On Tuesday, the AFP reported that 9 people were killed in attacks in Iraq, “including six members of the family of a university professor who died in an attack last year.” These dead included two girls and two boys, all under the age of 15.
The common rejoinder in every news article about violence in Iraq over the past few years is that as a whole it has gone down. While it is true that violence has gone down significantly, it does not make the carnage that still exists any less cringeworthy, or any less horrible for those who have lost loved ones to it.
These sorts of attacks are ones that extremist groups in Iraq pride themselves on, making it a point to target professionals or intellectuals whom they see as being too “westernized,” Iraqis working for the coalition forces, whom they see as “collaborators,” or minorities like Christians who do not fit into their warped and stunted view of Islam. There are also large intimidation campaigns that go along with these attacks. letters or pamphlets are placed under doors, and phone calls are made to warn the targeted Iraqis that their fate is death if they do not change their ways or leave the country.
Attacks like these have resulted in many casualties, and an even greater exodus out of Iraq. The social and ethnic structure of Iraq has already been forever changed due to this exodus, and it will continue to be depleted in the coming future. For the List Project, who works primarily with Iraqis who have served in some capacity with the United States during its occupation of the country, we see this trend continuing as U.S. troops withdraw. We are gravely concerned that with less than 9 months until withdrawal there are still no contingency plans that have been put into motion for those Iraqis that have sacrificed so much to work with the United States. If nothing is done, we are leaving them to an almost certain death.
A slow bloodletting.
As long as armed fundamentalist elements remain in the country, these attacks will persist. The slow bloodletting will not be in the form of mass attacks, but in attacks such as the one described at the top of the page, where an individual and their family are targeted for a specific reason. They will take place over a period of many years. Most likely, they will be treated as individual crimes, and not as the pogroms they are. The endless string of killings will go unnoticed by all except those who weep over the graves of the deceased.