American soldiers are still dying in Iraq, the Iraqi government is split, there may be a lawsuit to see who actually leads the country, non-Muslims are being targeted, some government employees are not receiving their pay (maybe because they are women?), and old enemies stir up trouble again. Let's take a look at Iraq today and a look forward to a time when US troops will no longer be present in Iraq.
June has been the deadliest month for American combat fatalities in more than two years, with two U.S. service members killed in Northern Iraq Sunday for a total of 11 killed by hostile fire. In Baghdad, a suicide bomber in a wheelchair blew himself up at the entrance to a police station north of the city yesterday, killing three people and wounding 18, officials said. The majority of U.S. Troops are supposed to be out of Iraq by the end of the year.
In Iraq, nothing is guaranteed, especially peace and freedom. A group of Sunni tribal leaders in Ramadi protest the killing of Hamid Ahmed Shahab, a local police commander, by members of the Iraqi Army. According to the New York Times, American officials have said that Moktada al-Sadr is still linked to some armed groups in Iraq that attack Americans and has made statements about returning to violence if the Americans prolong their stay which create a political dilemma for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who relied on the support of Mr. Sadr’s followers in Parliament to secure a second term. In January of 2011 Sadr, in his first public address since his return home after about four years of self-imposed exile (ayatollah school in Iran), called on Iraqis to support the newly-formed government, while resisting the US troops.
... as remaining U.S. troops prepare to withdraw from the country by the end of the year, military commanders are warning that there could be an uptick in attacks against them. So far this year, 22 troops have by killed by hostile fire in Iraq, equal to the number killed in combat in all of 2010, according to Icasualties.org
Elsewhere in Iraq on Sunday, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a police station about 15 miles north of Baghdad. At least two police officers were killed and 17 others were injured, including eight civilians.
Iraqi media reported that one Iraqi soldier was killed in an armed clash near Mosul in northern Iraq, and that two civilians were killed in Kirkuk when a bomb detonated next to a convoy carrying a local official, according to the Aswat al-Iraq news agency. (WP)
See graphs from iCasualties.org below for Iraq and Afghanistan as we look at the situation on the ground in Iraq:
American soldiers are technically in an advisory role to the Iraqi military.
Many of the remaining American military bases in Iraq, particularly in the Shiite- dominated south, have faced an increasing number of rocket and mortar attacks. Officially, the United States is now in an advisory role to the Iraqi military — last year President Obama declared the official end of combat operations — which means United States forces are restricted from acting unilaterally. This has increased frustrations among the American military command, which believes the Iraqi government is reluctant to attack Shiite militias, many backed by Iran and some linked to political parties here, that are carrying out the attacks against Americans.
For example, American officials have said they believe that Moktada al-Sadr, the anti-American cleric who disbanded his Mahdi Army in 2008 and has taken on a prominent political role, is still linked to some armed groups that attack Americans. Even more troubling for the Americans — and Iraqi Sunnis, for that matter — are Mr. Sadr’s frequent statements that he will reactivate the Mahdi Army if the American military does not withdraw by the end of this year. An agreement that binds the United States and Iraq requires that all American forces leave by year’s end, but the Iraqi political leadership is considering asking for American troops to stay to continue training the Iraqi forces. (NYT)
There is a bitter feud between two top Iraqi leaders, Ayad Allawi, the leader of the Iraqiya bloc, and the country's prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki,which ...
Fifteen months after an election that was supposed to lay the groundwork for Iraq's future, the government remains virtually paralyzed by a clash between the country's two most powerful politicians, who refuse to speak to each other. [snip]
The United States has been unable to end the stalemate, demonstrating to some analysts and Iraqis its waning influence here.
Mr. Allawi, whose party received the most votes in last year's election, has yet to show up in Parliament. Mr. Maliki has run the government on his own, and his aides have threatened to sue Mr. Allawi for calling them lying tyrants and claiming they are supported by Iran.
As the deadlock grinds on, political assassinations and attacks on American bases have increased significantly.
"This is the biggest dispute that has occurred here since 2003, and it will continue to escalate if a solution is not found, and that is our concern," said Jabir al-Jabiri, a member of Parliament from Mr. Allawi's Iraqiya bloc. (NYT)
Unpaid for months, the Daughters of Iraq, women responsible for scaring off Iraq’s female suicide bombers are trying to afford necessities of life for their families while keeping vigilant watch at their checkpoints.
In April of this year, marking eight years of the Iraq war, hundreds of Iraqis marched across Baghdad calling for the immediate end of the occupation. "No to occupation, no to foreign troops," protesters in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square and the northeastern Adhamiya neighborhood shouted.
Iraq is, no doubt, a Muslim state. But the battle as to how much of an Islamic state it will be rages on. How much freedom will Christians and those of other faiths have in Iraq? How much will Islamic law, Sharia, rule in Iraq. One example may be the sale and consumption of alcohol. Under Saddam Hussein, alcohol consumption in public places was forbidden. In 2005, the Ministry of Interior abolished Saddam's alcohol, nightclubs and casinos restriction law ... because it interfered with and limited the personal freedom of Iraqis. As a result the number of stores selling alcohol increased, especially in the non-Muslim communities in Baghdad.
Iraqi Government raids on establishments selling alcohol have increased in January 2011. The bottles, windows, glass refrigeration units are broken and the owners are told "This is an Islamic state." Apparently every other religion within Iraq must live by the Islamic law. If the Christians were not being persecuted for selling alcohol, it would be for something else or simply for being Christian.
“If a Christian sells flowers, they kill him,” Ameen Chamo said of a raid on his store Wednesday, which inflicted $70,000 in damage.
“If he sells a goose, they kill him. It makes no difference.” (On Islam)
US President Barack Obama can announce "Operation Iraqi Freedom is over", all he wants but that doesn't mean that the violence is over or that the war is won. Nor does it mean that the Iraqi government is functioning as we in the West would like.
The truth for us here in the United States is that we cannot stay there forever, we have a signed agreement with the Iraqi government (no matter how dysfunctional it may be). SOFA, the Status of Forces Agreement, states that US combat forces will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. For better or worse we must now allow Iraq to either stand on her own and work out her version of a free country, or revert to something else. May they choose wisely as America now also starts a draw down of forces in Afghanistan -- but that's another story.