*The civil administration of Iraq under Paul Bremer plans to create a ministry of religious affairs that would promote dialogue among Iraq’s religious leaders, according to az-Zaman. It would also attempt to ensure that any legislation passed does not withdraw from them their religious rights.
*Large fires burned at three Baghdad sites on Saturday, at a money-printing factory, at a schoolbook repository, and at a warehouse of the electricity service. A conflagration also continued at a sulphur plant near Mosul. Sabotage is suspected. Duh. Baathist remnants (a.k.a. Iraqi nationalists) appear to have planned for guerrilla war and sabotage as a way to getting the US back out of Iraq, and continue to network successfully to carry it out. The kidnapping and brutal execution of Sgt. 1st Class Gladimir Philippe, 37, of Roselle, N.J., and Pfc. Kevin Ott, 27, of Columbus, Ohio, who were taken from their checkpoint at Balad by persons unknown, brings the death toll of US soldiers to over 200 since the war began. Post-April 9 casualties continue to mount for the Anglo-American troops, with many killed in the past week. I don’t think this kind of sabotage and occasional killing of troops can force the coalition out of Iraq, though. What will eventually do that, if it happens at all, will be massive crowd actions. Militaries can put down large numbers of civilian protesters, as Syria did at Hamas in 1982 and as China did at Tiananmen in 1989, but only if the government directing the troops is a dictatorship that does not care about bad PR. If the British and Americans overstay their welcome, the Iraqi populace will be able to force them out, giving them a choice between that and being portrayed back home as soulless monsters. The Jallianwalla Bagh sort of incident was the downfall of many an empire in a modern communications context.