Dozens Killed in Iraq Suicide Attacks

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Registered: 03-18-2000
Dozens Killed in Iraq Suicide Attacks
Sun, 07-18-2010 - 8:52am

BAGHDAD — In the latest high-profile attack against former insurgents who switched sides to fight alongside American forces here, more than 40 were killed Sunday morning after a man detonated himself outside an Iraqi Army base as Awakening members lined up to receive their paychecks.

The bomber struck around 8 a.m. on Sunday — the first day of the work week here — in Radwaniya, a largely Sunni neighborhood southwest of central Baghdad. The latest casualty figures from an official at the Ministry of the Interior was 43 killed and 40 wounded. The dead also included Iraqi army soldiers.

About two hours later another attacker blew himself up in Al Qaim, a city in western Iraq near the Syrian border, also killing Awakening members. According to a police official, a man walked in to a building where Awakening members had gathered, opened fire with a rifle and then detonated a suicide vest. According to the official, seven were killed and 11 wounded.

The latest violence against members of the Sunni Awakening, now backed by the Iraqi government, follows a series of assassinations and attacks in recent months against the former members of Al Qaeda in Iraq whose decision to switch loyalties was pivotal in quelling the apocalyptic violence of 2006 and 2007.

At the same time Awakening members have become increasingly resentful, voicing frustration at the waning influence of the Americans, their one-time benefactors, and at the Iraqi government, which members say have not lived up its promise of providing jobs to the fighters.

Many Awakening leaders blame the Iraqi security forces for not protecting them from revenge killings by militants loyal to Al Qaeda in Iraq, or say the security forces themselves are infiltrated my members still loyal to the insurgency.

Sheik Hamid al-Hais, a tribal leader from Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province — once restive region where the Awakening began — said leaders are to “blame for our disintegration,” but he also said the security forces have not done enough to protect members. He blamed the government for giving them jobs as lowly laborers, rather than as members of the security forces.

The Awakening counts nearly 90,000 members, who many say under the right circumstances could take up arms again against the government.

On Sunday Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, an Awakening leader in Anbar, said, “we are going to send our forces to protect all the Awakening headquarters in Anbar because the government is not able to provide security for them.”

The precarious stature of the Awakening, which has not been able to transform its clout on the streets in to political power, is but one piece of the Iraqi chessboard that portends instability ahead. The other is the country’s political paralysis. More than four months after the March 7 parliamentary elections, little apparent progress has been made in forming a new government.

A coalition headed by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki came in a close second to a Sunni-backed list led by Ayad Allawi, the former interim prime minister, but neither won a mandate. As the political jockeying plays out, the United States is in the middle of drawing down its forces to meet a promise by President Obama to reduce troop levels to 50,000 by the end of August.