2013 in Iraq began much the way 2012 did, with violence well down from the levels of the US occupation era. Then the Maliki government attacked a peaceful protest in Hawija in mid-April, and a sectarian powderkeg just exploded.
By summer the death tolls were again rivaling the worst of the US surge-era, and 2013 ended with well over 10,000 dead, and 1,180 killed in the month of December alone. The toll is the worst since 2007.
2013 in Iraq included a 3 and a half month span of relative calm too, before the Hawija killings and this week’s Ramadi killings bookmarked the remainder of the year, killing protesters and sparking ever-worsening tensions.
If something isn’t done to calm those tensions, 2014 is going to be the same, only moreso. Anbar Province is on the brink of full-scale revolt at this point, and the Maliki government’s answer so far is to keep sending the same troops in for heavy-handed crackdowns that only make matters worse. How much worse can Iraq possibly get? Sadly, we may be about to find out.
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