By Tom Walker, Director, Assaye Risk
Violence once again plagued Iraq this week but the tempo and volume of attacks dropped off markedly from the high of the previous two weeks. Once again the violence was predominantly focused on Baghdad and surrounding districts however we have seen a marked return to violence in and around Mosul, a part of the country that has been somewhat quieter of late, despite its proximity to the Syrian border. There has also been further evidence of a renewed Shia militia mobilisation, especially in the South of the country as the Shia community seeks to redress its losses and counter the very potent Sunni insurgent threat
Shia militias in Basra have started to attack and drive out native Sunnis as part of a widening sectarian displacement campaign. Forced displacements, through threats, assassinations and torture have targeted the al-Zubair District in particular and other regions in Abu al-Khaseeb. Scores of bodies have been found across the sectarian killings of Sunnis grows apace. There is growing evidence that Shia militias are once again carrying out the assassinations and torture programmes with the knowledge and tacit acceptance of local authorities and the federal government in Baghdad, which has reportedly been receiving regular reports about the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Sunnis to western Iraq and Gulf countries, leaving their houses and properties for fear of being assassinated.
Many of the attacks have been preceded with notices that had been hung on the doors of Sunni mosques calling on Sunnis to leave the city within one week or face death. The historical district of al-Zubair, home for Sunnis for centuries, has a significantly smaller Sunni population after many have been frightened away. More than 100 families from the Al-Saadun tribe, whose members have lived in southern Iraq for centuries, were forced to move from Basra and Nasiriyah to Tikrit due to threats.