30 Dead in Iraq Violence
AP reports that the one-day total for war-related violence in Iraq, including the police station bombing in Tikrit reported here yesterday morning, came to 30. That is about 11,000 persons a year if the rate were constant and extrapolated out. In fact, the wire services manage to report only a fraction of daily deaths from war-related violence. And, of course there is a sense in which a lot of the murders are an indirect result of the poor security produced by the guerrilla war.
AP also reports that the United Iraqi Alliance has managed to bring into its coalition formally the 3 members of parliament from the Turkman National Front, the 3 from the Cadres and Chosen list, and 1 from the Islamic Action Party, giving the UIA 148 or about 54 percent of seats.
The 30 or so more secular-leaning members of the UIA who were the core of Ahmad Chalabi’s challenge to Ibrahim Jaafari are still agitating and threatening to leave the UIA because of the dominance of the Muslim fundamentalists in it. Since, however, the UIA would still have 43 percent of seats, it could block the formation of a government by any other group. So I don’t see any advantage for the more secular group in leaving the UIA. If, on the other hand, they stick with it, and Jaafari can form an alliance with the Kurds, everyone in the UIA would suddenly have $17 billion to play with every year, more if the Iraqis get their act together.
Reuters reports on the extensive demands the Kurds are making as a price of joining the UIA governing, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, the creation of a Kurdistan province, semi-autonomy, and so forth. Reuters notes that these maximalist demands, most of them unwelcome to the Shiites, are slowing the formation of a new government in Iraq.
Well, now that Fallujah is liberated (i.e. wrecked and empty), residents of Ramadi are now beginning to flee in fear that they might get equally liberated. It is not clear how much liberation Iraqi cities (or ex-cities) can stand.
My op-ed, “The Downside of Democracy, appeared Thursday in the LA Times. An exercept:
‘ Pakistan and Iraq are not the only countries where elections have had mixed results. Although the Palestinian elections in January were widely viewed as a success — producing a pragmatic prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas — remember that the radical fundamentalist party, Hamas, boycotted those elections. Then, less than three weeks later, local elections were held — and Hamas won decisively in the Gaza Strip, leaving it more influential than before and poised for even bigger wins in next July’s legislative elections.
And in recent years, democratization has also put Hezbollah in the Lebanese parliament. Serbian nationalists have won seats in Belgrade.
Are such outcomes acceptable to the Bush administration? If not, how will it respond? Given the war on terror, it is unlikely to simply take these electoral setbacks lying down.
But if Washington falls back on its traditional responses — covert operations, attempts to interfere in parliamentary votes with threats or bribes, or dependence on strong men like Musharraf — the people of the Middle East might well explode, because the only thing worse than living under a dictatorship is being promised a democracy and then not really getting it. ‘
AP reports on a network smuggling Saudi youth into Iraq to fight jihad. Oh, great. The last time young Saudis went off to fight a superpower, with the encouragement of the Reagan administration in the 1980s, it turned into al-Qaeda and blew back on New York and Washington. No wonder the CIA is afraid that Iraq is a new breeding ground for future anti-US terrorism.
Bob Harris’s posting “Uncle Bucky and the Rocket-Fueled Breasts” is worth reading just for the title.
Arabic Link: Yusuf Hazim argues in al-Sharq al-Awsat that the relative calm and stability in Basra province is underpinned by a tacit alliance of tribal leaders, political parties, and militias.