front, pulls out of talks to form a new government, blaming ruling Shia alliance for violence
- President Talabani, a Kurd, meets Shia leaders
Here's something that sounds particularly worrisome, from a different article in the Times of London:
From Dora in southern Baghdad, to Sha’ab in the city’s north, teams of Shia killers had moved apparently unchallenged through the city, attacking Sunni mosques, rounding up and killing Sunni men, sometimes cheered on by soldiers at Iraqi army checkpoints.
The conduct of those soldiers should give pause to those in Britain and America who believe that the new Iraqi Army will be an impartial force capable of keeping order in the country so that coalition troops can withdraw.
Wednesday night’s murder spree showed them to be partisan at best, complicit at worse.
So is the situation in Iraq deteriorating?
If we look at the timeline and compare it to Iraq the Model's posts, these attacks happened on Wednesday. He claims things have calmed down and that a curfew is being imposed. The curfew is only now being reported on the MSM.
What we could be looking at is historical data coming in only now. The thing to watch is whether the trouble ramps up from here or whether the steps authorities have taken bring this under control.
Many of the incidents related by the Times of London stories are mirrored in Healing Iraq's post of February 22nd. For instance, he details the attacks on the Sunni mosques and describes militias prowling around outside his door, but on the 22nd. On the 24th (recall Iraq is some hours ahead of US time. I am using ITM's post times as markers. His post of the 22nd was probably updated on the 23rd), he says:
Movement today was sparse. The government announced it a day off yesterday, while Sistani, the supreme religious Shi’ite authority, called for his followers to close their businesses for 7 days in mourning. Both he and Muqtada Al-Sadr have urged their followers to continue their ‘peaceful’ protests today, resulting in more retaliatory clashes and attacks against mosques in several areas of Baghdad. No one can really fathom the amount of damage since movement is very limited. We went out to buy supplies, food and fuel. Baghdadis tend to stockpile at any sign of a looming crisis.
There was not much to hear in our area, apart from the occasional thud and fire exchange, which are really usual everyday experiences for the last 3 years. There was no presence of security forces that I could witness. Friends from areas around Sadr city said pickups full of armed men in black were patrolling the streets, unchallenged by Iraqi security forces. Many people swear that the Interior ministry forces are explicitly siding with the Mahdi militiamen in their rampage of arson and plundering. Most of the mosques in Baghdad are now closed and surrounded by barbed wire.
Riverbend, an Iraqi woman blogger who is pretty much an anti-coalition, has this report from February 23.
No one went to work today as the streets were mostly closed. The situation isn’t good at all. I don’t think I remember things being this tense- everyone is just watching and waiting quietly. There’s so much talk of civil war and yet, with the people I know- Sunnis and Shia alike- I can hardly believe it is a possibility. Educated, sophisticated Iraqis are horrified with the idea of turning against each other, and even not-so-educated Iraqis seem very aware that this is a small part of a bigger, more ominous plan…
So that's a good-looking trend from 22nd to the 24th. The trouble seems to have run out of gas for the present, though it may pick up again. If anyone wants to help me play this timeline game to keep the situation board updated, please chime in.
A source with recent experience in Iraq says that in reading the London Times story it is important to bear in mind the difference between the IA (Iraqi Army) and the IP (Iraqi Police). The source says the IA is a more disciplined force and the Times may not have been able to tell the difference between the IA and the IP.