Thursday, May 30, 2013
According to the United Nations' mission in Iraq, 712 Iraqis were violently killed in April 2013. This is both normal and extraordinary. It is normal because it pales into comparison beside the monthly death toll in the worst years of the country's civil war. It is extraordinary because it is the highest such figure since that civil war subsided five years ago. Understanding the violence requires grasping three confluent trends: the increasingly authoritarian streak of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the rise of both peaceful and violent protest among Iraq's aggrieved Sunni minority (a fifth of the population), and, finally, a regional trend of worsening sectarian tensions between Shia and Sunni Muslims.