President of Interim Governing Council Assassinated
A suicide car bomber assassinated the current president of the Interim Governing Council on Monday as he was waiting at a checkpoint outside the Green Zone or the HQ of the Coalition Provisional Authority. Abdel-Zahraa Othman, also known as Izzadine Saleem, had been a leader of the Shiite al-Dawa Party in the southern city of Basra. AP’s Christopher Torchia writes:
“Ammar al-Saffar, a Health Ministry official, said the victims included five people in Saleem’s entourage and two members of the Iraqi security forces. Fourteen Iraqis and an Egyptian were injured, he said. Two U.S. soldiers also were slightly injured in the bombing near the coalition headquarters . . . “
A shadowy group called the Arab Resistance Movement took credit. A whole group of IGC members were nearby waiting to get into the Green Zone, including Adnan Pachachi and Ahmad Chalabi. Predictably, Gen. Kimmit suggested the bombing was the work of Zarqawi. In contrast, Ahmad Chalabi hinted darkly that it was the work of ex-Baathists based in Fallujah, and that, moreover, it was the Americans’ decision not to finish off the insurgents in Fallujah that allowed this bombing to happen.
No one thinks the incident will delay the “transfer of sovereignty,” since all that is envisioned is the appointment of 4 high officials by the CPA and the United Nations, and since relatively little sovereignty is actually going to be transfered (something Chalabi has also been grumbling about. See the WSJ article on the way the US is establishing “commissions” that will retain control over key sectors of Iraq.
Ghazi al-Yawer, a tribal leader from the Sunni heartland, was selected to succeed Saleem. IGC member Salama al-Khufaji suggested that the bombing had been intended to foment sectarian violence.
Another bombing in Baghdad near US troops on Saturday had involved the use of sarin gas. Two US soldiers suffered slight reactions to the gas. This was probably just an old 1980s shell of the sort used against the Kurds and Iranians, and nothing suggests many of these remain or are still operative. The insurgents who used it may not even have known what it was. (It was not marked). A couple left-over stray such shells does not prove that there were WMD in Iraq in any signifcant sense. No doubt it will set off a frenzy among the latter-day Juan Ponce de Leones looking vainly for the Fountain of WMDs. It is virtually a non-story.
US aircraft bombed Karbala overnight. Now that is a story.
I can’t believe I just wrote the words above. I would not be writing them if Bush had any idea whatsoever what he was doing in Iraq. Bombing Karbala. It must be being seen by Shiites as like a sci-fi Terminator sort of Yazid.
Every time I think things cannot get worse, they do.