Reuters reports two bomb attacks in northern Iraq where a contingency of US troops are expected to return and support a military campaign against the still-strong insurgency there and, additionally, to act as a buffer between the Kurds and Arabs who continue to face up to each other with full-blown violence only one small exchange away (see Guardian article here).
On the one hand, PM Maliki might see the area as dispensable given that he enjoys virtually no support there (it was, for example, counter-intuitive to have US troops leave N.Iraq and places like Mosul in the first place). On the other, however, the August 19 attacks in Baghdad – now named Iraq’s “9/11” – showed that Sunni militants could possess the capacity to strike other parts of the country, hence the need to dismantle their bases in the north. Maliki’s main campaign platform will be security come January’s national elections – volatility in the north dictates the return of US troops there first; other areas further down south would have to suffer further attacks of great magnitude before Maliki gets desperate enough to bring US forces in.
Today’s attacks killed at least 15 and wounded 37. They took place in Shirqat and Sinjar. Northern Iraq (excluding Kurdistan) could be the most impoverished and neglected part of the country; it is at the centre of the disputed territories dispute between the KRG and Baghdad.