Two Us Soldiers And Two Iraqis Were

*Two US soldiers and two Iraqis were killed on Monday as violence against the US-led coalition escalated . . . – (SA). And . . . At the same time, sabotage against Iraq’s oil and electric power grids is increasing, a British official in Iraq has said. Andrew Bearpark, director of regional services, asked for Iraqis to turn in those responsible, saying it was impossible for soldiers to protect hundreds of miles of pipelines and power cables.

*People in Ramadi are furious at the Americans, who killed an apparently innocent man on Sunday evening after they were attacked (four American troops were injured). You will see what will happen to the Americans now. You will see what we will do to them,” hospital administrator Taha Hussein said to Reuters. The degree of anger at Americans in the Sunni belt of north-central Iraq is from all accounts at an all-time high. One wonders how it could be assuaged. After all, the US is removing their perks, to which they had gotten rather attached, and is setting up a democratic government with Shiites in the majority. People in Ramadi don’t much like Shiites, either.

*The Group of 7 Iraqi parties met in Salahu’d-Din on Monday and affirmed that they would in fact serve on the appointed governmental council to be formed next week by US civil administrator Paul Bremer. The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), one of the 7, had earlier suggested it might not be willing to serve in a purely appointive body. The seven include the two main Kurdish parties, SCIRI, al-Da`wa, a group of ex-Baathist officers, and an old Sunni nationalist party, along with Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi. The group appears to feel that Bremer is open to granting the governmental council more power than he initially had indicated. Bremer has started calling it a government council, not just a political council as at first. (Apparently inside Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi is popularly known as Ahmad Harami or Ahmad the Thief–he is wanted in Jordan on embezzlement charges. And Iyad Allawi, leader of the ex-officers, is known as Iyad al-Baathi.) I want to see an explicit statement from Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim before I believe he is really on board.

*A convention of Iraqi tribal leaders was also held, representing the rural Shiite tribes of the center and south of Iraq, called “The Bloc of Democratic Iraqi tribes.” They aim at ensuring they have a voice in the governance of Iraq. (The rural tribes are not as oriented toward scholastic religion as are the Shiites in cities such as Najaf). – al-Hayat. The convention chair, Ghalib al-Rikabi, insisted that Iraqi natives would have to draft the Iraqi constitution (thus echoing last week’s fatwa by Grand Ayatollah Sistani). They demanded early elections for an Iraqi government. I once suggested to a Europeanist colleague of mine that tribes in the Middle East might form elements of civil society, and he remonstrated with me that that was not what [German sociologist Jurgen] Habermas was talking about! But, well, here you have the Bloc of Democratic Iraqi Tribes. So Habermas will just have to get used to it.

*And, the newly selected Baghdad city council met for the first time (see yesterday’s entry for cautions about seeing it as “democratic.”).

*An opinion poll was published in az-Zaman on Tuesday that shows that 52% of Iraqis want a straight democracy. That seems low until you realize that another box they could tick was for a “Federal” government (i.e. one less centralized than is apparently implied by “democratic” in Iraqi Arabic). But both “democratic” and “Federal” would be “democratic” in US terms. 20% supported constitutional monarchy; 10% supported a Federal government; 10% supported a Republic; and 8% wanted an Islamic government. (These other choices come to 48%, with 52% supporting straight democracy.) From a US/UK point of view, it is therefore more fair to say that 92% supported some form of parliamentary democracy, with only 8% opting for an “Islamic government” (and maybe some of those are the equivalent of Christian Coalition democrats, too).

The pollster, Dr. Harith Abdul Hamid, claims that the poll was scientifically weighted, and that those polled included persons from various Baghdad neighborhoods, social classes, age groups, and both genders. Abdul Hamid is dean of the Center for Psychological and Parapsychological Research! It doesn’t sound like a reputable outfit from the name, but it should be remembered that many Soviet and Soviet-allied scientific establishments took the paranormal more seriously than is common in the US. Being materialists, they wanted to acknowledge such phenomena and also explain them away.

Other findings: 49% said they thought the future would be bright, but 35% feared it would be unstable.

Priorities: 47% said security and stability; 26% said food and medicine; and 25% said basic services (electricity, clean water, etc.) Most appeared to think that an independent Iraqi government was not as urgent a priority as these basics.

I thought the percentage of those desiring an Islamic state would be higher than 8%, and I am suprised that 92% want some form of parliamentary democracy. I am not surprised that only 20% want a constitutional monarchy (which I suspect would be very unwelcome to the vast majority of religious Shiites.)