20 Killed in Guerrilla Violence
Talabani Lashes out at the Arab League
In the western city of Hit on Monday guerrillas detonated a suicide car bomb at a US/Iraqi base, killing 3 Iraqi soldiers and 8 civilians. It also wounded 16 other persons.
Guerrillas in Baquba and Khalis, north of Baghdad, struck at civilian neighborhoods with mortar fire, killing 5 civilians.
In Baghdad, a whole platoon of guerrillas, about 30 strong traveling in 10 cars, attacked the Ministry of the Interior, killing two policemen and wounding 5 others. Interior is dominated by the Shiite party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and its Badr Corps paramilitary (originally trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards).
In the southern Sunni Arab town of Zubair, near Basra, a roadside bomb killed two British soldiers.
Other Iraqis died fighting US troops at Tel Afar and Balad, where the US killed 11 suspected guerrillas.
Al-Zaman reports that the Kurdish Alliance seems to be showing some understanding that the constitution will have to acknowledge Iraq’s Arab identity more if it is to attact the votes of the Sunni Arabs in the October 15 referendum. It suggests that a breakthrough on this issue is imminent. President Jalal Talabani, himself a Kurdish leader, alluded to the need to acknowledge Iraq’s founding role in forming the Arab League. At the same time, Talabani raked the Arab states over the coals for having declined to send ambassadors to Baghdad, and for having neglected to send condolences for the deaths of about 1,000 persons in the stampede at al-A’imah Bridge last week. (They also neglected to send any relief aid for the bereaved families and the over 800 wounded.)
Baha’ al-Araji, a member of the constitution drafting committee from the majority Shiite alliance, said that the hope of an imminent breakthrough had led to a postponement in the printing of 5 million copies of the constitution (so that Iraqis will know what they are voting on in the referendum).
Muhsin Abd al-Hamid, leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party (Sunni) expressed hope that amendments will be made to the constitution that would mollify the Sunni Arabs. He said the likelihood of this step occurring had been increased by the broadening of the political coalition opposing the current draft. He denied that current military operations in Qaim and Husaibah would have any impact on the political and constitutional issues. He said that the political and constitutional issues have their own special context that does not track with the struggle aginst “the terrorists”.
The Washington Post confirms the report given by al-Zaman yesterday that the Monotheism and Holy War group (what they are called locally) has taken over the city of Qaim. They appear to have taken advantage of the US military’s assault on Tal Afar to the north, which has drawn away US troops. (There are only about 10,000 US troops for all of Anbar Province, a huge area with a population of some 800,000.) Monotheism and Holy War also appears to have inflicted a defeat on the Albu Mahal clan that had been supporting the US.
Katha Pollit of The Nation weighs in on the implications of the new Iraqi constitution for women.
Spencer Ackerman of TNR is disturbed at the prospect of a Najaf/ Washington alliance. My information is that that cow is long since out of the barn. Bush has been meeting since February with the representatives in Washington of the Dawa Party and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, having them over to the White House, schmoozing them, etc. He knows the winner of an election when he sees one. As Ackerman says, this alignment of Washington and Najaf has been a long-term project of the Neoconservatives. I think they just want to divide the Arab world between Sunnis and Shiites so as to make trouble and weaken the Arabs, for the benefit of the Likud Party in Israel. Frum and Perle even want to encourage Shiite separatism in the oil-rich Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia so as to split up Saudia and defund the Wahhabis. The Neocons suffer from the Pied Piper syndrome. They are so unprincipled and instrumentalist that they are always creating a cat problem to get rid of rats. As if the Shiites of Qatif and Hufuf would necessarily be pro-American!
Anyway, if Bush wants a constitution to be passed in Iraq, he needs it to be endorsed by Grand Ayatollah Sistani. The provision that no law may be passed contravening Islamic Law (article 2A) is a non-negotiable demand of Sistani. Without it, he might well come out against the constitution, which would certainly sink it. He has bucked Bush quite successfully before. Ackerman’s concerns all flow from the Jan. 30 elections, which the fundamentalist Shiites and Iran won, and which Bush lost. It’s been over with all this time.
Tom Engelhardt, among our finest essayists and political analysts, outdoes himself with his consideration of New Orleans, Iraq and “the feral city.”