Wounded US Troops Face Lifetime of Disabilities
Karbala Province breaks off Relations with US
Reuters reports the other guerrilla violence in Iraq besides the car bombing in the holy Shiite city of Najaf, which killed at least 13 and wounded 40:
‘HASWA – Five civilians were killed and another two wounded when gunmen shot at their cars near a police station . . . south of Baghdad, police said.
RAMADI – A U.S. patrol was struck by a roadside bomb south of Ramadi . . . west of Baghdad . . . [No word on casualties.]
KIRKUK – Gunmen seriously wounded a Kurdish captain in the Iraqi army. . . [Also a traffic policeman was shot dead, and the beheaded body of a peshmerga militiaman was found.]
BAQUBA – Eight people were wounded, including six civilians, when a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol exploded . . . ‘
Al-Hayat reports [Ar.] that tensions are running so high within the United Iraqi Alliance UIA] that its two major wings– the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq [SCIRI] and the Sadr Movement– are declining to talk. The Sadrists, followeres of young Shiite nationalist Muqtada al-Sadr, cancelled a meeting that was supposed to be held with SCIRI on Thursday. The Mahdi Army, the Sadrist paramilitary, is stockpiling arms in expectation of an American attack on them in Najaf.
Ibrahim Jaafari, who was elected the candidate for prime minister by the UIA by an internal party vote, said he preferred to have parliament decide whether he was acceptable, rather than repeating the UIA internal party vote. Actually, the Iraqi constitution requires that the president appoint as prime minister the candidate put forward by the largest bloc in parliament, so constitutionally there is no doubt that Jaafari should be so appointed, if the rule of law and democratic voting mean anything. But like any other prime minister, Jaafari would have to be able to survive a vote of no-confidence in parliament, which would require him to have the support of 138 MPs (out of 275). He only has 132 at most, assuming the UIA stands behind him, along with the Christians and Mithal al-Alusi. It is not clear where the other 6 would come from.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador in Baghdad, said of the building US confrontation with Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia, “We have our ways in any struggle with any movement, and we encourage all to involve themselves in the political process.” He warned against the growth of sectarian militias in Iraq, which threaten the stability of the country.
The elected civil government of Karbala province announced that it had severed relations with the Americans in protest against a Marine raid in the city against a Mahdi Army safe house, which the Americans carried out without any coordination with the local government.
American troops appear to be fanning out in Najaf after the car bombing there on Thursday, raising suspicions of the Sadrists in the city.
KarbalaNews.net says that a curfew has been imposed by the governor of Najaf until further notice.
KarbalaNews.net reports [Ar.] that Ayatollah Hadi al-Mudarrisi met with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani on Tuesday. Al-Mudarrisi complained that an attempt was being made to steal the Dec. 15 election by the erection of a so-called “national security council” that will constrain the elected prime minister. He said that if there was a dispute, it should be settled democratically, by a national referendum.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports [Ar.] that the “Committee for the Support of Democracy in Iraq” has called on the United Nations to intervene in the country immediately to protect Iraqi civilians from the daily death toll that they face. They warn that “a descent into a thoroughgoing civil war” could encompass the entire region with its flames. The Committee is made up of thinkers, politicians, academics, and businessmen and has a center in London. they also called on the Iraqi parliament to play an effective role. The parliament met for only the second time since the elections on Wednesday.
AP looks at the impact on US-Iraqi relations of the tendency of US troops in Iraq to shoot first and ask questions later. Of course, US troops have faced car bombs and have to be careful when a vehicle speeds at them. But from all accounts, some have been cavalier with innocent Iraqi lives. The incidents have caused tension with Iraqi leaders.
Reuters also reports on the impact of Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence on mixed Sunni-Shiite families. Young Iraqis from such families jokingly call themselves “Sushis.” The NYT did an article in which they argued that the incidence of such mixed marriages is plummeting because of sectarian hatreds.
The LA Times discusses a seldom-explored subject, the thousands of wounded Iraq veterans. Many of these Vets will need special help the rest of their lives, but the Bush administration has actually cut their medical benefits.
And, tricks are used to put them off the books. Some of the wounded stay in the service in Iraq, but head wounds or post traumatic stress disorder often make them discipline problems, and they are given less than honorable discharges, which have the effect of denying them access to the VA hospitals!