*A US soldier was shot to death in the ritzy Mansur district of Baghdad on Friday, but whether it was the work of a guerrilla is unknown. Some 12 US troops were wounded. Six were wounded when guerrillas in Mosul hit their vehicle with a rocke propelled grenade. A bomb blew up two humvees near al-Amariya west of Baghdad, wounding 3. Another 3 were wounded around Tikrit in the course of operations designed to capture Saddam Hussein and dismantle his network of support.
*Husayn Khomeini, grandson of the Ayatollah, told al-Zaman that he wants to establish a modernist seminary in Karbala that would work for the separation of religion and state and would compete for influence with Najaf and Qom, the other two great seminary cities. He asked for Iraqis’ help in secularizing government in Iran and said that only liberty and democracy could form a solid basis for good relations between the two countries. He said that seminary education in Shiism was out of step with the times. He also condemned religious tyranny as the worst sort of tyranny, worse than communism, fascism or Baathism, because it affected humankind’s humanity and their relationship with their creator. He said that there was no permission in the Islamic scriptures to establish a religious state during the Occulation of the Imam. This is a reference to the Shiite belief that the Prophet was succeeded by 12 vicars or imams, 11 of them his descendants, and that the 12th disappeared as a child into a mystical realm. The era of the disappeared Imam, or the Occultation, is according to conservative Shiism a time when aggressive holy war cannot be declared, and some question the right of believers to collect religious taxes or hold Friday prayers. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini argued that the clerics could stand in for the Imam in ruling the Islamic state during the Occultation, but his grandson rejects that theory. He complained that Iran is stalled and its leadership requires creative thinking to exit from the dead end. I find Hussein Khomeini’s ideas exciting, but it must be underlined that he is a nobody in Iran and Iraq and lacks any kind of popular following. It is unclear if he can actually accomplish anything.
*The Saudi government attacked Libyan strongman Moammar Qadhafi on Friday for his statements to an American television station that Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi sect of Islam was responsible for the creation of al-Qaeda. The Saudis characterized Qadhafi’s comments as a break with Arab and Islamic solidarity.
*Iran-contra is back. Douglas Feith (Undersecretary of Defense for Policy) had two of his men meet in Paris with a corrupt Iranian arms dealer, Manucher Ghorbanifar, who had been involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. The contact was apparently unauthorized. Feith has rogue tendencies. He also is accused of letting Israeli military and intelligence personnel into the Pentagon without having them properly checked in. Apparently, the CIA and the State Department only learned about the Ghorbanifar-Feith consultations by accident. In other words, Douglas Feith has his own foreign policy, which we never elected him to implement, and which the rest of the government doesn’t even know about. Isn’t it time he was asked for his resignation, quick, before the Constitution gets subverted yet again? See:
*Hazim al-A`raji, a mosque preacher who addressed the congregation of the Mosque of Imam Musa Kazim, criticized the Interim Governing Council in his Friday prayers sermon as “agents of America” and rejected them as “more governed than governing.” Al-A`raj is a follower of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He said the only difference between the unelected government of Saddam Hussein and the unelected government of Paul Bremer was a change of titles. He urged Iraqis to follow the “line of the Exemplar,” i.e. to obey the leading cleric, who he identified as Muqtada.