Al-Zawahiri attacks Democratic Plan in Iraq;
75 Killed in Civil War Violence;
Police/Mahdi Army Truce in Najaf
Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s no. 2 leader complained in a videotape released Saturday about the Democrats’ plan to withdraw US troops from Iraq. Al-Zawahiri said he preferred that the US remain so that Muslim guerrillas could bleed the US military. Where have I heard that sort of reasoning before? Aha! It is a fly trap strategy!
Al-Zawahiri’s opposition to the Democratic plan suggests that it is the right plan.
An Aljazeera interviewee said that al-Zawahiri seemed especially interested in this speech in calling for unity among forces resisting the US occupation of Iraq, including even the Shiites. This emphasis, it was alleged, showed that he is worried about the fissures that are said to have opened up in al-Anbar province between Sunni Arab tribes and the Salafis who style themselves ‘al-Qaeda’ or ‘the Islamic State of Iraq.’
Sawt al-Iraq reports in Arabic that calm returned to the Shiite holy city of Najaf Saturday after clashes on Friday between the Mahdi Army and local security forces. The clashes, this reports says, led to the “collapse of the local government and demonstrated the effective presence of al-Sadr’s militia” in the city. During the clashes, “the security forces withdrew from all the centers and checkpoints and individuals from the Mahdi Army took thier place . . .” Only when Muqtada al-Sadr’s office issued orders that the Mahdi Army stand down did police return to their stations. A joint committee has been set up between al-Sadr’s office and the local administration that will work to calm things back down and ensure that the security forces deploy throughout the city again.
A guerrilla struck at a police recruitment center in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, killing 15 persons and wounding 22.
Shiites in east Baghdad, Sadr City, maintained that US helicopter gunships attacked three houses and killed a woman and some children in addition to some men who were still in bed. The US military denied the attacks. Arab satellite television showed the resulting funeral processions.
‘ A civilian was killed and 5 others were injured when a suicide car bomb exploded targeting Al Karkh police station . . .
11 anonymous bodies were found in different neighborhoods in Baghdad today. . .
. . . police said that a civilian was killed and 3 policemen were injured when an IED exploded near Haja Sabriyah mosque downtown Kirkuk city . . .
5 civilians were injured when 4 Katyusha rockets hit Al Baradhiyah neighborhood downtown Basra city early morning today. . . ‘
In addition, there were several bombings, mortar attacks, and shootings in Baghdad, each of which killed 1 or 2 persons.
Those policemen whose bodies were found in Baiji were part of an elite unit trying to track down al-Qaeda. I have a sinking feeling that they found them.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Iraqi MPs such as Khalid al-Atiya of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq are pushing back against heavy-handed US interference in Parliament’s decision to go into summer recess on July 1 for 2 months even if key pieces of legislation have not yet been passed by then. Al-Atiya says that the decision is parliament’s. Other MPs said anonymously that Washington’s arm-twisting could backfire and reinforce the determination of the MPs to take the break.
The LA Times sees evidence that Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates is not on board with the “surge” policy of George W. Bush, and is ready to move on to a withdrawal if it hasn’t shown real results by this summer.
Philip Gailey of the St. Petersburg Times makes an awful lot of sense about how Bush intends to turn the Iraq quagmire over to his successor on January 20, 2009, and nothing much can stand in the way of his passing the problem to his successor.
Gregory Stanford of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes,
“McClatchy Newspapers reports that the cumulative $564 billion allocated for the war by Sept. 1 could pay for pre-school for every 3- and 4-year-old in the country for the next eight years.”