Today, as many as 48 Iraqis were killed in a bombing which targeted the funeral proceedings for a revered Shia sheikh in Baghdad. It was one in a series of recent attacks that have killed around 200 throughout the country and injured hundreds more. It has has also left Iraqis to question what little confidence they have left in their government, which has yet to even completely form almost a year after parliamentary elections.
Perhaps buoyed by recent protests across the Arab world, as well as by their sorrow and frustration, Iraqis who lost loved ones took to the streets and confronted local security forces, whom many believe are colluding with terror groups.
On Thursday, residents made clear that they distrusted the security forces, which include Sunnis and Shiites, with some saying they might be collaborating with Sunni militants. Others suggested that the police were, at best, inept, pointing out that the bomber must have made it past the many checkpoints that surround the neighborhood.
An L.A. Times correspondent in Baghdad interviewed the relatives of a number of victims, including this poignant exchange:
“There is a conspiracy to kill all Iraqi civilians; they don’t want us to live,” said Mutashar Saidi, whose father died in the blast, as he waited by a local hospital. “Where is this army’s strength? There was a checkpoint not far from the funeral tent. These military forces are doing nothing other than fighting for promotions.”
Saidi warned the attack would be felt across the district of Shula and referred to the death of the Shiite saint Imam Hussein. Recent holidays marking his death anniversary and 40-day mourning period were marred by two bombings that killed dozens.
“Everybody lost someone in today’s attack,” Saidi said. “They killed Imam Hussein in the past, and today they killed the whole district of Shula.”
At present, Iraq still has no acting interior or defence ministers, whom are responsible for coordinating and directing Iraqi security forces. There is some fear that an attack such as this could spur reprisals as some family members connected to the Mahdi army may seek to avenge the deaths of their loved ones. That threat is especially magnified when Iraqis have no faith in the security forces which are supposed to protect them.