Rice: Muqtada a Coward; Najaf Tense; Veterans Depressed, Unemployed

Ned Parker, Raheem Salman and Saad Fakhrildeen get the story in Najaf, the Shiite holy city south of Baghdad. The four grand ayatollahs, pillars of middle and upper class Shiite orthodoxy, are fearful of the influence of young Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the millenarian workers and the poor. The authors do not note the irony, but I thought it amusing that both sides were blaming Iran for their troubles, which suggests that the troubles are indigenous. It is an excellent article; I wish it had said more about the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, from which the governor comes, and the Badr Corps, from which the deputy governor comes; both have strong Iran ties and they are the powers that be in Najaf; it is they the Mahdi Army mainly challenges, not just the four grand ayatollahs. Also, they did not say anything about the rumors that the chief grand ayatollah, Ali Sistani, is in bad health.

Rice has her ‘bring’em on moment’ in Iraq, talking trash to the Mahdi Army and calling Muqtada al-Sadr a ‘coward.’ Muqtada al-Sadr eluded Saddam Hussein for 4 years after Saddam killed his father and two elder brothers; and in 2004 he twice took on the US military. He may be a lot of things, but he is not a coward. Has Rice ever said anything about Iraq that was true or useful? Even as she was talking up ‘improved security’ in Baghdad, mortar shells were falling about her in the Green Zone.

Over the weekend there were clashes in Nasiriya between Mahdi Army militiamen and the Iraqi army. Although this official Iraqi government communique suggests that 40 militiamen were killed and 40 captured and does not mention government casualties, I’d take it all with a grain of salt. What is not apparent from the squib is that the Iraqi government is so weak it is having to fight for a toehold in one of its own cities.

Another mass grave found in Iraq. These sites are evidence of militia activity– the victims were likely either accused of collaboration with the central government or members of the opposite religious sect.

The American Right is always droning on about the need to support our troops (i.e. to support the Right’s war). But the rich who send poor young men off to foreign wars of course don’t really care about the young men themselves (because they don’t care about the poor in general; right wing politicians are elected by the rich, for the rich and of the rich). Cases in point:

Health care eludes Iraq vet.

Veterans having a hard time finding jobs.

A third of a million veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq are depressed, suffering from PTSD (the proportion suffering is about 1 in five).

The way to support our troops is to get them out of a fruitless and unnecessary war, before more thousands are killed and wounded, whether physically or psychologically or socially.

Tom Engelhardt gives 12 reasons to get out of Iraq.

McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Sunday:

‘ Baghdad

Around 11:00 pm on Saturday, a mortar shell hit al Qanat Street in east Baghdad. No casualties reported.

Around 1:30 a.m. four mortar shells hit al Husseiniyah area in north Baghdad. No casualties reported.

Seven civilians were wounded when a Katyosha rocket hit a house in Abo Desheer neighborhood ij south Baghdad around 8:00 a.m.

Clashes broke out between Mahdi army militia and the Iraqi national police in New Baghdad area in east Baghdad around 10:00 a.m. No information about the casualties provided on time of publication.

Clashes broke out between Mahdi army militia and the American forces in Kubra al Ghizlan area in the outskirt of Sadr city in east Baghdad around 11:00 am. No casualties reported on time of publication.

2 civilians were killed and 14 others wounded when two mortar shells hit Kadhemiyah neighborhood north Baghdad around 5:00 p.m.

Five people were wounded including two policemen when a road side bomb exploded targeting the police patrol in New Baghdad neighborhood in east Baghdad around 7:00 p.m.

Two policemen were killed and four others wounded by a bombed placed bicycle in Abo Graib area west of Baghdad around 8:30 p.m.

Police found six unidentified bodies throughout Baghdad (2 bodies in Jisr Diyala, 1 body in Zayuna, 1 body in New Baghdad, 1 body in Bayaa and 1 body in Amil)

Diyala

Gunmen set a fake check point kidnapping three vehicles including a bus carries nine students from the University of Diyala while they were in their way to the university. The incident took place in the area between Muqdadiyah town and Kanan area east of Baquba around 9:00 a.m. The gunmen released the nine students and kept the three drivers.

Around 9:00 a.m. gunmen attacked a car carrying a policeman and his pregnant wife while they were in their way to the hospital. The incident took place in Wajihiyah area east of Baquba. The gunmen killed the policeman and the taxi driver and injured the wife.

The commander of the Diyala operations Major General Abdul Kareem al Ubaidi said that the Iraqi security forces and the Sahwa members found 30 bodies in a mass grave yard in Muqdadiyah town northeast of Baquba. Al Rubaie said that another mass grave yard was found in al Botoma village north of Baquba city confirming that 27 bodies were from the yard moved to the morgue of Diyala hospital.

Kirkuk

Gunmen killed two contractors near al Rashad area west Kirkuk on Sunday morning.

Nineveh

Police found the bodies of two members of the local council of Sinjar town west of Mosul city. The two members of the council were kidnapped on Saturday evening.

Salahuddin

Gunmen killed a police officer in front of his house in Soleman Beg town east of Tikrit around 10:00 p.m.’

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