Guerrillas Kill over 30, wound Dozens, In Continued Iraq Violence
Sadr Movement Coming in Third in South
Mariam Fam of AP gives us the details of the continued guerrilla war in Iraq.
*Baquba: Guerrillas set off a car bomb outside a police HQ, killing 15, wounding 17.
1. A suicide bomber detonated his payload outside Jumhuri Teaching Hospital, killing 12 policemen and injuring 4 others.
2. Guerrillas fired a dozen mortar rounds at a police station, killing 3 civilians.
Az-Zaman reports that the “Cadres and Chosen Party” of 180 members of the Sadr Movement is coming in third in the early election returns, after the mainstream Shiite United Iraqi Alliance and the Iraqiyah list of interim Prime Minister Allawi. So far the Cadres are guaranteed 8 seats in the 275-member parliament, according to its leader. Since about 20 Sadrists ran on the UIA, they could make up 6 or 7 percent of the members of parliament. Had their leader not sat out the election, the Sadrists could have done much better. They note that Muqtada al-Sadr did not forbid them to run. One of the prominent list members was a Mahdi Army guerrilla fighter in Sadr City only a few months ago.
The Cadres say that they will demand an immediate timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq.
If the UIA cannot form an alliance with the Kurds, or if that alliance fails once formed, the UIA might be forced to woo the Cadres and several other small parties to form a government, giving the small groups enormous leverage (as happens in the Israeli Knesset, which has the same system.)
Muqtada consulted Monday with rejectionist Sunni fundamentalist forces. He wants an early US withdrawal from the country, and so do they. A Sadr/ Sunni-fundamentalist alliance in parliament and without on this issue is not out of the question.
The turnout in the largely Sunni Arab Salahuddin Province was so bad that the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance was the number one vote-getter there. That is like saying Kerry took Alabama! It could only happen if most Alabamans stayed home on election day.
Al-Hayat reports [Arabic link] that a Sistani representative in Beirut has clarified comments made Monday. He said that no Sistani representative was at the press conference at which the spokesman for Grand Ayatollah al-Fayyad denounced any attempt to separate religion and state in Iraq. The statement attributed to Sistani was therefore not his. On the other hand, the source denied that there was any difference of opinion among the grand ayatollahs on this matter, and said that all were agreed that Islam should be the principle source of legislation, and that no laws should be passed that contravened Islam. Sistani’s representative did reaffirm, however, the grand ayatollah’s commitment to equality of rights under the law and to pluralism and minority rights. It is just, he said, that since most Iraqis are Muslims, it is inevitable that their law and institutions, which derive from the will of the people, will reflect Islamic culture.
Regardless of this clarification, Tom Lasseter and Nancy Youssef make it clear that Sistani will play a major role in the selection of the new prime minister and in the drafting of the permanent constitution. Doesn’t sound like separation of mosque and state to me.
Al-Hayat also reports that Ibrahim Jafari, a Dawa Party leader and contender for president or vice-president, rejected the setting of a timetable for American troop withdrawal, saying that a premature departure of the US troops could lead to a “bloodbath.” Earlier the UIA platform called for such a timetable, but its leaders have backed off the demand recently. (I think they are afraid that the Baath remnants will just kill them if the Americans leave, and the new Iraqi army is small and ineffective so far.