14 US Troops Dead in 3 Days
Civil War in Telafar
The Associated Press reports that a car bomb in Baghdad killed 3 US troops, and a drive-by shooting killed a fourth on Tuesday. The deaths brought the three-day total of US military fatalities to 14.
Guerrillas detonated a bomb near a girls’ school in Baghdad, killing 6 persons but apparently no students.
Paul Garwood also reports that
“In the northern city of Tal Afar, there were reports that militants were in control and that Shiites and Sunnis were fighting in the streets, a day after two car bombs killed at least 20 people. Police Capt. Ahmed Hashem Taki said Tal Afar was experiencing “civil war.” Journalists were blocked from entering the city of 200,000.”
Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that a police official in Telafar reported immense loss of life in the violent clashes. The Sunni jihadis are said to have taken over the major hospital. They are being resisted by armed Shiite Turkmen townspeople.
The Turkmen Bloc issued an appeal to Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari and other major political figures, saying that Telafar is ablaze with the flames of the radical anti-Shiite (takfiri) forces that have infiltrated from beyond the border. They added that the city “is a prisoner in the hands of terror.” They complained, “Its citizens are exposed to being slaughtered every day.” Member of parliament Muhammad Taqi al-Mawla, who belongs to the Turkmen Bloc, called on the government to intervene quickly to save the city. He said that in the current conditions, no child could go to school and no employee could reach the workplace.
This report sent chills down my spine. Major urban Sunni-Shiite violence is likely to spill over to other parts of the country.
Nancy Yousef of Knight Ridder reports on rapidly advancing plans to unite three of Iraq’s southern provinces (Basra, Dhiqar and Maysan) into one super-province with a distinctly Shiite cast. This move comes in part in response to Kurdish plans to create a Kurdish super-province of Kurdistan. In part, it is an attempt to restrain the power of the central government vis a vis the provinces, since a large province is in a better bargaining position with Baghdad than a small one. Reorganizing Iraq into a small number of ethnically based provinces, however, could lay the groundwork for the eventual break-up of the state.
Al-Hayat says that Hussein Shahristani, deputy speaker of parliament, announced that the constitution drafting committee of the Iraqi parliament will be headed by Shiite hard liner Humam Hamoudi, a major proponent of imposing Islamic law on the once-secular country. The Daily Star points out that Hamoudi is a Shiite cleric, a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and an aide to the party’s leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim.
Parliamentarians are still seeking ways of increasing the Sunni representation on the constitution-drafting committee, which at the moment stands at a pitiful 2 out of 55. MP Abdul Hadi al-Hakim (United Iraqi Alliance) suggested that each provincial council select some delegates to be added to the committee. (This would not actually help balance things very much).
The speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Hajem al-Hasani, said Tuesday that the Iraqi constitution “will fail in establishing security in the country unless the Sunni rebels and other groups not now participating are granted an effective political role, not just an advisory one.” He compared Iraq to an “unstable nuclear reactor” and said, “the upcoming political stages will decide if we are heading toward stability.” He added, “The Resistance must form a political wing, as happens everywhere in the world.” He said that no one can “wipe out the Sunnis completely.”
I had to rub my eyes. The speaker of the Iraqi parliament is calling for inclusion of the guerrillas in the constitution-writing process, and asking them to form a political wing so that they can be so included. The gap between the 17 Sunni parliamentarians and their Shiite and Kurdish colleagues (who make up the rest of the 273) is truly vast.