For a third successive day Iraq has played witness to a suicide bombing that has targeted the security forces and prison facilities close to the capital and in the north of the country. According to the Ministry of Justice and a number of Iraqi media sources, all three attacks have been linked to attempted jailbreaks. The initial bombing, which targeted the Kirkuk provincial police HQ, was much more conspicuous in this regard.
It seems obvious that these attacks have been carried out by AQI or affiliated groups. But why the recent trend in prison attacks. The answer may lie in Iraq’s use of the death penalty. Looking back at a report from October 2012, Iraq had executed 119 people in the last quarter of the year. Present day and western media report that 91 people have been executed since the start of the year – 88 men and 3 women, and this is only the second month of 2013.
The United Nations Secretary General has personally called on Iraq to put in place a moratorium on executions but PM Maliki has personally rejected it.
Iraq’s recent prison breaks have often been tied to executions. With a high percentage of the Sunni demographic feeling victimized by PM Maliki’s heavy-handed approach to mass arrest operations and the poor system of justice, AQI and other groups have set out to exploit this negative balance in the social equilibrium, and win backing from the more radicalized in society. With demonstrations currently taking a nonviolent approach, one might deduce that this strategy may be an alternative means to targeting the Shiite government whilst building on the support of the Sunni disaffected.