Spurt in violence


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asualty figures compiled by the Iraqi government indicate that violence is spiralling again in the country. Around 393 civilians are reported to have been killed and over 1,500 injured in blasts, shootings and mortar attacks in August alone. Analysts say that while the violence is far less than that which engulfed Iraq in 2006-07, the recent violence is worrying as it is taking place in highly fortified parts in Baghdad. In mid-August, explosions outside the foreign ministry near the perimeter of the highly guarded Green Zone and another close to the finance ministry building left over 100 people dead and close to 500 injured on a single day.

The surge in violence comes close on the heels of the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq’s cities. A section of analysts are pointing out that the recent spurt in violence underscores Iraq’s inability to take care of its own security. In the coming days, this section will step up calls for the need for US troops currently stationed in Iraq to assume a larger role. They will see in the recent spike in violence justification for US troops remaining, if not returning to combat operations. It is true there has been a surge in violence in Iraq in recent weeks and indeed, Iraq’s security forces are unable to cope. This is because of inadequate training they have received. Besides, it is only a little over two months since they have assumed responsibility for security of their country and it will take some time for them to consolidate control over the situation.

Several of the recent attacks in Iraq are believed to be the work of the ‘al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia.’ It is obvious that the al-Qaeda wants the US occupation forces back in Iraq. This is not surprising since the two, while claiming to fight each other, actually feed on each other’s presence, each using the other to justify their presence in Iraq. Those who are pointing to the recent escalation in violence as calling for enhanced US troop engagement in Iraq should realise that the recent spurt in violence is still nowhere near that which engulfed Iraq from 2003 onwards when the US troops were engaged in active combat. There is no doubt that training for Iraqi police and soldiers needs to be improved. But there is no need for US troops to resume active operations in Iraq. 

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