Not just a question of security

It seems that Iraq is yet to achieve normalcy. The security challenge continues to loom large as does the political challenges that continue to hamper stability.

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Published: Tue 14 Dec 2010, 8:48 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:36 PM

The series of terror attacks targeting different locations outside Baghdad on Sunday resulted in the killing of at least 15 people. While the latest fatalities may appear slim compared to the shocking numbers witnessed as early as November, these portend trouble in the coming days. First these have occurred in Muharram where the sectarian card is always exploited by terrorist organisations. Second, these appear to be on the same pattern as the ones conducted earlier by the Islamic State of Iraq, an Al Qaeda affiliated group belonging to the larger umbrella entity of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia or Al Qaeda in Iraq. Previously as well the group had targeted Shia, Christian and government targets purported to be part of a drive to establish an Islamic state.

The siege and attack on a Church in Baghdad, end October seems to have become the breaking point. The killing of 51 worshippers and two priests at the time coupled with other incidents where Christians have been singled out and targeted has led to a growing fear among the community. It is believed that a large number of Iraqi Christians feel that the government is unable to tackle the security threat and are hence fleeing to other safer areas in Northern Iraq and even abroad. While Prime Minister Nour al Maliki who finally managed to get the reins in hand after a record political impasse following elections has urged people not to give in to panic and trust the government, there is not much confidence on display. Many Iraqis feel that the national security forces and the government is not up to the task. Having won an overwhelming number of votes in the 2006 elections on the security premise, Maliki seems to have lost the edge he enjoyed while the US forces were operational. It is not surprising that the dormant terror cells exploited this opportunity and continue to do so. Moreover, by using the sectarian card to restart the tensions of yesteryears between the Shia and Sunni factions, following the US invasion, there seems to be a clear agenda on the cards. Of creating anarchy and violence leading towards civil war and even a regional conflagration.

It is imperative that Iraq’s political leadership put aside all differences and urgently address the challenges that are growing bigger by the day. Both the political and economic arms of the state are likely to be paralysed unless security of the Iraqi people and the state — a paramount concern — is not achieved.

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