*Iraqi guerrillas killed one US soldier and wounded three others over Friday night/ Saturday morning. They fired a rocket propelled grenade at their convoy as it was moving north of Baghdad. Remote control bombs in Tikrit injured two US soldiers after the burial of Uday and Qusay.
*AP is reporting that a close aid to Saddam Hussein is saying that he really did destroy his weapons of mass destruction, but that he refused to admit it because he felt doubt on the issue would deter an American invasion. If this is true, he hoisted himself by his own petard, since he could have probably made the invasion politically impossible by simply opening up completely to the UN inspectors.
*In the dispute over the appointment of a female court judge in Najaf (which American authorities have put on hold), the views of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani have been a little murky. Asked for a fatwa on the issue, he confined himself to saying that the judge should have legal qualifications. He did not insist that only a man could have these. But neither does he explicitly say a woman can serve. His spokesman in London, Ali Kashmiri, cleared things up Saturday, however, saying that Sistani holds that a woman cannot serve as judge, since a judge must be qualified to carry out independent legal reasoning (ijtihad), in the technique of which women are not trained. Another source in Najaf close to Sistani said his reluctance on this issue is not new but is solidly grounded in Islamic law. ( -AFP & al-Zaman)
*Police in Karbala rode around this weekend taking orders from clerics in closing down or chasing off street vendors near the shrine of Imam Husayn. The peddlers were offering pornographic videos, drugs, alcohol and weapons and ammunition to passers-by in front of one of Shiism’s holiest shrines. AFP quoted one Karbala resident as saying, “Finally, we have a police force that takes orders from clerics and not the Americans.” This sort of issue has political consequences in Iraq. The demonstrations against the Baath of the late 1970s in Najaf and Karbala were provoked in part by the secular Baath’s decision to license liquor sales in those cities. If they had meant to try to weaken religion by such actions, they failed miserably, and only caused a lot of trouble. I think the US should let municipalities make these decisions on the basis of community standards, which is largely how it is done in America.