Revenge killings

Iraq: In the shadow of the conflict between government, occupiers and insurgents, militias are settling their own scores

While behind the scenes Shiite and Kurdish election winners negotiate posts and demands, the brutal suicide bombing that occurred today in Hilla, about 100 kilometers south of Baghdad, shows that the new government faces tough tests.

National unity across ethnic and religious differences is the promising slogan that the Shiite election winners in particular have ied. Sunnis are to be involved in the political process to a large extent, despite the boycott of the elections. The sectarian strife, the conflict between the different religious groups, is not to be given new ground by the elections, so that it cannot develop into a civil war. Today’s attack is aimed precisely against these efforts.

It is the bloodiest attack in many weeks. At least 110 people died in the suicide bombing; more than 130 were injured. The attack was aimed at applicants for Iraqi security services who were waiting for a medical examination, but passers-by were also killed; there is a market in the immediate vicinity of the government building. The majority of the inhabitants of Hilla are Shiites.

While today’s spectacular attack will receive widespread attention in the news, a report by American Knight Ridder journalist Hannah Allam points to a wave of killings, hitherto barely noticed by the media, that has intensified since the election, and "threatens to escalate into a civil war". It is about a war that is being waged in the shadow of the conflict between "Insurrectionary" and "Occupiers" gefuhrt wird. According to the report, neither the Americans, who are completely consumed by the fight against Sunni resistors, nor Shiite leaders show any gross interest in this series of murders, which by all indications are committed by Shiite militias.

Since election day, 30.January, the Shiite militias are said to be working through a list of selected victims with greater intensity than before. The victims are former members of the security and intelligence personnel under Saddam Hussein. similar to the Sunni "insurgents" Shiite militias distribute printed death threats – to former Baathists, forcing them to mark their homes with a white flag as public documentation of their guilt.

In recent weeks, vigilante killings have included a former judge of Saddam Hussein’s, Taha Hussein Amiri, who handed down death sentences under the old regime, as well as high-ranking members of the intelligence service and their companions. Former regime members of Shiite origin are also being targeted, as it is easier for commandos to move in Shiite neighborhoods, he said.

Since there has been little or no investigation of these murder cases, there is only conjecture about the exact identity of the perpetrators, who are attributed to the Badr Brigades both by the victims’ relatives and by the head of the Iraqi secret service. Hadi al-Ameri, the leader of the Badr Organization, as the militia is now officially known, denies the accusations from the Interior Ministry, but acknowledges that some Shiites have attacked former Baathists "own account" were attacked. The situation for the Baathists would look much worse if Grobayatollah Ali Sistani had not asked the militias to use the courts and not weapons "for their revenge":

The Baathists should pray day and night for Sistani.


For the spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, the series of murders of former Baathists is worrying:

It is only the beginning and we could very quickly get on a slippery slope. We have been so busy removing the terrorists and Islamists that this other thing has been able to rear its ugly head. Both sides sharpen their knives.

Sabah Kadhim

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