76 Bodies found in Baghdad, Dozens More Killed
Attacks on Teachers Roil Education
Raed Jarrar argues that the Bush administration’s plans to ally with the Kurds and the Shiites and crush the Sunni Arabs in Iraq won’t work. He is right. He also points to the continued political alliances across sectarian lines, which show that sectarianism can’t always be taken for granted.
The Sunni Arabs are themselves deeply divided into many different groups. But one thing they have proved is that they can be spoilers, and nobody will get to enjoy the new Iraq unless their minimal demands are met. They can’t be crushed without a genocide. They should be negotiated with.
AP says that Muqtada al-Sadr, the young nationalist Shiite cleric, is considering calling a one-month cease-fire in the struggle of his Mahdi Army with Sunni guerrilla groups, and asking MPs loyal to him to resume their participation in parliament.
AP reports of Tuesday that “Two American soldiers were killed and six injured in separate attacks today in Baghdad.”
CENTCOM commander Gen. John Abizaid will step down in March. Abizaid has been remarkable among US generals in his knowledge of the region and his conviction that too big a US military footprint is undesirable.
As for Bush’s new fascination with “surging” ever more troops into Iraq, Justin Raimondo compares it to Napoleon’s Russia campaign. Some readers complained about comparing Bush to Napoleon because the latter was a military genius. I think they are missing the point. Bush is Napoleon without the tactical brilliance– but the recklessness, sense of divine mission, willingness to use up masses of people, and a sort of authoritarian revolutionism– they have these in common.
Reuters reports political violence in Iraq’s ongoing civil war. Some notable excerpts:
‘ BAGHDAD – Iraqi police found 76 bodies around Baghdad, all with gunshot wounds and most with signs of torture . . .
MOSUL – Police said they found 11 bodies, all with gunshot wounds, in the northern city of Mosul. . .
BAGHDAD – A car bomb in the parking lot of an Interior Ministry office charged with issuing identity cards killed four people and wounded eight in Adhamiya district in northern Baghdad, police said. . .
BAGHDAD – A suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into a police checkpoint near Baghdad University in the southwestern Jadriya district, killing 11 people and wounding 31, including some students, an Interior Ministry source said. . .
BAGHDAD – Gunmen killed university professor Muntathar Mohammed Mehdi in his car, along with his brother and cousin, relatives and hospital sources said. Relatives said Mehdi was a member of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s political movement. . .’
‘ Gunmen opened fire on a bus terminal about 3:10 p.m., concentrating on buses headed to the mostly Shiite areas of Sadr City, Talibiya, Husseiniya and Shaab, police said. Three people were killed and at least seven injured, police said.
Gunmen also targeted three teachers yesterday.
Palestinian teacher Mahmoud Mohammed Rasheed, brother of Iraqi television star Zuhair Mohammed Rasheed, was killed in an eastern Baghdad neighborhood where he taught middle school, police said. Investigators say Rasheed might have been targeted for being Palestinian, or attackers might have mistaken him for his famous brother, who stars in a popular sketch comedy.
Gunmen also attacked professor Ali Arnoosi, deputy dean of the college of law at the University of Baghdad, and fellow law professor Mohammed Hamdani, police said. The two were slain at 3 p.m. as they were on their way home. Their driver and guard were also killed. ‘
McClatchy reports that the al-Maliki government is threatening to fire professors at Iraq’s beleaguered universities who cancel classes because of poor security. But the government is not offering to provide better security. Nancy Youssef writes:
‘ Iraq’s universities have been a target for insurgents and militias alike almost since the war began in 2003. Professors tell of armed gangs taking over buildings and classrooms and even issuing threats about grades. Thousands of students have requested transfers to campuses where their sects – Sunni Muslim or Shiite Muslim – are in the majority. Thousands of professors and students, seeking to avoid violence and threats, have fled the nation to pursue their studies in neighboring countries.
Around Baghdad, many campuses are desolate. Many families refuse to let their children, particularly women, finish their education for fear of what will happen either en route to class or once they get there.
According to the Iraq Students and Youth League, a university advocacy group, at least 10 violent incidents racked Baghdad’s two main universities in the first week of this month, when Maliki issued his order. Among them were attempted kidnappings in front of Iraqi police officers, who didn’t try to stop the attacks.
At Baghdad University, only 6 percent of student and professors attended in early December, the group found. The highest attendance level was 59 percent at private universities. ‘
Given that 4 teachers were announced killed on Tuesday alone, it isn’t hard to understand why education is in such a state.
Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that half of Baghdad was without electricity on Tuesday. The report says that some districts, such as Bayya`, have been in the dark for days. The Ministry of Electricity has not given any explanation for the lack of service, and it isn’t clear what the cause is (though sabotage by guerrillas is high on the list.) The low in Baghdad today was 42 degrees Fahrenheit (5 C.), and Sunday the low will be 35 (1 C.). Not having electricity in such temperatures is not comfortable, and for some (the young, sick or elderly) could actually be dangerous.