From EPIC -- Education for Peace in Iraq Center
While the international spotlight has focused on the conflict in Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, sectarian violence in Iraq has escalated sharply increased. "The human rights office of the U.N. mission in Iraq reported Tuesday that more than 14,000 civilians had been killed during the first half of this year, including more than 3,000 in June (Washington Post, 9/20/06)."
Last month, the death toll averaged more than 100 Iraqi civilians a day. So far in July, that average appears to have continued to go up. On July 9 in Baghdad's al-Jihad neighborhood, Shiite militiamen went door-to-door systematically killing Sunni families. The next day, Sunni gunmen openly massacred innocent civilians in a Shiite market. Each new attack leads to bloody retaliation, fueling a cycle of violence that has engulfed much of Baghdad.
Desperate to escape the attacks, Iraqis have begun fleeing from their homes, including at least 1,000 Iraqi families in the past week alone. The violence is affecting millions of Iraqis, including EPIC's friends and colleagues.
In Baghdad, the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is working to implement a national reconciliation plan to end the sectarian violence engulfing the country. Maliki urged members of his government and the Iraqi population to embrace his reconciliation plan as the "only bridge and the basic crossing to the shores of peace."
In today's dispatch, EPIC releases two press statements regarding U.S. military abuses at Mahmudiyah and regarding the Bush administration's belated decision to recognize the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to all foreign detainees in U.S. custody.
We feature links to the best analysis on Iraq, including International Crisis Group's new report about Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army, believed to be responsible for some of the sectarian violence.
We also include a guide to the Members of Prime Minister Maliki's Government, our latest PolicyWatch, and EPIC's Top Ten Summer Book list for 2006.