Present Conflicts, Looming Conflicts
Reuters reports, ‘ Five U.S. soldiers were killed in separate guerrilla attacks in Iraq, the U.S. military said Friday, three in or near the northern city of Mosul, one north of Baghdad and the fifth south of the capital. ‘
The Financial Times points out that a conflict is brewing between the Shiite majority in the new parliament and the Kurds over the veto power given any three provinces over the new constitution. The Shiites have never accepted the veto and Grand Ayatollah Sistani threatened Kofi Annan over any attempt to have it endorsed by the UN security council.
Abbas Kadhim analyzes the significance of the Sunni Arab absence in the new parliament, and makes some suggestions as to how to begin repairing this disastrous situation.
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim accused Iraqi police of torturing and killing three members of the Shiite paramilitary, the Badr Corps, under mysterious circumstances, according to Ash-Sharq al-Awsat. Al-Hakim, the leader of the victorious United Iraqi Alliance, said that the deed was done by ex-Baathists who had been re-recruited into the police corps. The rehabilitation of Baathists under the interim Allawi administration is likely to produce many such conflicts now that the religious Shiites are in power.
The same newspaper reports that the bodies of the two sons of Najaf police chief Ghalib al-Jazairi were found Friday in the holy city of Karbala. Guerrillas appear to have used the ritual mourning processions of Muharram among Shiites as a cover to kidnap them.
Al-Hayat reports that Samirah Rajab published an op-ed in the Khalij Times after the recent Iraqi elections in which she refered to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani as “General Sistani” and complained that the Shiite cleric had legitimated the foreign military occupation of Iraq by supporting the elections and by helping pacify the country for the Americans. The article produced vehement protests among the Bahraini Shiite community (the majority of the population), and demands that Bahrain newspapers be censored so as to prevent such comments from appearing in the future.
Shaikh Husain al-Najati, Sistani’s representative in Bahrain, complained of the negative and derisive tone toward the grand ayatollah. Rajab had defended Saddam Hussein, and represents a Sunni Arab nationalist point of view that views the rise of Shiite dominance in Iraq as extremely unfortunate. This conflict demonstrates the kinds of tensions between Sunnis and Shiites provoked by the new situation in the Gulf.