Mayor of Tikrit Killed; US Raids Sadr City; Sistani reduces Workload

Sunni Arab guerrillas are increasingly deploying explosively formed projectiles, roadside bombs that can pierce even tank armor. My guess is that the more sophisticated EFPs supposedly coming only from Iran are also sometimes made in Iraq, and that any Iranian ones are on the black market and could be bought by anyone, including Sunni groups.

The International Red Cross reports that many fewer displaced Iraqis went home in January than in December, and that most returnees from Syria came back reluctantly because they had run out of money.

Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on his Mahdi Army fighters to maintain their freeze on paramilitary activities on Thursday. The call came in the wake of a US raid on Special Group cells in the Shiite slum of Sadr City (East Baghdad), in which they arrested 16 persons and injured several others, including at least one woman. Sadr says he considers those who continue to engage in violence rogues, but local Sadrists denied that those arrested were Special Group commandos.

The International Crisis Group concludes that the Mahdi Army ceasefire remains extremely fragile. Because of arrests such as those on Thursday, many Mahdi Army commanders want the ceasefire lifted so that they can return fire and defend themselves.

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has much lightened his workload and has restricted the range of his intervention in Iraqi politics, according to AP. Sistani was born in August of 1930 according to the Arabic biography at his web site. He came to Najaf from Iran in late 1951 and stayed, with the exception of 6 months that he spent back in Iran around 1961. He will therefore be 78 in August. He may have health problems (he had an angioplasty in August, 2004), but his age in and of itself couldn’t explain his reduced schedule. Grand Ayatollahs do not typically retire, and his predecessor died at age 91 or so in 1992. But were Sistani to die, he would be succeeded by one of the three other grand ayatollahs in Najaf. The two most likely contenders are Bashir Najafi of Pakistan and Ishaq Fayyad of Afghanistan. Fayyad is the more pro-American of the two, but also the most enthusiastic for moving Iraq toward being an Islamic Republic with sharia or Islamic canon law as the law of the land. Typically who the leading grand ayatollah is becomes clear within three or four years of the death of the previous incumbent. Grand Ayatollahs are not typically succeeded by their sons. Muhsin al-Hakim, who died in 1971, was succeeded by Abu’l-Qasim Khoei, and Khoei was succeeded by Sistani. Sistani’s son is in his 40s and won’t be eligible to succeed his father for many years, though he can be influential and can play politics.

The Bush administration consistently gives us Attorneys General who lie about what the law is. Ironically, the defense Mukasey suggests for telecom companies that illegally turned over consumer records to government officials who had no warrant to request them, is that they were “following orders.” I think there were some trials where that excuse was disallowed.

Iraqi scientist Saad Tawfiq, the closest thing the CIA had to a horse’s mouth, warned the US before the war that Saddam had closed all of his WMD programs by 1995. He was blown off and ignored.

It may be that the CIA analysts most willing to listen to him were marginalized and even fired by the pro-war faction around VP Dick Cheney.

Other Iraqi scientists, such as Imad Khadduri, also tried to tell the world that Iraq had no nuclear weapons program. I cited this article at my blog before the war in Feb. 2003 at a time when the corporate media were parroting Bush’s fantastic and false allegations.

Someone should do a study of how many times the corporate media brought Khidhir Hamza, a Chalabi plant, on evening news programs in 2002 and early 2003, and look into exactly who kept booking him and who kept pushing him on the producers and why Tawfiq’s and Khadduri’s stories were buried. Hamza was a computer scientist who had something to do with the nuclear program for like six months in 1989 and had no way of knowing anything later than that, but he got all our media face time. The US media system is corrupt, and it is harming and sometimes even killing us.

[See the following posts by Khadduri:

On Hamza:

”Saddam’s bombmaker’ is full of lies” November 27, 2002

”Khidhir Hamza: The bogus intelligence source” September 29, 2003

On the “intelligence” of the the American Intelligence and the US corporate media system:

But, but .. “It’s just a — it’s unnatural” July 04, 2005

The “we did not know” lie January 03, 2006

An Arabic saying: “the rope of lying is short but enough to hang oneself” ]

18% of Iraq War veterans are unemployed, and those who get jobs often get very low-paying ones.

Stiff upper lip, old, like, dude. The British military wants to use facebook and myspace to shore up the UK public’s support for the Afghanistan war.

McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Thursday:

‘Baghdad

. . . A roadside bomb exploded targeting a police patrol in Salman Pak to the southeast of Baghdad injuring 2 policemen.

A suspicious abandoned carrier bag was reported near a girl’s high school in Hay Dragh, Mansour district in central Baghdad. Security forces confirmed that it contained an IED and attempted to detonate it under control but were unsuccessful. It exploded and seriously injured 3 policemen at around 07:00 this morning.

A Toyota Coaster bus exploded targeting a group of Sahwa members during a raid they were conducting on suspected houses in al-Mada’in, Salman Pak area to the south east of Baghdad, killing 3 and injuring 7 al-Sahwa members.

Gunmen driving a civilian car opened fire on another civilian car carrying 5 men who work as cleaners in the Baghdad Municipality near al-Nidaa Mosque, al-Qahira neighbourhood, north Baghdad at around 5 pm. The driver was shot several times and died instantly, their car then crashed into another car on the road. The other 4 survived the incident with superficial injuries.

5 bodies were found in Baghdad by Iraqi Police. 1 in Karrada, 1 in Palestine St, 1 in Saab, 1 in Ghazaliyah and 1 in Hurriyah.

Salahuddin

4 civilians [were killed], amongst whom was the brother of the Head of the Tikrit City Council and engineer Hameed Aziz al-Janabi who had a position in the Engineering Department in Tikrit University. The four were killed in an area called al-Dhiba’i to the south west of Tikrit City yesterday evening.

Lieutenant Khalid Kwan killed and 1 other officer and 1 policeman injured as a roadside bomb went off targeting an Iraqi Police patrol in Siniyah district, 7 km to the west of Baiji city this afternoon.

Diyala

IED explodes near a group of young shepherd boys out with their lambs near al-Shaikhi village, 7 km to the south of Baquba this morning. 4 of the boys, who were between 4 and 10 years of age, were injured.

Al-Qaeda raided al-Muradiyah village, 10 km to the south of Baquba at 10:00 this morning and broke into one of its houses . They ordered the women outside the house then shot to death 3 brothers inside the house. They then put explosives inside the house and blew it up.

Mosul

A roadside bomb targeted a police patrol in Intisar neighbourhood, east Mosul this morning, injuring 2 policemen.

3 policemen were injured as IED exploded targeting their patrol in al-Masarif neighbourhood, east Mosul this morning.

Gunmen burned down 8 communications towers in the city of Mosul today. Al-Siddiq and al-Noor neighbourhoods were amongst the neighbourhoods whose towers were burnt down. The towers belonged to Asia Cell mobile telephone network company.’

Reuters adds further information, including this item: “KERBALA – The Iraqi police arrested 11 members of the Shi’ite “Soldiers of Heaven” cult near the city of Kerbala, 110 km (70 miles) southwest of Baghdad, police said.”

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