The Bombings at Kazimiyah and Karbala
The day of Ashura’ is the holiest in the calendar of Shiite Islam, commemorating the brutal martyrdom of the Imam Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. In many ways, the tradition of Shiite mourning of this “passion” is similar to that witnessed in Mel Gibson’s recent film. For Shiites, Tuesday was analogous to Good Friday. And Karbala and Kazimiyah for them are like Rome and Jerusalem. One can only imagine the psychological impact of, God forbid, a huge truck bombing at the Vatican on Good Friday.
Veteran Middle East correspondent Nick Blanford has immediate reactions from Iraqis in Karbala and elsewhere. The blame is being put on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his al-Tawhid group. Forensic evidence from the 11 persons captured in connection with the coordinated attacks may well settle the identity of the group behind it fairly quickly. Given Zarqawi’s plans for a Sunni-Shiite civil war in Iraq, he has to be a prime suspect. But it should be remembered that this strategy of destabilizing Iraq would be useful to all the guerrilla forces, including Baath remnants and Iraqi Sunni radicals, and that it is far too simplistic to blame all such violence in Iraq on outside forces and al-Qaeda (Zarqawi isn’t exactly al-Qaeda anyway).
Will have more to say, but am spending the day talking to the press so don’t have time to blog right now. Will be on NPR All Things Considered, the Lehrer Newshour and BBC World Report (radio) this evening.