Split among Shiites on Elections
9 Iraqis Killed in Bombings, Shootings
A suicide bomber killed 7 persons at Siniyah near Baiji, five of them national guardsmen. Another national guard was found dead near Fallujah, a warning pinned to his body against cooperating with the US.
Clashes and desultory fighting continued in Samarra north of Baghdad between US forces and Sunni Arab guerrillas.
A clear contradiction has appeared between the positions of key Shiite leaders with regard to the upcoming elections. One of the representatives of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani called the postponement of the elections “an unimaginable catastrophe.” Meanwhile, Muqtada al-Sadr said he would not participate in them “even if they were to lead to the withdrawal of the Occupiers.”
The Kurds threatened to boycott the elections if the government insisted on its plan to allow “transplanted” Arabs in Kirkuk to vote in that city.
Shaikh Abdul Zahrah al-Suway’di, Friday prayers leader for the al-Muhsin Mosque in Shiite Sadr City (East Baghdad), read a statement from Muqtada al-Sadr saying, “I as an Iraqi will not participate in the elections, and will not enter into this political game at all.” He added, “Refusing to participate in in the elections gets you branded an enemy of democracy, and if you participate in them you find that you have been caught in their game in such a way that you cannot escape.” He said he would not participate “even if that would lead, as they allege, to the departure of the occupaying forces from Iraq, which is my demand and wherein lies my own security.”
In Najaf, Shaikh Sadr al-Din al-Qubanji, the representative of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim) stressed the necessity of holding the elections, calling upon the Sunni Arab parties to rethink their refusal to participate. In the Great Mosque of Fatimah, he gave a sermon before dozens of worshippers, saying “We hope that our brethren in the Iraqi Islamic Party and the other Sunni parties will study the subject with greater earnestness. It is not right to tie the fate of the entire Muslim community to one person named Bin Laden or to a mythical person named Zarqawi, because those do not wish Iraq well.” He wondered, “Why should they allow themselves to be defeated by that terrorist so quickly?”
In Karbala, DPA reported that Shaikh Ahmad Safi, the representative of Sistani there, said that the elections were a “fateful matter” for the Iraqi people, and that there was a consensus that they needed to be held. Their postponement, he said, would mean “the creation of an unimaginable catastrophe.” He added, “The Shiite religious leadership shepherds all Iraqis of all stripes without distinction, and this means that, in the final analysis, it takes on the burden of being father, spiritual guide and educator.”
Nine Iraqis were killed in violent incidents around the country, including four children. US forces announced the capture of 49 suspected guerrillas in Duluiyah near Balad.
The Zarqawi group claimed credit for two attacks on US troops carried out on Wednesday in Mosul. Videotape surfaced of the guerrillas who implemented the attacks, wearing white (a sign of being suicide bombers). A man in black read a communique from “Mesopotamian al-Qaeda”.