4 US Troops Dead
Constitutional Talks End
The US military has withdrawn from the Shiite holy city of Najaf, seat of the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Although the Lt. Col. James Oliver maintained that the Iraqi army is operating successfully throughout the region, it is more likely the case that the Badr Corps is providing what security there is. The Badr Corps is the paramilitary of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the party that rules Najaf Province (population: about 800,000). We see here the beginnings of the Bush administration exit strategy for Iraq, which is that the south will be turned over to SCIRI and Badr. The US military must be convinced that Badr can now handle the Mahdi Army and can protect Grand Ayatollah Sistani from assassination (both are tall orders).
Al-Hayat: A source in the Iraqi parliament said that further negotiations on the issue of the identity of Iraq (as an Arab state) had proved inconclusive, and that the draft would be printed and voted on as is. The Sunni Arabs had wanted an acknowledgment that Iraq is an Arab country, but the draft constitution says only that it forms part of the Muslim world and that its Arabs form part of the Arab world. This issue has also been important to Iraq’s Sunni Arab neighbors, including the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League. It may be that the new text identifies Iraq as a founder of the Arab League, but a leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party (Sunni) said that the amendment was not sufficient to mollify Sunni Arab concerns.
On Tuesday, the deaths of 4 US troops were announced and guerrilla violence left 19 Iraqis dead. A big military operation was launched in the northern, Turkmen city of Tal Afar. US warplanes bombed two bridges across the Euphrates near the Syrian border to stop radical Sunni jihadis from infiltrating into Tal Afar.
The US has managed oil-rich Iraq so well during the past 2 1/2 years that the country has instituted gasoline rationing. Not only can you fill up only every other day, but now you can only drive in Baghdad every other day. I guess if you live far from your work in the city, you are out of luck. Of course, given the likely unemployment rate of 50 percent, this problem does not affect that many people.
Response of some US troops in Iraq to Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the US government to deal with it efficiently: “If anything I`m kind of embarrassed,’ said an officer. ‘We`re supposed to be telling the Iraqis how to act and this is what`s happening at home?” This senior officer in Balad also said that he’d rather be in Iraq than in New Orleans right now!
Bush’s disapproval ratings for his handling of Iraq has plummeted further, to 59 percent– nearly 6 in 10. Some 41 percent would advise him to go ahead and get the troops out.
Niraj Warikoo of the Detroit Free Press explores the disputes among Iraqi-American women over the provision in the new Iraqi constitution that no civil law may contradict Islamic canon law.