Kirkuk Police Defy their Dismissal by Interior Ministry
More Car Bombs Wreak Havoc
The Associated Press reports, ‘ Four car bombings within seven minutes killed six people, including at least three Iraqi soldiers, in northern Iraq, an army commander said. The first attack struck Hawija, about 65 kilometres south of Kirkuk, before three others exploded at army checkpoints in Bagara, Dibis and at the entrance to Hawija. ‘
Al-Zaman:Five Iraqis, including 2 children, were killed when mortar shells fell on their quarter of Mosul.
Four Iraqi soldiers were wounded by a suicide bombing attack at the entrance to their base in the east of Tikrit. Three special forces troops of the ministry of the interior were woundedby a car bomb xplosion in front of the police station in al-`Amil, southwest Baghdad.
In the Jihad quarter of west Baghdad, a suicide bomber set off his payload at a checkpoint, wounding 3 Iraqi soldiers. This checkpoint had been set up as part of Operation Lightning, but there had not been time to strengthen its security.
The police station in the Shaikh Fathi quarter in Mosul took mortar fire.
In Baiji, US troops detained 30 persons in front of a mosque, who are suspected of being involved in the guerrila movement.
CNN says, ‘”There is a major military operation under way here in the city of Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq,” said Senior Baghdad Correspondent Jane Arraf, who is embedded with U.S. troops. ‘ Telafar has been plagued by violence between the Turkmen Shiite majority and the radical Sunni Muslim guerrillas.
The Interior Ministry issued a command that 2500 Kurdish policemen be laid off in Kirkuk. They had been appointed by the Kurdistan regional government. The Police Chief of Kirkuk, Sarhadd Qadir, replied that the high officers of the police force in Kirkuk will not obey the decision of the ministry.
The 2500 officers and policemen dismissed, explained the police chief, were Kurds who had once lived and worked as police in Kirkuk, but had been expelled from the city by Saddam Hussein. They have recently returned and their old jobs were restored to them by the Kurdish leadership. Qadir said, “They will not obey this order . . . It was necessary for there to be coordination between the Iraqi government and the ministry of the interior in this regard with the regional government of Kurdistan.”
(Kirkuk is a mixed city of Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs in Tamim Province, but the Kurds want to incorporate it into their proposed greater Kurdistan province. The Kurdish paramilitary, the Peshmerga, conquered the city with US air cover, during the 2003 war, playing a role there somewhat similar to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. They therefore have formed the police force. The Interior Ministry is presumably attempting to make the police more ethnically mixed by firing a couple thousand Kurdish policemen).
Ammar al-Hakim (son of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the victorious United Iraqi Alliance list in parliament) said, “We do not accept the inclusion of Kirkuk in this governorate or that. For Kirkuk is a microcosm of Iraq, and belongs to all Iraqis.” (He seems to be arguing for giving Kirkuk a special status.)
The governing council of Karbala province joined in the call to form a federal region for Middle Iraq that would unite the current provinces of Karbala, Najaf, Babil and Kut, to be called . . . “Middle Iraq.” The move is opposed, al-Zaman says, by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and by the young radical, Muqtada al-Sadr. The governor of Karbala, Aqil al-Khaz`ali said, “We have arrived at the decision to form a committee of academics, politicians, human rights workers and economists to study the subject” of forming a new super-province for the middle of the country.
Shaikh Muhammad Husain al-`Amidi, the representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Karbala, said, “I am not for or against federalism.” But he called for the plan to be built on “practical foundations.” Al-`Amidi condemned plans of provincial autonomy pursued by some [probably a reference to the Kurds.]
John Yaukey of the Gannett News Service surveys the staying power of the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement in Iraq. They are said to have a long-term strategy, since they realize that they cannot win in the short term.
Qassim Abdul Zahra of AP managed to get an interview with Shiite nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He leads a portion of the Sadrist Movement founded by his father, which is enormously popular in the Shiite south and in the vast slums of East Baghdad, now called Sadr City.
Some telling quotes from Muqtada:
“In reality, the electoral process was designed to legitimize the occupation, rather than ridding the country of the occupation . . .”
“As long as the occupier is here, I will not interfere in the political process,” he said. “I would like to condemn and denounce the last Iraqi government’s decision to legalize the occupation. Legalizing the occupation is rejected from any angle.”
‘ Anyone who sees himself capable of bringing about political reform should go ahead and try, he added, “but my belief is that the occupiers won’t allow him.” ‘
“I call on authorities to spend Iraqi money on Iraqis and serve the interests of Iraq’s people … not on America’s interests in Iraq . . .”
“I will not interfere, whether it’s Islamic or non-Islamic, but I personally prefer it to be Islamic. It is up to the Iraqi people to decide about their constitution . . .”