Dulaimi to Iran: No attack by US from Iraq
AMS Repudiates Call for Sunni Votes
Al-Hayat reports that Iraqi Minister of Defense Saadoun Dulaimi is now in Iran for consultations with his opposite number, in preparation for the visit next week of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari to Tehran. Sources close to Jaafari told al-Hayat that Jaafari and Dulaimi will be offering Iran a pledge that Iraqi soil will not be used as a base for any American attack on Iran. They will affirm that Baghdad “is not a part of any American enmity toward Tehran.” The sources said that Dulaimi’s consultations concern in part better Iranian policing of the border so as to prevent the infiltration of militants into Iraq. He will also discuss the Iranian role in training Iraqi armed forces.
I repeat: Dulaimi is discussing with the Iranians their training of Iraqi troops! The Iranian Revolutionary Guards did train the Badr Corps paramilitary, the main militia of the Iraqi Shiite community. But surely the Americans cannot want such strong Iranian influence in the new Iraqi military.
AP reports that the wounding of the Bahrain embassy official early Tuesday morning came as part of an attempt to kidnap him. Just a little later, guerrillas tried to kidnap the chief Pakistani diplomat in Baghdad, but failed. He is being sent to Amman, Jordan, for the time being. The guerrillas are seeking to isolate Iraq internationally as a way of weakening its government in preparation for eventually overthrowing it.
AP also says:
‘ Two suicide car bombers wounded four U.S. Marines in the western town of Hit . . . [One of the four later died.]
– Gunmen ambushed a minibus taking seven Baghdad airport employees to work, killing four women . . .
– A roadside bomb blast and subsequent firefight killed two Iraqi soldiers on Baghdad’s outskirts . . .
The Washington Post reveals that the Association for Muslim Scholars has rejected an appeal by Adnan Dulaimi, head of the Sunni Endowments Board, for Sunni Arabs to participate in the forthcoming elections. The AMS is among the more respected Sunni parties, and its rebuke to Dulaimi (who is a much less significant player) is a blow for those who saw Dulaimi’s call as a hopeful sign. Since Dulaimi believes that Sunni Arabs are a majority in Iraq, and that the Shiites have illegitimately Persianized the country, I did not find his statements particularly positive to begin with. He was calling for Sunnis to vote for the same reasons that Jean-Marie Le Pen in France calls for the white French to vote, as a strike against Arabs and Jews.
Reuters says that “Thieves armed with guns . . . raided a U.S.-flagged cargo ship close to Iraq’s main port of Umm Qasr . . .”
The British plan to draw down their forces in Iraq from the current 9,000 to 2,000 by next May. They soon plan to turn Maysan and Muthanna provinces over to the Iraqi government. In practice, this move will probably deliver the provinces to Shiite party paramilitaries such as the Badr Corps of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr. (See the comments of a British reservist yesterday at Informed Comment by scrolling down.) The six southernmost Shiite provinces are probably not so insecure as to require a major British presence.
KarbalaNews.net [Arabic] reports that Grand Ayatollah Ishaq al-Fayyad (a slightly junior colleague of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani) has called for the Jaafari government to expedite the trial of Saddam and other high Baathists, punishing them as soon as possible. He made the comments during a recent meeting in Najaf with a number of Shiite thinkers and notables in Najaf. He said, “The massacres perpetrated against the Shiites in Iraq are a clear indication that there is a carefully-studied plan to repress them and usurp their rights, and the dominance over the future of Iraq again by a minority at the expense of the majority. That the symbols of the infidel regime have still not been tried gives the criminals high hopes and encourages them in their crimes.” The “minority” he was denouncing is the Sunni Arabs.
He added, “Those who stand behind the killing and bombing operations are the supporters of the Baath and the [former] domestic intelligence apparatus, in addition to hateful sectarians known as “excommunicators” (takfiriyin).”
He also called on the members of parliament to draft the permanent constitution in accordance with what Islam has commanded, and not to contravene it in any article or paragraph.
Visitor Azhar al-Khafaji described the grand ayatollah as deeply disturbed by the killing of 37 Shiite youths in Husaybah near the Syrian border, as well as the assassinations of elderly Shiite parliamentarian Dhari al-Fayyad (head of the Al-Bu-Amir tribe) and the Sistani aide Sayyid Kamal al-Din al-Ghurayfi.
Al-Fayyad might well succeed Sistani if the latter were to die or be killed. He is said to be very pro-American, to have a vendetta against the Sadr movement, to reject altogether Khomeini’s theory of the rule of the clerics– and at the same time to be more insistent than Sistani on the full implementation of Islamic law as the law of the land in Iraq.
Borzou Daragahi of the Los Angeles Times explores the question of why Iraqi Sunnis have not thrown up a political leadership. It seems to me obvious that most Sunni Arabs with leadership ambitions had joined the Baath Party, and that they are now excluded from civil and political life by the Shiites and the Kurds. That leaves a handful of long-time exiles, and some scruffy Salafi fundamentalists, neither of which had any real experience in political maneuvering. Only an amnesty for Baath party members who cannot be proved to have committed crimes could begin to change the current situation.
Iraq will buy 250,000 tons of wheat from Iran, along with major purchases from the US and Australia. The deal shows, according to analysts, that Iran is not lacking for supporters in the new, Shiite-dominated government. Iraq also appears to wish to diversify its wheat purchases so as not to be too dependent on a single supplier.
Agence France Presse reports that Salafis or hard line Sunnis are targeting barber shops in Baghdad that offer a shave. Some interpretations of Islamic law require that men wear beards rather than being clean-shaven. Customers looking for a shave and a hair cut are increasingly going to Sadr City, a Shiite quarter where there has been no violence against barbers or their customers.