Dozens of Mosques Attacked, Over 100 Dead, Thousands Protest
CNN reports that 7 US GIs were killed in Iraq on Wednesday.
There will be a curfew in the core Sunni Arab areas, including Baghdad, to prevent the worshippers from rioting afer the Friday prayers ceremony.
Sunni Arabs in Iraq blamed US troops for not protecting Sunni mosques and worshippers from violence. The US military ordered the US soldiers in Baghdad to stay in their barracks and not to circulate if it could be helped. [Later reports said some US patrols has been stepped up.] This situation underlines how useless the American ground forces are in Iraq. They can’t stop the guerrilla war and may be making it worst. Last I knew, there were 10,000 US troops in Anbar Province with a population of 1.1 million. What could you do with that small force, when the vast majority of the people support the guerrillas? US troops would be useless if they hcad to fight in alleyways against sectarian rioters. If they tried to guard the Sunni mosques, they’d have to shoot into Shiite mobs, which would just raise the level of violence they face from Shiites in the south.
Reuters reports that ‘ The main Sunni religious group said 184 Sunni mosques had been damaged, some destroyed; 10 clerics had been killed and 15 abducted. The Muslim Clerics Association accused Shi’ite religious leaders of stoking the anger by calling for protests. ‘
Abdul Salam al-Kubaisi of the [Sunni] Association of Muslim Scholars slammed grand ayatollah Sistani for calling for demonstrations, and implied that Shiite trouble makers were coming over from Iran:
“They are all fully aware that the Iraqi borders are open, and the streets are penetrated with those who want to create strife among Iraqis,” Abdul-Salam al-Kubaisi said at a news briefing. Al-Kubaisi said US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad may also have enflamed the situation when he warned on Monday that the US would not continue to support institutions run by sectarian groups with links to armed militias.
In Diyala province, guerrillas set up a phony checkpoint and pulled 47 largely Shiite factory workers off a bus and summarily executed them. Other bodies showed up in the streets of Baghdad and other cities. Guerrillas set off two bombs in Baghdad, causing casualties.
Guerrillas used a bomb to kill 16 persons and wound 20 in Baqubah.
Thousands of Shiites marched in Baghdad, Tal Afar, Kut, Karbala and Najaf.
Young Shiite nationalist leader Muqtada al-Sadr charged that the Iraqi government and the US had failed to protect the Askariyah shrine in Samarra, and commanded his Mahdi Army militiamen to guard Shiite shrines throughout Iraq.
In Mahmoudiyah to the south of Baghdad, Muqtada’s Mahdi Army militiamen fought a pitched battle with Sunni guerrillas, killing two civilians and wounding 5 militiament.
Muqtada issued a statement:
“If the government had real sovereignty, then nothing like this would have happened,” al-Sadr said in a statement. “Brothers in the Mahdi Army must protect all Shiite shrines and mosques, especially in Samara.”
Al-Hayat [Ar.] says that Muqtaada al-Sadr had originally called on his followers to go to Samarra for Friday prayers, but cancelled this call later when it became clear that there might be riots.
Pakistani Shiites demonstrated against the destruction of the Askariyah shrine.
Likewise, tens of thousands of Shiite protesters came out to rally in Beirut against the bombing on Thursday. In both Lebanon and Pakistan, the demonstrations turned anti-American.
I am interviewed at the Metro Times by by Curt Guyette & W. Kim Heron about Iraq and the war on terror.