Sadrists Plan Attacks on US Troops; Security Guards will Not have Immunity; 24 Dead, 60 Wounded

The Sadr Movement is forging ahead with plans to create an elite special operations corps within the Mahdi Army, with the mission of hitting US troops.

Iraq has convinced the United States to drop the demand that private American security guards operating in Iraq be granted immunity from prosecution for wrongdoing in Iraqi courts. Such immunity is called “extraterritoriality” and it has often been an important issue in anti-colonial movements in the modern Middle East. Khomeini used the extraterritoriality granted US troops in Iran as one of the platforms for his overthrow of the Shah.

Guerrillas near Mosul deployed a truck bomb against a tribal leader who was fighting fundamentalist Sunni vigilantes, killing one person and wounding the sheikh and 24 others. About 7 persons were killed in political violence in Diyala Province on Tuesday, and a big bomb was set off in Baghdad aimed at a US convoy, which, however, missed its target and wounded several bystanders. Overall, at least 24 persons were killed and over 60 were wounded in political violence on Tuesday.

The UN special envoy to Iraq is casting doubt on whether provincial elections can be held in October, since parliament has still not enacted an elections law.

Al-Zaman explains in Arabic what the hold-ups are on the election law. It says that the big parties are now clearly trying to postpone the elections beyond their scheduled date in October. Three big issues remain to be resolved:

  • Whether Kirkuk Province will be including in the voting, even though it has not yet held the referendum mandated in the constitution on whether it will join the Kurdistan Regional Government, a provincial confederacy that has already absorbed 3 of Iraq’s 18 provinces.
  • The legitimacy of using religious symbols in campaign literature and on banners
  • How to prevent voter fraud.

    Al-Zaman says that Ayatollah Muhammad Yaqubi, the spiritual leader of the Fadhila or Islamic Virtue Party that is powerful in Basra and Nasiriya, accused the political parties of putting obstacles in the path of the provincial elections. He said, “I know that ballot boxes will not alone be decisive, because the powers that be will engage in fraud as much as they can.”

    Wounded Iraqi veterans feel “abandoned” by the government in Baghdad. They say that they receive only a fraction of their former salary once discharged for a debilitating injury, and are not provided proper health care.

    The CEO of Total, the French oil major, says that his company is near to signing a Technical Service Agreement with Iraq to help with production at already-productive fields. But he does not think it is realistic that Total, which is partnering with Chevron in Iraq, will sign a new oil development contract this year or next. Iraq’s parliament has still not enacted an oil law that would establish a legal framework within which foreign corporations can operate inside Iraq.

    Robert Scheer argues that the Bush administration’s quest for an Iraq oil pact debases the US.

    Iraqi s who had been imprisoned at Abu Ghraib are suing private firms and individuals who, they allege, tortured them.

    Hey, I think the Iraqis may be getting the hang of this rule of law thing!

    Aljazeera International interviews Sy Hersh on Bush’s covert operations inside Iran, intended to prepare for a war.

    Barnett Rubin and Manan Ahmed on recent developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan

    Rick Shenkman on American stupidity at Tomdispatch.com