Sunni Arab Issue Continues to Bedevil Iraq
Ed Wong of the New York Times reports:
‘ Attacks continued across central and northern Iraq on Sunday. One man was killed in Buhruz, northeast of Baghdad, when gunmen drove up to a car carrying a police officer and opened fire, an Interior Ministry official said. The officer, Maj. Muhammad Azzawi, and another man in the car were wounded, and the driver was killed. Early on Sunday, gunmen sprayed the car of a policewoman in Baghdad, killing her, a police colonel told The Associated Press. On Saturday, a suicide car bomb exploded outside Mosul in the north, killing two policemen and wounding four. When more police officers went to help their colleagues, a roadside bomb went off, wounding four additional officers. ‘
Al-Zaman quotes Arab nationalist politician Nasir Chadirchi as saying that the parliamentary committee established to draft Iraq’s permanent constitution “does not represent the various groups that make up the Iraqi people. It is, in reality, a committee of the victors in the [Jan. 30] elections.” He insisted that no community should be marginalized.
The parliamentary constitution-making committee is made up of members of parliament in accordance with the proportion their list gained in the election. There are only 2 Sunni Arab members, though Sunni Arab “advisors” are being appointed. An adviser is obviously not equal to a member of the committee. Chadirchi is involved in an attempt to form a large Sunni Arab political coalition to contest the next elections, scheduled for December.
The office of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari admitted Sunday that over-zealous Iraqi soldiers engaged in “Operation Lightning” in southwestern Baghdad and its suburbs may have sometimes ethnically profiled Sunni Arab youths, detaining them for their identity rather than because they were known to have done something wrong.
‘ “There is an improvement in security and in the performance of the security forces, but members of the army and police do cause mistakes, which do happen,” said Laith Kuba, a spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. There were also some claims that “soldiers took advantage and helped themselves to cash and other items. One doesn’t rule it out. I think the army needs more disciplinary measures in these cases,” Kuba said.’
The claims of discrimination were made in Friday prayers sermons by Iraqi Sunni clerics.
Al-Zaman reports that an Iraqi government special forces team has been carrying out an operation in Basra called “Fidelity” that targets illegal river harbors that have been used to smuggle petroleum products out of Iraq. Smuggling has been a huge problem for southern Iraq. Iraq subsidizes the domestic cost of gasoline, so it is quite lucrative to buy it up and sell it at market prices abroad. The Iraqi government is losing tens of millions of dollars from such smuggling enterprises.
Meanwhile, Basra police found a huge cache of TNT at a farm near Safwan. They also arrested two foreign Arabs with a great deal of munitions in their possession.
The Kasnazani Sufi Order and other mystical Iraqi fraternities were shaken by the attack on a Sufi center at Mazaari near Balad last Friday. The Kasnazani is a sub-order of the Qadiriyyah, founded by Shaikh Abdu’l-Qadir al-Jilani in the medieval period. There is a strong antipathy between Sufi mystics and the hard line Wahhabi sect and other revivalist groups influenced by Wahhabism.
The Ansar al-Islam group based in Kurdistan, with which Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a ssociated, was known for attacking the shrines and tombs of the Naqshbandi Sufi order, which is popular among Kurds.
A photo gallery of Kasnazani Sufis performing rituals in Sulaimaniyah has been posted by Behrooz Mehri.
Shaikh Muhammad al-Kasnazani of Kirkuk has been known as pro-American, which may help make sense of the Mazaari bombing if that group is loyal to him.
On the other hand, a sub-group of the Kasnazani Order was involved with Izzat al-Duri, one of Saddam’s high officials who is suspected of being a leader of the guerrilla movement. And the infamous Khattab of Chechniya, an Arab jihadi, was said to have been initiated into the Kasnazani order of the Qadiris. So some Sufis from this order have been militant, but the group that was hit likely was seen as pro-American.