Mosul Attack leaves 22 Dead, 51 Wounded
The Guardian reports that a rocket and mortar attack on a US military base has left nearly two dozen dead and over 50 wounded. The shells landed on a tented mess hall, wreaking havoc among US troops, Iraqi national guards, and civilians. The Guardian notes that US bases in Iraq regularly take mortar and rocket fire, but because it seldom hits anything or causes much damage. Here the guerrillas managed to hit a tent during mealtime. It seems likely to me that they had some inside information from some Iraqi employee at the base, such that they knew exactly when and where to strike for maximum effect.
This sort of incident underlines what I have been saying about the difficulty of holding elections on January 30. It is not that I endorse postponing them, since I do not believe the security situation will improve any time soon and I think the US has to make the majority Shiite community happy. But I can only imagine that if the guerrillas can do this sort of thing to a US military base, they can do it to polling stations. If that happens, turnout could be low, bringing into question the legitimacy of the process. And since the elected parliament is actually a constitutional assembly, if it is elected on a low turnout, the constitution it drafts may not be seen as legitimate, either.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei blamed the United States and Israel for the bombings in Karbala and Najaf. This outrageous charge is extremely dangerous and is a form of hate speech. Khamenei said he feared the US was trying to manipulate the forthcoming elections by keeping Iraqi Shiites off balance. As is often the case with Khamenei, his reasoning makes no sense at all. It is sad that a major country like Iran has such a demagogue as virtual clerical dictator. The good news is that he is not respected by most Shiites, either in Iran or in Iraq, and the Iraqis are unlikely to pay any attention at all to his bizarre outburst. Israel isn’t blowing up things in Iraq, and has no motive to do so. Baathists and Sunni fundamentalists are.