US Rejects Sunni Demand for Withdrawal Timetable
2 US troops Killed, along with Baghdad Deputy Police Commissioner and Iraqi Police, Guards
The US rejected on Monday a proposal from the Sunni Association of Muslims Scholars that the US declare a timetable for withdrawal of its troops from Iraq, in return for which the AMS would lift its boycott of the elections and would accept the resulting government as legitimate even if it was Shiite-dominated.
The US spokesman said that the US was not prepared to announce a timetable for withdrawal, and that it would be premature to do so before the new elected Iraqi government was formed.
An informed US view of the political steps prescribed by the Transitional Administrative Law for after the elections in Iraq are laid out by a legal adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority and the US embassy, Brett McGurk. He also answered questions online at the Washington Post on the process. He is worth reading as an American insider. Personally, I think many of his expectations are wildly optimistic, and he seems unconcerned by basic problems like that the names of the candidates are still unknown in Iraq, the Sunni Arabs are unlikely to show up, election workers and candidates are withdrawing under death threats, and religious Shiite parties will probably dominate the resulting parliament.
Guerrillas detonated a roadside bomb in Baghdad Monday as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle passed, killing two US troops and wounding four. AP suggested that Iraqi guerrillas are using more powerful explosives, able to inflict such damage on the Bradleys.
Guerrillas killed the deputy police commissioner of Baghdad and his son with a drive-by attack on their car with machine gun fire. Al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed credit for the attack, terming Brigadier Amer Ali Nayef a collaborator with the Americans.
In southern Baghdad, a guerrilla detonated his car bomb (disguised as a police vehicle) outside a police station, killing 4 policemen and wounding 10.
In Mosul, guerrillas detonated a roadside bomb as an Iraqi National Guard patrol passed, accompanying US troops. It killed 3 guardsmen and wounded 6.
In the eastern city of Baqubah, US troops said they accidentally killed a 13-year-old girl and wounded a 14-year-old boy.
Wire services report that in Wasit in the Shiite south, an organization calling itself the Secret Republican Army posted threats to mount expert snipers against townspeople who came out to vote on January 30. The warnings appeared in another city, as well.
The Secret Republican Army sounds to me like Baathists (the elite Baath military units were called the “Republican Guards”), and it is chilling that they can still threaten people in Shiite Wasit.
The Ukraine announced that it would withdraw its 1600 troops, the fourth-largest national contingent in Iraq, by summer of 2005. Seven Ukrainian troops were killed in an explosion recently, which now appears to have been an attack rather than an accident.
It is noteworthy that the democratically elected president Viktor Yushchenko vowed to withdraw the troops from Iraq, which had been sent there by the authoritarian previous government against the will of the Ukrainian people, presumably in search of patronage from Washington. Sending troops to support the US occupation of Iraq has been almost universally unpopular with actual publics, and it is unlikely that any of the foreign contingents in Bush’s “coalition of the willing” could stay there if it depended on a popular referendum.
The Washington Post also reports that the police chief of Baiji, a city north of Baghdad, barely escaped being assassinated on Monday. When the police fired back at the attackers, they killed at least one innocent bystander. His family vowed revenge. About 142 national guardsmen in Baiji have resigned in the face of death threats from guerrillas.
Ongoing sabotage of Iraq’s oil pipelines continued to prevent exports from the northern oil fields, and interrupted for a day exports from the south.