Voter Registration Stations Attacked
Ayatollahs: Shaalan Must Go
According to Reuters, guerrillas in Dujail, 30 miles north of Baghdad, subjected the local voter registration site to mortar fire on Saturday morning, killing 2 and wounding 8. Six of the wounded were Iraqi national guards who were trying to provide security there. Late Friday night, mortar shells had landed at a mostly deserted voter registration site in Kirkuk, wounding the guard. Another attack was launched in a small town west of Kirkuk, but national guardsmen repelled it. There were also violent incidents at Dakuk near Kirkuk, and at Mosul, which produced a number of casualties.
In a continuing attempt to disrupt Iraq’s foreign trade, guerrillas killed four Turkish embassy guards (apparently actually Turkish policemen) in cold blood.
Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, which had to close its Baghdad offices because of threats, still manages to gather news in Iraq. It is reporting that the leading clerics in the Shiite holy city of Najaf issued a communique condemning Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan for attacking the United Iraqi Alliance list as a cat’s paw of Iran. The ayatollahs said that they did not see how Shaalan could continue as minister of defense given his irresponsible statements.
Iran’s Ayatollah Jannati, a hardliner, called on the Shiites of Iraq to turn out to vote in large numbers if they wanted to guarantee their future in Iraq. Talk like that is what Shaalan uses to scare other Iraqis about the Iraqi Shiites. It isn’t fair, since Iraqi Shiites are Arabs and guard their independence of Tehran.
It also reports that the Communist Party is the first to have had a big election rally in Baghdad, with 2000 persons attending (the party was virtually destroyed by Saddam Hussein but had once been a substantial force in Iraqi politics).