Sectarian Reprisals After Shrine Attack Averted

It appears that efforts by the al-Maliki government to head off a new round of reprisals after yesterday’s sabotage on the Samarra shrine are working. The NYT’s John Burns contrasts the relative calm with the violence after the February 2006 attack on the same site:

Samarra Shrine Bombing Bicycle Photo Nuhad Hussin/Reuters That bombing 16 months ago proved a watershed, engulfing the country in a wave of sectarian killing that pushed Sunnis and Shiites toward civil war. With American and Iraqi forces unable to restrain soaring levels of killing that saw as many as 3,000 Iraqi civilians dying every month by the end of 2006, President Bush ordered nearly 30,000 additional American troops deployed here, aimed at pulling the country back from the abyss.

But after Wednesday’s renewed attack on the shrine at Samarra, 75 miles north of Baghdad, appeals for calm by Shiite political and religious leaders, as well as by moderate Sunni politicians and the top two American officials in Iraq, appeared to have headed off the risk of a new sectarian convulsion, at least for now. By nightfall, with emergency curfews in Baghdad and several other cities, and Iraqi forces moving in to protect mosques across the country, there were only scattered reports of reprisal attacks.

Excellent news. Perhaps COL Everett’s optimism on this score was well founded.

Photo Credit: Nuhad Hussin/Reuters (via NYT)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. markm says:

    The potentially troubling part about this to me is that, as reported on the MSM last night, that it appears this was an “inside job” perpetrated by the guards that were supposed to prevent this kind of thing. It is good news that the place didn’t go into full meltdown though.

  2. Triumph says:

    Excellent news.

    Yes, what a glorious day! A house of worship under heavy security is destroyed and there were more than a dozen reprisal attacks across the country.

    It is clear that the violence in Iraq is no big deal.

  3. Andy says:

    Multiple Sunni Mosques attacked Wednesday

    Phew, only a few places were blown to shit in reprisal attacks. Smells like victory!