Bombings Provoke Fears of Hot Civil War
Jalal al-Din Saghir, an Iraqi parliamentarian close to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, called the weekend’s onslaught of suicide bombings a sign that Iraq is slipping into civil war. Shiite neighborhoods in and around Baghdad are seething with rage over the massacre at Musayyib, which used a fuel truck to kill dozens of families out buying ice cream for their children. Some members of parliament are calling for the formation of neighborhood militias. A good deal of anger is being directed toward the newly elected Iraqi government for not preventing these massive attacks, despite its well-publicized “Operation Lightning” of sweeps through Sunni neighborhoods.
Al-Zaman says that the Iraqi parliament has decided that a moment of silence will be held throughout Iraq on Wednesday at noon in honor of the victims of bombings at New Baghdad and Musayyib. I hope my readers will consider observing it, as well. The bombings have been monstrous and have deliberately killed children and families.
Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari continues his visit to Iran. On Saturday he saw outgoing President Mohammad Khatami and paid a ceremonial visit to the tomb of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (d. 1989) (-al-Zaman). Khatami proclaimed a new era in Iran-Iraq relations. The Iraqis promised Iran that they would not allow the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) terrorist organization, which still has several thousand fighters in Iraq, to attack Iran from Iraqi soil. The MEK is a cult-like political organization used by Saddam against Iran. The US Department of Defense still apparently wishes to use the MEK in a similar way. On Monday a $1 billion trade deal was announced between Iran and Iraq. Jaafari met president-elect Mahmoud Ahamadinezhad [Ahmadinejad] and Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei on Monday, as well.
Guerrillas targeted offices of Iraq’s election commission in the southeast part of Baghdad, killing 5 commissioners along with 3 policemen, and wounding 2 civilians.
Guerrillas killed 3 policemen and wounded 9 other persons with a car bomb attack against an Iraqi police patrol in the eastern New Baghdad district of the capital.
In south Baghdad at Saydiya, a suicide bomber killed 1 policeman and 1 civilian, and wounded 3 civilians at a checkpoint.
Iraqi troops in the Kafa’at district north of Mosul raided the HQ of a Turkmen political party after they took fire from the building, an incident that left one soldier dead. After the raid, the HQ caught fire and was destroyed.
In Ramadi, the bodies of two contractors working with the US military were discovered.
Guerrillas at Mahmudiya fired on a funeral procession heading to Najaf, killing one person and wounding two more.
The US military disclosed that an American soldier died of wounds he received on Friday from a car bomb in Iskandariya south of Baghdad.
Christopher Allbritton reports from Iraq that Sunni members of the parliamentary constitution drafting committee are still arguing for direct central government rule rather than for federalism, which they fear will lead to a break-up of the country. Shiites and Kurds are threatening to report the draft constitution out of committee by August 15 whether the Sunnis are aboard or not. This step would be most unwise and would defeat the whole purpose of having appointed a big contingent of Sunni members to the drafting committee. The resulting resentments would only make things worse.
The Royal Institute of International Affairs in London has concluded that the Iraq War aided al-Qaeda in its recruitment efforts and made London a target for terrorism. It also diverted key resources away from the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.
The provincial governor of Basra, Muhammad al-Wa’ili, has called a strike by oil workers to protest how little of the province’s oil wealth comes to local communities. Shiites in the south have watched as Kurdistan pressed for as much as a fourth of Kirkuk’s oil revenues to stay in that region, and now want a similar deal. Basra provincial council is dominated by the Fadila or “Virtue” party of Muhammad Ya`qubi, a rival to Muqtada al-Sadr for the mantile of his father, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, with whom Ya`qubi studied. It is pretty remarkable to have a provincial governor call a labor action against his own federal government.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat: Jordan has reaffirmed its refusal to accept any new refugees from Iraq. It will allow them to transit Jordan on their way to other destinations. When I was in Amman earlier this year, I saw that there was a large, mainly Sunni Arab, expatriate community. In fact, some politicians even went there to campaign.
In an interview with the BBC to be broadcast Monday evening, young Shiite nationalist Muqtada al-Sadr said that resistance to the US “occupation” of Iraq is legitimate, but nevertheless called on Iraqis to exercise restraint, given, he said, that US troops do not appear to be seeking a confrontation. He must surely have been speaking to his own constituency of nationalist Shiites, who hate the US presence but have not taken up active arms against it since August of 2004.
Studies by Saudi Arabia and Israeli think tanks show that it is not that hardened terrorists are going off to fight in Iraq. It is that ordinary persons in the Middle East have been radicalized by the US occupation of Iraq, and are going off to fight for the first time in their lives. Only a handful of foreign fighters analyzed had any sort of previous background in jihadi activities.
The tell-all book by Jeremy Greenstock, the top UK diplomat in Iraq under the Coalition Provisional Authority, is being blocked by the British Foreign Ministry. The book quotes revealing parts of private conversations with PM Tony Blair and the author expresses himself frankly about his disillusionment with the American management of Iraq. Former diplomats in the UK have to have their books about events that occurred during their tenure vetted before publication.
Trudy Rubin of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the “Iraq the Model” thing isn’t working out very well and that even dissident democrats in Syria and Egypt have backed off hopes for sudden regime change lest it result in Iraq-style instability.
Scott Horton’s radio interview with me is now on the web.