The truck bomb that exploded on Aug. 17 at dock No. 17 of the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr located on the Arabian Gulf surprised Iraqi political and security circles. Although the human losses were limited, the operation constituted a serious and exceptional breach of Iraqi security, and suggested that al-Qaeda seeks to cut off Iraq’s only economic gateway to the sea.
The governor of Basra, Majid al-Nasrawi, who belongs to the Basra First coalition and managed to seize the headship of Basra’s provincial council from the State of Law Coalition after the April 20 elections, told Al-Monitor that “his city is paying the price for the political differences in the country.” He added that “the security information [available] indicates that vital installations in Basra, a key strategic area for import and export in Iraq, are under threat of being targeted.”
Although the political class in Iraq does not openly say that the security situation is being exploited for political purposes, all parties fear that the security escalation would be invested against them politically.
Basra’s governor says that his [local council] “will not bear the results of the security deficiencies, since it had demanded that security powers fall within its jurisdiction, as the [central] government in Baghdad insists on managing the security file.”
Nasrawi said that he holds Baghdad responsible for any new security breach, especially given the available information which confirms that al-Qaeda is directing its compass towards Basra. Up to 90% of Iraqi oil runs through the ports of Basra, and a similar percentage of Iraqi commercial traffic with the world passes through it. It also includes a number of major oil wells, which provide Iraq with about 80% of its oil.