Iraqis commemorated on Sunday the anniversary of the 1958 coup that overthrew the Hashemite monarchy of King Faisal II and solidified their country as an Arab nationalist state. However, the day was stained by all-too-familiar sectarian bloodshed, leaving ordinary Iraqis continuing to wonder if peace and unity will ever return to their country, Arab media report.
Thirty-two people were killed and hundreds more were injured in attacks targeting Karbala, Basra, Mosul, Dhi Qar, Wasit, Babil and Anbar provinces. The Doha-based media channel Al-Jazeera notes that most of the attacks occurred early in the morning, which forced the country to wake up in mourning to a day that was supposed to be a celebration.
The past three months have been particularly tragic for this splintered nation, during which 2,500 have been killed, including 150 in the past four days alone. According to the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, the United Nations warns that the country may slide into full-fledged civil war before the end of the month.
Although the violence has been spread throughout Iraq, the Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al-Awsat states that the focal point for its sectarian divisions lies in the heavily populated Diyala province in the country’s east. The paper’s leading headline is “Boiling Diyala is a warning for sectarian war in Iraq.”
“A new sectarian war will be triggered by the security breakdown in the Diyala province,” says Jamal Al-Karboli, the head of the National Movement for Development and Reform party. “The central government continues to disregard the groups of mercenaries flooding into Iraq from neighboring countries to provoke war.”
Despite the growing resentment of Iranian meddling in Iraq’s affairs, outgoing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is set to make an official state visit on Thursday and Friday. Ahmadinejad is coming at the invitation of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who is currently extremely ill, and will be visiting Shiite shrines at Karbala and Najaf.
However, the Dubai-based media channel Al-Arabiya states that Ahmadinejad will be visiting at his own request, not at the request of any Iraqi statesman.
“The Iranian president had asked to visit Iraq,” said Ali Al-Moussawi, an adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki. “We have been postponing the visit due to the health status of President Talabani.”
The visit is infuriating to Iraqi politicians who feel as though their country “is under siege by the Syrian crisis between Iran and the United States.”
Since the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad came under serious threat by rebels, Iraq has served as the main way station for arms and fighters sent by Iran.
“A series of major errors have turned Iraq into a place full of tragedy and darkness, bloodshed, rampant corruption, blind sectarianism, and Iranian dominance at every level,” writes Aziz Al-Hajji, a journalist for Al-Iraqiya television, in an op-ed in the pan-Arab daily Elaph. “Whatever the role of the remnants of previous regimes, we have a large segment of political leaders that are playing negative roles in our country.”
“When I think about our leadership, I wonder: How can our country tolerate the shipment of Iranian weapons to Bashar Assad through our territory? How do we have a state with ministers that profess utmost loyalty to the Iranian regime? How is it that on July 14, the day when we celebrate our national sovereignty, Iranian rule divides along all its width and length?”