Over 400 Killed in a Week of Iraqi Violence

Is Sectarian Civil War Up and Running Again?

After a massive series of sectarian bombings killed 133 people on Monday, more bombings hit Tuesday, killing scores of additional people. They cap a solid week of fighting that has seen more than 400 people killed and many hundreds more wounded.

The month of April had sparked major concerns about the rise of sectarian violence in Iraq, with a death toll the highest it had been since Summer 2008. The overall toll was 460, for the entire month, meaning May is set to blow past it dramatically.

Summer of 2008 was the period when the last sectarian civil war was winding down, and the Maliki government has been downplaying the significance of the recent attacks and insisting it has things in control. Still, the sheer number of deaths suggests that the next sectarian war may no longer be “coming,” it may have already arrived.

Sectarian tensions have been on the rise for many months, and spillover from the civil war in Syria has been adding fuel to that fire. As the military moved to crack down on Sunni Arab protesters in April, however, Iraq has simply exploded again.

Since then it is clear the Maliki government has had no real answer. Threats of further military operations are the order of the day, and a number of TV stations in Sunni areas were shut down for being unfriendly to the government. This of course is just fueling anger among Sunnis who already believed they were being persecuted, and is making it easier for militants to recruit.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.