A Cry of Despair from Iraq
The past weekend was one of the deadliest in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in March 2003.
Twenty-four police recruits died and another 27 were injured when their bus was hit by a suicide bomber just a short distance west of Baghdad. Another 2 police officers were killed as well as eight other Baghdad civilian residents.
The worst incident was at the village of Amerli which lies between Baghdad to the south and the oil-rich area around the contested city of Kirkuk 50 kilometers to the north. The device used, a truck carrying an estimated 4.5 tons of explosives (judging from the 12 foot crater) – plowed into what has become the terrorist’s favorite target: an open air market where ordinary Iraqis simply did what they have done for centuries.
But that description is incorrect, at least from the viewpoint of those who build the car and truck bombs and those who drive these vehicles into the crowds. In some way, the owners of the shops and stalls, the artisans and the craftsmen, and those buying what is on offer are not “ordinary” – which is to say they are not like “us.”
Most of Iraq’s ethnic groups have at least a token presence in and around Amerli. But most of the dead and injured are ethnic Turkomen, one of Iraq’s minorities that is also caught up in the struggle over oil revenue sharing – assuming that the Iraqi cabinet and parliament (the Council of Representatives) ever vote on the two-part legislation. Most of the northern one-third of Iraq is controlled by the Kurds already. They want to add the area in and Kirkuk, which they claim is their historic capitol.
Yet on the other side of the northern border lies Turkey, a country definitely opposed to the Iraqi Kurds getting Kirkuk. Ankara fears that Iraqi Kurdistan, bolstered by the addition oil reserves they would get from the Kirkuk area, might declare its independence from Baghdad, thus becoming a magnet for Turkeys outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (since 2002 renamed Kongra-Gel). Nor is Turkey shy about making its position public, especially to Baghdad as the PKK is using parts of Iraqi Kurdistan as its base. Turkey reportedly has massed 140,000 troops on its border with Iraq – a mere 352 kilometers.
And what has this to do with Khider Walli Ahmed?
In that one blast last Saturday he lost his entire family –those who had not been killed in sectarian violence last year. With Baghdad unable to provide security for ordinary citizens, with local authorities unable to do any better, what Ahmed expresses is the desperation of a person without hope, without focus, without belief – and therefore open to the blandishments of others with their own agenda and no real empathy for the devastated individual soul.
And we wonder where the truck drivers come from?