Baghdad blasts kill nearly 60 on Iraq invasion anniversary

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner
March 19, 2013

Bomb attacks in Baghdad kill nearly sixty people on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war, an alleged chemical attack would be a first in the Syrian conflict, and the International Criminal Court comes under fire for securing just one conviction in over a decade. Today is Tuesday, March 19, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.


Residents gather at the site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad’s Sadr City, March 19, 2013. REUTERS/Wissm al-Okili

Deadly blasts mark 10th anniversary of Iraq war. Car bombs and suicide attacks claimed nearly 60 lives in Shi’ite districts of Baghdad today, the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq:

Tuesday’s bombs exploded in a busy Baghdad market, near the heavily fortified Green Zone and in other districts across the capital. A suicide bomber also attacked a police base in a Shi’ite town south of the capital, officials said. “I was driving my taxi and suddenly I felt my car rocked. Smoke was all around. I saw two bodies on the ground. People were running and shouting everywhere,” said Ali Radi, a taxi driver caught in one of the blasts in Baghdad’s Sadr City.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but Sunni Islamist insurgents with al Qaeda ties have pledged to target Shi’ite centers in an attempt to weaken Shi’ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government. Tuesday’s attacks follow a weekend blast which killed at least nine at a bus terminal in a Shi’ite region, and a coordinated attack last week that left 25 dead in the center of Baghdad. In honor of the anniversary, Reuters columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner David Rohde identifies the war’s most dangerous legacy, Reuters.com world editor Clare Richardson examines the state of Iraq one decade later, and a collection of 45 pictures from Reuters photographers shows iconic moments from the war.

Chemical attack suspected in Syria. An alleged chemical attacked killed at least 25 people in Northern Aleppo. If confirmed, this would be the first time chemical weapons have been used in the two-year Syrian conflict. Syria’s government and rebels are blaming each other for the attack:

Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi said rebels fired “a rocket containing poison gases” at the town of Khan al-Assal, southwest of Aleppo, from the city’s southeastern district of Nairab, part of which is rebel-held. “The substance in the rocket causes unconsciousness, then convulsions, then death,” the minister said. But a senior rebel commander, Qassim Saadeddine, who is also a spokesman for the Higher Military Council in Aleppo, denied this, blaming Assad’s forces for the alleged chemical strike.

President Obama warned a chemical attack by Assad would constitute a “red line.” The White House is investigating charges.

Following the surrender of Congo’s “Terminator,” a look at the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) disappointing record. One day after Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda turned himself in at the U.S. embassy in Rwanda, the U.S. must decide whether to honor his request to stand trial at the International Criminal Court. A recent report by Reuters questions the efficacy of the Hague tribunal:

The only conviction the ICC has secured to date is Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga. In contrast the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) convicted 68 of the 101 suspects it took to trial. Of the Rwanda tribunal’s 75 completed cases, only 12 have so far ended in acquittals. Moreover all of the court’s cases so far have been in Africa, which has created a credibility gap on that continent where many see it as innately biased, a suggestion the court rejects. It has opened preliminary examinations outside sub-Saharan Africa, including in Libya, Afghanistan and Colombia.

The United States and Rwanda are not signatories to the Rome statute that established the court. Therefore neither country is required to hand Ntaganda over to the ICC. Ntaganda, known in Congo as “The Terminator,” is accused of murder, ethnic persecution, recruiting child soldiers, sexual slavery and rape.

Nota Bene: On his upcoming trip to Israel, President Obama will follow a careful itinerary that focuses on Jewish history to avoid symbolic missteps.

Standouts:

War on Poppies - It will be difficult for Myanmar to quash a thriving opium market. (Time)

Justice at last - Pakistan arrested a former leader of the outlawed militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in connection with the 2002 murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. (The Guardian)

Concrete jungle - An Amazon village chief’s son leaves home to study documentary filmmaking in New York City. (BBC)

War of the Worlds? - North Korea posted to YouTube a propaganda video showing an imaginary missile attack on Washington. (CNN)

Right on Cyprus - Award-winning journalist Peter Gumbel argues that the EU’s Cyprus choices are the right ones. (Reuters)

From the File:

  • Pope sets tone for humbler papacy, calls for defense of the weak
  • Zimbabweans approve new constitution by landslide
  • Italian judges rejects request for snap trial of Berlusconi
  • Russia regrets U.S. not pressing charges over boy’s death
  • Iran’s supreme leader mobilizes loyalists to swing Iran’s election
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