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Posts Tagged ‘Kadhimiya

 

Shiite Ritual Draws Historic Parallels: Bloody. And belittled

The blood oozing from the cuts in the top of Ali Rassoul’s head on Tuesday had crusted in streaks around his eyes and ears and soaked the front of his long, white gown.

But his wounds had nothing to do with the car bombs and urban battles that have torn Iraq apart:  they were his way of commemorating a much older battle: that of Karbala, where in the year 680, the army of  Omayyad Caliph Yazid slaughtered Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, and cut off his head.

Baghdad- For many Iraqi Shiites who commemorated the death of Hussein on Tuesday in an event called Ashura, the current threat against their community from the extremists of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has profound historical parallels.

“This year Ashura is more important because of the threat against us from ISIS,” said Mr. Rassoul, who runs a woman’s shoe store and had a long dagger in a shiny scabbard hanging from his shoulder. “They have come to kill us, just like Yazid came to kill Hussein.”

Photo

Shiites in Baghdad bled Tuesday to commemorate the slaying of Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, in 680. Credit Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

Mr. Rassoul spoke from a street in the Kadhimiya district of northwest Baghdad, in front of an ornate mosque that houses the tomb of a martyred Shiite leader.

While millions of Shiites across the world observe Ashura, Kadhimiya is one place where a minority pays homage to Hussein through the contentious practice of self-cutting called tatbir.

As the sun rose, hundreds of mostly young men gathered in a street here dressed in white robes.

While a few beat drums, the crowd chanted, “Haidar! Haidar!” invoking Hussein’s father, Ali. Some waved colored flags. Others carried long knives brought specifically for tatbir.

When the time came for the procession to start, Amer Matrouk, the leader of one group, drew his blade and the men, some of whom had shaved their heads, knelt before him so he could give them swift blows to their scalps, just enough to open the skin and start the bleeding.

“Not everyone knows how to do it,” said Mr. Matrouk, 63, who said he has been practicing tatbir since he was a child and had a row of straight scars on his scalp to show for it.

He rejected the idea that it could seriously hurt anyone.

“We have never had any accidents,” he said. “Sometimes there are those who are not very strong and they get dizzy from all the blood, but they are fine in the end.”

The practice of tatbir is debated among Shiites and many respected clerics have spoken against it.

Some argue that it is a form of self-harm, which is religiously forbidden.

Others have written it off as a folk practice, that may have seeped into Islam from Christian Passion plays about the crucifixion or from indigenous mourning rites that communities brought with them when they became Shiites.

Still others have argued that it makes Shiites look bad, which is reason enough to avoid it in a region where they are a minority and often looked on with suspicion by Sunnis.

These practices used to be limited and no one paid attention to them, but they have started to spread and defame the image of the event in a huge way,” said Abbas Shams al-Din, a Shiite cleric and writer during an interview in his book-lined Baghdad home. “If you search for pictures on Google and type ‘Ashura’ or ‘Shia Muslim,’ you won’t see anything but blood. It’s terrible!”

Ayatollah Khomeini went on record against tatbir, and it has become punishable by law in Iran, although some still do it in secret.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, too, has criticized it, and his movement has sought to channel the fervor in a more productive direction by holding Ashura blood drives. But other Shiite groups in Lebanon still do it.

And it persists in Iraq, where clerics who have spoken against it have faced popular criticism, Mr. Shams al-Din said.

“There are some who do not want to issue a fatwa because they know that people will do it anyway,” said Abbas Kadhim, a senior foreign policy fellow at Johns Hopkins University who has studied Shiite theology. “If you do this, you set them up to be sinners.”

But those arguments meant little to the hundreds of men marching in Kadhimiya, blood dripping from their heads, soaking their white robes and pooling in the street.

A woman who gave her name as Um Salah sat with two friends on the sidewalk, thumping her hand rhythmically on her chest as the procession passed.

“Yesterday, there were attacks and explosions, but we are still here,” she said, saying that the event showed the steadfastness of the community.

Two of her sons were serving in the Iraqi Army, she said. They never told her much about what they saw, other than calling to say they were fine and making progress “in the fight against the terrorists,” she said.

A short drive away at the Kadhimiya Blood Donation Center, an employee said that many people had come to donate.

“It can help the wounded person or the soldier,” the employee said, giving only his first name, Jassim.

But when a visitor observed that the clinic was deserted, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “People come.”

Others wish tatbir would go away.

“Why do they do it?” said Haidar Abu Yassir, a taxi driver, screwing up his face in disgust. “Did Hussein do that? No! He was cut into pieces!”

Mr. Abu Yasser said that he felt that donating was better than “letting all that blood drip off your head for nothing.”

But when asked if he knew anyone who had donated, he paused to consider the question.

“Nope,” he said. “They all want to do tatbir.”

 

Iraqi Government Losing Control of Border Crossings and Syria extending a hand by bombing towns on the Syrian/Iraqi borders that fell in ISIS (Da3esh) control.

ISIS fighters captured the border crossing at Qaim on Friday. Over the weekend, the group appeared to be trying to seize the remaining Iraqi government controlled border crossings with Syria and Jordan. RELATED ARTICLE »

Sources: Caerus AssociatesLong War JournalInstitute for the Study of War

ISIS partial or complete control   Contested    Recent fighting

Al Waleed There were unconfirmed reports that government forces had fled. Frightened police officers, reached by telephone, said that the army had already left and that the police scattered when militants arrived. Qaim ISIS captured this crossing on Friday. Bukamal, on the Syrian side, was also out of government control, with groups including the Free Syrian Army and Al Nusra Front maintaining a strong presence. Rabia Kurdish forces secured this crossing following the fall of Mosul. Yaroubia, on the Syrian side, is controlled by Kurdish forces of a different political affiliation.

Consequences of Sectarian Violence on Baghdad’s Neighborhoods

Baghdad became highly segregated in the years after the American-led invasion of Iraq.

The city’s many mixed neighborhoods hardened into enclaves along religious and ethnic divisions. 

These maps, based on the work of Michael Izady for Columbia University’s Gulf 2000 project, show how the city divided from 2003 to 2009.

KEY Sunni majority Shiite majority Christian majority Mixed areas

2003

Sadr

City

Kadhimiya

Adhamiya

BAGHDAD

Green Zone

Baghdad

Airport

Tigris River

2 MILES

2009

Adhamiya

Huriya

BAGHDAD

Green Zone

Amiriya

Baghdad

Airport

Tigris River

2 MILES

2003: Before the Invasion

Before the American invasion, Baghdad’s major sectarian groups lived mostly side by side in mixed neighborhoods.

The city’s Shiite and Sunni populations were roughly equal, according to Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor and Middle East expert.

2009: Violence Fuels Segregation

Sectarian violence exploded in 2006. Families living in areas where another sect was predominant were threatened with violence if they did not move.

By 2009 Shiites were a majority, with Sunnis reduced to about 10 percent to 15 percent of the population.

• Kadhimiya, a historically Shiite neighborhood, is home to a sacred Shiite shrine.

• Adhamiya, a historically Sunni neighborhood, contains the Abu Hanifa Mosque, a Sunni landmark.

• The Green Zone became the heavily fortified center of American operations during the occupation.

• Sadr City was the center of the insurgent Mahdi Army, led by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr.

• Huriya was transformed in 2006 when the Mahdi Army pushed out hundreds of families in a brutal spasm of sectarian cleansing.

• More than 8,000 displaced families relocated to Amiriya, the neighborhood where the Sunni Awakening began in Baghdad.

• Adhamiya, a Sunni island in Shiite east Baghdad, was walled and restricted along with other neighborhoods in 2007 for security.

• Neighborhoods east of the Tigris Riverare generally more densely populated than areas to the west.

Source: Dr. M. Izady, Columbia University’s Gulf 2000 project

Battle for the Baiji Oil Refinery

Witnesses reported that Sunni extremists seized Iraq’s largest oil refinery on June 18 after fighting the Iraqi Army for a week, but officials disputed the reports and the situation remains unclear.

Workers were evacuated, and the facility, which provides oil for domestic consumption to 11 Iraqi provinces, including Baghdad, was shut down. RELATED ARTICLE »

Source: Satellite image by NASA

ABOUT 100

MILES TO

MOSUL

ABOUT 50 MILES

TO KIRKUK

Power

plant

1

Tigris

River

Oil refinery

Employee

dormitories

Village

Employee

village

Village

Smoke plume

at 10:30 a.m.

Wednesday.

Baiji

ABOUT 115 MILES

TO BAGHDAD

1 MILE

Encroaching on Baghda

Since seizing Mosul on June 10, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been attacking towns along the main highway heading south, coming closer and closer to the capital.RELATED ARTICLE »

Sources: Institute for the Study of War,Long War Journal

KEY  Towns attacked  Bomb attacks

ABOUT 140 MILES

TO MOSUL

MILES FROM

CENTRAL BAGHDAD

ABOUT 80 MILES

TO KIRKUK

70

Adhaim

JUNE 15

Samarra

JUNE 11, 13, 17

60

Al-Mutasim

JUNE 14

Dhuluiya

JUNE 12

50

Ishaqi

Muqdadiya

The Iraqi army retook control of Ishaqi and Muqdadiya on June 14. In Muqdadiya, a Shiite militia assisted the government forces.

40

Dujail

JUNE 14

30

Militants took control of several neighborhoods inBaquba on June 16 but were repulsed by security officers after a three-hour gun battle.

Baquba

JUNE 16, 17

Tarmiyah

JUNE 11

20

Falluja and many towns in the western province of Anbar have been under ISIS control for about six months.

Tigris

River

10

At least five bomb attacks occurred in Baghdad, mainly in Shiite areas, in the week after the rebel group took Mosul.

Sadr City

Kadhimiya

Falluja

Bab al-Sheikh

Al-Bab Al-Sharqi

Baghdad

Saidiyah

Ten Years of ISIS Attacks in Iraq

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Sunni militant group that staged a stunning operation to seize Iraq’s second largest city, has been fueling sectarian violence in the region for years. RELATED ARTICLE »

100

80

60

Attacks That Could Be Attributed to ISIS

40

20

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Mosul

Kirkuk

Baghdad

IRAQ

Basra

2004

51 attacks

 

2005

58 attacks

2006

5 attacks

2007

56 attacks

2008

62 attacks

2009

78 attacks

2010

86 attacks

2011

34 attacks

2012

603 attacks

2013

419 attacks

2004-05 The group emerges as “Al Qaeda in Iraq” following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Its goal is to provoke a civil war. 2006-07 The group’s February 2006 bombing of one of Iraq’s most revered Shiite shrines ignites sectarian violence across the country. After merging with several other Sunni insurgent groups, it changes its name to the Islamic State of Iraq. 2008-10 I.S.I. claims responsibility for more than 200 attacks, many in densely-populated areas around Baghdad. 2011-12 The group is relatively quiet for most of 2011, but re-emerges after American troops withdraw from Iraq. 2013 Seeing new opportunities for growth, I.S.I. enters Syria’s civil war and changes its name to reflect a new aim of establishing an Islamic religious state spanning Iraq and Syria. Its success in Syria bleeds over the border to Iraq.
Note: Before 2011, less information was available on who was responsible for attacks, so the number of ISIS attacks from 2004 to 2010 may be undercounted.

Sources: Global Terrorism Database, National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (attack data); Congressional Research Service; Council on Foreign Relations; Long War Journal; Institute for the Study of War

A Week of Rapid Advances After Taking Mosul

After sweeping across the porous border from Syria to overrun Mosul, insurgents aligned with the jihadist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria continued to press south down the main north-south highway toward Baghdad. RELATED ARTICLE »

Mosul

Area of

detail

Tikrit

June 13

June 10

Mosul captured

Baghdad

IRAQ

Jalawla

Kirkuk

Sadiyah

June 11

Tikrit

captured

Basra

June 12

Dhuluiya captured

June 11-12

Samarra

Tigris R.

About 110 miles

Attacks in

the days after

Mosul captured

30

June 11

Parts of Baiji

captured

20

30

Baghdad

Ishaki   Dujail

June 14

Taji

Lake Tharthar

Falluja

Ramadi

Euphrates R.

After capturing Mosul, Tikrit and parts of a refinery in Baiji, insurgents attackedSamarra, where Shiite militias helped pro-government forces.

Then, they seized Jalawla and Sadiyah but were forced back by government troops backed by Kurdish forces. They continued their moves south by Ishaki and Dujail.

Which Cities Does ISIS Control?

UPDATED JUNE 23

Having occupied crucial sections of Syria over the past year and more recently seizing vast areas of Iraq, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria controls territory greater than many countries and now rivals Al Qaeda as the world’s most powerful jihadist group.

The group seized Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, on June 10. RELATED ARTICLE »

Deir al-ZourRaqqahQaimAl WaleedAnaHadithaHitRawaaFallujaSaadiyahHawijaMosulRamadiBaijiTikritHasakahSamarraKirkukBaqubaTal AfarAzazJalawlaRutbaIRAQSYRIAJORDANTURKEYIRANKUWAITDamascusBaghdadAleppoHamaHomsErbilBasraKarbalaNajaf

ISIS control of cities

Partial or complete

Contested

Attacks since Mosul

Sources: Caerus AssociatesLong War JournalInstitute for the Study of War

What the Militants Want: A Caliphate Across Syria and Iraq

PUBLISHED JUNE 13

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has vowed to establish a caliphate — a unified Islamic government ruled by a caliph, someone considered to be a successor to Muhammad’s political authority — stretching from western Syria across Iraq to the eastern border with Iran.

This map shows the boundaries envisioned by ISIS.

Source: “The Islamic State in Iraq Returns to Diyala” by Jessica Lewis, Institute for the Study of War

TURKEY

Hasakah

Mosul

Erbil

Aleppo

Raqqa

Kirkuk

Deir al-Zour

IRAN

Baiji

SYRIA

Tikrit

Homs

Jalawla

LEBANON

Samarra

Dhuluiya

Damascus

IRAQ

Baghdad

ISRAEL

SAUDI

ARABIA

JORDAN

KUWAIT

Attacks Follow Sectarian Lines

PUBLISHED JUNE 12

The insurgents, originating in Syria, moved through Iraq’s Sunni-dominated north and west, occupying cities and towns surrendered by Iraqi soldiers and police.

They have largely avoided the Kurd-dominated northeast, but have threatened to march on to Baghdad and into the Shiite-dominated areas of the south.

Source: Dr. M. Izady, Columbia University’s Gulf 2000 project

Mosul

Kirkuk

Baiji

Tikrit

Dhuluiyah

Samarra

Ramadi

Baghdad

IRAQ

Falluja

Tigris

Euphrates River

Basra

Predominant group

Sunni Arab

Shiite Arab

Kurd

50 MILES

Iraqi Cities, Then and Now

PUBLISHED JUNE 13

Many of the Iraqi cities that have been attacked and occupied by militants in recent days were also the sites of battles and other major events during the Iraq War.

Mosul

Then: American forces took control of Mosul in April 2003. What followed was a period of relative peace until mid-2004 when periodic insurgent attacks flared, resulting in a large-scale battle in November.
The death toll reached dozens, including a number of Iraqi soldiers who were publicly beheaded. RELATED ARTICLE »
Now: In perhaps the most stunning recent development, Sunni militants drove Iraqi military forces out of Mosul on June 10, forcing a half-million residents to flee the city.
Iraqi soldiers reportedly dropped their weapons and donned civilian clothing to escape ISIS insurgents.
MosulMoises Saman for The New York Times
Falluja

Then: Falluja played a pivotal role in the American invasion of Iraq. It was the site of a number of large-scale battles with insurgents.
In April 2003, it became a hot bed for controversy when American soldiers opened fire on civilians after claiming they had been shot at.
Incessant fighting left the city decimated, leveling a majority of its infrastructure and leaving about half its original population. RELATED ARTICLE »
Now: Sunni militants seized Falluja’s primary municipal buildings on Jan. 3. The takeover came as an early and significant victory for the group, initiating a slew of attacks south of the city.
FallujaMax Becherer for The New York Times
Tikrit

Then: The home of Saddam Hussein, Tikrit became the target of an early American military operation during the Iraq war.
Securing it proved cumbersome, however, as insurgents mounted continued attacks on the city for years afterward.
On Dec. 14, 2003, Hussein was found hiding in an eight-foot deep hole, just south of Tikrit. RELATED ARTICLE »
Now: Tikrit fell to ISIS insurgents on June 11, clearing a path for them to march on to Baiji, home to one of Iraq’s foremost oil-refining operations.
After taking the city in less than a day, militants continued the fight just south, in Samarra.
TikritChang W. Lee/The New York Times
Samarra

Then: Samarra is home to the Askariya shrine, which was bombed in 2006, prompting an extended period of sectarian violence across the country. RELATED ARTICLE »
Now: After an initial attack on June 5, ISIS insurgents have now positioned themselves just miles away from Samarra.
It is unclear whether they are capable of capturing the city in the coming days, but the Shiite shrine makes it a volatile target.
SamarraAyman Oghanna for The New York Times

Video: Iraq’s Factions and Their Goals

PUBLISHED JUNE 13

A look at the goals of of the three main groups in Iraq — Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish — as the country threatens to split apart along sectarian lines.

Growing Humanitarian Crisis

PUBLISHED JUNE 12

The United Nations estimates that at least 500,000 Iraqis were displaced by the takeover of Mosul.

Food supplies are low and there is limited fresh water and little electricity.

An additional 430,000 people were displaced by fighting In Anbar Province, which insurgents have controlled for more than six months.

Safin Hamed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
An Iraqi family, one of thousands who have fled Mosul for the autonomous Kurdish region, walks past tents at a temporary camp.

Video: Behind the Group That Took Mosul

PUBLISHED JUNE 10

Background on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Islamist group that appears to be in control of the second largest city in Iraq.


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