A wave of bombings kills dozens of people in Iraq

A series of bombings across Iraq Wednesday evening killed at least 34 people. Within an hour in the capital Baghdad, 11 explosions, mostly car bombings, killed 23 people and wounded over 100 others, mostly in Shiite districts. Sadr City was hit the worst with three bombs, two of which exploded in busy markets, but attacks ...

AFP/Getty Images/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
AFP/Getty Images/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
AFP/Getty Images/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

A series of bombings across Iraq Wednesday evening killed at least 34 people. Within an hour in the capital Baghdad, 11 explosions, mostly car bombings, killed 23 people and wounded over 100 others, mostly in Shiite districts. Sadr City was hit the worst with three bombs, two of which exploded in busy markets, but attacks were also reported in Kadhimiya, Husseiniya, Mashtal, Baghdad al-Jadida, Saidiya, and Zafaraniya. Additionally, bombings in the northern ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk killed an estimated 10 people. A car bomb exploded near a government building, followed by another car bomb an hour later in the same area. On Thursday, four additional bombs killed at least 12 people in Shiite districts of Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul. No group has taken responsibility for the attacks. There has been a surge in sectarian violence in Iraq since the army raided a Sunni anti-government protest camp near the northern town of Hawija last month, killing an estimated 50 people.

Syria

The United Nations General Assembly passed a nonbinding resolution on Wednesday condemning Syrian government forces, praising the opposition, and calling for a political solution to end the war in Syria. The vote, however, showed a decline in support for the opposition since a resolution passed in August 2012 -- with 107 votes in favor compared to 133 in the previous vote and a drastic increase in abstentions. Many diplomats expressed increasing concerns over the rise in the presence of Islamist extremists in the conflict. There was also a sentiment that the resolution would not help to convince the Syrian government and opposition to participate in peace talks recently proposed by the United States and Russia. At the beginning of the session, President of the U.N. General Assembly Vuk Jeremic stated, "At least 80,000 have perished since the start of the hostilities, with most of the casualties believed to be civilians." Meanwhile, a BBC correspondent has reported evidence of a chemical attack last month in the northern town of Saraqeb. Eyewitnesses claimed that government helicopters dropped at least two devices containing poisonous gas on April 29. Additionally, doctors at the local hospital said they admitted eight people suffering from breathing problems. The BBC reported it has received videos that seem to support these claims, but is not able to independently verify them. In other news, a video posted on Thursday showed opposition al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front fighters executing 11 Syrian soldiers they accused of committing "massacres."

A series of bombings across Iraq Wednesday evening killed at least 34 people. Within an hour in the capital Baghdad, 11 explosions, mostly car bombings, killed 23 people and wounded over 100 others, mostly in Shiite districts. Sadr City was hit the worst with three bombs, two of which exploded in busy markets, but attacks were also reported in Kadhimiya, Husseiniya, Mashtal, Baghdad al-Jadida, Saidiya, and Zafaraniya. Additionally, bombings in the northern ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk killed an estimated 10 people. A car bomb exploded near a government building, followed by another car bomb an hour later in the same area. On Thursday, four additional bombs killed at least 12 people in Shiite districts of Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul. No group has taken responsibility for the attacks. There has been a surge in sectarian violence in Iraq since the army raided a Sunni anti-government protest camp near the northern town of Hawija last month, killing an estimated 50 people.

Syria

The United Nations General Assembly passed a nonbinding resolution on Wednesday condemning Syrian government forces, praising the opposition, and calling for a political solution to end the war in Syria. The vote, however, showed a decline in support for the opposition since a resolution passed in August 2012 — with 107 votes in favor compared to 133 in the previous vote and a drastic increase in abstentions. Many diplomats expressed increasing concerns over the rise in the presence of Islamist extremists in the conflict. There was also a sentiment that the resolution would not help to convince the Syrian government and opposition to participate in peace talks recently proposed by the United States and Russia. At the beginning of the session, President of the U.N. General Assembly Vuk Jeremic stated, "At least 80,000 have perished since the start of the hostilities, with most of the casualties believed to be civilians." Meanwhile, a BBC correspondent has reported evidence of a chemical attack last month in the northern town of Saraqeb. Eyewitnesses claimed that government helicopters dropped at least two devices containing poisonous gas on April 29. Additionally, doctors at the local hospital said they admitted eight people suffering from breathing problems. The BBC reported it has received videos that seem to support these claims, but is not able to independently verify them. In other news, a video posted on Thursday showed opposition al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front fighters executing 11 Syrian soldiers they accused of committing "massacres."

Headlines  

  • The White House has released over 100 pages of emails on the debate on "talking points" of the administration’s first public account of the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012.
  • Islamist gunmen have abducted seven Egyptian security officers in the Sinai Peninsula Thursday reportedly seeking the release of jailed militants.
  • Yemeni kidnappers have released three foreign Red Cross workers and their Yemeni interpreter who were seized Monday in the southern province of Abyan.  

Arguments and Analysis

Syria’s Uprising: sectarianism, regionalisation, and state order in the Levant (Steven Heydemann, FRIDE)

"As the Syrian revolution enters its third year, the risks to regional stability are escalating. Violence has spilled over all of Syria’s borders. The conflict has elevated sectarian tensions in Lebanon, threatening the 1990 Taif settlement that ended 15 years of civil war. It has sharpened ethnic and sectarian frictions in Iraq and engulfed southern Turkey. It has heightened tensions across the Syrian-Israeli border. Violence has also spilled into Syria from across the region. Regional involvement in the conflict is deepening. Syrian refugees, now numbering more than a million, are straining the economies and the social fabric of receiving countries. This paper addresses the implications of the regionalisation of Syria’s conflict and the challenges it presents to the stability of the post-Ottoman state order in the Levant."

Israel, the arms hunter (Gideon Levy, Haaretz)

"More than once in recent years, it has appeared that Israel’s foreign and defense policy has centered around one thing: the attempt to hunt down weapons beyond the country’s borders. Just show it an arms deal in the region and Israel will foil it. It’s not that Israel is a pacifist country seeking to rid the world of arms. On the contrary, Israel hasn’t stopped arming; only it is allowed to do so.

This policy is led by Benjamin Netanyahu. His tenure as prime minister has been peak arms-hunting season. Of course, preventing the enemy from acquiring weapons is a legitimate goal. But when this becomes the main goal while Israel arms crazily and makes weapons its main export, the policy becomes disturbing and hypocritical. It prompts tough questions about Israel’s view of its role in the region – and about its right to run the arms policies of its neighbors."

–By Jennifer T. Parker and Mary Casey

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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