Attacks are isolated episodes to destabilise a country on its way to rebirth, Iraqi bishops say
The situation is improving but ethnic and confessional divisions remain; they are an obstacle on the path of peace. Three attacks hit northern Iraq and the capital, killing 40 and wounding another 80. Tomorrow a group of 19 children will celebrate their first communion. The archbishop of Kirkuk calls on political leaders to show “political maturity” ahead of provincial elections.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The situation in Iraq “seems to be improving” and this despite episodes of violence “by elements who do not want the country to stabilise,” said Mgr Louis Sako, Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk, and Mgr Sleimon Warduni, auxiliary bishop of Baghdad, who will celebrate the First Communion of 19 children in the capital. For the two prelates, who spoke to AsiaNews,  “people are in wait-and-see mode,” afraid that things might get worse, but also aware that the US pullout has not led to chaos as some feared.

A series of attacks took place this morning across Iraq in what is deadliest day since US combat troops withdrew from urban areas at the end of last month. A preliminary tally put the number of dead at around 40 with 80 injured.

Two suicide attacks in Tal Afar, a town not far from Mosul, killed 34 people and wounded 60.

In central Baghdad, one civilian was killed and five people were injured in a roadside bomb attack on the convoy of Central Bank Gov. Sinan al-Shibibi.

“The situation has improved. The number of attacks is down even though isolated episodes of violence are still occurring,” Bishop Warduni said. In fact “everyone wants peace,” he said, but there “are foreign elements” linked to foreign powers who are trying to “destabilise the country.”

For the prelate “the situation is complicated” but “with everyone’s good will” it is possible to pursue the common goal of security. Sadly there are “ethnic, religious, confessional and political divisions that do not help and are the cause of problems.”

According to the auxiliary bishop of Baghdad attacks remain “isolated events” but are linked to “broader groups” that organise and sponsor them.

“We want to reassert Iraq’s identity, which is the only way to achieve peace in the country.” And tomorrow’s celebration of first communions in Baghdad’s Holy Mary of the Sacred Heart Parish is a sign of this atmosphere of hope.

“Children and parishioners who will participate in this function will pray for peace,” said Mgr Warduni. But “Christians on the West should do the same, for the sake of the children and all Iraqis,” he added.

“An atmosphere of calm” has developed, said Mgr Louis Sako, Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk, but it is too soon to know “whether changes, if they are for real, are due to the withdrawal of US troops or not.”

 Speaking about today’s attacks, the prelate said that such “episodes of violence are being politically used,” especially with regards to Mosul, an ethnically mixed city inhabited by Turkmen, Kurds, Arabs and Christians.

“This violence is only good to foster an atmosphere of fear; it is just an attempt to dominate others.”

The archbishop of Kirkuk acknowledges the government’s attempt “to show what it can do” following the withdrawal of US troops but he remains critical of decision-makers who show a lack of political maturity.

Provincial elections are scheduled to take place in Kirkuk ion the near future, but candidates are just playing at propaganda rather than coming up with “good ideas and a clear political agenda or future plans for the people.”

“Elections are a new experience for people but party-based ideologies still inform what politicians say and do,” the prelate explained. (DS)