40 Killed in Bombings of Shiite Pilgrims in Iraq;
Constitutional Crisis Unfolds

Despite Republican senator John McCain’s conviction that “We’ve already won that one,” i.e. the Iraq War, actually you couldn’t say either that the war is over or that things are going well politically in that country. It lacks a new government, the political wrangling is interminable, the apparatus of state is paralyzed, and big bombings are undertaken with frightening efficiency.

Two bombings by guerrillas killed at least 40 Shiite pilgrims and wounded 68 in the holy city of Karbala, where hundreds of thousands of devotees had gathered to commemorate the hidden Twelfth Imam, who this branch of Shiism holds will return in the future as a sort of messiah figure (analogous to the return of Christ for many Christians). The time and place of the bombing made it especially dangerous for Iraq’s inter-sectarian politics. Karbala is sacred ground for Shiites, the burial place of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Husayn, who was killed by the Muslim Umayyad dynasty in 680 CE (AD) and so is considered the supreme martyr. A big bombing in Karbala reverberates throughout Shiite Iraq and among Shiites everywhere. In February of 2006, when guerrillas blew up the golden dome shrine of Imam Hasan al-Askari (a descendant of both the Prophet and of Imam Husayn), the 11th Imam and father of the Twelfth Imam, Iraq descended into an orgy of sectarian violence that killed as many as 2500 civilians a month.

Al-Khaleej reports that the two bombs were set off at the city gate, distant from the Shrine of Husayn.

Also on Monday, the offices of the al-Arabiya satellite television news network were bombed, killing 6 persons and wounding a member of parliament from the secular Iraqiya list of Iyad Allawi, Salam al-Zawbaie. The al-Arabiya offices are near to the Iraqiya headquarters.

The bombings may have been intended as interventions in the political wrangling about the formation of a new government, something that still has not happened all these months after the March 7 election. (In Iraq’s parliamentary system, they hold the election first, then see who has enough seats to form a government; so far no one has put together a viable coalition, unlike what happened in Britain recently, where the election did not yield a majority party but the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats managed to form a government together despite their significant ideological differences.)

Big bombings in Karbala make Shiite caretaker prime minister Nuri al-Maliki look weak and ineffective, undermining his claim to a second term, which is based in part on his partial successes in restoring some security to major cities such as Basra and Baghdad.

The bombing of al-Arabiya, in the vicinity of the Iraqiya Party, may have been a strike at Sunni Arab interests (al-Arabiya is based in the United Arab Emirates and is sympathetic to moderate Sunni Arabs in Iraq).

Leaders of the major parties are said to be planning to meet in Baghdad, including Masoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Alliance, Iyad Allawi of the secular Iraqiya Party (mainly voted for this time by Sunni Arabs), Nuri al-Maliki of the middle class Shiite State of Law Coalition, and cleric Muqtada al-Sadr of the fundamentalist Shiite Sadr Bloc. Al-Sadr is said to prefer not to meet al-Maliki face to face. A parliamentary session is also planned to discuss the prerogatives of al-Maliki’s caretaker government, which remains in power 5 months after the election, given the constitutional crisis and relative power vacuum (parliament has not been meeting regularly in the absence of a new government). One plan is to strip al-Maliki’s caretaker government of many of its prerogatives, allowing it only to deliver government services.

The problem is that the army reports to al-Maliki and neither may be interested in what parliament thinks. Nor is it clear that what Iraq needs at this point is a weaker caretaker government.

11 Responses

  1. When you say –> the return of Christ for many Christians –> it should be for ALL Christians –> Isn’t it?

    • not this Christian.

      One dividing line among the various Christian sects is how the visions of the Prophet John of Patmos inform their doctrine and dogma. This John was not an Apostle and never met Jesus in the flesh, having been born after Jesus’ bodily Ascension into heaven. A hermit living alone in a cave on the Greek isle of Patmos, John had a number of visions of Jesus appearing to him and telling him what the future held.
      John of Patmos wrote down his recollection of these visions in the Book of Revelations, as it is now called. This is where most “Christian” teachings about end times, the Millennium, Christian Triumphalism, Armageddon, the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Rapture, and more, come from. This is where most teachings about the Second Coming come from. Most of these teachings are not related to the teachings of Jesus to his Apostles.

      The Jesus who walked the Earth taught that what was important in one’s spiritual life was what a person chose, and what they did. The Jesus in Revelations taught that what is most important is the Divine Magic performed by God, relieving believers of any responsibility.

      These quite different versions of Christianity appeal to very different sorts of Christians.
      .

  2. Mission Accomplished, ha! Perhaps we could drop the former commanderincheif onto an aircraft carrier again to reinforce that message, sans jet.

  3. “the political wrangling is interminable, the apparatus of state is paralyzed”

    are you sure you mean Iraq and not the USA?

  4. Yes these bombing might make Al-Maliki look weak and undermine his claim for a second term, but could it also be a message to Al-Sadr not to try to join Allawi to cast Al-Malaki out after the two Sadr and Allawi meat in Damascus? And could the second bombing be a message to Allawi not to do the same? Who is backing Al-Maliki so fiercely? Is he the only one that can turn a blind eye on Israel jets flying over Iraq?
    And i am not sure what channel senator McCain is watching. “we won that war”? God, I can only imagine how we are being hated more and more ever day and with every bomb. Senator McCain, would these bombs and killings have happened if it wasn’t for our war? Just because you cant hear the bombs and see the bodies, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Yes the war is still on Senator McCain.

  5. So the context of McCain’s quote was that there’s no point being against the Iraq war because it’s over.
    Maybe McCain meant something like:
    “Well, again, I’m not so worried about the timetable for withdrawals.”

  6. Senator Mc-Cain might have meant winning as in the 9.1 billion dolars of Iraq’s oil money given to the US for safe keeping to reconstruct the damage done by war. Oopssy daisy, the money can’t be accounted for. Winning money is a win after all.

  7. McCain is of course egregious, but ever since Harry Reid’s “the war is lost,”
    assertion, (which he himself might have later equivocated) hasn’t the Democratic elite strategized “pretend the war is won and get out? “

  8. “Everybody knows that we are not going to sort out the problem of the Middle East peace process while there is, effectively, a giant open prison in Gaza.”

    > “Everybody knows that we are not going to sort out the problem of the Middle East peace process while there is, effectively, a giant open prison in Gaza.”

    Thank you very much Mr. Cameron.
    No one in USA political leadership has the integrity and courage to speak this truth.
    (Jimmy Carter does, but he is powerless and ignored.)

    link to thelede.blogs.nytimes.com

    • Sorry, the quotes were supposed to be:
      “Let me be clear: the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable. And I have told Prime Minister Netanyahu we will expect the Israeli inquiry to be swift, transparent and rigorous. Let me also be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.”

      “Everybody knows that we are not going to sort out the problem of the Middle East peace process while there is, effectively, a giant open prison in Gaza.”

      link to thelede.blogs.nytimes.com

  9. .
    Does the US still insist that al-Sadr not have any seat at the table, and that the 40% of the population that he represents must remain without a voice in the Iraqi government ?

    If so, there will not be any reconciliation or brokered alliance until the US occupation of Iraq is completely ended.
    .

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