36 Dead, Nearly 100 Wounded in Hilla Mosque Attack
Cheney: ‘Get Used to It’
A guerrilla detonated his bomb amidst a Shiite mosque in Hilla on Wednesday, at the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan and during a mourning ceremony for a local man killed by guerrillas on Monday. The bomber killed 36 persons and wounded nearly 100.
Hilla has been the site of several major bomb attacks, including one in February that killed 125 persons. That attack was undertaken by a Jordanian terrorist, and it soured relations between Iraqi Shiites and Jordan as a result. Hilla is in the province of Babil, which has a population of about 1.7 million and is mixed, having Sunni Arabs and Shiites (Hilla city, with about 300,000 inhabitants, is largely Shiite).
There was also an oil-related bombing in oil-rich Kirkuk. And a Najaf family was bombed late Tuesday.
British officials charged Iran with supplying shaped charges to Shiite guerrillas in southern Iraq for use against British troops. A radical Sadrist splinter group around Shaik Ahmad Fartusi in Basra has been accused by the British of being behind some of the attacks. It should be noted that earlier on, some British officials and officers have said that the situation is too murky to be sure that Iran is behind the attacks. Personally, I think that if Iran were going to give any Iraqi group weapons, it would be the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The Iranians distrust the Sadr Movement, which is Iraqi nativist and often anti-Iranian, and would distrust a splinter group from it all the more.
A UN official and some Iraqi observers have said that the American role in fashioning the new Iraqi constitution was excessive and possibly illegal under the Hague Rules of 1907 governing military occupations.
US Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney suggested Wednesday that the American public might like to fight in Iraq for “decades.” I suspect that the percentage of Americans who would answer such a question in the affirmative in a scientific opinion poll would hover around 2%. Senator Russ Feingold, in contrast, wants US troops out of Iraq by the end of 2006.
Las t summer the United Arab Emirates tried to buy M113 armored personnel carriers for Iraqi police from Switzerland. The Swiss accepted the deal initially but wanted guarantees that the equipment would be used by the police for peaceful purposes and would not be transferred to the army for attacks against the guerrillas. These questions had been holding up actual delivery by the Swiss. The UAE lost patience this week and cancelled the order. Iraq can’t catch a break.
The Dutch Foreign Minister, Bernard Bot, questioned Wednesday whether the invasion of Iraq in 2003 had been sensible. The Netherlands did not help invade, but did send troops to help stabilize Muthanna Province in the aftermath, which were withdrawn earlier this year. Bot wonders whether, given what we now know about Iraq’s lack of weapons of mass destruction, diplomacy might not have achieved more.