5 Marines Killed, 4 Wounded
21 Bodies Found
Sunnis Reject offer on Constitutional Committee
Guerrillas killed 5 Marines near Haqlaniyah in Anbar Province on Thursday.
Some 21 bodies were discovered near Qaim in western Iraq, some executed mafia style with a bullet to the back of the head. Two were beheaded. Twenty Iraqi soldiers were kidnapped recently in that area, but it is unknown whether any of the bodies belonged to those captured.
Reuters reports a string of violent attacks on Thursday and Friday:
“Near the northern oil refining town of Baiji, a suicide car bomber wounded four soldiers in a U.S. military convoy on Thursday, the military said. . .”
“Two worshippers were wounded after Friday prayers at a Shi’ite mosque in Baghdad’s troubled Dora district when gunmen opened fire on the building . . .
In the northern city of Kirkuk, where Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen are vying for control of vast oil resources, the head of the anti-terrorist police — a Kurd — was shot dead in his car.”
Al-Zaman clarifies that the man killed was Lt. Col. Rahim Uthman Said, the director of counter-terrorism in Kirkuk. Also killed was his deputy, Major Ghanim Jiyad Jabbar.
It adds that in Basra, police Gen. Karim al-Daraji, the commander of the police academy for southern Iraq and his brother were killed in a hail of bullets when their car was cut off by another vehicle. Al-Daraji, who had survived two earlier assassination attempts, is the highest-ranking member of the security forces killed in Basra since the fall of Saddam.
Al-Zaman says that the American general in charge of Operation Lightning, a sweep of Sunni Arab neighborhoods in Iraq, has caused the guerrillas to switch from car bombings to assassinations as their primary tactic. He admitted that there might well be reprisals from the guerrillas for the arrest of about 1000 suspected militants during the operation. About 50 of those arrested have been Arab foreign nationals.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that a roadside bombing intended for an American convoy in South Baghdad instead killed an Iraqi and wounded another.
Reuters says that the Sunni Arabs rejected an offer to add 15 Sunnis to the 55-member parliamentary committee that is charged with drafting the constitution. There are only two Sunni members of parliament on the committee at present. Only MPs have the right to vote on the committee. The additional members would only be able to consult, though several top Iraqi politicians have given undertakings that the committee will seek broad consensus on all contentious issues.
The Sunni Arabs want 25 additional seats, more than the 15 that the Kurds have. In part this demand reflects their unrealistic estimation of the size of their ethnic group. They often assert that Iraq has a Sunni Arab majority. In fact, Shiites probably form 62 percent and Kurds may be 18 percent. Given that Christians, Turkmen and some other small minorities make up 5 percent, Sunni Arabs could be as little as 15 percent of the population.
Given that it is June 11 and the constitutional committee has still not been finalized, the likelihood that a whole constitution can be drafted by August 15, which always seemed a stretch, has become completely absurd.
The International Crisis Group is anyway recommending that the Iraqi government take its time and invoke the provision in the interim constitution that allows it to postpone the deadline for finalizing the constitution for 6 months.
Al-Zaman: The Iraqi Islamic Party said Friday that it was not enough for the American government to issue statements deploring the desecration of the Quran by US military interrogators at Guantanamo prison. The Bush administration statement condemning the incidents cannot erase them, he said. The statement made fun of the allegations by the Americans (“and the Zionists”) that these were isolated incidents in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Buca and the Occupied Territories of Palestine.
It asked, “What impelled the Zionists and the Americans to desecrate a book revealed by God, if not a culture of hatred and an attempt to erase the Other?” It added, “The perpetrator is one, the crime is premeditated, and the hatred for Islam and Muslims is ongoing and without let in an unlimited series.”
Iraqi petroleum production will not exceed 1.5 million barrels at day for some time, according to Petroleum minister Ibrahim Bahru’l-Ulum. Iraq had been producing nearly twice that before the war.