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Insurgents targeting Iraqi government

December 30, 2009

Happy New Year to everyone!

unfortunately the problems in Iraq are still ongoing, as government officials there are still targeted for death and intimidation. Let’s hope the situation continues to improve there in the new year.

From NY Times, December 30, 2009.

Provincial Governor Survives Iraq Bombings


BAGHDAD — Attacks by two suicide bombers on Wednesday in the city of Ramadi killed at least 24 people and wounded nearly 60, including the governor of Anbar Province, a police official said.

Anbar Province, the embattled region west of Baghdad, has been a bellwether for Iraq’s fortunes. In 2004, the killing of four American contractors in Falluja signaled the hardening of the insurgency. In 2006, when tribal leaders in Anbar turned against the insurgency by creating the Sunni Awakening Council, their efforts brought the first turn toward peace in the country.

On Wednesday morning, insurgents in Ramadi, the provincial capital, brought what may be another reversal in the region’s fortunes. At 9:30 a.m. a car bomb exploded at a police checkpoint near the governor’s office. When the governor, Qasim Abed al-Fahadawi, left the office to check on the explosion, a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest attacked, wounding the governor and two members of the provincial council, according to police commander, Maj. Gen. Tariq al-Dulaimi.

The two bombs killed 24 and injured 58, said Jasen Mohammed Hamed, chief of the Anbar provincial council. The police imposed a curfew on the province, closing the streets to anyone except police and security forces.

Iraqi security forces at the site of a bombing in Ramadi on Wednesday.

American forces took the governor to an American military base for treatment.

Sheik Hameed al-Hies, the head of the Anbar Salvation Council, spoke of the province’s recent history.

“They want to bring Anbar back to the past,” he said.

Sheik Hies said violence in the region was increasing in anticipation of national elections scheduled for March.

“The terrorists do not want Anbar people to participate in the elections,” he said.

He blamed the violence among the predominantly Sunni province’s tribes, which often play out among the police and military forces.

“The main problem that we are suffering from here in Anbar is the problem of the tribal gathering, which is more dangerous than the sectarian gathering,” he said.

Other local officials attributed Wednesday’s attack to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which previously had its stronghold in the region. But they also criticized the local police for letting the region’s security to diminish. Two years ago, Anbar was a model for what Iraq could become; now it is becoming a warning.

Wednesday’s attack follows a recent rise in deadly insurgent activity that Iraqi and American officials have called an attempt to re-establish the insurgency in a region from which it had been largely routed. In recent months, insurgents in Anbar have killed several important tribal leaders and staged regular attacks on police checkpoints.

A bomb outside a national reconciliation meeting in Ramadi killed 26 people and wounded 65; a suicide bomber killed 16 people at a restaurant popular among police in Falluja; and another killed six people at a police officer’s funeral in Haditha.

The attacks show that the security forces are ill-equipped to fight a renewed insurgency, said Sheikh Ahmed Abu Resha, the head of the Awakening Council and a candidate for Parliament representing the Iraq Unity Alliance coalition. “Our security forces are fragile and need logistic support,” he said.

Shortly after the attack on Wednesday, the Iraqi Islamic Party, the country’s largest Sunni party, issued a statement declaring the violence an attempt “to bring back chaos again to Anbar territory,” which the party said hindered reconstruction and spread financial and administrative corruption.

Elsewhere in Iraq on Wednesday, violence continued to mar observances of Ashura, which commemorates the death of the revered Shiite martyr Imam Hussein. During the two-week observance, hundreds of thousands of black-clad Shiites take to the streets or march to the shrine city of Karbala. On Wednesday, as mourners in Diyala Province, north of Baghdad, commemorated the imam’s burial, a bomb hidden in a heap of trash killed seven people and wounded 28 others.

It was not immediately clear if Mr. Fahadawi had been a specific target of the bombers, although a new wave of violence has recently been unleashed against the Awakening Council.

Mr. Fahadawi , a chemical engineer who was born in Ramadi and graduated from Baghdad University, had worked in a military commission under the Baathist government of Saddam Hussein.

He left Iraq in 2006 as fighting raged between coalition forces and the insurgents. He retreated to the United Arab Emirates, then returned to Iraq when the insurgency had been suppressed and Sunni political leaders invited him to participate in the provincial government.

He was chosen to be governor by the head of the Awakening Council, Ahmed Abu Risha, after the council won provincial elections early this year.

John Leland reported from Baghdad, and Mark McDonald from Hong Kong. Anwar J. Ali and Mohammed Hussein contributed reporting from Baghdad, and Iraqi employees of the New York Times from Ramadi and Diyala Province.

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