Security Plan Mocked by Massive Explosions
Al-Hashimi Seeks “Terrorist” Status for Sadr Movement
Reuters reports that 2 US soldiers were killed by guerrillas on Saturday. In addition to the massive bombings at a Shiite market in East Baghdad that killed 70 and wounded 150 (- al-Hayat) on Sunday, another bomb, detonated in a restaurant in Sadr City, killed 2 and wounded 11. Police found 5 bodies in Baghdad and another three in Balad. In Basra and Mosul, clashes broke out with local militiamen.
Many Iraqis lack safe drinking water and are forced to resort to river water high in bacteria. In al-Anbar Province, where the US destroyed the city of Falluja, water pipes and all, and created hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, the incidence of diarrhea in children rose 70 percent in 2006! Diarrhea in very young or in sick or malnourished children is often fatal and contributes to high infant mortality rates. 60 percent of Iraqis in the Baghdad and al-Anbar Provinces use river water!
Iraqi Vice President (Sunni fundamentalist) Tariq al-Hashimi called Sunday for the US government to classify the Sadr Movement of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as a terrorist group. Sadrists form a key component of the ruling bloc in parliament, the United Iraqi Alliance, and they run Maysan Province. It is a little unlikely that al-Hashimi will get his way. The other day, in contrast, he praised the Sunni Arab guerrillas as noble and sincere. If the top echelons of the Iraqi government are this divided over the nature of political reality, it isn’t a good sign for the country’s future.
Iran has again denied that Muqtada al-Sadr is in that country. Bush spokesman Tony Snow has admitted that the US does not know where Muqtada is.
Here is what I told friends who inquired:
Muqtada al-Sadr is *highly* unlikely to be in Iran.
1. The al-Sadrs, Muqtada and his father, made endless fun of the al-Hakims for fleeing Iraq to Iran under Saddam. Muqtada’s claim to greater legitimacy would be undermined were he now to flee to Iran from the Americans.
2. Muqtada successfully hid out from Saddam in Kufa for 4 years. He can hide from the Americans. He has tunnels, safe houses, and trustworthy aides who won’t inform on him. He also escaped this way from Najaf and the Marines in Aug. 2004.
3. No Sadrist source says Muqtada is in Iran.
4. No Iranian source says Muqtada is in Iran.
5. A UN source says he is hiding out in Kufa, which is what he used to do under Saddam:
6. Al-Hayat says he is hiding out in the southern Marshes, also plausible. The Marsh Arabs are now mostly Sadrists.
7. The story of his being in Iran has three sources: Gen. Caldwell of the US military, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, and Jalal Talabani. All have an interest in Muqtada being humiliated and undermined, and all have an interest in removing his Iraqi nationalist credentials by tying him to Iran. For al-Hakim and Talabani, both with strong Iran ties themselves, it levels the playing field. None is likely actually to know where Muqtada is.
It is sort of old news, but by 2004 the UN found that one third of Iraqis had fallen into poverty and 5 percent were in dire poverty. Iraq in the 1970s had had a fair standard of living but Saddam’s wars, the UN/US sanctions, and the disruption of society caused by Bush’s invasion, had clearly driven people into substantial poverty by 04. It must be worse, now.
Raed has a translation of the new Iraqi petroleum law.
Petty Larseny says we should declare victory and leave. An ironic reading of Mission Accomplished.