The Risk of Escalating Violence in Iraq

  • 13 July 2009

Since the withdrawal of US forces from Iraqi cities at the end of last June, acts of violence in Iraq escalated significantly. This stands in stark contrast to earlier expectations that the situation would only be calm once the United States completes its final withdrawal at the end of 2011. What is noteworthy is that recent acts of violence are not concentrated around the capital Baghdad, but have spread to many cities like Mosul, Kirkuk and Diyala. The violence is of a sectarian nature that targets the Shiite communities and its places of worship, which means that it aims to ignite secretion conflict once again, just like it had caused a near civil war-like situation a few years ago.

Everyone was waiting for the moment of US withdrawal from Iraqi cities as a crucial shift in the history of Iraq towards confirmation of its sovereignty. It was seen as a step toward assuming full control of Iraqi destiny following the final withdrawal of US troops, which would pave the way for a new phase of rebuilding and stability, progress and improvement in relations with neighboring countries.

However, some groups wanted to play spoilsport, and snuff any glimmer of hope for the Iraqi people on a better future for their country. They escalated violence and intimidated innocent Iraqis in an attempt to blow up the Iraqi arena once again. Renewed violence suggests that sources of danger still exist in the Iraqi arena, waiting for the right time to erupt and cause turmoil and chaos once again. There are already some armed groups, with Al-Qaeda being on top of that list, which want ?to send the misleading message that the withdrawal of the US forces took place because of their actions and they want to highlight the fragility of the security situation in the country. These organizations realize that the current environment in Iraq provides them with an ideal opportunity to ignite sectarian violence on a large scale. This Undoubtedly, this poses a great danger that brings to mind the bloody sectarian clashes that Iraqis had to suffer a few years back before it came under control.

If the renewed violence suggests that the security challenge will remain the main problem facing Iraq in the near future, they also present a cruel test for the Iraqi government to determine its degree of ability to manage its affairs in this transitional phase. It also has to deal with the issue promptly and realistically on the internal crisis to face rampant corruption in many sectors and the issue of Kirkuk, as these issues cannot be separated from the security file.

The issue of violence cannot be tackled by security plans and strategies alone, but also—and perhaps most importantly—by political action on the achievement of national reconciliation and the elimination of differences among Iraqis, and promoting the principle of nationhood that rises above all considerations—ethnic, sectarian or religious.