200 Guerrillas Attack Mosul Police
Truck Bombing Kills 45 (Chlorine?}
Zebari rejects Pakistani Troops
I don’t know if it was all hell, but a good deal of hell, a generous dollop of hell, broke loose in Iraq on Wednesday.
Police found thirty bodies in the streets of Baghdad yesterday. I think we would all be alarmed and frantic if just one corpse was found in the street in front of our house even once a year. Thirty every day, that is something.
This item is heartbreaking:
‘ABU SAYDA – A truck bomb laden with chlorine gas exploded in a market area in the mostly Shi’ite town of Abu Sayda, north of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing 45 people and wounding 60, police said on Wednesday.’
45 people is a lot of people.
Also, down south, there was Shiite on Shiite violence:
‘ NASIRIYA – Clashes between militias loyal to Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi government forces killed eight people and wounded 40 in the southern city of Nasiriya, 375 km southeast of Baghdad, hospital and police sources said.’ [similar fighting in nearby al-Shatra killed 4.]
Al-Bawaba reports that: “At 6 p.m. Wednesday, some 10 gunmen hijacked a bus in Baqouba . . . The attackers . . . left with 23 male passengers as hostages . . .
“An apparently co-ordinated attack by five suicide car bombers and [as many as 200] gunmen backed by mortars and bombs killed four policemen in the northern Iraqi city Mosul on Wednesday night and injured 30 other people, including 14 police officers, police said.”
Hmm. 200 men is a large company. You just don’t get a guerrilla company operating openly that often. It is even rare that they fight during daytime in platoons (say 20 men).
This was in part a bid to release more prisoners. Mosul is a city of 1.5 million or so in the north, 80% Sunni Arab, and a lot of US soldiers have been withdrawn from it for the surge in Baghdad.
Two suicide bombers also hit a bridge north of Mosul.
Then, Reuters reports, guerrillas fired mortar shells into the Green Zone again, as they do often, but this time managed to kill 2 persons and wound 10 others. The Green Zone was supposed to be the safe part of Iraq. But areas just around it are ruled by the Baathis or the Islamic State of Iraq.
State Department employees in Baghdad leaked to McClatchy their fear and anger at the lack of protection they have in the Green Zone. Their trailers are sitting ducks for the mortar shells, and a thousand of them have been Shanghaied by Cheney and Bush for the world’s largest embassy. Some are saying that the number of personnel there should be cut back.
That’s a remarkable record of death and destruction for one day, from Mosul in the north to Nasiriya in the south. It doesn’t seem to be about just 4 provinces, either.
Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki called on Iranian companies to build 4 oil refineries in southern Iraq. He gave the Iranian firms precedence.
Al-Zaman also says that there has been a marked deterioration of security in Diwaniya, Nasiriya and Basra in the Shiite south.
Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s Kurdish foreign minister, rejected Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s proposal that Muslim troops come to Iraq under the banner of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (Muslim Foreign Ministers). Malaysia and Indonesia had also shown an interest in such a mission.
I presume that the joint Kurdish/ Shiite government in Baghdad views such proposals as an incursion of foreign, Sunni power into Iraq. Pakistan, for instance is strongly allied with Saudi Arabia (see below). Musharraf also has excellent relations with the secular generals of Turkey, where he in part grew up as the son of a diplomat. His Saudi and Turkish connections would raise Kurdish and Shiite alarums about him.
But why would the OIC even want the job? For their part, non-Arab Muslim nations such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan may see potential economic benefits from getting involved with Iraq. Pakistan has an added impetus, of not wanting to see the general region destabilized, and wanting a toehold in the Oil Gulf as part of its competition with India.
A US diplomatic source is alleged to have told an Egyptian newspaper that the Saudis are contemplating direct intervention in Iraq on behalf of the Sunni Arabs and in fear of a spread of Iranian influence. This is a contingency plan for if the US suddenly pulls out its troops. The article says that Cheney’s visit to Saudi Arabia came in part in response to this threat.