BAGHDAD, 19 January 2012 (IRIN) – Suicide attacks, assassinations and bombings in Iraq have claimed the lives of at least 265 people and injured hundreds of others since 18 December, the date the USA withdrew all but 200 of its troops from the country, according to the health and interior ministries.
The wave of attacks, carried out mainly by Sunni extremists from Al-Qaeda in Iraq against Shia communities, has alarmed many who fear the country could descend into chaos once more, with the government itself acknowledging it is not capable of ensuring security on its own.
The attacks also come as political factions are at loggerheads over how to reach a power-sharing deal. The Sunni community is complaining that it is being marginalized by the Shia-led government, which recently issued arrest warrants against Sunni Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi and other politicians for allegedly operating death squads.
Many fear the current violence could send the country back to the days of 2006-07 when Shia-Sunni conflict left thousands of people dead and millions of others displaced. A few families have already packed their bags and others are contemplating leaving.
Jandak Youssif, a 46-year-old Christian from Baghdad: “The situation is getting worse day by day, and the government doesn’t care about our suffering and needs. Our economy is stagnant; illiteracy and unemployment are prevalent; decent public services are not available; and people are leaving the country due to the security situation and religious discrimination. Christians are being attacked and no-one is campaigning for their rights. We are not seeing any improvement in any aspect of our life… My family is scattered in many parts of the world; my parents and brother are stuck in Syria waiting to be relocated to a third country. I have three sisters in Denmark, one in the Netherlands and two in Ninevah Province. Iraq is one of the richest countries in the world but we are the worst in terms of corruption, unemployment and illiteracy.”