Dozens Killed in Iraq as Political Gridlock Continues
At least 43 Iraqis were killed over the weekend in a slew of bombings across the country, a sign of the continuing sectarian tensions that have also paralyzed Iraq’s political system. The Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaeda affiliate, claimed that the attacks “conveyed a quick message to the Shia government and its followers that they will pay a high price and will not enjoy peace unless they stop random arrests against the Sunni community.” In the polarized Iraqi parliament, a deputy for the secular al-Iraqiya political coalition, Abd Dhiyab al-Ajili, urged [Ar.] all parties to overcome differences and make concessions in order to solve the country’s mounting problems. However, in a new draft report, Anthony H. Cordesman and Sam Khazai of the Center for Strategic and International Studies wrote that “Iraq is in an ongoing struggle to establish a new national identity, and…build a new structure of governance, economics, and social order. …It is unclear that Iraq can meet this challenge.”
Meanwhile, the Syria-Iraq border is increasingly busy as refugees continue to stream into Iraq and more Iraqis travel to Syria to join both sides of the fighting. Yasir Ghazi and Tim Arango of the New York Times reported that Iraqi Shi’ites and Sunnis are “transplanting Iraq’s explosive sectarian conflict to a civil war that is increasingly fueled by religious rivalry,” while analyst Joshua Landis argued that “the spillover from the Syrian civil war will be much greater in Iraq than Lebanon” in a new article on his blog Syria Comment. Iraq stopped an Iranian plane bound for Syria over the weekend, but found only humanitarian aid onboard and allowed the flight to continue. The U.S. has long urged Iraq to crack down on Iranian support for Bashar al-Assad.