Monday, February 16, 2009

Mosul – Dangerous Place For Politicians

Mosul remains one of the most violent cities in Iraq. While attacks are down in Ninewa overall from 924 in the months between July and September to 511 from October to December 2008, the province is still the second most dangerous in the country after Baghdad. This has been especially true for political party officials and candidates in the provincial elections. Six have been killed and three attacked in Mosul before and after the vote, more than anywhere else in Iraq.

The first attacks began in December 2008 and have continued up to this month, February 2009. On December 1 two members of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) were gunned down in western Mosul. The first, Marwan Nazar was a high school teacher who was killed going to work. Abduljabbar Mohammed, another IIP member was killed later that day while driving in the same part of town. On New Year’s Mowaffaq al-Hamdani, a candidate for the Iraq For Us List was shot in a cafĂ© downtown. Afterwards, the United Nations’ Special Envoy to Iraq condemned all three murders. On January 7, 2009 a Shabak parliamentarian who belonged to the United Iraqi Alliance escaped an assassination attempt. At the end of the month Hazem Salim Ahmed, a Shiite of the Iraqi Unity List, a Tribal Support Council in Ninewa that ran as part of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law List, was killed in western Mosul. On February 2 the house of an al-Hadbaa List candidate was blown up south of Mosul. Fortunately, the building was empty and no one was hurt. Ahmed Fathi al-Jabouri of the IIP was not so lucky when he was gunned down after prayers in his mosque in western Mosul on February 11. The next day Abdilkareem al-Sharabi, the deputy head of the Sunni National Dialogue Front was shot in western Mosul. The latest incident occurred February 15 when Talab Muhsin Abbo, a principle at a preparatory school and al-Hadbaa List candidate was wounded when a sticky bomb attached to the bottom of his car exploded in southern Mosul. While the victims of these attacks came from different parties and sects there are some similarities. Of the nine attacks at least six targeted Sunnis. Five also occurred in the western Sunni half of Mosul.

The major cause of the violence in Ninewa is the divide between the Sunni majority and the Kurds who control the province. They were able to come to power due to the Sunni boycott of the provincial elections in 2005. The hope is that the recent vote and the ascendancy of the Arab parties will help quell this simmering conflict. In the last two months of 2008 there was a considerable drop in violence in the province overall. On the other hand more politicians were attacked in Mosul than anywhere else in the country. No one took responsibility for any of the incidents, but the likely candidates are the insurgency since almost all took place in the western half of the city. That points to some rejectionists who still do not want to participate in the political process. The fact that the al-Hadbaa List won the most votes on an explicitly anti-Kurdish ticket also does not bode well for resolution to Ninewa’s problems. The big question is if the newly victorious Arab parties can convince enough of their brethren to make the dispute with the Kurds political or if it will continue to have a large violent component.

SOURCES

Al-Ansary, Khalid, “Election friction flares in Iraq’s violent north,” Reuters, 1/2/09

Aswat al-Iraq, “Candidate assassinated in Mosul,” 1/29/09
- “Election candidate wounded by IED,” 2/15/09
- “Gunmen Blow Up Candidate’s House in Ninewa,” 2/2/09
- “IIP leader gunned down in Mosul,” 2/11/09
- “Local elections candidate gunned down,” 12/31/08
- “NDF member assassinated in Mosul,” 2/12/09
- “Shabaki MP survives assassination attempt in Mosul,” 1/7/09
- “Two IIP members assassinated in Mosul,” 12/1/08

Sabah, Zaid and Mizher, Qais, “Three Sunni Candidates Slain Days Before Elections,” Washington Post, 1/30/09

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 1/30/09

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