*A second pipeline blast in the north of Iraq further damages the country’s ability to export petroleum, costing Iraqis $7 million a day. Guerrillas showered mortar fire on Abu Ghurayb Prison near Baghdad, killing six Iraqi prisoners and wounding 59. Skittish US troops then accidentally killed a Reuters cameraman at the site. It is not clear whether the guerrilla attack was meant to free the prisoners or meant to hit American guarding the facility. Saboteurs also hit a water main and left Baghdad without water much of Monday. Monday was marked by battles in the “Infrastructure War,” wherein anti-American forces are attempting to ensure that the US fails in its rebuilding efforts and that Iraqis increasingly resent the US presence and inability to improve their lives. It appears that the US administration is particularly vulnerable to this tactic. It was also announced that a Danish soldier was killed near Basra by friendly fire. Some of these acts of sabotage, according to Al-Hayat, may have originated with a well-armed and well-funded new group, “The Islamic and Nationalist Iraqi Resistance Movement.” The operations suggest technical sophistication.
*The spokesman of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Akram Zubeidi, said Saturday, “America does not want to acknowledge it is incapable of controlling the situation and rebuilding Iraq. Every day, we receive dozens of complaints from Iraqis asking us to declare a fatwa against the Americans and we say no. But this ‘no’ will not last forever.” He was speaking on behalf of Sistani, according to Selim Saheb Ettaba of Agence France Press, who broke the story. Apparently the Najaf establishment was very upset about the incident on Weds. Aug. 13 in East Baghdad when US troops fired on Shiite protesters unhappy that their banner had been removed from a telecom tower. (Or, the 4 more staid, elderly clerics, are being forced to compete with firebrand Muqtada al-Sadr in moral outrage). Sistani’s apparent conviction that the US cannot run Iraq, and the very mention that his patience with the Americans isn’t infinite, is extremely significant. Sistani does not believe in the clergy getting involved in politics, so if he is saying this sort of thing he is really upset.
*Iraqi Interim President Ibrahim Jaafari said Monday that his country’s relationship with Israel would have to be put to a national referendum, and that the Interim Governing Council does not have the authority to make that decision. He also promised once again that the Iraqi ministers would be appointed this week. (al-Zaman)
*Kurdish leaders maintain that over 1,000 radical Sunni fighters, mainly Arabs, have infliltrated into Iraq via Iran in recent weeks. The PUK says some may actually have come from Afghanistan, i.e., they are al-Qaeda remnants. See http://www.bakutoday.net/view.php?d=5846.
*A poll taken by the Scripps Howard News Agency and by Ohio University (ending Aug. 12) found that 42% of Americans now say they are “not certain” that commiting troops to Iraq was the correct course of action. This number is up from less than a third in May.
*The US is having to pay to have a small contingent of Polish troops supporting the effort in Iraq. But it turns out, according to AFP, that this is not the first time Polish soldiers have been deployed to Iraq. There were 75,000 of them there in WW II, supplied by the Soviet Union, then an ally of Britain and the US. Apparently they did not actually do much in Iraq. But it is another piece of evidence that “globalization” did not start in the 21st century. See