Monday, October 26, 2009

Big Set Back in Baghdad

Juan Cole over at Informed Comment explains it best. The one point I would like to add however is that explosives as incredibly powerful as those used in Sundays carnage are not easily available. When a conventional explosion of this size occurs you have to wonder if there is governmental involvement. Since it was a Sunni attack against the Shia dominated ministries this point the finger at Syrian or even Saudi involvement.

The particular ministries that were struck may be significant, since Iraq operates on a spoils system and ministries tend to be dominated by political parties and ethnic groups. The Minister of Public Works is Riyadh Gharib, a prominent member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, which is close to the clerics in Tehran. Public Works as a ministry would thus have a lot of ISCI party members as employees and it is also a huge source of political patronage. Baathists or Sunni extremists would have every reason to hit it.

The Ministry of Justice had been less politicized, but from 2007 was in the control of the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance. The Minister of Justice from last February is Judge Dara Nur al-Din, an independent Kurd. He had been a member of the Interim Governing Council under Paul Bremer, for which some groups in Iraq may not have forgiven him. The ministry of justice also oversees court cases and executions, including of prominent Baathists, executions that Nur al-Din has defended, and which have angered the anti-government guerrillas.

As for the Baghdad Provincial government (it is both a province and a city), it has been dominated since the January, 2009, provincial elections by the State of Law coalition of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the leading element of which is the Shiite Islamic Mission Party (Da'wa).

So if the guerrillas who set these bombs were trying to kill party cadres attached to ministries, you'd have to conclude they were trying to kill those of the ruling Shiite religious parties, and also to take revenge on the new regime for the Ministry of Justice's executions of Baathists and Sunnis.

The attacks inevitably had implications for the January, 2010, parliamentary elections, insofar as they make Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his ascendant Islamic Mission Party look incompetent in providing security. Since al-Maliki has done a fair job of restoring security to cities such as Basra, this success is a campaign talking point for him, which the guerrillas are attempting to deflect.


Paul said...

Hi Ted, good article and very sad times for Baghdad. You're wrong about explosives not being easily available in Iraq however. Left over munitions still litter parts of the country six and a half years after the US, Brits and others arrived. VBIEDs such as those employed in Baghdad will usually use artillery rounds rigged as explosives. The tragedy of course is that incidents like this belie the fact that Al Qaeda was defeated in Iraq. All the remaining Sunni Jihadists can now do is strike at Iraqi civilians.

Paul said...

On a separate note are you planning to add 'The odd angry Shot' to your list of war films? IMHO it's an absolute classic and one of the few realistic Vietnam War movies.

Ted Leddy said...

Thanks Paul

I suppose I'm assuming that when there is such an enormous explosion that it must be a more sophisticated set up rather than a regular terrorist cell working from some bomb factory in a Baghdad backstreet. Sunday's bomb reminded me of the Beirut marine barracks bombing in 1983 which was carried out by Hezbollah most likely at the behest of Tehran. Perhaps Sundays bomb was not as big or well organised as I thought. Maybe they got lucky. And as the IRA chillingly used to say, "we only have to be lucky once, you have to be lucky every time". Thankfully these bombings are less frequent in Iraq ever since, as you say, Al Quaeda were largely defeated after the new strategy adopted by the US in 2007.

I don't know "The Odd Angry Shot" well. Its a long time since I have seen it. I have not finalised my list so I will re familiarise myself with it before I complete the list. To be honest, I'm not a great Vietnam war movie man. I'm all about World War Two with the odd exception.