Sunni Arab Guerrillas Massacre 155

Sunni Arab Guerrillas Massacre 155 Shiites, Wound 305
Sunni Guerrillas Kill 4 US GIs
A Majority of Americans Wants Troops out within Year

The US military announced on Saturday the killing of 4 more US GIs. A fifth died of a heart attack.

Sunni Arab guerrillas drove a truck packed with a ton of explosives into a busy Shiite market, al-Sadriya, and detonated it. The enormous fireball brought down 10 surrounding buildings and scattered blood and charred body parts over the street, leaving a deep crater. Bodies are still being pulled out of the buildings. The bombing took place on the eve of the beginning of a new security sweep by the al-Maliki government.

This market has been hit several times before. So I cannot understand why they don’t cordon it off and make it a walking-only market. It wouldn’t stop terrorists using belt bombs, but you couldn’t get a truckful of explosives there any more. And while getting supplies into the shops and delis might be harder, it could still be done with dollies. I’d put the incoming goods through an inspection regime. Unemployment is high in Iraq. It would be worth spending some money on local Shiites as guards and inspectors.

As it is, the Shiites keep being hit. People are pointing out darkly that Sunni neighborhoods like Adhamiya are not being bombed. The Shiite clans will have to take revenge on some Sunnis somewhere, since this bombing started hundreds of feuds. That was the point of it.

In fact, Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that after the bombing, mortar shells fell on a number of Sunni neighborhoods.

That wasn’t even the only major violence in Iraq on Saturday, bad as it was. McClatchy reports that police found 19 bodies around the capital (mostly in Sunni Arab neighborhoods) on Saturday. There were several other deadly bombings and mortar attacks in Baghdad.

Sunni Arab guerrillas also set off a string of 8 bombs in the northern oil city of Kirkuk, targeting the HQs of the two major Kurdish parties that are trying to annex Kirkuk to the Kurdistan Regional Government. A handful of people were killed. Kurds complained that the guerrillas are attempting to derail the December referendum on the status of Kirkuk, which the Kurds will win since they have flooded into the province in the past 3 years. Annexation is resisted by many Turkmen and Arab residents, who together are probably nearly half the population. Because Turkmen speak a language akin to Turkish, the Turkish public and government is deeply concerned with their fate. Kirkuk is the next powderkeg, which the referendum could set off.

In the northern Sunni Arab city of Mosul, neighborhood clashes between guerrillas and local police and army caused the municipal government to declare a curfew.

In the southern oil port of Basra, al-Sharq al-Awsat reports in Arabic, a group calling itself the Imam al-Husayn Brigades plastered leaflets all over the city warning Iraqis not to have dealings with the British and not to go near their bases.

Some 52 percent of Americans want their troops out of Iraq by January, 2008. Actually that number includes 12 percent who want them out now, ahora, immediatamente. Only 9 percent think we should send more troops.

Rupert Murdoch, who gives you Bill O’Reilly, Daniel Pipes, and other fantasists of the hard Right, by his ownership of a vast media empire, admitted at the Davos conference that his companies had “tried” to propagandize for Bush’s Iraq War. He said that they were critical of the execution of the war, though. He doesn’t watch or read his own media if he thinks that. It is never a discouraging word and ‘what were the RNC talking points today?’ over there in Foxland.

Murdoch’s remarks are a good reason for which the news conglomerates should be broken up so that a wider range of views can be published. While Murdoch complains about competition from the internet, the fact is that far more people watch television than get their news from any blogger.

Murdoch’s media have done more to cheapen American values and drive the country toward fascistic ways of thinking than anything since the McCarthy period in the 1950s. The airwaves belong to the public, and this man only licenses them. When will the public take them back and use them for purposes of which Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Franklin would have approved?

Tom Lasseter discovers that the boots on the ground are not that optimistic about Bush’s plan for an escalation of the Iraq War by putting in an extra 20,500 troops:

‘ “Once more raids start happening, they’ll (insurgents) melt away,” said Gill, who serves with the 1st Infantry Division in east Baghdad. “And then two or three months later, when we leave and say it was a success, they’ll come back.” ‘

Ain’t it the truth.

Babak Dehghanpisheh of Newsweek tried to make sense of last week’s millenarian uprising at Najaf.

This Reuters photograph of a burned out, captured truck belonging to the cult shows that it is mounted with a machine gun n anti-aircraft battery! So much for the story that Najaf authorities just suddenly fell on innocent noncombatants. Now the other question is, where in blazes did they get this an anti-aircraft weapon?

Update: Rob Collier of the San Francisco Chronicle writes:

‘ The truck A primer from the Past for Iraq Diplomacy” part III.

Radio Sawa also presents evidence that the millenarian group had extreme views, and interviews several principals, including a cult member and the governor of Najaf.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat alleges that it was told by a Shiite parliamentarian from the ruling United Iraqi Alliance that the death toll from the Army of Heaven uprising was 2500 and that it included women and children (presumably at the cult compound at Zarqa). This number sounds improbably high to me.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso called US post-war policy in Iraq, set by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “immature.” The comments come on the heels of remarks by Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma that going to war in Iraq had been a “mistake” on the part of the US. I was told that Kyuma was probably not speaking for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. But if Aso is also saying these things, it is hard not to conclude that Abe, who is sinking in the polls, has decided to distance his government from the policies of his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, which supported the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. Either that or Abe isn’t in control of his cabinet, in which case he can’t last long. The Bush administration expressed its displeasure with Kyuma’s remarks. Bush seemed to encourage Koizumi toward greater Japanese nationalism and remilitarization. He is finding out that nationalism is a two-edged sword.