7 Iraqis Killed, 9 more Die of Previous Injuries
Guerrillas fired mortar shells at caretaker Prime Minister Iyad Allawi as he was leaving the northern city of Mosul on Thursday. Journalists accompanying him heard five explosions as his entourage was on the verge of departing the city. From the helicopters used by Allawi and his delegation, one could see a small fire and columns of smoke rising in the sky of the city.
The journalists around him asked Allawi if the mortar shells had been meant for him, and he replied, “My visit to Mosul had been announced publicly, and I was surprised that this did not happen at the beginning of my visit, but only at the end.”
Needless to say, a situation in which the Prime Minister visiting one of his major cities actively expects an assassination attempt every time he sets out is not a good one. On Wednesday, a leading member of Allawi’s party, the Iraqi National Accord, was assassinated in Samarra.
Guerrillas fired from a car at two Iraqi national guardsmen in the toney Mansurah district in Baghdad, killing them, along with a woman.
On the outskirts of Baghdad, guerrillas fired at a van carrying 25 administrative employees to work at the airport, killing at least four persons and wounding others, including the driver (-ash-Sharq al-Awsat). Al-Yarmuk Hospital in Baghdad reported receiving several injured, some serioiusly.
In Baqubah, guerrillas detonated a roadside bomb, wounding two policemen and two national guardsmen. Eyewitnesses say that they swerved to miss a roadside bomb but then hit another.
On Wednesday evening, Iraqi police had arrested the preacher at a Baqubah mosque for urging on the resistance and for funding it. His mosque lay in the Zira`ah District of the city, and his name is Shaikh Muhammad Ali Samarra’i. Eyewitnesses in the district admitted that Shaikh Samarra’i regularly called in his Friday prayers sermons for resistance, and for a rejection of American presence in the country. They said he enjoys enormous respect and popularity and that “everybody loves him.” I wonder if his sermons meet, however, the US Supreme Court’s “clear and present danger” standard, or whether his arrest violates the Temporary Administrative Law crafted via the Americans, which guarantees freedom of speech. One wonders, too, if the charge of funding the resistance was thrown in to make the arrest more palatable.
If the US and Allawi are going to arrest all the clergymen in Iraq who object to the US presence, then they’ll just have to arrest virtually all the clergymen.
In Samarra, 9 more Iraqis wounded in an attack on Tuesday have now died.
The clerics and notables in the city of Fallujah urged the caretaker Iraqi government Thursday to halt the American airstrikes on the city, in the aftermath of a large convention they held. The Association of Muslim Scholars,the Consultative Council of Fallujah, the mayor, the delegation of negotiators with the government, and “the League of al-Anbar Clerics” had all assembled in the town hall to discuss renewing negotiations with the Iraqi government so as to halt military actions against it. The meeting revealed a conflict concerning the prerequisites for returning to the negotiating table.
Those who met came up with a list of five conditions for renewing negotiations:
1. Bombing of the city must cease.
2. Families forced out must be allowed to return
3. and they must be paid compensation.
4. US troops must withdraw from the city and from its main entryways.
5. Iraqi National Guardsmen must be the ones who provide security.
Those assembled did not agree, however on how exactly the national guardsmen would enter the city. The majority of these notables insisted that at least one third of the national guardsmen be local Fallujans.
US fighter planes and tanks again bombarded Fallujah late on Thursday, striking the Martyrs and Industry districts in the south of the city, where US troops engaged in fierce firefights with gunmen. On Thursday morning, Marines had called in precision air strikes on a building said to be used by the Fallujah resistance for “command and control,” demolishing it. (-ash-Sharq al-Awsat).
The Iraqi Islamic Party warned the Sunni Arab community against any move to boycott the forthcoming elections, since it would result in direct loss of political power.
The US and the Allawi government had on Wednesday rejected a French suggestion to include opponents of the interim Allawi government in the international conference on Iraq. (The US sidestepped this suggestion, which recalls the ways De Gaulle ended the Algerian conflict, by insisting that only governments, not parties, would be allowed to attend the Cairo conference scheduled for November.)
On Thursday, the Chirac government expressed its “interest” in an Egyptian suggestion that a balanced conference be organized that would include “representatives of Iraqi civil society.”