Guerrillas Kill 9 US Troops
18 Bodies of Lured Workers Found in Mosul
Guerrillas in northwest Baghdad detonated a roadside bomb on Thursday evening as US Bradley Fighting Vehicle went by, killing 7 American troops. In a separate incident or incidents in Anbar province west of the capital, guerrillas killed two US Marines. It was the highest one-day toll for US troops since the Mosul luncheon bombing in mid-December.
An insurgent posing as a labor contractor lured 18 young Shiite men from the southern Zi Qar province north to Mosul and then slaughtered them. Their bodies were found on Thursday. He told them they would get work at a US military base, according to their distraught families. The guerrillas were attempting yet again to send a signal to Iraqis not to cooperate with the US presence in Iraq.
Many Iraqi policemen are resigning from the force because they have been threatened by guerrillas.
Caretaket PM Iyad Allawi extended the emergency laws earlier passed, which allow the government to declare a curfew in select cities (it is already implemented in Baghdad, Mosul, Baquba and some other cities. Since the caretaker government lacks an effective army or police force, however, the emergency laws have made almost no difference to the actual security situation.
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is mobilizing clerical networks to push Shiites to vote on January 30. He wants to ensure that the Shiite majority takes control of parliament, and that the constitution that it drafts defers to Islamic law on key points. Unlike the Khomeinist clerics in Iran, however, Sistani does not want a direct role in govering the state for clerics.
At a meeeting of foreign ministers, Iraq’s Sunni-majority neighbors, including Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, joined Egypt in urging Sunni Arabs in Iraq to take part in the elections scheduled for January 30. Several Sunni-ruled countries in the region, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, have significant Shiite populations that have largely been politically marginalized, and the Sunni Arab elites fear they will become more assertive if Iraq has an overwhelmingly Shiite government. The neighbors also fear that an Iraq where Sunni Arabs have no place at the table in government will continue to be a political, economic and security basket case.
For many Jordanians, for instance, Iraq’s situation is extremely frustrating. They know that if the country came together and achieved basic stability, its oil revenues would allow it to get rich and it would provide a vast and rich market for Jordanian goods. Jordan would have an advantage over Iraq with regard to the price of labor, and coule act as a major engine of Jordanian economic growth. Jordanians thus see it as essential that their Sunni Arab counterparts (90% of Jordanians are Sunnis) join the new government and make it a success.
According to Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, a US general met with Kurdistan Democratic Party leader Massoud Barzani on Thursday to apologize to him for the US attack on a dormitory at Salahuddin University, which involved close air support. The general termed the operation, aimed at rooting out Ansar al-Islam terrorists, “a mistake.”
Barzani in the meantime continued to say that while the Kurdish parties will support the elections if they are held, in his own view it is “fruitless” to attempt to hold them when the security situation is so bad.