Iraqis witnessed the bloodiest month in years this past July, according to the latest United Nations report. A total of 1,057 people were killed and another 2,326 wounded during the escalating sectarian violence not seen since the peak of the insurgency in 2008. After June experienced a relative decrease in violence, the latest statistics demonstrate a return to a death toll exceeding that of this past May.
“I reiterate my urgent call on Iraq’s political leaders to take immediate and decisive action to stop the senseless bloodshed, and to prevent these dark days from returning,” said UN Deputy Special Representative for Iraq Gyorgy Busztin. A total of 4,137 civilians have been killed since the beginning of the year. Referring to the ceaseless attacks as “security setbacks,” Prime Minister Maliki vowed to remain steadfast. “Iraq is in a confrontation that we will not lose,” he said on Al Iraqiya state TV. Maliki also blamed unspecified “neighboring countries” of backing militants involved with violence, but did not reach out to other religious minorities to ease the unrest.
An Iraqi man inspects the site of a car bomb explosion in the impoverished district of Sadr City in Baghdad on July 29, 2013. (Photo: AFP)
The UN report comes on the heels of the mass jailbreaks at Abu Ghraib and Taji that freed hundreds of al-Qaeda prisoners and called into question Iraqi security forces’ reliability in containing the radicalist threat. The series of 17 bombings that killed 60 people across the country on July 29 prompted the Interior Ministry to declare insurgents guilty of waging a war upon national unity as they attempt to “plunge the country into chaos.”
Increasing sectarian violence has failed to renew political will aimed at ending the bloodshed. The Maliki-led government that once largely excluded the Sunni opposition formed a coalition in 2010 to maintain party control; however, the government has failed to quell the perpetual Sunni-Shiite conflict. The UN has called upon all parties to the conflict to enter a meaningful dialogue, although the prospects for peace remain dim.