An Iraqi military helicopter flies over Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad. Reuters/Stringer
On the tenth anniversary of the April 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein’s secular, nationalist government, Paul Wolfowitz—a neoconservative and key architect of the American invasion of Iraq—wrote a lengthy apologia for the war. In it, he concluded: “It is remarkable that Iraq has done as well as it has thus far.” Besides Wolfowitz, various other members of the George W. Bush administration have similarly weighed in, insisting that the unprovoked, illegal war against Iraq was the right thing to do.
Many Iraqis would disagree.
Since that April anniversary, thousands of Iraqis have been slaughtered in sectarian and political violence. In May, more than 1,000 Iraqis were killed in a relentless wave of bombings, suicide attacks, assassinations and other violence, according to the United Nations, and nearly 2,000 have been killed since April. No doubt, those totals understate the true scope of the killing.
Some of the violence is a spillover from the civil war in Syria, where a panoply of Islamist militias, some directly linked to Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), are waging a battle against the secular, authoritarian government of Bashar al-Assad. In Iraq, the AQI forces may or may not be allied with remnants of the old Iraqi order, including Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, the top Baathist official still active in the armed resistance to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government. Duri, who reportedly is still living underground in Iraq, has set up a group called the Naqshbandi Order, led by ex-Baathists. Both AQI and Duri’s forces draw strength from Iraq’s complex web of Sunni tribes, and—although most of the people killed by Sunni-led violence in Iraq are Shiites or supporters of Maliki—many of the dead are Sunnis who are cooperating with Maliki or are neutral.
In the following, The Nation has compiled a partial list of the major incidents of mass killing since the tenth anniversary of Saddam’s fall:
April 5: 20 dead, 55 wounded in two bombings in Baquba, Diyala province. Eyewitness: “It was like a red pond. People were running over the dead ones. The place was full of blood.”
April 15: 37 dead, 140 wounded in twenty separate attacks, “mostly car bombings, in Baghdad, Kirkuk, Hilla, Fallujah, Nasiriya and Tikrit.”