27 Iraqis Killed
Members of Constitution Committee Assassinated
Al-Jazeerah is reporting a suicide bombing at Muthanna airport in downtown Baghdad that killed 5 and wounded 15 on Wednesday morning.
Guerrillas sprayed a car transporting Sunni Arab members of the constitution-writing committee with gunfire on Tuesday killing all three. They were Shaikh Mujbil al-Shaikh Isa, Aziz Ibrahim, and Dhamin Husain `Ilaiwi al-Ubaidi. Al-Hayat says one of them was a prominent member of the Sunni Dialogue Council, which has committed to participation in civil politics in Iraq. It reports Sunnis darkly hinting that there is a conspiracy to kill off prominent Sunni Arabs (they are hinting that the Shiite government might have been behind it). Borzou Daragahi reports that the National Dialogue Council is now pulling out of involvement with drafting the constitution and is openly accusing the Jaafari government of having killed the three committee members. Al-Hayat says that some parliamentarians complained that the Sunnis on the drafting committee are not being given proper security because they are not themselves MPs. The guerrilla movement had earlier threatened to kill Sunnis who joined the committee, as collaborators with a foreign occupation.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that disparate attacks in northern Baghdad killed 5 persons, including 3 Iraqi soldiers, and wounded 4 (three of them soldiers).
Reuters reports other guerrilla violence on Tuesday:
In the northeastern city of Baquba, guerrillas in two cars attacked a van taking Iraqi workers to the local US military base, killing 13 persons, including 3 unrelated persons in another car, into which the van crashed when its driver was shot.
In the village of Abu Khamis, just 3 miles south of Baquba, guerrillas assassinated a member of the local municipal council, Qasim Ahmad.
Guerrillas near Mahmudiya south of Baghdad used a roadside bomb to kill two policemen and wound four others.
In Samarra just north of Baghdad, guerrillas fired on a police car in the center of the city, killing a policeman, Col. Allam Muhammad. Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports two persons dead in clashes between guerrillas and a joint US-Iraqi military patrol.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that three Iraqi troops were wounded by a roadside bomb in al-Mu’tasim, east of Samarra.
The same source says a roadside bomb in Balad north of Baghdad killed two troops and wounded one civilian.
It says that guerrillas in Baiji assassinated a businessman, Khammas al-Qaisi, 39, in the west of the city.
In Tikrit, guerrillas used a bomb to kill a police guard.
In the northern oil city of Kirkuk, guerrillas targeted a police patrol with a roadside bomb, killing one policeman and one civilian, and injuring 3 others.
Patrick Cockburn reports from Baghdad that Grand Ayatollah Sistani has reacted to the Musayyib bombing by warning that a “genocidal war” could be brewing in Iraq. He appears, from this report, to be afraid his moral authority may not be enough to continue to restrain the Shiites in the face of such provocations. [I do not doubt Cockburn’s excellent reporting from the scene, but I have to say that no such statement has yet appeared at sistani.org that I can find, and I haven’t seen this report in the Arabic press yet.]
The Iraq Body Count web site is now reporting 25,000 Iraqi civilians killed since the beginning of the Iraq War in March, 2003. Their methodology is simply to count all reports of Iraqis killed that appear in the Western press. Their estimate is certainly an underestimate, since many more deaths are reported in the Iraqi press in Arabic than in the Western language wire services. Although this NYT article quotes Brookings as critical of the Lancet study last fall that estimated up to 100,000 civilian dead at that time, in fact the Lancet article’s methodology is the standard one for estimating civilian deaths in post-conflict situations and the statistics we have for, e.g., Bosnia, depend heavily on it.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that the Interior Ministry has had Ala’ Mahmud al-Tamimi, the municipal treasurer of Baghad, arrested on corruption charges. He was captured at the airport while trying to leave the country.
Caroline Hawley of the BBC reports that Iraq’s hospitals have been strained by the ongoing violence.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports a strike by physicians at Yarmouk Hospital in Baghdad, where they claim mistreatment by Iraqi troops.
Oliver Poole in Baghdad reports that nerves are frayed by the constant violence and that a mood of despair is setting in.
Mark Danner defends the importance of the Downing Street Memo against the dismissals by Michael Kinsley. I don’t personally have any doubt that Danner is right. I suspect it helps to have a background in reading diplomatic papers and documents in understanding the significance of something like the DSM. This was an official record of a British cabinet meeting at which MI6 briefed the prime minister and cabinet ministers on what he was told by principals in Washington. Kinsley doesn’t seem to understand that under these circumstances, what Dearlove said and how it was recorded was anything but vague or insubstantial. This is especially the case since they all knew they might be brought up on charges before some European Union tribunal over it.