*Seven US troops were wounded in various attacks on Friday, some only lightly. There were 8 attacks in 24 hours west of Baghdad, suggesting new levels of organization. (So much for the dampening effect of executing Uday and Qusay). Also, as soon as the new Polish unit got to Hilla in the south, they came under mortar fire.
(Hilla is a largely Shiite, tribal area, which makes you wounder who was firing mortar rounds at the Poles). Saboteurs also blew up an oil pipeline. All of this is very bad news for hopes of stability. Apparently electricity is still rare in Baghdad (2 hours on, four hours off), and security is not that great. People are still afraid to let their girls walk to the campus of Baghdad University for fear of kidnappers. Although the gas lines are not as long as they used to be, at some times and places they are still a pain in the neck. From all accounts, Basra under the British is better than Baghdad. A prayer leader in Falluja has alleged that a lot of the anti-US attacks are being waged by Salafis or Muslim fundamentalists. (These are largely lay groups who do not have a great deal of respect for the clergy. Indeed, the Sunni clergy have not called for jihad, urging that the Coalition be given time. One serves on the governing council. But Salafis, who take only scripture as their guide, are not waiting for the clerics. Although Salafism is not intrinsically violent, the movement can sometimes take that direction, which is what is alleged to be happening in the Baathist/ Islamist triangle.
*Muqtada al-Sadr called in his Friday sermon at Kufa for American troops who abased Iraqis to be tried in accordance with Islamic law. He referred specifically to what he called the US “attack” on the shrine of Imam Husayn in Karbala last weekend. (For Shiites, the shrine of Imam Husayn is among the holiest sites in the world, and they have a lot of emotional investment in it; maybe like Arlington cemetary for patriotic Americans). He also urged all those Iraqis who were cooperating with the Coalition to repent and to join his proposed Mahdi Army, a militia that would serve as an alternative to the new Iraqi army being created by the US. He issued the call to all Iraqis, including Kurds, and he especially addressed the Badr Corps, a Shiite militia associated with his rivals, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The head of the Badr Corps, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, is serving on the Interim Governing Council, and Muqtada is trying to use that cooperation to turn his own troops against him. He also appealed to the Kurdish Peshmerga to join him. He thanked all those nations who refused to recognize the governing council, and who refused to send troops to Iraq.
His audience kept shouting, “No, no to America!” “No, no to the Occupier!” “No, no to tyranny.” It is estimated that Muqtada has about 2 million followers, about ten percent of Iraqis.
*US troops have arrested Shaykh `Abd al-Ghani, a Sufi leader in Diyala. No word on why, exactly. Sufis are mystical Muslims, mostly Sunni. They can be quietist, but some have been infected with jihadi ideas. There is a Sufi group in Pakistan which had followers in the US, which joined up with the Taliban. This is rare because the fundamentalists usually despise Sufism and won’t cooperate with Sufis. Sort of like Evangelicals refusing to work with Franciscans.