4 US Troops Killed, 6 Wounded
Guerrilla War Kills, Wounds, Dozens of Iraqis
Reuters reports that near Baiji north of Baghdad, guerrillas killed 4 US soldiers and wounded 6 late Tuesday.
In Mosul guerrillas killed 15 persons in spearate incidents, including 2 policement.
In Baghdad, a suicide bomber killed 6 and wounded 14 in the western part of the capital. A mortar shell also hit an intersection in Adhamiyah, a Sunni neighborhood, killing a traffic policeman and wounding 6 others. A police brigadier was kidnapped.
Near Iskandariyah, guerrillas shot up a car, killing 2 civilians and wounding 3.
US and Iraqi forces discovered 9 car bombs and 28 improviced bombs in a sweep of Ramadi, arresting 32 persons.
The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq won the provincial elections in Baghdad on Jan. 30, a fact that has been little noted in the Western press. They have now moved to depose the mayor of Baghdad and install their own man. Alaa al-Tamimi left quietly. That SCIRI and the Badr Organization (this militia ran as a political party) won the election in Baghdad province gives them the right to name the mayor. Some US reports are portraying this as a coup by a “Shiite militia”, but the “coup” happened on Jan. 30 at the ballot box.
Tamimi’s account of the incident is here. He was earlier charged with corruption but the charges appear to have been dropped.
Al-Tamimi was recently the subject of a glowing write up at Slate by Christopher Hitchens, who wondered why US cities were not sending aid and help to such municipal politicians in Iraq. The answer is that a) there is virtually no infrastructure for aid delivery, and any American who showed up from Cincinnati to help Tamimi would just be killed; and b) political instability is so great in Iraq that you never know from day to day whether your aid will go to Tamimi or to the Iran-trained Badr Corps paramilitary of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (from which the new mayor comes). Hitchens raised the suggestion in the context of whether the American left wants the US effort to succeed in Iraq. But the effort that Hitchens has in mind, of a secular democracy, probably failed on January 30 when SCIRI, Dawa, and a bloc of Sadrists (Shiite fundamentalist parties) jointly won the parliamentary elections. As for the security situation, I’m not sure what we mere mortals can do about it if the whole US army and marine corps are helpless before it.
Samawah politics is in turmoil after a governor belonging to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq refused to accept his dismissal by al-Muthanna Province governing council. His dismissal came in the wake of demonstrations by followers of the Sadr movement, which opposes SCIRI. The most recent demonstration was put down harshly and one demonstrator killed. A senior member of the governing council resigned, and appears to have gotten death threats. The jockeying for position in Samawah is similar to that in Baghdad.
US troops may begin their withdrawal from select urban areas of Iraq with the holy city of Najaf. I presume that a mixture of Iraqi police and military troops plus the Badr Corps militia of SCIRI and perhaps also some tribal levies called Ansar Sistani because of their loyalty to the Grand Ayatollah will be detailed to keep the peace there. But the same sort of forces are in Samawah, and it is not quiet. The Sadr militia, the Mahdi Army, could attempt to take advantage of this withdrawal. But I agree that it is time to see what the Iraqis can do; and if a Shiite government can’t keep order in Najaf, it is hard to see how they can expect to have it done by US troops from Ohio and Alabama.
Anthropologist Bill Beeman explains what an Islamic Republic of Iraq actually would entail. I agree that some degree of Islamic law will be implemented. I am not as sanguine about its consequences as Bill is. But, then, Israel and Lebanon have religious personal status law and no one jumps up and down about that.