28 Killed in Kadhimiya Bombing

A brazen car-bombing in the Kadhimiya district of Baghdad killed 28 and wounded 55 on Saturday. Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that an Iraqi security official expressed surprise and dismay that Kadhimiya could be bombed that way. He said that the district is very heavily guarded and checkpoint inspections at the entrance to it should have caught a car bomb. He told the pan-Arab London daily that the bombing either indicated that the security forces detailed to Kadhimiya were becoming careless, or the bombing was an inside job.

Kadhimiya is the site of the tomb of Musa al-Kazim, the seventh Shiite Imam or what they believe is a divinely appointed leader directly descended from the Prophet Muhammad. Believers have begun flocking to the shrine, since the first ten days of the Muslim New Year, which have just begun, are a time of ritual mourning for Shiites. The destruction of the tomb of the 10th and 11th Imams in Samarra in February, 2006, kicked off an 18-month Shiite-Sunni civil war in 2006-2007 that led to the ethnic cleansing of most Sunni Arabs from the capital.

In other news, the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government will take over the Sunni Arab “Awakening Councils” in Diyala Province. Diyala is still the scene of a hot struggle between Sunnis and Shiites and that makes the handover of responsibility for these Sunni militias to PM Nuri al-Maliki fraught with danger. Many high-ranking Shiites view the members of the Awakening Councils, many of whom used to be active in the Resistance, to be little more than criminals, and are willing to prosecute them as such where credible eyewitnesses to their previous atrocities come forward.

Thousands of protesters came out in the southern port city of Basra on Saturday to demand regional autonomy similar to what the Kurds enjoy in the north. PM Nuri al-Maliki had just said in Karbala that he would not intervene in such referendums as long as they did not undermine the federal government.