Fall-Out of Fallujah Keeps Falling
Sunni Arabs in Iraq are blaming Shiites for conspicuously failing to come to the defense of Fallujah during the recent American assault. Dhiya Rasan and Steve Negus of the Financial Times write, “Those of the black turbans” Iraq’s Shia clergy “are but traitors and agents of America. It is they who have provoked the Americans to attack the Sunni, whom they call extremists and terrorists,” Sheikh Ahmed al-Kubaisi told his congregation last Friday.”
On the other hand, the Marines have concluded that with all the powerful munitions they have found in Fallujah, the Sunni guerrillas could have taken over all of Iraq.
On the other hand, Fallujans are afraid that the mere presence of US troops in the city virtually guarantees a long-term guerrilla war that will disrupt their lives into the distant future. Explosions still wrack the city, and many Fallujans vow to fight the US presence.
Reuters reports that the Iraqi Islamic Party of Muhsin Abdul Hamid and several other small Sunni Arab parties are still agitating for the postponement of the elections scheduled for January 30. They argue that time is needed for “national reconciliation” and that the national party lists disadvantage the Sunnis. The Reuters piece notes that a high official in the party was arrested last week.
Az-Zaman reports that tribal leaders in four north-central provinces have threatened to have members of their (largely Sunni Arab) tribes boycott the elections if they are held on the basis of national lists rather than local district representation. Shaikh Naji Jabbarah, the representative of Salahuddin Province, said that a conference would soon be held in Tikrit to make a final decision.
The same source reports that Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has called upon 250 notables and party leaders to join him in a joint list, which he would head. Allawi would be the first name on the list, and how many members of parliament from it were actually seated would depend on how many votes the list got nationally. Allawi is betting that the list can get at least the 40,000 or so necessary to seat the number one candidate (himself).
Once elected, the parliament will then elect a president and two vice-presidents. They in turn will appoint a prime minister. Allawi is almost certainly trying to make deals behind the scenes with the persons and parties most likely to capture the presidency and vice-presidencies, in hopes that they will reappoint him to his present position.
The US continued its new offensive, against guerrillas in Babil province south of Baghdad. It has been a center of the Sunni Arab guerrilla war. It had earlier been a Shiite area, but many Sunni Arabs were settled there by Saddam and given expropriated land. A Basra group of activist Shiites had recruited volunteers to go up there and protect Shiites from Sunni attacks.
The CNN anchor in the US during the daytime on Wednesday said that the US troops were fighting “thugs and terrorists” in the “triangle of death”.
This sort of language is really inexcusable in a news organization. There are of course thugs and terrorists among those fighting US troops, but a lot of the guerrillas are just Sunni Arab nationalists who reject the US presence and fear that they will lose everything if the Shiites take back their land and homes. I don’t know at what point US electronic journalism became a propaganda arm of the White House and the Pentagon, but it is not a healthy development. And, of course, CNN is hardly the worst offender in this regard!