The Daily Iraq: July 17, 2013

Iraq Body Count casualties for July 16: 8 killed

IBC casualties, month to date: 460 killed

The Washington Post reports nine killed on Wednesday in two attacks, one near Baghdad and the other in Mosul. That would bring the above number up to 469 killed in July, if it proves accurate. The Mosul attack targeted a cafe at night, which seems obviously intended to maximize civilian casualties, since cafes are generally crowded places once the sun goes down during Ramadan. The attack in Wajihiyah, about 50 miles outside Baghdad, targeted people swimming in a stream; this comes on the heels of an attack earlier this week on a group of people swimming in the Tigris River. Not sure what would be motivating attacks on swimmers per se, unless it’s a matter of religious extremists offended by immodest swim gear.

Not to continue to beat the “regional war” drum, but ABC says that the UN envoy to Iraq, Martin Kobler, is now telling the UN Security Council that the situation in Iraq and the civil war in Syria are “merging.” Iraqi groups are operating freely in Syria, then crossing back into Iraq and participating in the violence there. The border between Syria and Iraq is one of those “thanks, British bureaucrats” borders that were drawn on a map in London but never made a whole lot of sense on the ground, kind of like the Afghan-Pakistan border that runs right through the historic homeland of the Pashtun and has helped destabilize both nations while not really serving as a “border” in any discernible way. Tribally, ethnically, in sectarian terms, it’s hard to distinguish between the Sunnis living in western Iraq and the Sunnis living in southern and eastern Syria, so even though some efforts have been made to secure the border it’s never going to be completely airtight. Aside from the back-and-forth of Sunni fighters across the border, there’s also the massive refugee crisis being caused by the increasingly violent situation in Syria, which has sent tens of thousands fleeing into Iraq, enough to be a destabilizing force all on their own.

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