Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Will Abadi Be Any Different Than Maliki As Iraq’s Next Premier?

Many people are wondering whether prime minister nominee Haider Abadi will be any different from current premier Nouri al-Maliki since they are both from the Dawa Party. A comparison of Maliki to his predecessor Ibrahim al-Jaafari also of Dawa shows that membership in the party does not mean that any two individuals will rule the same. Maliki was accused of amassing too much power in his hands and being an autocrat, while Jaafari was known as a horrible manager who did little while the civil war broke out. Given that history Abadi will likely be his own man when he puts together a new ruling coalition.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari who was premier from 2005-2006 and Nouri al-Maliki both lived lives of exile during the Baathist period. Jaafari was a doctor by profession and joined the Dawa Party while he was at the University of Mosul in 1966. During a government campaign against the party in 1980 he fled to Iran where he lived for almost ten years. In 1989 he relocated to London where he was a spokesman for Dawa. It appeared he left on friendly terms with Iranian officials. (1) Nouri al-Maliki became a member of Dawa when he was a teenager following the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Upon the suggestion of the party he went to Usual al-Din College in Baghdad, which was founded by Ayatollah Mohammed Blair al-Sadr the spiritual leader of the movement. He later received a degree in Arab Literature. Like Jaafari Maliki fled Iraq and eventually ended up in Iran after a government crackdown in 1979. There he helped run Dawa’s armed wing against the Baathist government. Like Jaafari, Maliki left in 1990 over Tehran’s attemptto take over the party, and moved to Syria where he continued his clandestine activities. Although their professional background was different, they both came from well off families and joined Dawa around the same time, and were forced to flee their homeland as a result. That led them to Iran, which was considered an inspiration to many party members after its 1979 revolution. That eventually wore off for Maliki who resented Iran’s attempt to control his party, but not so much for Jaafari. He ended up going to the West, while Maliki remained in the Middle East, probably because he was a leader in the armed faction and needed to stay in the region to help run its activities. Still, they held much in common.

Jaafari and Maliki returned to Iraq in 2003 and became premier back to back, but their styles of governing were complete opposites. Following the January 2005 elections, Jaafari was made premier in May. He was known as being an intellectual who loved to talk about philosophy and political thinkers. In July 2005 for example, he met with President George W. Bush in Washington where he went on and on about how much he loved Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and other American presidents. In terms of governance Jaafari was completely ineffective. The premier’s chief of staff said that the prime minister’s office was disorganized, while a U.S. diplomat noted that the office was staffed with Dawa members who had no experience in administration. Jaafari himself attempted to micro-manage everything and did little as a result. Many in the U.S. and Iraq ended up blaming him for the civil war when it broke out his first year in office. He did nothing about the Bard Brigade for example, which took over the Interior Ministry under his government, and began using its commandos to carry out sectarian arrests and killings. Maliki turned out to be the complete opposite, although that was not apparent at first. He was chosen to replace Jaafari in 2006. The Sadrists were one of his main supporters, and Maliki returned the favor by protecting its Mahdi Army, which had become the main militia fighting in the sectarian war from the U.S. When the civil war was subsiding he turned on them seeing them as a possible rival and launched the Charge of the Knights in Basra, Amara, and Baghdad. He would then challenge the insurgency in Mosul, and the Kurds in Diyala. This made him widely popular as an Iraqi nationalist, and helped his new State of Law coalition win the 2009 provincial and 2010 parliamentary elections. Along the way he created his own command system over the security forces, took over the intelligence agencies, went after his opponents, became the acting Defense and Interior Ministers, and gained control over the judiciary all of which led to his image as an autocrat. Although Jaafari and Maliki joined Dawa during the same period, and both went into exile in Iran where they participated in plans to overthrow Saddam Hussein they could not be more different when they became premier. Jaafari loved to talk people to death about esoteric topics, while doing very little as leader of Iraq. Maliki was accused of seizing too much power, and doing too much. Their shared experiences therefore did not shape their vision of how to run Iraq nor their management styles.

Haider Abad’s life started out similar to Jaafari and Maliki’s, but then turned out much different. Like the other two, Abadi came from a well off family. Similar to Maliki, Abadi joined Dawa in 1967 as a teen. He then got a bachelor’s degree at the University of Technology in Baghdad where he became a lecturer in Electrical Engineering making him a professional as Jaafari was. The difference was that Abadi ended up going to London for graduate school and his doctorate in the 1970s. During that period he became the head of the Dawa Party in England where Jaafari would later work with him. After 2003 he was made Communications Minister, and then elected to parliament in 2005 where he was made chairman of the economic committee specializing on reviving the state owned enterprises. He later served as an adviser to Maliki and was put in charge of Tal Afar, which was then under insurgent control. In recent years, he was on the finance committee where he pushed for cutting off budget payments to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for its independent oil policy. Unlike Jaafari’s reputation as a philosopher and Maliki’s as an autocrat, Abadi is known for being a technocrat. He has been a State of Law loyalist as well, but that could be expected since he has been in Dawa for most of his life.

Given the history of Jaafari and Maliki and their time in office there is no reason to believe that Abadi will be like them. Jaafari and Maliki were complete opposites while prime minister even though their time as Dawa members had many similarities. Abadi has even fewer things in common with those two. His technocratic background might be just what Iraq needs during this moment of crisis. Working on problem solving rather than political disputes would be a huge step forward. At the same time, his early statements about what he wants to do in government cannot be taken at face value. He has called for a trimmed down government and for militias to all be under state control. Jaafari and Maliki made similar comments when they took office, but did nothing substantial about them. Only when Abadi actually becomes prime minister and starts forming policy will it be known whether he will be similar or different from his predecessors.


1. Worth, Robert, “Iraq’s New Presidential Names Shiite Leader as Prime Minister,” New York Times, 4/7/05


Arango, Tim and Gordon, Michael, “Next Leader May Echo Maliki, But Iraqis Hope for New Results,” New York Times, 8/19/14

Associated Press, “Shiites choose nominee for Iraq prime minister,” 4/21/06

Buratha News, “Who is the prime minister-designate to form the next government, Haider Abadi?” 8/11/14

Burns, John, “Precarious Cease-Fire in Amara Holds,” New York Times, 10/22/06

Cole, Juan, “Saving Iraq: Mission impossible,” Salon, 5/11/06

Gordon, Michael and Trainor, General Bernard, The Endgame, The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, From George W. Bush to Barak Obama, (New York: Pantheon Books, 2012)

Michaels, Jim, “Shiites Redefine Battle in Baghdad,” USA Today, 8/10/06

Parker, Ned and Salman, Raheem, "Notes From The Underground: The Rise of Nouri al-Maliki," World Policy Institute, May 2013

Sullivan, Marisa Cochrane, “FACT SHEET: IBRAHIM AL-JAAFARI,” Institute for the Study of War,” 5/12/10

Tavernise, Sabrina, “Many Iraqis See Sectarian Roots in New Killings,” New York Times, 5/27/05

Worth, Robert, “Iraq’s New Presidential Names Shiite Leader as Prime Minister,” New York Times, 4/7/05

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Plight Of Iraq’s Yazidis In Ninewa Province Interview With Christine van den Toorn

The Islamic States recent attack upon the Sinjar area of Ninewa province has brought world attention to the plight of Iraqs Yazidis. Insurgents have targeted the small religious group for years, but after Sinjar was taken there were mass executions and kidnappings of more than 1,000 women by the Islamists. The situation was made worse by unfulfilled promises by local Kurdish officials to protect the community. To help explain the situation is Christine van den Toorn who runs The Primary Source a Sulaymaniya based research group, and who is also reporting for Iraq Oil Report and the Daily Beast from northern Iraq. She can be followed on Twitter @vandentoorn.

1. Northern Ninewa province is home to many of Iraqs minorities including the Yazidis. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has made a concerted effort to reach out and co-opt these groups. What kinds of policies did the Kurdish political parties carry out in the Sinjar area?

 An insurgent inside a KDP office in Sinjar. The KDP dominated the politics of the area

KRG really KDP [Kurdistan Democratic Party] policies in Sinjar and other minority, especially Yazidi, communities in Ninewa are a perfect example of patronage politics. I say the KDP because it is the ruling party in Dohuk province and in Ninewa among Kurdish and minority populations. 

The relationship began with the provision of security during and after the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. Peshmerga forces secured minority Yazidi and Christian areas in Ninewa, including Sinjar. This became increasingly important over the years as Al Qaedas presence grew in and around Mosul threatening minority communities. The most deadly attack during the U.S. occupation was in Qahtaniya in southern Sinjar. Over 700 Yazidis were killed. So the KRG and the KDP peshmerga became the guarantors of security for Yazidis in Sinjar.

Under this umbrella of security, the KDP showered those loyal to the Party with handouts, salaries and jobs. This came at the expense of quality. For example thousands of people hired as teachers by the Party for the KRG did not have degrees or any background in their subjects. In addition to teachers, many Sinjaris are employed by the KDP as party officials, police and peshmerga. There is a general feeling though this true for all of Kurdistan region that someone cannot get a job or access power if they are not in the Party.

In addition to jobs there are handouts stipend of monthly salary for turning a building into a KDP office, especially before elections, for example. There were dozens in even small towns in Sinjar.

The KDP really infiltrated every aspect of life. Last spring for example there was a group wedding sponsored by the KDP where Party flags were hung and Party songs were played. Before elections for example national elections last April the town was covered in yellow and red KDP flags and there were rallies every week to which girls and women wear yellow and red dresses.

There are also attempts to change the education system from Arabic and the Baghdad system to Kurdish and the KRG system. Many KRG affiliated schools have opened and teach in Kurdish. While Sinjaris' first language is Kermanji Kurdish, they also speak Arabic and many still want to study in the language they see as useful.

In return for the jobs and security people in Sinjar have voted overwhelmingly disproportionate for the KDP, and to a lesser extent the PUK, in elections. Many have said to me over the years that KDP, Kurdish power in Ninewa is all on the back of Sinjar. They have consistently sent KDP candidates to the parliament in Baghdad and to the Ninewa provincial council.

The issue here is that while the majority of voters and population of Sinjar is Yazidi, somehow many of the candidates who win seats are Muslim Kurds. (This reflects greater Ninewa - a disproportionate number of Muslim Kurds win seats in a province where there are not that many Muslims Kurds. There have though been huge demographic shifts since 2005 as minority populations, Yazidis and Christian have fled Ninewa and in some cases Kurds have repopulated the areas, like Shaikhan.)  Number-wise, this just doesnt make sense. There arent enough Muslim Kurds to put 4 on the Mosul council, for example. Last time in the Ninewa provincial council, Yazidis won 7 of the 11 Kurdish List seats, and only 7in their minds. To explain this, Yazidis say the KDP manipulates voting districts and suppresses Yazidi votes. The Party pushes Muslim Kurdish candidates in highly populated areas and marginalizes Yazidi candidates during the campaign. Locals say they also suppress the number of Yazidi votes by committing fraud during vote counting. For example Saido Jito was a Yazidi candidate from Sinjar many expected to be president of the council, but he did not even win a seat. (He later got on the council when another KDP winner took a leadership post.) He was one of many Yazidis expected to win. Moreover, Yazidis from Sinjar were not happy, to say the least, when despite winning those 7 seats they did not even receive a leadership position on the council. Rather 2 Muslim Kurds were selected for president and first deputy.

A recent local example of this is that Yazidis in Sinjar who were Party, government and peshmerga officials said that there had been meetings to which they were not invited in recent months. In addition, after peshmerga regrouped in Dohuk after the withdrawal from Sinjar, Yezidi peshmerga were told not to come back. 

This reflects that even though the KRG and KDP say publicly that Yazidis are Kurds, the "original Kurds," most Kurds and the KRG dont really consider Yazidis Kurdish Kurds or real Kurds. They are not fully trusted by the KRG. They are also second class citizens socially and religiously. Derogatory stereotypes are common in Kurdish and Iraqi Arab society that Yazidis and their food water and tea are dirty, dont shower, and worship the devil.

KDP and KRG also uses the claim that Sinjar, or Shingalin Kurdish, is a historic part of Kurdistan to justify their takeover of the area.

Despite the second class treatment, Yazidis have no one else to turn to and need the jobs and security the KDP and KRG provide. However now that the provision of security is gone, that might change.

And it is a two way street. As the KRG and Kurdish Kurds, Yazidis consider themselves Kurds in varying degrees. They consider their religious identity first and second and sometimes third. Some Yazidis say they are Kurds, some say maybe they are Kurds or used to be Kurds, and others will say they are not Kurdish. Some Yazidis' Kurdish identity has more to do with politics, allegiance to the KRG, others say it is due to cultural and historic claims.

Identity aside, the main reason the KRG and the KDP are present in Sinjar is politics and oil. They want to fortify and extend Kurdish rule in Ninewa where there are unexplored, like in Shaikhan, Bashiqa and Al Qosh.

The most important point here is that over the past ten years the KRG, and really the KDP, became not just the main but the only guarantors of security in Sinjar and then withdrew that security when ISIS attacked, leaving Yazidis in the hands of the militant Islamic group.

2. Before the summer insurgent offensive there had been some earlier attacks upon the people of Sinjar in the spring of 2014. What happened then?

Since 2012 Yazidis and other minorities, Shabak and Christians, were increasingly targeted in and around Mosul. Students from Sinjar and Bashiqa going to university in Mosul were threatened and one day two of their drivers were killed in a cafeteria. In May Yazidis from Sinjar were killed in Rabiaa while going on the annual tomato harvest. (See article below.)  These are just two of many incidents.

Over the past two months since ISIS entered Mosul, the militant group took control of every district around Sinjar except the road from Sinjar through Rabiaa to Dohuk. They had Sinjar surrounded, and carried out many attacks that should have led Kurdish security officials to be more concerned about a potential larger incursion like the one that happened on August 3.

ISIS was in control of Baaj to the south of Sinjar, Tel Afar to the east, and had positions all over the farms of Raabia to the north. Peshmerga still controlled the road from Sinjar to Dohuk that goes through Raabia, but there were attacks along it, mostly on Shia Turkmen who had fled Tel Afar to Sinjar and were then going to Dohuk. Several times in July mortars were fired from Baaj on villages in south Sinjar like Tel Banat and Belej. Officials and locals said ISIS and local Arabs allied with them fired the mortars.

Yazidis from the villages south of the mountains like Sebaya and Tel Banat told me that weekly and sometimes daily there were mortars fired into their towns and occasionally shots fired on their cars over the past two months, and even before. They requested help and weapons from the KDP office in Sinjar but were denied, and told it was not their job to give out guns.

3. After Mosul fell in June it seemed like the Kurdish authorities were not too concerned with the insurgent offensive, while the Yazidis wanted to leave the Sinjar area. Why were there these differing views of the militants victories?

With good reason, over the past two months citizens of Sinjar have been extremely worried, upset, anxious, to say the least, that ISIS would come to their town next. Families now recall daily debate and conversations about leaving.

One factor that kept them in Sinjar was the constant reassurances from the KDP and Kurdish security forces that they were there to protect them and encouraged them to stay in Sinjar. KDP officials were told to keep people calm and tell them to stay in Sinjar. Lower ranking party members were told by their higher ups if people left their neighborhoods and districts their salaries would be cut.

Many Yazidis in Sinjar asked for weapons (especially after peshmerga took much of the Iraqi Army and Iraq Border Police equipment after they withdrew) to defend their areas but were constantly denied, told that it was not the peshmerga or Partys job to give out weapons, but to protect locals.

Many have said that the KRG focused all of their energy on Kirkuk, and the KDP moved all of its weapons there from Sinjar. Kirkuk is the prize, and KDP probably wanted to challenge PUK authority there. Despite all of the signs of an ISIS attack on Sinjar, they put little effort into defending the district.

Any way you cut the cake this was a massive strategic and security failure. It is difficult to imagine that the KRG did not even consider an attack possible on Sinjar considering Daash perception of Yazidis and that they had the district surrounded. Moreover geographically it is the only district remaining that interrupted the caliphate.

While the failure is partially because Kurds were overstretched and overextended and just incapable of defending all this land against ISIS, Id argue some of it has roots in Kurdish, KDP paper tiger patronage politics, and a feeling among the KRG that Yazidis arent really Kurds and when push comes to shove won't be defended, especially if there is a chance they will lose.

4. What happened when the Islamic State finally attacked the Sinjar area?

The ISIS attack on Sinjar came around 2:00am on the morning of Sunday, August 3. They first attacked southern villages like Tel Banat and Sebaya with mortars and then with ground forces and pick up trucks from Baaj district south of Sinjar. Local Yazidi men fought for hours, until 7:00 to 8:00 am when they ran out of ammunition. Many men from these villages said they fought because they expected the peshmerga to come support them but Kurdish forces never arrived. Some had even more troubling stories of calling KDP and peshmerga friends and officials who told them that back up was coming, but it never did, and in reality the peshmerga and KDP had already withdrawn. In each village that fought, hundreds of men died, though they also reported killing Dassh elements. A man from Sebaya suspected ISIS killed around 400 local men in the fighting, not including the massacres that followed.

Sometime in the early morning hours, 8 to 10 thousand peshmerga troops, and upper level KDP officials withdrew. One of the first was the head of branch 17 in Sinjar Sarbast Baiperi. He left actually the night before, sneaking out in a car with only a couple guards. It is important to note that some peshmerga handfuls here and there stayed to fight. 

When Yazidis arrived to safety in Syria and in Tirbka checkpoint north of the mountain, it was strange for them to see KDP and peshmerga from Sinjar already there.

It is important to note that some officials and peshmerga did stay to help fight ISIS and evacuate civilians. However they were few and far between.

And not only did peshmerga not fight, they did not evacuate civilians which meant that thousands of other men were massacred (lined up and shot) and hundreds of women, girls and even whole families were captured by Daash. They are now being held in villages around Tel Afar, Badush prison, Kayara airport hangers and many are being sold in the Mosul souq.

Not only did troops and officials leave, but they did not tell anyone they were leaving. They gave no warning to people on the northside of the mountain, for example, which could have prevented hundreds, thousands of deaths. All people I talked to recounted hearing about the ISIS attack from friends and family members on the southside of the mountain.

Even when some people heard ISIS attacked they stayed because they thought peshmerga would fight back and protect them.

This withdrawal, lack of warning and no evacuation led people to stay in their homes for hours longer than they should have, and hence led to thousands of deaths and kidnappings.

5. To what extent did local Sunni Arabs or Muslims participate in the attack?

Besides the withdrawal of officials and security forces, Yazidis say the main reason things went so wrong on August 3 was because of participation of their Arab, Muslim neighbors.

However they will also admit it is a mixed bag. While they say "most" Muslims sided with Daash, they talk about many individuals who helped Yazidis escape.

Yazidis from Sinjar say that their Muslim neighbors participated widely in attacks in three ways. One, they provided intelligence to ISIS about the Yazidi communities in Sinjar, like a mukhabarat. The Muslims of Sinjar also allowed ISIS to stay in their homes over past months to study towns, and even the night before the attacks. Last some Muslim either acted as passive bystanders to ISIS attacks or actively participated in the attacks.

Many have stories of recognizing their attackers on August 3 or in videos of massacres since then. One Yazidi man from Khanasor's kreef (a word that signifies a brother like relationship between Yazidis and Muslims) from Zako village is now known to be participating with Daash, for example. On the other hand, many Yazidis have stories of the kreef giving them cars and "Arab clothes" to help them escape, and warning them of the ISIS attack. Most Yazidis say the Shammar tribe in Rabiaa, with whom Yazidis from Sinjar have historic socioeconomic relations did not widely participate. Most of their shaykh had left early on after the ISIS attack as they were officials in the Mosul government.

Yazidis and Muslim Arabs and Kurds have lived side by side in Sinjar for centuries. They are friends, neighbors and kreef. They attend each other's weddings and funerals. So many were surprised, though not too surprised that many of their former friends collaborated. Some said they have never fully trusted Muslims, but that could be just in retrospect.

They explain the collaboration in several ways. Many say it is religion, their Muslim neighbors wanted to be part of the Islamic Caliphate which would give them more power. Many say it was politics. They say that the Sunni Arabs (Muslims) in Sinjar joined due to their loss of power in Sinjar, Ninewa and Iraq. Since 2003 the KDP has taken over Sinjar, giving Yazidi population who they consider Kurds new power. Yazidis say that the Muslims, or Sunni Arabs saw this as their chance to retake power. Many say Muslims stayed "because they could" and wanted to protect their property. 

Whether or not collaboration was widespread, even those Yazidis who don't blame Muslims or Sunni Arabs say that there will always be "something" there now, meaning that they will never be able to trust or live comfortably with them as neighbors again.

 YPG fighters from Syria helped secure routes for Yazidis to flee IS (Rojava Report)

6. The Kurds finally rallied their forces, but it appeared that this was largely due to the arrival of the Kurdistan WorkersParty (PKK) from Turkey and Syria. As I understand it there was a PKK camp in the area, but fighters also came in across from the Syrian border. Can you give some details of what transpired?

When the KDP and peshmerga were pulling out of Sinjar the morning of August 3, the YPG, the Syrian branch of the PKK, were pulling in. They fought ISIS and protected the route for Yazidis to leave the area. They then helped Yazidis on the mountain for the next week. Most famously, along with U.S. airstrikes, the YPG fighters cleared a path for the 40,000 Yazidis to exit the mountain. Today, they are still fighting on the mountain, and have trained thousands of Yazidi youth, boys and girls, from Sinjar to also fight ISIS in Sinjar as part of the new YBS, which translates to the Resistance Brigade of Shingal.

The YBS, YPG and Qassim Shesho's brigades have ambushed ISIS positions over the past week in villages north of the mountain and are reported to have taken back Dugre, Borek and Dohala towns. They however have only AKs and little ammo and will not be able to defeat Daash alone in Sinjar. (Qassim Shesho has become the hero of Sinjar, a local man who has pledged to never leave the mountain and is fighting with a rag tag groups of locals.)

The peshmerga reportedly are still nowhere to be seen. It is only the YBS, YPG and Qassim Shesho's brigade fighting ISIS from the mountain.

It will be difficult to retake Sinjar because it would require taking at least one of the surrounding districts, if not all, to totally eliminate the threat. Sinjar is surrounded by Daash on all sides (Baaj, Tel Afar, Rabiaa). From time to time YPG have had a semi-safe route from Syria to reach villages in the north. 

7. The U.S. has said that the Sinjar Mountain refugee crisis is largely over, but are there still people there and what is their situation?

It is hard to know exactly who is still on the mountain and why. I have heard from Sinjar friends that there are still civilians from Sinjar on the mountain, possibly around five thousand. Some of these people did not want to leave and have lived on the mountain for their whole lives in small villages and nomadic outposts. Others might not have been able to reach the safe passage provided by YPG and US airstrikes earlier this month.

There are also probably two to four thousand fighters on the mountains - Qassim Shesho and Kheri Shingaly and their brigades, the YPG, the new YBS (young men and women from Sinjar who the YPG has trained) and scattered other groups.

8. Finally, whats in the future for the displaced Yazidis. Do they want to return to their homes if theyre retaken, do they want to stay in Kurdistan, do they want to be resettled somewhere else or some other alternative?

Yazidis from Sinjar want either to immigrate to the west or international protection for Sinjar.

Many Yazidis from Sinjar want to immigrate anywhere in the west - Europe, Canada, America or Australia. In their words "anywhere that Islam is not the majority." There are many in this group that say they will not return to Sinjar under any circumstance, that they "have forgotten Sinjar." This is a bold statement considering the historic and present attachment to Sinjar.

There are some who say they would agree to go back if there was "international protection," forces from the U.S. or UN. Yazidis also want a region formed in Ninewa for only minorities - Christians and Yazidis. They also discuss the need for an all Yazidi force to protect the Region alongside, for example, U.N. peacekeepers. They want only Yazidis from Sinjar to run the local government. (Yazidis from Bashiqa mostly say they will go back but only if there is international protection forces. They have a different attitude because there was no violence there and Muslim neighbors did not turn against them.)

There is a large divide between what Yazidis from Sinjar want and what their leaders are advocating for. Most of their leaders are in the KDP and are therefore toeing the Party and KRG line that Yazidis should stay in Kurdistan Region and Iraq and then go back to Sinjar. They do not want Yazidis moving abroad. That said is also potentially unrealistic that over 500,000 Yazidis will be accepted by one or two foreign states.

There are two main reasons they do not want to go home. One, they do not trust, and say they can never trust again, the KRG, Kurdish security forces and the Iraqi army to protect them. Two, they cannot trust their Arab, Muslim neighbors. They argue this is not the first time an army has attacked them under the banner of Islam and it will happen again.


Van den Toorn, Christine and Ashur, Nawaf, attacks on harvest workers in northern iraq signal new security crisis,Niqash, 5/29/14
- How the U.S.-favored Kurds Abandoned the Yazidis when ISIS Attacked,Daily Beast, 8/17/14

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Iraq Suffers Through New Car Bomb Wave

As part of the Islamic State’s (IS) summer offensive it has launched more and more car bombs across the country. In the past, these series of bombs would be separated by several days lasting sometimes up to a week. In August there have been five car bombs waves so far with only one day in between them showing that IS is ramping up its operations.

Aftermath of car bombing in Kirkuk Aug 23 part of the most intense VBIED waves seen in Iraq for years (EPA)

IS has used car bombs for two purposes in recent months. Before they were just an instrument of terror aimed mostly at civilian targets to undermine the government and stoke sectarian tensions by striking Shiite targets in Baghdad. Those still occur today, but the Islamists are also using them as tactical weapons to hit targets on the frontlines with the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and peshmerga. For instance, in recent weeks IS has been attempting to take Haditha and its adjacent dam. The latter could be used to provide electricity to its conquered territories, while also threatening the rest of Anbar and Baghdad with flooding. On August 1 a car bomb hit a checkpoint leading into Haditha as IS began its assault upon the town. Another vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) was used in the fight on August 3. Another example was when IS successful took Jalawla in Diyala it began with 3 car bombs on August 10 with another one being deployed on August 14. At the same time, regular terrorist attacks hitting Shiite targets such as eastern Baghdad continue. August 1, Sadr City was hit leaving 16 dead and 25 wounded. August 6, New Baghdad, Ur, and Sadr City were struck with 47 killed and 117 injured. Sadr City was targeted a third time on August 8 leaving 2 fatalities and 7 wounded. August 13 New Baghdad was hit for the second time with 7 dead and 21 wounded. August 20 a VBIED went off on Palestine Street killing 1 and wounding 6. Finally on August 26 a third car bomb detonation occurred in New Baghdad with 12 dead and 35 injured. These duel uses of VBIEDs will likely increase in the future as the Islamic State is using them more and more.

Car Bomb Attacks In Iraq Jul 30-Aug 26, 2014

Jul 30
Baghdadi, Anbar
Amin & Sadr City, Baghdad
Jul 31

Aug 1
Haditha, Anbar
Sadr City, Baghdad
Aug 2
Rawa, Anbar
Balad & Dujail, Salahaddin
Aug 3
Outside Haditha, Anbar

Aug 4

Aug 5
?, Anbar

Aug 6
Outside Fallujah, Anbar
New Baghdad, Sadr City x2, Ur x2, Baghdad
Aliya Rash, Ninewa
Aug 7
Kadhimiya, Baghdad
Kirkuk, Kirkuk
Aug 8
Fallujah & West of Ramadi, Anbar
Sadr City, Baghdad
Aug 9

Aug 10
Haditha, Anbar
Jalawla x3, Diyala

Aug 11
Diyala Bridge, Baghdad
Aziziya, Wasit
Aug 12
Karrada  & Zafaraniya, Baghdad
Aug 13
Amil, Baya & New Baghdad, Baghdad
Aug 14
Jalawla, Diyala
Aug 15
Ramadi, Anbar

Aug 16

Aug 17
Yusifiya, Baghdad

Aug 18
Iskandiriya x2, Babil
Aug 19
Iskandiriya, Babil

Aug 20
Husseiniya & Palestine St, Baghdad
Aug 21

Aug 22
South of Tikrit, Salahaddin
Aug 23
Baghdadi, Anbar
Karrada, Baghdad
Kirkuk, Kirkuk
Aug 24
Shula, Baghdad
Aug 25
Hillah x2, Babil
Kadhimiya x2, Baghdad
Tweij, Karbala
Aug 26
New Baghdad, Baghdad

The other change in car bombs has been their increasing frequency. Before, there were several days in between car bomb waves. Now, that IS is in the middle of its summer campaign there have only been one day separating each series of VBIEDs this month. The last car bomb wave of July ended on the 30th with Baghdadi in Anbar, and Amin and Sadr City in Baghdad being hit. There were no such incidents on July 31. Then the next campaign started on August 1 until August 3 with six in Anbar, Baghdad, and Salahaddin. Again, there was a one day reprieve on August 4, and then 13 car bombs from August 5-8 in Anbar, Baghdad, Kirkuk, and Ninewa. August 9 was the next break before the third series of the month began lasting from August 10-16. The fourth wave came from August 17-20 hitting Babil and Baghdad. Iraq might have just gone through the last one from August 22-26 with its peak on August 25 when three car bombs went off in Baghdad, two in Babil, and one in Karbala leaving 30 dead and 84 wounded. The ability of the Islamic State to set off so many VBIEDs in quick succession shows the increasing capabilities of its networks. Carrying out car bomb attacks requires technicians, explosives, secure facilities, intelligence gathering, and the bribery and intimidation of members of the security forces to get through checkpoints. The insurgents obviously stocked up on their supplies before the summer to carry out these attacks. At the same time, as IS swept across central Iraq it has been able to pillage several large army bases and supply depots, which has given it access to huge amounts of explosives. That’s probably another reason why these car bombs are occurring so often. The Islamic State has been able to stockpile such a large amount of explosive through its recent exploits that it will be able to sustain these car bomb waves into the foreseeable future.


AIN, "11 persons killed, injured southwestern Baghdad," 8/13/14
- "14 civilians injured southern Tikrit," 8/2/14
- "18 Peshmerga elements killed, injured in Diyala," 8/14/14
- "Karrada bombing casualties hit 39 deaths, injuries," 8/23/14

Alsumaria, "Four dead and 11 wounded in the bombing of the Amil district south of Baghdad," 8/13/14
- "Killing an wounding 25 people in a bomb in Utaifiyya north of Baghdad," 8/25/14
- "Killing and wounding at least 74 civilians in Sadr City in eastern Baghdad," 7/30/14
- "The outcome of the bombing of yesterday 11 dead and 30 wounded," 8/23/14

Associated Press, "Officials: Clashes, bombing kill 17 Iraq soldiers," 8/2/14

Buratha News, "Baghdad blast toll rises to 28 new martyrs and wounded," 8/13/14
- "A car bomb explosion north of Kut without casualties," 8/11/14
- "The death and wounding of 12 people by a car bomb west of Anbar," 7/30/14
- "The high number of victims of the terrorist bombing in Karrada climbs to 13 martyrs and 25 wounded," 8/12/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding 18 people, including a police car in a bomb explosion targeting the federal police headquarters southwest of Baghdad," 8/13/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding nine people, blowing up a bus in Sadr City in eastern Baghdad," 8/8/14
- "A suicide bombing targeting a military checkpoint northern Babylon, without damage or casualties thankfully," 8/19/14

Al Forat, "2 suicide bombing attacks in northern Babel," 8/18/14
- "3 Persons wounded within fourth explosion in Kirkuk," 8/23/14

Independent Press Agency, "Killed five people and wounded 40 car bomb toll Babylon," 8/25/14

Iraq Times, "34 martyrs and injured in the explosion of a car bomb on Palestine Street in eastern Baghdad," 8/20/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding 32 people in New Baghdad and Zafaraniya bombings," 8/6/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding 41 civilians by a car bomb in eastern Baghdad Sadr City," 8/1/14
- "Martyrdom of two soldiers and wounding 12 others in the blowing up of a bridge north of Jurf al-Sakhr," 8/17/14
- "martyrs and wounded 51 and the burning of 14 cars proceeds of explosion in Kazimiyah," 8/7/14

Al Mada, "Killing and injuring 47 people in detonation of car bomb in eastern Baghdad," 8/26/14
- "Killing and injuring seven persons in sticky bomb detonation north of Baghdad," 8/20/14
- "Killing and wounding 12 people in explosion of a car bomb south of Baghdad," 8/11/14
- "Killing and wounding 27 people in explosion of two car bombs north of Baghdad," 8/25/14
- "Zafaraniyah bombing toll rises to 16 dead and wounded," 8/12/14

Al Masalah, "5 civilians killed and 12 wounded initial proceeds of bomb explosion in Shurta," 8/24/14
- "Fall between 24 people dead and wounded by a car bomb in eastern Baghdad," 7/30/14
- "Martyrdom of one civilian and wounding eight others in bombs in Alexandria, north of Babylon," 8/18/14

NINA, "5 people injured in western Anbar," 8/4/14
- "Baghdad Operations: /140/ citizens killed and wound by terrorist attacks in Baghdad," 8/6/14
- "A car bomb driven by a suicide bomber exploded on the Japanese bridge between the city of Fallujah and Ramadi," 8/6/14
- "A car bomb explosion east of Haditha," 8/3/14
- "A car bomb explosion in Haditha, west of Anbar," 8/10/14
- "A car bomb explosion near a checkpoint between Fallujah and Ramadi without knowing the size of the losses," 8/8/14
- "Urgent../15/ people killed and wounded by the explosion of two car bombs in Ur neighborhood northeast of Baghdad," 8/6/14
- "Urgent..A suicide attack on a point of the Army and the Awakening at the northern entrance to Haditha," 8/1/14

Radio Free Iraq, "23 August 2014," Daily Updates from Anbar, 8/23/14

Al Rayy, "Al-Anbar police chief and director of Zunkur police chief survive an assassination attempt in eastern Ramadi," 8/15/14
- "Killing and wounding 13 Daash in car bomb west of Anbar," 8/2/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding 17 people in explosion of two car bombs in northern Babil," 8/18/14
- "Peshmerga pulled out of their headquarters amid Jalawla after three car bombs and 20 suicide bombers," 8/11/14
- "Tank explosion led by a suicide bomber western Anbar," 8/8/14

Rudaw, "Peshmerga Hit IS in Mosul," 8/6/14

Salaheddin, Sinan, "Iraq premier-designate: militias must follow state," Associated Press, 8/25/14

Salaheddin, Sinan and Salama, Vivian, "Bombings kill 42 in Iraq after Sunni mosque attack," Associated Press, 8/23/14

Xinhua, "12 killed in suicide car bombing in Baghdad," 8/7/14
- "33 killed in battles with insurgents, bomb attacks in Iraq," 8/2/14

Yacoub, Sameer and Salaheddin, Sinan, "Car bombs kill 51 in Baghdad Shiite neighborhoods," Associated Press, 8/6/14