17 Dead in Baghdad Bombing
Fallujah, Mosul and Raids on AMS
The Washington Post reports that the wave of violence in the Sunni Arab heartland continued unrelentingly on Thursday. A bomb at Sadoun Street in Baghdad left 17 dead. There was more fighting (quite sophisticated) in Mosul. Ash-Sharq al-Awsat reports that guerrillas burned 6 police stations, in response to which US war planes bombed the city.
The Washington Post admitted of Baghdad, the capital, “On Wednesday, U.S. forces were assaulted 66 times by gunfire, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, roadside bombs or car bombs.”
Hannah Allam and Yasser Salihi discuss the US military raids on the houses of prominent leaders of the Association of Muslim Scholars, including Hareth al-Dhari, on Thursday. Al-Dhari is among the more popular Sunni Arab leaders, and has called for a boycott of the January elections, as well as vocally denouncing the US assault on Fallujah.
Later on Thursday, the US arrested Sheikh Mahdi al-Sumaidi, a leader of the Salafi (Sunni fundamentalist) movement, who had denounced Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani for declining to intervene in the Fallujah crisis. He had also apparently called for armed resistance against the Americans. The Americans raided the Ibn Taymiyah Mosque to get him (Ibn Taymiyah was a medieval preacher who tried to convince Muslims to be intolerant.)
Sistani’s silence has been thunderous, as has that of most other Shiite leaders with the exception of Muqtada al-Sadr. Tellingly, there have been no sympathy demonstrations in cities like Basra or Nasiriyah. The Shiites know that the guerrillas in Fallujah had mostly supported Saddam, and that they are responsible for attacks on Shiites. Only if this fissure were overcome could an Iraqi nationalist movement emerge. Until then, the US can successfully divide and rule.
For more on Fallujah see Mark Levine’s op-ed at Tomdispatch.com and Tom Engelhardt’s trenchant introduction.