Badr: Foreign Troops Unneeded
The Badr Corps claims to be in military control of Muthanna province, including the city of Samawah. Regional Badr leader Hadi al-Amiri said Monday that Samawah is secure, and there is no need for Australian troops to be deployed there. The Dutch used to be stationed in Samawah but have gone home, and are due to be replaced by 450 Australian troops. In fact, local policing in Samawah has been supplied by the Badr Corps of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq for some time. At one point the Dawa Party militia was also patrolling there. Al-Amiri’s comment is the opening salvo in a struggle for control of the Iraqi south, where Shiite religious parties now control the provincial councils and therefore the police and bureaucracy.
In a related development, Shiite cleric Sayyid Mahmud al-Hasani, a supporter of Muqtada al-Sadr in Karbala, led a demonstration on Monday in Baghdad demanding that US troops withdraw to camps outside the cities and establish a timeline for US withdrawal from Iraq. Some 2,000 persons gathered in West Baghdad. Monday was the commemoration day for the death of the 11th Imam or descendant of the Prophet. They said they wanted a complete withdrawal of US and coalition troops. Al-Hasani’s representative in the holy city of Karbala, Sayyid Diya’ al-Musawi, said, “We do not accept the presence of the Occupier on the land of the Fertile Crescent . . . They have been in our land for more than two years with no justification.” He added, “We reject the sectarian conflict that the Occupier attempts to provoke.” He noted that many Sunni Arabs accused the Shiites of supporting the American occupation, but said that he is now calling for a US withdrawal.
Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, is also a socialist who has opposed the death penalty on progressive grounds for decades. He doesn’t want to execute Saddam Hussein. The Shiite religious parties that now dominate parliament, however, very much want Saddam dead. It looks as though the Shiites will win this one.
The Financial Times reports on the situation in Ramadi, where the town notables are split over whether to cooperate with the new government in Baghdad. The mayor and the notables and police around him condemn attacks by guerrillas on other Iraqis. The preacher at the Khalid b. Walid Mosque and the residents of 17 Tammuz Street and environs favor continued guerrilla resistance. Ramadi is an important city in Anbar province, the largely Sunni Arab center of resistance activities. The FT illuminates some of the tensions among social groups there, and is therefore superior as reportage.
Some 8 Iraqi military and police were killed in violence on Monday, with 7 civilians killed in separate incidents, according to ash-Sharq al-Awsat.