Deputy Governor of Basra Assassinated
AFP reports that guerrillas shot and killed Hazem Ainachi in Basra on Tuesday morning as he got in his car to go to work. Ainachi, acting governor of Basra and a member of the governing council in the southern city, had earlier held the posts of coordinator of the Basra Provincial Council and deputy governor of Basra. The guerrillas killed two others with him, and wounded another person. Provincial governor elections are being held, and the candidates have received death threats. Guerrillas had made a failed attempt on the life of one other councilman on Monday.
The assassination of Mr Hazim al-Ainachi, according to an informed source with experience in Basra who emailed me, “is very significant.”
“The Governorate in Basra has the support of the majority of the Basra people and so is not seen as an anathema to the will of population. Judge Wael Abdul Latif is a highly respected and accepted leader. Hazim was the de-facto Chief of Staff or co-ordinator for almost everything the Governorate did. He was central to all decision making and activity and worked tirelessly without a salary for the benefit of the Iraqis. The assassins struck the most important person from the Interim Governing Council of Basra and thereby dealt them a severe blow. Hazim was able to move freely between the insular conservative world of Shaykh Ali al-Musawi the Grand Shaykh of Basra and the British Authorities, he was a shrewd politician and an effective political leader. This has now brought the policy of targetted assassination into the political Shia south. Basra is a city where one can move very freely and ambushes are easy to plan execute and retreat from, one can only guess at how things may deteriorate before they improve.”
The guerrilla insurgencies in Iraq are clearly attempting to destabilize not only the Federal Iraqi government (hence the failed assassination attempt on the Minister of Justice Saturday and the successful assassination of a high Defense Department official on Sunday), but also the provincial governments. Basra’s had been much more effective and widely accepted than most others, though the province has witnessed violence and bombings from time to time. Taking out Ainachi was intended to deprive the province of one of its most effective politicians. The aim is to encourage chaos, ultimately a popular uprising in the city of Basra, and to create the conditions under which guerrillas could take over and become the government.