A roadside bomb in Baghdad killed one US soldier and wounded two others. Another roadside bomb, near Balad north of the capital, killed one soldier and wounded another.
The US bombed Fallujah again, killing 6 Iraqis and wounding 23.
Guerrillas kidnaped the deputy governor of al-Anbar Province, Col Ismail Al Ayal, on Wednesday. Large numbers of government officials have been kidnapped or killed.
Guerrillas assassinated the assistant director of the Interior Ministry’s criminal investigation department, Col Ismail Al Ayal, early on Wednesday.
Shaikh Abdul Hadi Daraji of the Sadr movement denied to al-Hayat the rumors that there is a split in the movement (presumably between hawks an doves).
Ali al-Wa`iz, a prominent spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Kazimiyah, called upon the Mahdi Army to lay down its arms and enter into a dialogue. He complained that the more militant elements in the Sadr movement were actively attempting to provoke clashes between it and the government. He also complained that aid to the militants was coming in from a neighboring country (i.e. Iran). Al-Wa`iz thus agrees with US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who also slammed Iran on Wednesday. (In fact, there isn’t much evidence of Iran trying to destabilize Iraq, or that it gives more money to Sadr than it does to other political forces.)
UN inspectors are complaining that Iraq under American control has become a prime exporter of components that could be used to make missiles or lethal shoulder-held missile firers. It has seemed all along that the Bush administration wasn’t actually very concerned about the weapons and weapon components inside Iraq. It didn’t bother to have the radioactive materials at Tuwaitha guarded, allowed some of the country’s 80 major weapons depots to be looted continuously, and so forth. So the weapons’ inspectors charges seem reasonable.
The Guardian reports that the rest of the foreign aid agencies still operating in Iraq are now planning to withdraw, in the wake of the taking of the two Italian hostages. (See below). I don’t cover the hostage crises ordinarily here because I consider them artificial news and believe that dwelling on them plays into the hands of terrorists. But I have to say that the tactic has been enormously successful.
The hostage-takers are trying to force agencies and companies out of Iraq in order to deprive the Americans and the caretaker government of their support. And, company after company and agency after agency has packed up and left. As a result, the Americans and the Allawi government are far more isolated than they had expected. The withdrawal of so many companies from Iraq would slow the reconstruction. Some of the companies did trucking, and their absence means goods aren’t moving. They aren’t investing in Iraq or hiring Iraqis, so the money that would have come into the economy isn’t arriving.