Who’s to Blame for Recent Kidnappings in Iraq?

On Sept. 27, the Death Squad announced that its demands had been met and released the Turkish workers three days later. The Turkish government did not reveal any details about its negotiations with the kidnappers.

Two well-known Shiite clerics widely decried the abduction. The supreme Shiite authority, Ali al-Sistani, described it as “immoral,” while Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist movement, called it a “heinous crime.”

Many people believed those strong condemnations would put an end to the kidnappings, given that the perpetrators were Shiite gunmen. However, that has not been the case. On Dec. 16, about 100 gunmen abducted 26 Qatari hunters who had been camping in the Muthanna province desert in southern Iraq. The fate of the Qataris is unknown, and no group has claimed responsibility for the operation.

Shortly following the Qataris’ abduction, on Jan. 17 another armed group kidnapped three Americans from southern Baghdad. Since the Americans’ kidnapping, Baghdad has tightened security. Security forces set up checkpoints and worked day and night, while the Iraqi police carried out house inspections in an attempt to find the kidnappers, to no avail.

Mohammed Karbouli, a member of the National Security and Defense Commission in the Iraqi parliament, believes that the ongoing abduction of foreigners in Iraq “could turn into a disaster.”

“If such operations do not stop, another disaster will be added to the disasters [already] plaguing Iraq, namely the war on IS and the economic crisis, and this disaster will affect the country’s diplomatic ties with other countries,” he told Al-Monitor.

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