Bombings and Assassinations Continue
US Military Sweep in Haditha
Thursday morning’s 70 minutes of mayhem began at 7:20 a.m. Baghdad time. Guerrillas detonated two bombs, and carried out two drive-by shootings and a stabbing in a little over an hour. A roadside bomb targeted a US convoy, wounding at least one civilian. A bomb in the Shu’lah quarter of Baghdad killed three Iraqis, including two policemen, and wounded six. A guerrilla stabbed Fakhri Abd al-Amiri, an official of the Dawa Party, to death in al-Qadisiyah, West Baghdad. Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari belongs to the Shiite Dawa Party, which has a cell structure and aims at establishing an Islamic state. Guerrillas sprayed gunfire at Dr. Musa Abbas, professor in the College of Arts of al-Mustansiriya University. The gunmen also killed three of his bodyguards. The attack took place in the Risala district of south Baghdad. Drive-by shooters wounded 4 Iraqi soldiers in the Ghazaliyah quarter of the capital. US soldiers fighting at Telafar shot a child who got caught in the crossfire.
Guerrillas assassinated the police chief of Sharqat Wednesday while he was driving in the nearby city of Mosul, in front of the university. The bullets also wounded 4 university students.
AFP reports that guerrillas detonated two bombs in the northern Kurdish city of Dohuk, killing one policeman and according to al-Zaman wounding 8 others. A bombing in Dura, Baghdad, targetting special troops of the Interior Ministry killed 1 and wounded 8. Violence around the country seems to have killed or wounded dozens on Wednesday, though the death toll was lower than in recent days.
US troops continued their Western offensive on Wednesday, moving into Haditha, a city of 90,000. They said they killed 10 guerrillas and found the local townspeople afraid of the jihadis.
Mahir Dili, the dean of the College of Arts at Anbar University, who lives in Haditha, said that 15 US troops invaded his home at 5 am. They asked him if he owned any weapons or was harboring any guerrillas, then thoroughly searched his home and left when they found nothing (al-Zaman). The report suggests that the Haditha sweep is being done relatively blind, without good intelligence, so that a mild-mannered dean gets treatment that should ideally be reserved for a suspected guerrilla or helper of guerrillas.
Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor reports the good news that Iraqi army soldiers have had some success in restoring security to Haifa Street in Baghdad, which was long a guerrilla stronghold. The report mentions that the Iraqi troops have sometimes called in US tanks. I have long wondered where the new Iraqi tank corps is. Without effective armor, how can they win on their own?
On Tuesday, guerrillas attempted to assassinate Member of Parliament Salamah Khafaji, who was on her way from Baghdad to Najaf to consult with young nationalist Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr. Four of her guards were critically injured. Sadr has been mediating between the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars and the Shiite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. It was the fourth attempt on her life.
AP reported earlier this week that Muqtada al-Sadr refuses to have his people take part in the drafting of the new constitution: “Radical anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite with a large following, told an Iraqi television network Monday that ”as long as Iraq is occupied we will not take part in drafting the constitution. We consider the Quran as our constitution.” Only 3 parliamentarians ran as loyalists to Muqtada, in any case.
Darrin Mortenson reports on the reactions to the reemergence of Muqtada among Marines at Camp Pendleton, who fought his forces last year. The remarks are judicious.
ash-Sharq al-Awsat/ Reuters: Hundreds of Shiite supporters of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Badr Corps, its paramilitary wing, demonstrated in Najaf on Wednesday against the charges by Hareth al-Dhari of the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars that Badr was behind the assassination of Sunni clerics and worshippers. The demonstrators were joined by some members of local rural clans. Several demonstrators said that al-Dhari’s comments were “irresponsible and were aimed at plunging the country into a sectarian war and causing the Iraqi people to break ranks.” Another said it was suspicious that al-Dhari issued his charges just after Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi departed Iraq. Several demonstrators demanded that al-Dhari apologize for his remarks and withdraw them.
Al-Zaman said that there were signs that the mediation attempt of Muqtada al-Sadr was failing.
The death penalty is back in Iraq, applied in the southern, largely Shiite, city of Kut to alleged members of the Ansar al-Sunna terrorist group (Sunni radicals). For a while after the fall of Saddam, some Iraqi politicians vowed to end the death penalty in the country to mark a decisive change of course from the policies of the Baath Party, which executed tens of thousands of persons. Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch points out that given the level of insecurity and violence in Iraq, a government policy of executing people could lead to massive numbers of executions.
Amnesty International is not impressed with the human rights situation in the Middle East generally and in Iraq in particular.
Arabs and Turkmen in Kirkuk are charging that the Kurds are trying to take over the city in order to make a claim on its petroleum resources. The Kurds, who hold 26 of 41 provincial council seats, deny the charges.
Ash-Sharq al-Awsat/ AFP says that most Kurdish youth know little Arabic, and prefer to learn English as their second language. This trend, the article says, raises questions about national integration. A school principal in Irbil with 1442 students said that they were delighted to be able to study in Kurdish, and no longer know any Arabic. Arabic, he said, is now a third language. The decline in knowledge of Arabic in the north dates from the establishment of the no-fly zone after the Gulf War in the early 1990s.
BBC World Monitoring for 24 May reports:
Al-Da’wah publishes on the front page a 500-word report on the latest developments in Iraq.
“The report focuses on a number of topics including the ongoing efforts by various Iraqi political and religious forces to defuse the current sectarian crisis in the country and to form a fund to compensate the victims of terrorism in Iraq.
The report adds that the cabinet has decided to form a Financial Committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad al-Chalabi which will be responsible for reviewing all the contracts signed by various state institutions.
Sawt al-Ahali . . .: The report cites a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry announcing that Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja’fari will visit Iran shortly.
The report cites National Assembly Member Jawad al-Maliki as saying: “The government will seek Interpol’s help to arraign the ministers of the former government who have been charged.” . . .
Al-Mada publishes on page 2 an 80-word report quoting Basra Governor Muhammad Musbih al-Wa’ili announcing that Thursday will replace Saturday as the week holiday in Basra, adding that government and private banks are excluded from this change.
Al-Mada publishes on page 3 a 2,000-word interview with Minister of Telecommunications Jwan Fu’ad Ma’sum who says that women lack political experience . . .
Al-Zaman publishes on page 4 a 220-word report citing a security source in the Maysan Governorate affirming that security forces have intensified the security measures in the wake of the recent spree of assassinations in the governorate. The report cites police sources confirming the assassination of Shaykh Haydar Abd-al-Zahrah al-Bahadili, a Shi’i cleric, in Al-Amarah yesterday, 23 May.
Al-Ufuq carries on page 6 a 600-word report on the “threats” to Iraqi physicians’ lives. Al-Ufuq runs on page 6 a 700-word report on the “assassination fever” in Iraq. The report interviews a number of Iraqis and cites their comments on the increase in the number of assassinations.
Al-Furat publishes on page 1 a 50-word report citing a security source in Al-Muthanna Governorate saying that the governorate’s Internal Affairs Office has arrested Al-Muthanna Custom’s officer on “charges of corruption”. Al-Furat carries on page 2 a 400-word report citing a survey conducted by the Planning Ministry stating that 40% of the Iraqi women feel that “criminals” are “major threat” to their lives . . .
Al-Mada publishes on the front page a 120-word report saying that two Iraqi children were killed in Safwan in separate incidents, one was trampled down by a US convoy and the other by a British patrol. The report adds that Basra intelligence forces have found three missiles hidden at a farm.
Al-Mada publishes on page 2 an 80-word report saying that the chief editor of the Ansar al-Mahdi newspaper has escaped an assassination attempt while he was returning home in Al-Baladiyyat area in Baghdad.
Al-Mada publishes on page 2 a 1,000-word report quoting a high-ranking police official announcing that 14 suspects were arrested in Al-Wahda district north of Al-Kut Governorate.
Al-Mada publishes on page 3 a 700-word report citing the rush created by Iraqi youth to join the security and police forces, despite the risks. Al-Mada publishes on page 6 a 1,000-word report citing tribes in Babil Governorate expressing readiness to secure the area and to reveal terrorist networks . . .
Al-Mada publishes on page 2 a 120-word report saying that the Al-Najaf Governor As’ad abu Kalal has presided over a meeting for the public service departments to discuss the spread of typhoid in Al-Najaf Governorate due to polluted drinking water, adding that the Council has closed a primary school for the same reason. The report also quotes the governor confirming that there is a severe shortage in medical supplies and that the supply is 34% short of demand.
Al-Bayan publishes on page 5 a 1,500-word article by Husayn Allawi discussing the role of politics in the ideology of the Al-Da’wah Islamic Party.