Tick … tick … tick …
Unpleasant signs of what Iraq’s future holds continue to pop up in the supposedly “quiet” areas of the country. Reuters reports this from Kurdistan in the north:
At least five Iraqis were killed and more than 20 wounded Wednesday when gunfire erupted during a demonstration in Kirkuk, where Kurds are bidding for more control of the oil-rich northern city.Meanwhile, another Reuters article describes the plight of minority Christians in the Shiite south:
Several thousand Arab and Turkmen protesters marched on the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of two main Kurdish factions, and surrounded the building, chanting “No to federalism, Kirkuk is Iraqi.”
Kirkuk’s chief of police said two people were killed in a burst of gunfire. Doctors said three more people died later at a nearby hospital and at least 20 were wounded.
Since the war that toppled Saddam, armed groups have looted and set ablaze several liquor stores in the once freewheeling city, where Shi’ite religious parties now wield power and seek to impose strict moral regulations, similar to Iran’s.The common thread in these stories is ethnic majorities seeking to impose their political and social will by force, with virtually no resistance from the U.S. (which is too busy trying to keep its own troops from being blown up to bother with protecting Iraqi minorities).
More than 400 liquor stores run by Christians, the only community allowed to sell alcohol under the former Baathist government, were forced to close in the immediate aftermath of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.
. . . Iraqi Christians are terrified of armed Shi’ite groups, which have names like God’s Vengeance, God’s Party and the Islamic Bases Organization.
Their members roam the streets to chase mobsters, drug addicts and prostitutes, exacting their brand of what they call God’s law.
Juan Cole has a more extensive roundup of recent news from Basra, including uncontrolled smuggling of oil and illegal drugs that the British openly confess they don’t have the troops to deal with.