Violence in Iraq

Political instability and lawlessness are taking their toll in Iraq. The series of bomb blasts on Friday in the capital Baghdad and the sleepy northern city of Kirkuk are just a manifestation of unrest simmering deep in the body politick of the country.

With a strong sectarian-cum-lingual dimension, it has now come to play havoc with people from all sections of thought. Though the attacks are directed against the majority community, the minority Kurds and other sizeable groups are also at the receiving end. At least, 19 people were killed on Friday and more than 100 injured. A week ago, 60 people died in a series of car and suicide bombings in and around Baghdad, marking the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

The point is that a couple of faceless organisations are busy working in Iraq to weaken its solidarity and threaten its very existence. That is why Al Qaeda, and the like, keep exploiting the political and sectarian mosaic of the country, and have come as a credible threat. If they are at loose, then the reason is that they have found refuge in the society, and made use of unscrupulous elements for their nefarious designs. At the same time it speaks of the government’s inability to stem the rot, as its energies are diverted at hobnobbing a fractured coalition. Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki’s administration has been in the woods for quite some time and has not been able to govern peacefully. Its coalition partners, including the Kurds, the liberals and factions within its own majority sect, now nurse serious differences with Maliki, and this renewed sense of political instability has further unnerved the Iraqis — who had been struggling with issues such as unemployment, inflation and lawlessness.

The present mayhem, however, could be an outcome of geopolitical revulsions. The porous borders of the war-torn country come handy for foreign meddlers and there is no dearth of such elements from Iran and Syria. Similarly, major powers, including the United States, have an agenda and want to pressure Iraq to follow their own line of action. That is evident from US Secretary of State John Kerry’s surprise visit to Baghdad last week during which he wanted Iraq to distance itself from Iran and become part of a coalition against Syria in the region. The attacks on the majority sect that is in power could be an offshoot of such undercurrents. Baghdad, which has treaded a cautious and impartial line since the fall of the Saddam regime, shouldn’t lose its track and stay aloof from becoming a bulwark against its neighbours. But as a priority, Iraq has to put its house in order and move against elements fanning sectarian and ethnic strife.

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