Mosque attack in Diyala sets back the cause of Iraqi unity

This kind of thing just makes it harder for Baghdad to bring unhappy Sunnis back on side:

At least 73 people have been killed after a Shia Muslim armed group opened fire inside an Iraqi Sunni mosque in the village of Bani Wais in the country’s eastern Diyala province, medical sources have said.

A security source said bodies had been arriving at the hospital in the city of Baquba in Diyala province on Friday.

Footage posted later on YouTube appeared to show the dead strewn across the mosque floor, including the body of at least one child.

Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf, reporting from Erbil, said that according to local sources, the attack could have been in retaliation for a roadside bomb attack at a recruitment event organised by the same militia.

If Haider al-Abadi is serious about bringing the country together to fight the Islamic State, then his first order of business just became standing down the Shiʿa militias that his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki called up, and pursuing criminal charges against the group that carried out this attack. It was one thing for Maliki, who had no hope of appeasing the Sunnis and was in immediate danger of IS flooding into Baghdad, to mobilize these paramilitaries in desperation, but Abadi is benefiting from a pretty robust US bombing campaign (so robust that we’re considering hitting targets in Syria) that’s driving IS back from places it had conquered, so defending Baghdad is no longer the issue. Now the focus needs to be on uprooting IS from places like Tikrit, Anbar, and Mosul, which isn’t going to happen unless relations between the government and the Sunni tribes improve. Having unchecked Shiʿa militias running around the country shooting up crowded Sunni mosques will make that task impossible, and frankly if it continues even continued US support ought to be reconsidered.

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