The Middle East Channel

Coordinated attacks across Iraq kill an estimated 60 people

Coordinated attacks across Iraq kill an estimated 60 people

At least 60 people were killed and over 200 injured in a wave of car bombings and small arms fire across Iraq. Although the attacks targeted security installations and government buildings, civilians suffered the greatest casualties. The worst violence was concentrated in neighborhoods in Baghdad, many of which were predominately Shiite, during the morning commute between 6:00 am and 8:00 am. Suicide bombers and gunmen also hit mainly Shiite provinces north and south of Baghdad. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the government suspects al-Qaeda linked militants, under the umbrella group of the Islamic State of Iraq, who have carried out similarly coordinated attacks in the past. Violence has significantly dwindled since its peak between 2006 and 2007, but attacks have nonetheless swelled since the withdrawal of U.S. troops in December, and this was the most widespread operation since the U.S. departure.

Headlines

  • The siege on Homs rages on as the "Friends of Syria" say they will first call for humanitarian access.  Meanwhile, U.N. investigators submitted a list of top officials suspected of crimes against humanity in Syria.
  • The judge in the case against Hosni Mubarak and 7 others, charged with ordering the killing of protesters, will announce a verdict on June 2 when the ousted leader could receive the death penalty.
  • After two days of meetings, Hamas leaders approved of new demands for a unity deal with rival Palestinian faction, Fatah.
  • Iran sent a letter to the U.N. Security Council accusing Israel of assassinating nuclear scientists in a "war game" but denied last week’s attacks on Israeli diplomats.

Arguments & Analysis

‘Egypt stands to lose more than aid’ (Stephen McInerney, Foreign Affairs)

"Many observers have argued that the U.S. must maintain its assistance in order to preserve its leverage with the Egyptian military. But this crisis is exactly the moment to use this leverage. The fate of civil society in Egypt and beyond is very much at stake. If the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid can attack pro-democracy organizations with no real consequences, authoritarian governments worldwide will be emboldened to follow suit. As such, the administration should take a tougher line, making clear that military aid will certainly be interrupted unless the attacks on NGOs are halted and all charges are dropped. The White House deserves credit for having made support for civil society an important pillar of its approach to strengthening democracy worldwide. Now is the time to demonstrate the strength of that commitment." 

‘From football fans to revolutionary heroes’ (Daniel Steinvorth, Der Spiegel)

"These days, though, animosity between the two ultra groups has been overshadowed by a new common enemy. A few weeks ago, they even came to a reconciliation agreement. In a statement on their website, the White Knights offered a truce "for the good of Egypt." The Red Devils accepted by putting a smiley-face icon on their homepage. "We have a common enemy that we both profoundly despise: the ravens," says Omar, referring to the black-uniformed and universally hated security forces. Al-Ahly has even come up with a song about the ravens that has achieved cult status throughout the ultra scene. One part goes: "He was already always incapable, and he was only able to get a proper high school degree with a bribe. Come on, you raven, why are you destroying what’s beautiful in our country?" The song is one of many meant to taunt the police. Omar even believes the songs might have led police to take revenge on al-Ahly fans on that tragic night in Port Said."

‘Egypt’s judges in a revolutionary age’ (Nathan Brown, Carnegie Endowment for Int’l Peace)

"Much of the political focus in Egypt in the year after the January 25 revolution was on the tension between the military council and the Brotherhood; between Islamists and non-Islamists; between civilian political structures and the institutions of the security state; and between older authoritarian ways and newer more participatory ones. Such contests are vital and real. But they should not lead us to overlook another likely contest that is apt to grow even as the other ones diminish: between the forces of politics, popular sovereignty, and democracy on the one hand and bureaucracy, expertise, and professionalism on the other."

–Tom Kutsch & Mary Casey