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Kurdish Leader Quits, Latest Fallout From Much-Criticized Independence Vote

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Demonstrators gathered in the streets of Duhok, Iraq, on Sunday in support of the Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani. Credit Ari Jalal/Reuters

BAGHDAD — The man who led an independence push for the Kurdish region of Iraq for more than a decade announced on Sunday that he would quit as president. The move is the latest fallout from an independence vote that many Iraqi Kurdish leaders now see as a catastrophic blunder costing them their economic and political self-reliance.

Massoud Barzani, the region’s president since 2005, made the announcement in a bitter speech, his first public response to the sustained retaliation from the Baghdad government after the Sept. 25 referendum.

Mr. Barzani did not apologize for the vote, which was opposed by Washington and most international leaders.

He blamed what he called treason by fellow Kurds and the fickleness of his American allies who helped train and equip his security forces for the downturn of Kurdish fortunes. He said that despite leaving the presidency, he was not resigning from politics, and he vowed to stay active in pushing for Kurdish statehood.

“I’m a pesh merga and will continue to do whatever is needed and will be with my people in its struggle for independence,” Mr. Barzani said, referring to the band of Kurdish fighters that he helped transform from a guerrilla force in the 1980s against Saddam Hussein to the established security unit that until October was considered almost an unassailable force defending Kurdish autonomy.

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Mr. Barzani’s belligerent tone came after weeks of humiliating battlefield defeats for Kurdish fighters against overpowering force deployed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq in retaliation for holding the referendum. The Kurdish government has also lost its main economic assets and several major oil fields, and has been met with almost complete international isolation.

The setbacks have given the Kurds a significantly weakened hand in negotiations between Iraqi commanders and their Kurdish counterparts to codify the sharply changed balance of power between the two sides.

The talks, mediated by United States military officers, convened after Mr. Abadi declared a temporary end to military operations to forcefully seize the border crossings with Turkey, Iran and Syria.

People close to the negotiators say Baghdad is nearing an agreement with Kurdish commanders that would have federal forces take over the border crossings, and fundamentally recalibrate how the region’s oil is exported, a revenue source that is essential to Kurdish dreams of self-reliance.

Such an agreement would be the steepest decline in Kurdish political fortunes since the group gained autonomy from Baghdad after the 1991 Gulf War.

The resignation of Mr. Barzani, who has not named a successor, leaves open the question of who else — either in his ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party or family — has the authority to approve such a deal.

Mr. Barzani served for two four-year terms as president, the maximum allowed under Kurdish law. He received a two-year extension in 2013 because of security fears amid the rise of the Islamic State in the region, but he has remained in power well beyond that time without legal justification.

Mr. Barzani’s government recently delayed elections that were scheduled for Nov. 1 — the first elections since 2013 — fueling rumors that the president planned to remain in office indefinitely.

In his speech on Sunday, Mr. Barzani did not clarify what his future political role would be.

Since taking up the presidency in 2005, Mr. Barzani has concentrated significant power in that office, while also placing close members of his family in critical leadership positions. A nephew is regional prime minister, and a son is in charge of the region’s security apparatus.

At Sunday morning’s regional parliamentary session in Erbil, lawmakers discussed Mr. Barzani’s instructions in his resignation letter to distribute his presidential powers between the prime minister’s office, which is held by his nephew; Parliament itself, which is dominated by his political party; and the judiciary.

Tempers flared in the course of the debate. A pro-Barzani lawmaker punched a Kurdish opposition lawmaker who had criticized Mr. Barzani’s record as leader, leading to a fracas and a delay in proceedings.

After sunset, as lawmakers continued their work, hundreds of club-wielding men descended on the regional Parliament, trapping dozens of politicians inside. Some members of the mob attacked local journalists covering Parliament. Local news media outlets reported hearing gunshots inside, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

The violence drew condemnation from Sarwa Abdul Wahid, the parliamentary leader for the opposition Goran party and a vocal critic of Mr. Barzani and his party.

“What happened this evening at Parliament was a terror act and the K.D.P. is morally responsible for it,” Ms. Abdul Wahid said, referring to the ruling party. “We are witnessing the destruction of our whole legislative establishment in the region.”

The speaker of the parliament, Yusef Mohammed, blamed “thugs and anarchists” for the violence.

The standoff continued after midnight, with some pesh merga security commanders trying to help lawmakers evacuate the building. But the mob insisted that Goran lawmakers apologize for what they called disrespect shown to Mr. Barzani.

Continue reading the main story

BAGHDAD — The man who led an independence push for the Kurdish region of Iraq for more than a decade announced on Sunday that he would quit as president. The move is the latest fallout from an independence vote that many Iraqi Kurdish leaders now see as a catastrophic blunder costing them their economic and political self-reliance.

Massoud Barzani, the region’s president since 2005, made the announcement in a bitter speech, his first public response to the sustained retaliation from the Baghdad government after the Sept. 25 referendum.

Mr. Barzani did not apologize for the vote, which was opposed by Washington and most international leaders.

He blamed what he called treason by fellow Kurds and the fickleness of his American allies who helped train and equip his security forces for the downturn of Kurdish fortunes. He said that despite leaving the presidency, he was not resigning from politics, and he vowed to stay active in pushing for Kurdish statehood.

“I’m a pesh merga and will continue to do whatever is needed and will be with my people in its struggle for independence,” Mr. Barzani said, referring to the band of Kurdish fighters that he helped transform from a guerrilla force in the 1980s against Saddam Hussein to the established security unit that until October was considered almost an unassailable force defending Kurdish autonomy.

Mr. Barzani’s belligerent tone came after weeks of humiliating battlefield defeats for Kurdish fighters against overpowering force deployed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq in retaliation for holding the referendum. The Kurdish government has also lost its main economic assets and several major oil fields, and has been met with almost complete international isolation.

The setbacks have given the Kurds a significantly weakened hand in negotiations between Iraqi commanders and their Kurdish counterparts to codify the sharply changed balance of power between the two sides.

The talks, mediated by United States military officers, convened after Mr. Abadi declared a temporary end to military operations to forcefully seize the border crossings with Turkey, Iran and Syria.

People close to the negotiators say Baghdad is nearing an agreement with Kurdish commanders that would have federal forces take over the border crossings, and fundamentally recalibrate how the region’s oil is exported, a revenue source that is essential to Kurdish dreams of self-reliance.

Such an agreement would be the steepest decline in Kurdish political fortunes since the group gained autonomy from Baghdad after the 1991 Gulf War.

The resignation of Mr. Barzani, who has not named a successor, leaves open the question of who else — either in his ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party or family — has the authority to approve such a deal.

Mr. Barzani served for two four-year terms as president, the maximum allowed under Kurdish law. He received a two-year extension in 2013 because of security fears amid the rise of the Islamic State in the region, but he has remained in power well beyond that time without legal justification.

Mr. Barzani’s government recently delayed elections that were scheduled for Nov. 1 — the first elections since 2013 — fueling rumors that the president planned to remain in office indefinitely.

In his speech on Sunday, Mr. Barzani did not clarify what his future political role would be.

Since taking up the presidency in 2005, Mr. Barzani has concentrated significant power in that office, while also placing close members of his family in critical leadership positions. A nephew is regional prime minister, and a son is in charge of the region’s security apparatus.

At Sunday morning’s regional parliamentary session in Erbil, lawmakers discussed Mr. Barzani’s instructions in his resignation letter to distribute his presidential powers between the prime minister’s office, which is held by his nephew; Parliament itself, which is dominated by his political party; and the judiciary.

Tempers flared in the course of the debate. A pro-Barzani lawmaker punched a Kurdish opposition lawmaker who had criticized Mr. Barzani’s record as leader, leading to a fracas and a delay in proceedings.

After sunset, as lawmakers continued their work, hundreds of club-wielding men descended on the regional Parliament, trapping dozens of politicians inside. Some members of the mob attacked local journalists covering Parliament. Local news media outlets reported hearing gunshots inside, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

The violence drew condemnation from Sarwa Abdul Wahid, the parliamentary leader for the opposition Goran party and a vocal critic of Mr. Barzani and his party.

“What happened this evening at Parliament was a terror act and the K.D.P. is morally responsible for it,” Ms. Abdul Wahid said, referring to the ruling party. “We are witnessing the destruction of our whole legislative establishment in the region.”

The speaker of the parliament, Yusef Mohammed, blamed “thugs and anarchists” for the violence.

The standoff continued after midnight, with some pesh merga security commanders trying to help lawmakers evacuate the building. But the mob insisted that Goran lawmakers apologize for what they called disrespect shown to Mr. Barzani.

Nytimes

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Iraq

Philippines Arrests Explosives Expert Tied to Mideast Militants

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Director General Ronald dela Rosa of the Philippine National Police. He said Monday that an Iraqi chemist had been arrested after being seen acting “suspiciously” in the northern city of Angeles. Credit Noel Celis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

MANILA — Philippine intelligence operatives have arrested an Iraqi explosives expert who has eluded the local authorities since last year and were checking whether he had been in contact with Filipino militant groups, the police said Monday.

The man, Taha Mohamed al-Jabouri, 64, arrived in the Philippines in August as the country was getting ready to host a gathering of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in preparation for a November summit meeting that included President Trump.

Mr. Jabouri was a “chemist with knowledge of explosives” and is known to have ties to militant extremist movements in the Middle East, said Ronald dela Rosa, director general of the Philippine National Police, citing Iraqi intelligence information.

“The Iraqi Embassy in Manila alerted the Philippine intelligence community of his presence,” he said.

Mr. Jabouri was arrested Saturday after the authorities in the northern city of Angeles advised the police that he was there, the director general said, adding that Mr. Jabouri had been observed acting “suspiciously.”

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Police intelligence operatives were then dispatched to Angeles and found Mr. Jabouri, who gave up peacefully. He was carrying luggage that contained personal items and different denominations of foreign currency, the police said.

Mr. Jabouri admitted while being interrogated that he had served as a consultant for Hamas in Syria before moving to Turkey in 2012.

“He also said that he traveled to Manila to meet a Chinese business group that hired him as a consultant,” Director General dela Rosa said, without identifying the group.

A police intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said investigators were also checking whether Mr. Jabouri had made any connections to local militant groups, noting that his visit came as the country was fighting Islamic State-linked Filipino militants, backed by foreign fighters, who had taken over the southern city of Marawi.

The fighting, which left at least 1,200 people dead — most of them militants — was declared over in October, although security forces have said nearly 200 Filipino militants who took part in the siege escaped and remained at large.

The arrest came after a year in which the Philippines has grappled with deadly bombings.

In May 2017, the police in Manila placed the crowded Quiapo district under lockdown after two bombs exploded within hours of each other near a Muslim center. Two people were killed, and six others, including two police officers investigating the first blast, were hurt.

A month before those blasts, a pipe bomb also exploded in Quiapo, injuring a dozen people.

The Philippine police had sought to play down the attacks, saying they did not appear to be connected.

But six months earlier, in November 2016, the authorities prevented a bombing when they recovered a powerful explosive device near the American Embassy in Manila. Director General dela Rosa tied that bombing to a Muslim militant faction that would later help lead the Marawi insurgency.

Continue reading the main story

MANILA — Philippine intelligence operatives have arrested an Iraqi explosives expert who has eluded the local authorities since last year and were checking whether he had been in contact with Filipino militant groups, the police said Monday.

The man, Taha Mohamed al-Jabouri, 64, arrived in the Philippines in August as the country was getting ready to host a gathering of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in preparation for a November summit meeting that included President Trump.

Mr. Jabouri was a “chemist with knowledge of explosives” and is known to have ties to militant extremist movements in the Middle East, said Ronald dela Rosa, director general of the Philippine National Police, citing Iraqi intelligence information.

“The Iraqi Embassy in Manila alerted the Philippine intelligence community of his presence,” he said.

Mr. Jabouri was arrested Saturday after the authorities in the northern city of Angeles advised the police that he was there, the director general said, adding that Mr. Jabouri had been observed acting “suspiciously.”

Police intelligence operatives were then dispatched to Angeles and found Mr. Jabouri, who gave up peacefully. He was carrying luggage that contained personal items and different denominations of foreign currency, the police said.

Mr. Jabouri admitted while being interrogated that he had served as a consultant for Hamas in Syria before moving to Turkey in 2012.

“He also said that he traveled to Manila to meet a Chinese business group that hired him as a consultant,” Director General dela Rosa said, without identifying the group.

A police intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said investigators were also checking whether Mr. Jabouri had made any connections to local militant groups, noting that his visit came as the country was fighting Islamic State-linked Filipino militants, backed by foreign fighters, who had taken over the southern city of Marawi.

The fighting, which left at least 1,200 people dead — most of them militants — was declared over in October, although security forces have said nearly 200 Filipino militants who took part in the siege escaped and remained at large.

The arrest came after a year in which the Philippines has grappled with deadly bombings.

In May 2017, the police in Manila placed the crowded Quiapo district under lockdown after two bombs exploded within hours of each other near a Muslim center. Two people were killed, and six others, including two police officers investigating the first blast, were hurt.

A month before those blasts, a pipe bomb also exploded in Quiapo, injuring a dozen people.

The Philippine police had sought to play down the attacks, saying they did not appear to be connected.

But six months earlier, in November 2016, the authorities prevented a bombing when they recovered a powerful explosive device near the American Embassy in Manila. Director General dela Rosa tied that bombing to a Muslim militant faction that would later help lead the Marawi insurgency.

Nytimes

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Iraq

Military Shifts Focus to Threats by Russia and China, Not Terrorism

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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spoke Friday at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. Credit Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The United States is switching its priority to countering Chinese and Russian military might after almost two decades of focusing on the fight against terrorism, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday, unveiling a national defense strategy that Pentagon officials say will provide a blueprint for years to come.

The new strategy echoes — on paper, if not in tone — a national security blueprint offered last month in which President Trump described rising threats to the United States from an emboldened Russia and China, as well as from what was described as rogue governments like North Korea and Iran.

But where Mr. Trump struck a campaign tone during the unveiling of his national security strategy, with references to building a wall along the southern border with Mexico, Mr. Mattis took a more sober route by sticking to the more traditional intellectual framework that has accompanied foreign policy doctrines of past administrations.

Drawing inspiration from Winston Churchill, who once said that the only thing harder than fighting with allies is fighting without them, Mr. Mattis said that the United States must strengthen its alliances with other powers.

“History proves that nations with allies thrive,” Mr. Mattis said in remarks at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. “Working by, with and through allies who carry their equitable share allows us to amass the greatest possible strength.” (One of those allies, Britain’s defense secretary, quickly released a statement welcoming Mr. Mattis’s words.)

Continue reading the main story

Unlike Mr. Trump, who said Russia and China “seek to challenge American influence, values and wealth” without mentioning Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mr. Mattis appeared to take direct aim at Russia. “To those who would threaten America’s experiment in democracy: If you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day,” he said.

In seeking to shift the military emphasis to Russia and China after years fighting terrorism, the Trump administration is echoing many of the same pronouncements made by the Obama administration, which famously sought to pivot to Asia after years of fighting in Iraq. But the rise of the Islamic State, which declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, put a stop to the Asia pivot talk in Mr. Obama’s final years in office.

Now a new administration is again seeking to leave the terrorism fight behind. Mr. Mattis described increased “global volatility and uncertainty, with great power competition between nations a reality once again.” He declared the defeat of the Islamic State’s physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

“We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists, but great power competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of U.S. national security,” Mr. Mattis said.

But the United States is still at war in Afghanistan, where Mr. Trump has promised to set no artificial deadlines for withdrawing troops against a resilient Taliban. And American pilots and Special Operations forces continue to go after militants fighting with the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and the Shabab from Syria to Yemen to Somalia.

But as tensions in the Korean Peninsula have continued to rise over the past year, American military commanders and senior defense officials have fretted over whether 16 years of counterinsurgency fighting has left the military unprepared for a great powers land war.

Pentagon officials say that the need to do both — fight insurgents and prepare for a potential war among great powers — is pushing a military that is already stretched. Added to that is the uncertainty that has plagued the Pentagon’s budget since 2011, when mandatory spending caps were put in place.

Congress has been unable to pass a spending bill, and on Friday the federal government was, once again, teetering on the edge of a shutdown. Mr. Mattis, during his speech on Friday, took aim at the budget shenanigans.

“As hard as the last 16 years of war have been, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of the U.S. military than the combined impact of the budget control act’s defense spending caps, and nine of the last 10 years operating under continuing resolutions, wasting copious amounts of precious taxpayer dollars,” he said.

Continue reading the main story

WASHINGTON — The United States is switching its priority to countering Chinese and Russian military might after almost two decades of focusing on the fight against terrorism, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday, unveiling a national defense strategy that Pentagon officials say will provide a blueprint for years to come.

The new strategy echoes — on paper, if not in tone — a national security blueprint offered last month in which President Trump described rising threats to the United States from an emboldened Russia and China, as well as from what was described as rogue governments like North Korea and Iran.

But where Mr. Trump struck a campaign tone during the unveiling of his national security strategy, with references to building a wall along the southern border with Mexico, Mr. Mattis took a more sober route by sticking to the more traditional intellectual framework that has accompanied foreign policy doctrines of past administrations.

Drawing inspiration from Winston Churchill, who once said that the only thing harder than fighting with allies is fighting without them, Mr. Mattis said that the United States must strengthen its alliances with other powers.

“History proves that nations with allies thrive,” Mr. Mattis said in remarks at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. “Working by, with and through allies who carry their equitable share allows us to amass the greatest possible strength.” (One of those allies, Britain’s defense secretary, quickly released a statement welcoming Mr. Mattis’s words.)

Unlike Mr. Trump, who said Russia and China “seek to challenge American influence, values and wealth” without mentioning Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mr. Mattis appeared to take direct aim at Russia. “To those who would threaten America’s experiment in democracy: If you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day,” he said.

In seeking to shift the military emphasis to Russia and China after years fighting terrorism, the Trump administration is echoing many of the same pronouncements made by the Obama administration, which famously sought to pivot to Asia after years of fighting in Iraq. But the rise of the Islamic State, which declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, put a stop to the Asia pivot talk in Mr. Obama’s final years in office.

Now a new administration is again seeking to leave the terrorism fight behind. Mr. Mattis described increased “global volatility and uncertainty, with great power competition between nations a reality once again.” He declared the defeat of the Islamic State’s physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

“We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists, but great power competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of U.S. national security,” Mr. Mattis said.

But the United States is still at war in Afghanistan, where Mr. Trump has promised to set no artificial deadlines for withdrawing troops against a resilient Taliban. And American pilots and Special Operations forces continue to go after militants fighting with the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and the Shabab from Syria to Yemen to Somalia.

But as tensions in the Korean Peninsula have continued to rise over the past year, American military commanders and senior defense officials have fretted over whether 16 years of counterinsurgency fighting has left the military unprepared for a great powers land war.

Pentagon officials say that the need to do both — fight insurgents and prepare for a potential war among great powers — is pushing a military that is already stretched. Added to that is the uncertainty that has plagued the Pentagon’s budget since 2011, when mandatory spending caps were put in place.

Congress has been unable to pass a spending bill, and on Friday the federal government was, once again, teetering on the edge of a shutdown. Mr. Mattis, during his speech on Friday, took aim at the budget shenanigans.

“As hard as the last 16 years of war have been, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of the U.S. military than the combined impact of the budget control act’s defense spending caps, and nine of the last 10 years operating under continuing resolutions, wasting copious amounts of precious taxpayer dollars,” he said.

Nytimes

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Iraq

Suicide Bombs in Baghdad Kill Dozens, Puncturing Newfound Sense of Hope

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The site of a bomb blast in Baghdad on Monday. The attackers struck during rush hour in the city’s Tayran Square, which is usually crowded with laborers seeking work. Credit Khalid Al-Mousily/Reuters

BAGHDAD — Two suicide bombers killed more than two dozen people in Baghdad on Monday, mostly street vendors and day laborers gathered at dawn in hopes of finding work at an open-air market, in the first major attack in the Iraqi capital since the government declared victory over the Islamic State.

The carnage in Tayaran Square punctured a growing sense of hope and pride that had permeated Baghdad after Iraq’s security forces, bolstered by large numbers of volunteers and fresh recruits, successfully fought grueling battles against the insurgent group that had held one-third of Iraqi territory and terrorized millions of citizens.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, but officials in charge of security in the capital immediately cast suspicion on Islamic State sleeper cells, the target of Iraq’s intelligence and counterterrorism forces since major military operations ended in the fall.

Even as battles against Islamic State militants raged in northern Iraq and in its second-largest city, Mosul, Baghdad had largely been free of violence. The suicide bombings Monday morning caught many residents of the capital off guard, as they had become used to living relatively free of fear, taking their families to parks and shopping malls.

The attacks came a day after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other politicians announced competing coalitions ahead of national elections scheduled for May. Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, campaign seasons in Iraq have been scarred by terrorist attacks and other violence.

Continue reading the main story

It is still unclear how the two assailants wearing suicide vests had entered Baghdad or why they had chosen to attack a market popular for cheap electronics and secondhand clothes.

The first assailant detonated his explosives around 6 a.m., as the sun was rising and as day laborers, shopkeepers and street vendors started gathering for work, according to Maj. Muhammad Mudhir, a traffic police officer who witnessed the attack. Minutes later, as people rushed to help the wounded, the second assailant detonated his explosives, said Kadhim Ali, a construction worker who was at the square.

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Dr. Abdul Ghani, the director of Al Rusafa hospital in Baghdad, said at least 27 people had been killed, and 60 others wounded, many of whom were in a serious condition.

Since counterterrorism operations were ramped up in 2015, Iraqi security forces have established a tight security cordon around Baghdad in an attempt to keep insurgents and violence from infiltrating the city.

The belt of suburbs and farms to the west of the capital have long been home to bomb factories for Al Qaeda offshoots that have plagued Iraq since the mid-2000s.

Muhammad al-Jiwebrawi, the head of the Baghdad Province’s security committee, said those areas around the capital remained insecure. He urged the government to increase intelligence operations around the city to flush out insurgents.

“Islamic State terrorists are still present,” Mr. Jiwebrawi said. “There are reasons for what they are doing.”

Although the areas around the capital have been relatively safe compared with previous years, violence has not disappeared.

On Jan. 13, an insurgent detonated an explosive vest near a convoy carrying the head of Baghdad’s provincial government, wounding four Iraqi security forces.

A suicide bombing on a checkpoint in the north of the city on Saturday killed at least five people, according to the Iraqi police.

Continue reading the main story

BAGHDAD — Two suicide bombers killed more than two dozen people in Baghdad on Monday, mostly street vendors and day laborers gathered at dawn in hopes of finding work at an open-air market, in the first major attack in the Iraqi capital since the government declared victory over the Islamic State.

The carnage in Tayaran Square punctured a growing sense of hope and pride that had permeated Baghdad after Iraq’s security forces, bolstered by large numbers of volunteers and fresh recruits, successfully fought grueling battles against the insurgent group that had held one-third of Iraqi territory and terrorized millions of citizens.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, but officials in charge of security in the capital immediately cast suspicion on Islamic State sleeper cells, the target of Iraq’s intelligence and counterterrorism forces since major military operations ended in the fall.

Even as battles against Islamic State militants raged in northern Iraq and in its second-largest city, Mosul, Baghdad had largely been free of violence. The suicide bombings Monday morning caught many residents of the capital off guard, as they had become used to living relatively free of fear, taking their families to parks and shopping malls.

The attacks came a day after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other politicians announced competing coalitions ahead of national elections scheduled for May. Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, campaign seasons in Iraq have been scarred by terrorist attacks and other violence.

It is still unclear how the two assailants wearing suicide vests had entered Baghdad or why they had chosen to attack a market popular for cheap electronics and secondhand clothes.

The first assailant detonated his explosives around 6 a.m., as the sun was rising and as day laborers, shopkeepers and street vendors started gathering for work, according to Maj. Muhammad Mudhir, a traffic police officer who witnessed the attack. Minutes later, as people rushed to help the wounded, the second assailant detonated his explosives, said Kadhim Ali, a construction worker who was at the square.

Dr. Abdul Ghani, the director of Al Rusafa hospital in Baghdad, said at least 27 people had been killed, and 60 others wounded, many of whom were in a serious condition.

Since counterterrorism operations were ramped up in 2015, Iraqi security forces have established a tight security cordon around Baghdad in an attempt to keep insurgents and violence from infiltrating the city.

The belt of suburbs and farms to the west of the capital have long been home to bomb factories for Al Qaeda offshoots that have plagued Iraq since the mid-2000s.

Muhammad al-Jiwebrawi, the head of the Baghdad Province’s security committee, said those areas around the capital remained insecure. He urged the government to increase intelligence operations around the city to flush out insurgents.

“Islamic State terrorists are still present,” Mr. Jiwebrawi said. “There are reasons for what they are doing.”

Although the areas around the capital have been relatively safe compared with previous years, violence has not disappeared.

On Jan. 13, an insurgent detonated an explosive vest near a convoy carrying the head of Baghdad’s provincial government, wounding four Iraqi security forces.

A suicide bombing on a checkpoint in the north of the city on Saturday killed at least five people, according to the Iraqi police.

Nytimes

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Turkish airplanes bombed Afrin’s city center at 23h00 on Sunday night. There is no information on casualties after the bombing....

- xxqatar ss slide 9LA5 facebookJumbo 400x240 - Tiny, Wealthy Qatar Goes Its Own Way, and Pays for It - xxqatar ss slide 9LA5 facebookJumbo 80x80 - Tiny, Wealthy Qatar Goes Its Own Way, and Pays for It
Iran2 hours ago

Tiny, Wealthy Qatar Goes Its Own Way, and Pays for It

DOHA, Qatar — For the emir of Qatar, there has been little that money can’t buy. As a teenager he...

- AfrinCasualty1 400x240 - Dozens lose their lives in Turkish strikes on Syrian city of Afrin - AfrinCasualty1 80x80 - Dozens lose their lives in Turkish strikes on Syrian city of Afrin
kurdistan2 hours ago

Dozens lose their lives in Turkish strikes on Syrian city of Afrin

AFRIN, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan 24) – Dozens of Syrian civilians lost their lives in Turkish attacks on Syria’s Kurdish-held northwest...

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