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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Blog Roundup: Catastrophe in Samarra

I devoted my weekly Global Voices Online post on Iraqi blogs to the bombing of the Shia Shrine in Samarra. Which I republish here in full for your comments.

The general consensus among all the bloggers is that no Iraqi could have been behind the bombing. Some blame foreign terrorists, some blame America, and one even blames Iran. Most are worried that this heralds the start of an all-out civil war.

There are reports from the ground:
Christopher Albritton was in the Green Zone when the news of the bombing broke. He knew something big happened because his interviewee cancelled. Omar of Iraq the Model blames foreign terror groups and reports on the tension in Baghdad: “Sporadic gunfire is heard in different spots in Baghdad but no one knows for sure if the firing meant clashes or mere angry shooting in the air.” Zeyad gives the clearest impression of the atmosphere now:

The situation in Baghdad is bad, bad, bad. I had to flee work early and return home after news of large protests in Shi’ite districts, and several attacks against Sunni mosques in the Baladiyat, Sha’ab and Dora districts by angry rioters. Sunnis are being blamed for the attack against a Shia holy shrine in Samarra, a largely Sunni town.

The streets look empty now, and all stores seem to be closed. I can hear gunfire and American helicopters and jets circling the skies.

Baghdad Treasure also has a strange drive home:

I decided to go back home early and work from there. I expected most of the streets to be blocked by the security forces. I made my driver take me in an armored car this time. I hate to use it but I had to. It was the sunset time. Most Iraqis usually seize the opportunity that it is not too late, so they hang out for shopping and having some fun. Today, Baghdad looked like the city of ghosts. All the way back home, I saw few cars and all were speeding to avoid any danger might happen. It was scary, specially it wasn’t fully dark.

Hassan Kharrufa heard about the attack first when a BBC reporter called him out of the blue. “I looked at the number calling me, and it was a private number. It only meant one thing. Someone was calling me from outside Iraq. “Hey I’ll get down here if you don’t mind”, I said to the driver.”

And opinions from the bloggers:
Raed is sceptical that there will be a civil was as a result of the bombing. He points out that revenge attacks on Sunni mosques were stopped qulckly and goes on to say:

When the Iraqi volcano erupts, it won’t burn Iraqis. Unlike what the bush administration is trying to promote and claim, Iraqis never had a civil war, and they’ll never have one unless the occupation troops stay in Iraq… Today’s attack was yet another disaster that will be contained and dealt with by all the different Iraqi religious and social leaders. I hope this incident will not cause any further vioence against anyone, and I hope it’ll prove to the world that Iraqis are capable of handling the most tragic crisis without turning against each other.

Truth About Iraqis gives a good summary of the unfolding events updated from a number of sources. He expects a civil war that is to the benefit of America “Day one of Iraq’s civil war: Sunnis killed, “dozens” of Sunni mosques attacked… The US plan for the liberation of Iraq has finally entered its final stages. As civil war looms almost inevitably, the US plan for Iraq is bearing fruit.” He adds:

We are being pushed and pulled closer and closer into a civil war by elements that are clearly foreign. No Iraqi would abide by such crimes. No Iraqi would seek to tear the social fabric of our country.

Baghdad Dweller muses on who could be responsible for the attack and narrows it down to Iran or America. Imad Khaduri points to obvious contradictions between news reports on the bombing an the statement issued by the Interior Minister. Salam Adil points out the irrelevance of the political process and suggests that there needs to be a radical change in American policy before another Samarra forces people to take to the streets.

The final word goes to Baghdad Treasure:

It is hard to see this beautiful and ancient country destroyed. It seems what the Americans have done was not enough. Iraqis should suffer, be killed, watch themselves humiliated, and kill each other just because America wants to remove Saddam from its way to make the world safer. Or let’s say to make America safer and hell be with the non-Americans as some of them say. Let the whole world be happy and “safe” now because Iraq’s “liberation” made it safe for them, but unfortunately made it a hell for Iraqis.


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