Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

July 29, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

KIRKUK....The New York Times account of the bombing in Kirkuk on Monday is devastating:

Just after 11 a.m., a suicide bomber blew herself up, killing at least 17 demonstrators and wounding 47 others, according to Iraqi security officials.

No one claimed responsibility for the bombing, which bore the hallmarks of Sunni Arab extremists. Nonetheless, many in the crowd blamed Turkmen extremists for the attack, and within minutes a mob of enraged Kurds began attacking Turkmen political offices and setting their buildings ablaze.

....One element fueling the Kurds' rampage was the widespread belief that Turkmens had fired on Kurdish demonstrators dashing away from the bomb blast.

....Farouk Abdullah, a senior Turkmen politician, said that offices of every Turkmen party had been attacked and that Kurdish rioters had destroyed a number of other Turkmen buildings. "We don't know why they attacked us," he said. "We did not have anything to do with the explosion."

By the end of the day, the riot and violence by Kurds against Turkmens had become one of the most severe ethnic skirmishes in Kirkuk since the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. The city has long been considered a tinderbox because of its volatile mix of Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs.

The suicide bombing was bad enough on its own. The fact that it immediately led to a Kurdish rampage is worse. Everyone who follows Iraqi politics has been waiting on pins and needles for years for Kirkuk to erupt, and pretty much everyone seems to think that this kind of thing could be all it takes to turn Kirkuk's long-simmering ethnic feuds into all-out war. So far it hasn't, though, and the good news is that the Sunni extremists who were probably responsible for this attack are likely to have a limited supply of female suicide bombers. That may be a thin reed, but at least it's a reed.

Kevin Drum 2:07 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

So far it hasn't, though, and the good news is that the Sunni extremists who were probably responsible for this attack are likely to have a limited supply of female suicide bombers. That may be a thin reed, but at least it's a reed.

Maybe I missed that in my brief skim, but I didn't see that in the NYTimes article. If so, it would be a shame and a blow to our feminist sisters in Iraq.

Posted by: jerry on July 29, 2008 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, woot-off tonight.

Posted by: jerry on July 29, 2008 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

"likely to have a limited supply of female suicide bombers"

She was just the fuse. If Kirkuk is as fragile as is reported, when it blows up, it will have only required one fuse.

Posted by: Everyman on July 29, 2008 at 2:47 AM | PERMALINK

Sunnis can't do a little creative cross-dressing?

Who would be able to tell?

Posted by: Stranger on July 29, 2008 at 2:58 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone who follows Iraqi politics has been waiting on pins and needles for years for Kirkuk to erupt, and pretty much everyone seems to think that this kind of thing could be all it takes to turn Kirkuk's long-simmering ethnic feuds into all-out war.

As bad as the violence is today, the politics have been worse for some time. The Kurds walked out in the last assembly and refused to accept equal representation for Turkomen and Arabs. Maybe they're right. Who knows. But it doesn't make reconcilliation any easier, or reduce tensions.

This has been simmering for too long, and needs to be stopped before Kirkuk becomes a loci for civil war. Unfortunately, I see no way to stop it at this time, short of occupying the entire region in force--which will likely only put a lid on it for as long as the force is in place. Given that the ISF is not up to the job, that leaves... who? Maybe we just give it to the Kurds and ignore the ethnic cleansing that will be the inevitable result?

Sans a new political solution (fat chance, but there's always hope), we accept that fragmentation of Iraq into ethnic regions--with more ethnic cleansing--and fragmentation of a greater Iraq. Maybe not the worst outcome, but certainly not what proponents of the "surge" were banking on. Where in the hell is that political reconciliation and stability we were suppose to have bought with it? (Can you hear me McCain?)

Posted by: has407 on July 29, 2008 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

I smell another successful surge in the making.
>end sarcasm

.

Posted by: basilbeast on July 29, 2008 at 3:08 AM | PERMALINK

What has407 said about the internal and parliamentary machinations going on. Also to point out that the 'traditional enemy' (going back centuries) of Kurds has been Turks. And that at present the U.S. is allowing Turkey to bomb 'suspected PKK bases' in Iraqi Kurdistan. In a poisonous ethnic atmosphere like that these sad and horrifying events have a sort of necessity and logic.

Posted by: JohnMcC on July 29, 2008 at 3:23 AM | PERMALINK

John McCain's "the surge worked" meme is reminiscent of "mission accomplished". Anyone who thinks Iraq has suddenly blossomed into a flower of liberal democracy is a naive fool (i.e. most Republicans). Read juancole.com everyday for a more realistic picture of this disintegrated, ethnically-riven country than the mainstream media will ever provide.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 29, 2008 at 6:02 AM | PERMALINK

May 1, 2003
George Bush:

Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.

In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world. Our nation and our coalition are proud of this accomplishment..........

Posted by: steve duncan on July 29, 2008 at 7:17 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know, Kevin.

We're awful good at making new terrorists.

Posted by: Crissa on July 29, 2008 at 7:49 AM | PERMALINK

[T]he good news is that the Sunni extremists who were probably responsible for this attack are likely to have a limited supply of female suicide bombers.

And you base this estimate of resource constraints in the supply of female suicide bombers on what data? I don't see how the supply of female bombers would be smaller than the (apparently endless) supply of male bombers. And given the horrific levels of family violence and societal constraints reported by Iraqis on the ground I would expect that the depression and feelings of hopelessness experienced by women in Iraq would result in more of a supply of female bombers. Yes, I am aware of cultural constraints. But, these types of events tend to erode those constraints. You know, the whole tit for tat thing.

Posted by: 22state on July 29, 2008 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Female suicide bombers are a renewable resource.

Posted by: Bony Tony on July 29, 2008 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Good thing Al-Qaeda has been defeated in Iraq or else we'd be seeing terrorist attacks against Iraqi's....Oh, wait a minute

Posted by: Stephen on July 29, 2008 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Well I guess Hunt Oil isn't so safe after all.

And what about "conditions on the ground"? It all shows that Iraq needs another surge, apparently because the first wasn't so successful after all. Too bad we're fresh out of surge potential.

What will McCain say next? The nations hype driven eyes all look to Karl Rove. It's just another miserable day in Kingdom of Bushdom (or is it Bushdumb).


Posted by: Me_again on July 29, 2008 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

But we've won. The AP told me so.

Posted by: ckelly on July 29, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Naw - just need to surge those extra troops from Baghdad (primarily) to Kirkuk.

Oops - after a side trip to Diyala to deal with Al Queda (I guess the Awakening had to take a nap or something).

Oh wait - weren't the troops supposed to be coming back? Or going to Afghanistan?

Posted by: Butch on July 29, 2008 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Was not Pandora's box made of thin reeds?

a limited supply

There is an almost unlimited supply of despairing, broken people in Iraq who have nothing to live for, who will take the chance to kill people they think are responsible for their suffering. Except for the despairing, brokeness, suffering and willingness to become suicide bombers, they are a lot like Americans.

Posted by: Brojo on July 29, 2008 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Different reports of this incident say very different things. The New York Times says

No one claimed responsibility for the bombing, which bore the hallmarks of Sunni Arab extremists. Nonetheless, many in the crowd blamed Turkmen extremists for the attack, and within minutes a mob of enraged Kurds began attacking Turkmen political offices and setting their buildings ablaze.
But this Swiss article,
http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news/international/Bombers_kill_50_in_Iraq.html?siteSect=143&sid=9383232&cKey=1217245963000&ty=ti
says:
Demonstrators seeking refuge after the blast ran to a nearby office of Kirkuk's ethnic Turkmen minority, but were fired upon by the building's guards, who thought they were under attack, said Major-General Jamal Taher, Kirkuk's police chief.

Were the demonstrators attacking the Turkmen, or were they seeking refuge?

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on July 29, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

I could be pulling this out of thin air, but IIRC having female suicide bombers is usually a sign that what you're looking at is civil war rather than religious fanaticism. And it's a lot easier to recruit people for a patriotic civil war than it is to get them to blow themselves up for God.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on July 29, 2008 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Turkmen ask for UN intervention!

Posted by: Dr Wu, I'm just an ordinary guy on July 29, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that Kurdish are attacking Turkmen offices after the explosion, doesn't necessarily mean that the explosion is directed by Turkmens. The demography of the city has been changed since the beginning of the war. Consequently, the Kurdish riot, which is turning into a senseless slaughter, basically stems from the 'local election act' brought by the Iraq parliament. This implies the game behind the doors while justifying that they were just looking for a reason to attack the other communities there. Besides, the battalion brought to protect Turkmens are directed by Barzanian pesmerges, which is a supportive fact to this implication.

Posted by: on August 3, 2008 at 7:35 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly