Iraq Comes to London
In Iraq, Car Bombs and Attacks Kill 24, Wound Dozens in 24 Hours
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that [Arabic URL] its contacts in the radical fundamentalist community of British Muslims maintain that the July 7 attacks on London were undertaken by one of several al-Qaeda sleeper cells in Europe, which had been planted there by Ayman al-Zawahiri and his lieutenants in preparation for a decades-long war with the West.
The London Times collects some brave and touching survivors stories. Londoners have long been exemplars for the rest of us in how to face such danger from bullying cowards unflinchingly and with iron resolve. (If the terrorists had been brave, they would have fought British troops, not blown up innocent women, children and men on a subway or bus.) The examples given by the Times also underline the city’s multicultural character (one of the bombings was in a heavily Arab neighborhood). Turks, Iranians, Eastern Europeans and others could be heard on television talking about their experiences.
Outspoken British MP and Iraq war opponent George Galloway called Thursday’s terrorist bombings in London “despicable” but went on to say that he was sure that al-Qaeda was behind the attacks:
‘ He argued that the bombings had not come out of the “clear blue sky” – the background was the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, photographs of abuses by US troops at Abu Ghraib prison and the continuing confinement of people by America at Guantanamo. Mr Galloway said the West was in danger of making the same mistakes over and over again, continuing with “war and occupation as the principal instrument of our foreign and defence policy”. He added: “And if we do then some people will get through and hurt us as they have hurt us today.” ‘
In his response, Foreign Minister Jack Straw said that September 11 had not come in response to any Western attack, and was itself in part responsible for the Iraq War. Straw seems unaware that according to the September 11 Commission report, al-Qaeda conceived 9/11 in some large part as a punishment on the US for supporting Ariel Sharon’s iron fist policies toward the Palestinians.* Bin Laden had wanted to move the operation up in response to Sharon’s threatening visit to the Temple Mount, and again in response to Sharon’s crackdown in spring of 2001. Khalid Shaikh Muhammad argued in each case that the operation just was not ready. As for Straw’s contention that September 11 caused the Iraq war, he should be reminded that Paul O’Neil reported that the very first Bush cabinet meeting he attended, in late January 2001, was “all about Iraq” and that the 9/11 Commission found no evidence for operational cooperation between Saddam’s Iraq and al-Qaeda.
Russian analyst Col. Leonid Ivashov agreed with Galloway: ‘ “One can say the Iraqi resistance forces have taken military operations to enemy territory, Britain.” ‘
Egypt will close its diplomatic mission in Iraq in the wake of the execution of its chief diplomat in Baghdad. Terrorists calling themselves “Mesopotamian al-Qaeda” claimed on Thursday that they had killed Ihab al-Sherif, and said that they would begin targeting other embassy personnel.
A large riot involving a thousand persons broke out in Tikrit on Wednesday. When a member of the local council showed up dead, his relatives and supporters accused the police chief of having had him killed. They then stormed the police station. One policeman was killed and three civilians were injured in the course of the protest.
Reuters rounds up other deaths in the ongoing guerrilla war:
Guerrillas fired 10 mortar rounds into a bustling market in central Mosul on Thursday, killing 3 and wounding 52. Then they fired more rounds later on, killing 2 and wounding 7.
In Baiji, guerrillas shot an Iraqi soldier and a civilian.
In Mashru, a town near Hilla south of Baghdad, two car bombs killed 18 persons and wounded dozens more late on Wednesday.
Guerrillas in Baghdad killed 3 barbers on Tuesday, it was announced early Thursday. Salafi radicals consider it a crime to shave a Muslim man, who they think should wear a beard in imitation of the Prophet Muhammad.
The bombings in London on Thursday underlined what absolute hell Iraqis are living through, who suffer the equivalent every other day.
The Financial Times reports on negotiations between Iraq and Iran about mutual aid. Iran will give Iraq $1 billion in foreign aid, and will help train the new Iraqi military (as reported here from al-Hayat a couple of days ago). Everyone is doing a double-take about these developments. But they were predictable, given that the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Dawa Party won the January 30 elections that the American public was so excited about. This is what that victory really means. Iran in some sense as much won those elections as the Bush administration lost them.
Interior Minister Bayan Jabr (Solagh) announced Wednesday that he had uncovered 8 officers who were members of a terrorist cell, plotting against their own ministry. The Interior Ministry (which is like the US Federal Bureau of Investigation) had been controlled by Falah al-Naqib, an ex-Baathist from Samarra, in the cabinet of Iyad Allawi last year. Shiites allege that al-Naqib packed the ministry with Baathist officers. Jabr is a member of the Shiite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and is now purging the ex-Baathists (who are mostly Sunnis). Long story short, a person cannot be sure if Jabr found a terrorist cell in the ministry, or if he just found Sunni ex-Baathists whom he wanted to remove. If the latter, it is the sort of thing that is driving the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement.
Russian Premier Vladimir Putin is pushing the other members of the G8 to give the United Nations a leading role in Iraq and setting a timetable for US withdrawal. As regular readers know, the first part of this plan is one that I have also endorsed. The Russians have explored a role as intermediaries in Iraq, having their ambassador in Baghdad meet with Shiite nationalist Muqtada al-Sadr last month.
Michael Jansen dissects the failures of the G8 conference, most of which she lays at the feet of Bush’s unilateralism.
*T.P. points out by email that I should have said that the 9/11 Commission concluded that the timing of 9/11 was attributable to Sharon, not that the operation was largely conceived in response to him. This is correct; one writes blogs in haste and my phrasing was insufficiently careful. However, it is also my conviction based on intensive study of Bin Laden, Zawahiri and Khalid Shaikh Muhammad, that they largely conceived the attack on the World Trade Center in New York, which they coded as Jewish and Zionist, as a punishment for the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem, the third holy city of Islam in their view. Al-Qaeda literature is obsessed with this issue, and Bin Laden tapes now being analyzed from Afghanistan show him giving long and passionate disquisitions on Jerusalem even in the late 1980s. The point is that radical Muslim fundamentalism has all along gotten big recruitment help and energy from Israeli expansionism, and the “war on terror” does have a historical context, which of course, has also to do with Western colonialism and its neocolonial legacy. Note that Westerners never colonized Thailand and haven’t pushed hundreds of thousands of Thais into refugee camps or permanently stolen any Thai land, and as a result Thais don’t hate us. – 7/9/05