By Tom Walker, Director, Assaye Risk
In a similar pattern to last week violence intensified in Iraq this week as the major sectarian groups provoked and attacked one another in numerous shootings and bombings that were predominantly focused upon the northern and central belts, specifically in Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk.
We have chiefly witnessed an uptick in the tempo of Sunni insurgent operations with a notably sophisticated series of attacks against the Iraqi prison and justice system in Abu Ghraib and Taji resulting in the breaking out of up to 500 senior Al Qaeda in the Levant (ISI) commanders, many of whom remain at large (this event will not be re - covered in this brief as it was the subject of a security update posted 23.07.2013 on this site.
The week has seen numerous suicide attacks against religious and military targets, which has seen hundreds killed, with the ISF incurring significant casualties. Most of the attacks tend to point towards ISI and Sunni insurgent activity, including a suspect attack against a Sunni mosque, which saw 20 killed in fresh outbreak of violence in the town of Wajihiya, Diyala Province.
In a confused reporting period it remains unclear who really was behind the blast, the latest in a campaign of attacks in a country where Kurds, Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims have yet to find a stable way of sharing power, however the attack was somewhat unusual given that suicide attacks tend to be an ISI tactic and not favoured by Shia militant or Kurdish groups. Some commentators have suggested that we might be seeing more and more Sunni-on-Sunni violence aimed at spurring the more moderate Sunni community into accepting the ISI as well as the ISI encouraging the moderates them towards more aggressive action against the Shia government and community. This assessment was given a degree of credence when a senior provincial official of Sunni origin suggested that he saw either Shi'ite militias being responsible or more likely that members of Sunni al-Qaeda attacked members of their own sect to provoke a reaction. "The goal is to widen the gap between people and return Iraq to civil conflict," he added.