Massive Baghdad Bomb Kills Up To 40

Massive Baghdad Bomb Kills up to 40
Consensus collapsing on Constitution

Al-Zaman/ AFP:

A suicide car bombing killed 40 persons and wounded 25 when the driver detonated his payload near the al-Rashad Police Station in the Mashtal district of southeastern Baghdad, according to sources in the Minsitry of Defense. Among the dead and wounded were a number of policemen. See also Alissa Rubin in the LA Times.

Other incidents: A mortar attack killed a policeman on a Baghdad street near the Ministry of the Interior.

Guerrillas assassinated Captain Imad Hatim Khalaf, the police chief of the middle class Shiite neighborhood of Kadhimiyah in Baghdad while he was driving to work.

Likewise, guerrillas in the northern oil city of Kirkuk assassinated Capt. Nur al-Din Muhammad, an officer in the city’s police corps.

Guerrillas killed a US soldier in West Baghdad.

Guerrillas assassinated Khalis al-Hulub, a member of the provincial governing council of Salahuddin (Tikrit).

In Mosul, guerrillas killed two bodyguards of the Minister of Industry, Usamah al-Najafi.

Near Hilla, guerrillas detonated a bomb, killing a young man and wounding 6 other persons.

In Baiji, US troops arrested four Iraqi policemen, including a first lieutenant, after a roadside bomb exploded near a US convoy at the city gates of southern Baiji.

In Musayyib, 300 Iraqis came out to demonstrate and to demand that US troops not enter their city. Musayyib was the scene of a huge blast that killed nearly a hundred persons two weekends ago.

Not only have the Sunni Arabs not actually ended their boycott of the constitution-writing process, but now the secular Shiites around Iyad Allawi are threatening to drop out. As Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari pointed out, the religious Shiite majority and its Kurdish allies on the committee can report out the draft for a vote by parliament without the support of the Sunni Arabs or Allawi’s list. And, they also have the votes to approve it in parliament. But steamrolling over the Sunni Arabs and secular Shiites just guarantees that resentments will blaze for years to come, fueling the guerrilla war. Moreover, any three provinces can veto the constitution, and the Sunni Arabs could just turn it down. Apparently Zebari is convinced that to delay the finalization of the new constitution until January 15, which is permitted by the Transitional Administrative Law, might create an impression that the political process has stalled and provide an opening for increased activity by the guerrillas. (This sort of thing happened during the months it took to form a government after Jan. 30.) Pressure is also coming from Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to finish the constitution by August 15. And I suspect the Americans want this deadline to be met, as well. But is it really reasonable to expect a deeply divided political class to craft an entire constitution in only a month or two? And what if the Sunni Arabs do reject it in the referendum? Won’t that be even a bigger check on the political process than delaying the finalization of the text for 6 months?

Xinhua reports that

‘ The Sunni Arab deputy head of Iraq’s constitutional committee expressed his astonishment over a draft constitution text on Sunday. “I have received yesterday an initial document of a draft constitution. I am astonished. I don’t know who wrote it,” Adnan al-Janabi said in a statement. Janabi said he had sent a letter to Humam Hamodi, the Shiite head of the committee, asking for clarification. He accused the committee leadership of violating the principle of reaching agreement by consensus. ‘

If the deputy head of the drafting committee had not even seen the present working draft, you know the fix is in and that backroom deals have already produced the final text. The committee, and the charade of including the Sunni Arabs, is just window dressing.

The Algerian Salafis for Missionizing and Warfare, which is connected to al-Qaeda, called upon Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to kill Ali Bi’l-`Arusi, 62, and Izz al-Din Bi’l-Qadi, the two Algerian diplomats abducted on Thursday from a Baghdad restaurant. The authenticity of the communique could not be verified. The Algerian government fought a civil war with the radical Muslim fundamentalists in that country from 1992 until just a few years ago, a struggle in which over 100,000 persons are estimated to have been killed. My suspicion is that in the 1990s the radical fundamentalists and the government shared the killing equally. The secular-leaning military won, and recent elections have installed moderates. Their message suggests that the Salafis are sore losers. The Salafi group mentioned is probably an iteration of the Armed Islamic Group (French acronym GIA), to which Ahmed Rassam belonged; he attempted to come into the US with a powerful car bomb, intending to blow up LAX, in December of 2000 but was caught at the Canadian border).

A high-level Egyptian commission arrived in Baghdad to help look for the body of Egyptian diplomat Ihab el-Sherif, who had been kidnapped and killed earlier.