Sunni Party Cuts off US in Iraq;

The Iraqi Islamic Party, led by Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, said it was suspending further high-level contact with the United States on Saturday. The Sunni fundamentalist group is angry about a raid in Fallujah in which US troops killed a member of the IIP. The US military contends that the man opened fire on the American soldiers and that they found weapons and weapon-making materiel in his house, saying that he was a leader of Hamas al-Iraq, an offshoot of the 1920 Revolution Brigades. The IIP is thought by some to be the civilian wing of this guerrilla group. The IIP seems especially angry that its political rivals in the Awakening Council movement, who will contest provincial elections in late January, have informed to the Americans on IIP operatives. The IIP won al-Anbar Province in 2005 with only 2% of the electorate casting ballots, but the contest in January will be more heated. The IIP maintains that the US military is abetting the Awakening Councils in taking al-Anbar.

The Iraqi Islamic Party also opposes the draft security agreement that was negotiated between PM Nuri al-Maliki’s office and the Iraqi government. The IIP-sponsored “Baghdad Satellite Channel” carried a sermon on Friday by pro-IIP cleric Hashim al-Ta’i in which he said (Open Source Center translation),

‘”If we go back in memory to the early 1990s when Iraq was the target of the aircraft of America and the states that supported it and when Baghdad and the major Iraqi cities in particular and all other targets in Iraq in general were the target of these aircraft, and if we go back in memory to those difficult days in the history of Iraq, we will find that America has destroyed all infrastructures and killed and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.Furthermore, on the pretext of the former regime, on the pretext of this regime’s alliance with Al-Qa’ida, and on the pretext of the weapons of mass destruction, it placed Iraq and the Iraqis under a stifling, unjust, and tough siege to the point where the Iraqis ate fodder. Since that date, Iraqi brain drain has been continuing and the Iraqis have continued to leave Iraq.”

He adds: “America’s policy toward Iraq led to the death of more than 2 million children during the time of the siege. The war has also created strange kinds of cancer and deformed births.” He says: “This is the bitter harvest America madeus reap in our wounded country. Today, an agreement is offered to the Iraqis.So, what will the Iraqis say? Through my contacts with the people and their letters and recommendations, and based on what I hear, there is a unanimous Iraqi voice which says: No to an agreement that consolidates the occupation and prolongs its life; no to an agreement that consolidates sectarianism and racism and fragments the country into groups and cantons; no to an agreement that mortgages the country and its resources for many decades; no to an agreement that does not include a timetable for the withdrawal of the occupiers from our land and that seeks to build military bases that would perhaps stay for tens of years in Iraq to threaten Iraq and the neighboring states together; and no to an agreement, which does not include equal opportunities.” ‘

Ta’i’s sentiments appear to be widespread in Iraq, right down to the exaggerated estimate (it is usually put at 500,000, not 2 million) for the number of Iraqi children that were killed by US and UN sanctions (the interdiction of chlorine made it impossible to do water purification, which in turn caused infant and toddler deaths from gastrointestinal diseases and consequent dehydration). Yep, the Neocons called that one, about Iraqi gratitude to the US, right on the money, they did.

On the other hand, many secular-minded Sunni Arab Iraqis (and they are still the majority) are said to approve of the security pact between the US and Iraq, on the grounds that it will limit Iranian dominance of Iraq. The “al-Arab” newspaper of Qatar reported on Friday that (Open Source Center translation):

‘The latest poll Al-Arab carried out about the Iraqi-US security agreement included 270 Sunni Iraqis in the cities of Al-Fallujah, Al-Ramadi, and Baghdad. Eighty percent of these Iraqis suggested that that the security agreement will end the Iranian influence or at least limit it, and that Iraq will be able to return to the Arab ranks again without Iranian control. They also insisted that the agreement with the United States will have limited damage, unlike the Iranian influence. Therefore, they support the agreement and work to make it successful.

Of the participants, 4 percent checked the “We do not know whether it is good or bad for Iraq” box. Some see that the advantages or disadvantages of the agreement are still unknown due to the vague agreement articles and for not announcing the agreement clearly so far. They noted that some media sources mentioned that there are points which will remain secret and unannounced in that agreement.

Sixteen percent of the participants rejected the agreement referring to the Holy Koranic verse: “O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors” (Partial Koranic verse; Al-Ma’idah, 5:51). Despite that the majority of those who expressed their rejection are affiliated to religious parties, particularly the Salafist sect; they find their votes getting lost and unheard among Iraqi Sunnis due to what they called the advantages of the agreement for not leaving Iraq to a fanatic Shiite authority or an Iranian remote or close control.

Shaykh Ahmad al-Hadithi, a leading figure of the Iraqi Islamic Party, told Al-Arab that the percentage was not surprising at all because Sunnis, as well as Christians, and the sons of the other religions fear the current Iranian influence in Iraq.

Dr Abd-al-Wahhab Salim, from the Desert Research Center in Al-Anbar, said that Sunni Iraqis desire a secular system, not religious. They see that the United States invaded them militarily, but the Iranian invasion was ideological, social, and religious, which for their country is more dangerous and horrible than the military invasion.’

On another front, Kazakhstan is withdrawing its troops from Iraq. John C. K. Daly argues that Astana was in part attempting to please Russia while not damaging its new ties to NATO. Thus, Kazakhstan maintained that its troops had done their duty and were now going home.

McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Saturday:

‘ Baghdad

– Around 8 p.m. a roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi army vehicle in Al Shaab neighborhood killing one civilian man was passing by the site and injured four Iraqi army soldiers.

– Around noon, gunmen from Mahdi army militia clashed with Iraqi national police soldiers in Al Shaab neighborhood. The clash lasted more than an hour. One civilian was killed and five others were injured. . .

– Around 4 p.m. a roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi army vehicle in Palestine St. killing two soldiers and injuring three others.

– Iraqi police found two dead bodies throughout Baghdad, one in Husseiniyah, one in Dura.

Nineveh

– Gunmen killed two policemen while they were off duty in Al Sinaa area in Mosul.’

Reuters adds:

‘ . . . BAGHDAD – A bomb stuck to a vehicle carrying an Iraqi army brigadier general killed the driver and wounded the general and a civilian in the central Karrada district, police said . . .

* KIRKUK – A body of a women was found in the southwestern industrial district of the city of Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

* JURF AL-SAKHER – One man was wounded when a speeding car opened fire on a checkpoint of U.S.-backed patrols in Jurf al-Sakher, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

NEAR KIRKUK – Iraqi police found the body of a man with signs of torture just south of Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. . .

MOSUL – A roadside bomb wounded two women when it struck an Iraqi army vehicle in eastern Mosul, north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – Gunmen killed a civilian in a drive-by shooting in eastern Mosul, north of Baghdad, police said.

NEAR KUT – Iraqi police arrested one gunman and wounded another in clashes on Friday just south of Kut, 150 km (95 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Police Major Aziz Latif said.

NEAR KUT – Police said they found a dead body inside an abandoned house just south of Kut on Friday. The dead individual appeared to have been tortured and shot. . .

FALLUJA – Gunmen killed an imam of a mosque and another man in a drive-by shooting northeast of Falluja, police said. . .

FALLUJA – Iraqi soldiers killed a suspected militant and arrested another one, believed to be responsible for training insurgents in producing and placing roadside bombs, on Friday in Falluja, 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.’

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