At least 17 Killed by Bombs, 4 US Contractors Wounded
AP reports that guerrillas detonated a car bomb near a US convoy, killing five Iraqis and wounding 4 US contractors. Two other explosions in the capital did little damage. A fourth set a fuel tanker ablaze near two US Humvees. AP adds:
“Near Kirkuk, 12 policemen gathered to help dismantle an apparent decoy bomb were killed by another explosion Wednesday, police said. Three others were injured.”
Ghazi al-Yawir, a vice president of Iraq, is complaining that the new elected government (dominated by religious Shiites and by Kurds) is not doing enough to reach out to the alienated Sunni Arabs. He is incensed by the decision to reduce the number of ministries going to Sunnis from 6 to only 4. Further alienating the Sunni Arabs could deepen and prolong the civil war.
Al-Zaman says that Ibrahim Jaafari is offering Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc only 4 ministries, and no central ones. Allawi had wanted Interior, but it seems likely to go to the religious Shiites. (Interior in Iraq is concerned with domestic spying and security).
The same newspaper, depending on an AFP report, says that a prime candidate to head Interior is Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of the Badr Organization. (The Badr Corps, trained by Iran’s revolutionary guards, was the paramilitary of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq when they were in exile in Iran. Badr is now evolving into a political party in its own right, the Badr Organization.)
Al-Amiri says that if he became Minister of Interior, he would meld the Badr Corps fighters into the regular Iraqi army and police.
Many are suspicious that if he got the ministry, he would immediately purge it of ex-Baathists appointed in the interim regime of Iyad Allawi. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s recent warning against a purge of the ex-Baathists was believed directed at al-Amiri.
The increasing prominence of the Badr Organization has triggered criticism from Iraqis who had been taken prisoner of war by Iran during the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988, and who maintain that the Iranians turned them over to Badr to be interrogated and tortured. Al-Amiri denies the allegations.
Al-Zaman says many Iraqis are suspicious of the Badr Organization, being aware that it spent 20 years in exile in Tehran and was close there to the hardliners.
Al-Amiri is complaining that fundamentalist Muslim militias such as his are increasingly marginized and have been fired from their jobs in the ministries.
President Jalal Talabani said Wednesday that an independent Kurdish state would not be viable.
Telling tidbits from the Iraqi Press (via BBC world monitoring):
“Al-Manarah publishes on page 3 a 100-word report citing Maysan Governorate Council chairman as saying that the council has decided unanimously to make Thursday a holiday instead of Saturday . . .”
This is the influence in Maysan of the Sadr Movement, which objects to Saturday as a day of rest, saying it isn’t traditional in Islam.
“Al-Furat publishes on the front page a 500-word article by Hayyan al-Baghdadi commenting on recent calls by members of the United Iraqi Alliance during the National Assembly’s meeting, for eliminating all former Ba’thists from various state institutions. The writer criticizes the deba’thification process and calls for presenting all Ba’thists before courts of law in order for those who committed crimes against the Iraqi people, most of whom managed to escape the country, to be punished; and to clear the innocent . . .
Al-Mada publishes on page 2 a 100-word report saying that Ayatollah Ali-al-Sistani has issued a fatwa prohibiting the stealing of electrical power and exchanging it among neighbourhoods, because such actions put people’s lives at risk.
Al-Mada publishes on page 2 a 100-word report saying that Misan Governorate Council has dismissed the head of the Misan Education Directorate, Layth Hatim, because he was a member in al-Ba’th dissolved party . . .