Basra Bombing Targets Badr
Jaafari Rejects Conference of National Reconsiliation
Someone detonated a car bomb in Basra outside an office of the Badr Corps, the paramilitary of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. One child was killed and six were wounded in the explosion. It was not clear who was behind the blast, but Badr has lots of enemies, including Sunni Arabs in the South and rival Shiite militias (profiled Sunday by the NYT’s Richard A. Oppel Jr.. The British narrative of problems with Shiite militias in Basra and the possible link to Iran, reported by Oppel, still makes no sense to me. I think it is very difficult (and perhaps embarrassing) for the US and Britain to admit to themselves that significant numbers of local Iraqis just don’t want them there, so they keep seeking an explanation for anti-Coalition violence in foreign influence. If bombings targetting the British were done by a splinter Sadrist group around Shaikh Ahmad Fartusi, this is southern Shiite nativism at work, not foreign influence. The Sadr movement does not get along that well with the Iranians.
The flaw in this UPI article accusing the Badr Corps of rounding up 22 Sunni Arab men and killing them is that the only proof of this charge is that the men were abducted by persons dressed as Iraqi police and Interior Ministry agents. But such uniforms are easily acquired, and for all we know radical Sunni fundamentalists killed some of their own in hopes of blaming it on the Badr corps and fomenting civil war between Sunnis and Shiites.
Timothy Phelps of Newsday reports on the American Enterprise Institute conference on Iraq, which appears to have been more a funeral for liberal imperialism than anything else. The extremely weak federal government that enshrines regional sectarianism has filled close observers of the Iraq scene on the Right with despair (Jackson Diehl covers the same event; but he focuses on the profound disillusionment that has set in among Iraq’s expatriate liberal hawks as their dreams for Iraq have turned to dust.
The Financial Times carries an unflattering portrait of Iraq’s elected prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari of the Shiite fundamentalist Dawa Party. The article reflects a widespread impression in Iraq, that Jaafari has been ineffective and rigid all at the same time. I would offer three critiques of this article. First, its critique of Jaafari’s devotion to political Islam is misplaced, since the Shiite religious parties won tha January 30 elections and naturally their prime minister reflected that victory. Second, Iyad Allawi was never popular, and his list only got 14 percent of the national vote despite the wall to wall free advertising given him on state-controlled al-Iraqiya television and all the opportunities he had to promise various constituencies the sky. Finally, through a typo at the FT website, this article seems to be co-authored by Neil MacDonald and . . . Ibrahim Jaafari. Not.
Al-Zaman reports that Jaafari refused Sunday to convene a reconciliation conference for Iraqi political forces and parties to stop the violence and bring back security and stability. At the same time, the envoy of the Arab League, Ahmad Ben Hela, continued his contacts with Iraqi factions in Baghdad, as part of the preparations for the upcoming visit of Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.
On Monday in Cairo, a tripartite conference on Iraq will be held by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, with King Abdullah II of Jordan and King Hamad bin Eisa Al Khalifah of Bahrain attending.
Poor workers from places like Nepal and the Philippines in Iraq are often exploited and face great danger.
Veteran correspondent Trudy Rubin dissects the gaps in Bush’s terrorism speech of last Thursday and points out that the US only has bad options left in Iraq.
This Reuters article on Iraq’s purchase of US instead of Australian wheat is written so technically that it is difficult for non-experts in agricultural commodities trading to understand all the issues involved. I take it that the deal went to the Americans because they were willing to take more risks with Iraq’s ability to send ships to pick up the wheat. The alarming thing is the central role Ahmad Chalabi has in procurement deals. Chalabi was convicted in Jordan of massive bank fraud, and his practices had also raised questions in Switzerland; later on the US State Department complained that he could not account for funds given him to promote the overthrow of Saddam in the 1990s. Chalabi has played a very sinister role in promoting punitive policies toward all members of the Baath Party, and in promoting conflict with Syria.
A kind reader from Australia explains:
‘ Re Reuter’s report that Iraqi govt will buy US wheat, not Oz: Some clarifying points:
1. Buyers of wheat (etc.) have to pay on delivery. Hence sellers prefer to sell “cif” — inclusive of cost of insurance & freight. That is, sellers prefer to make all delivery arrangements themselves. If the buyer doesn’t take delivery when the ship arrives, he has to pay “demurrage” — the extra cost of keeping the ships hanging around. So the pressure is on the buyer to pay.
2. If the _buyer_ makes the arrangements to collect the wheat (etc.), it is sold “fob” — free on board. But the seller still isn’t paid until the buyer _actually collects_ the goods. So the seller could be stuck with goods that have not been paid for, & which he can’t sell to anyone else — waiting for the buyer to turn up & collect. No commercial farmer or company can afford this. The Oz farmer gets _no_ (no) subsidies. So the Oz Wheat Board can’t afford to sell “fob”.
3. US wheat — thanks to your govt’s unconscionable subsidies — is sold internationally at 40% _below_ its own cost of production (which is well above the Oz cost.) The USDA cannot have any qualms about selling the wheat “fob” in addition: US taxpayers will cover this cost as well. The Iraqi govt will be under no pressure to collect the wheat & pay for it. ***Moreover, “fob” allows all sorts of “backhanders” & who knows what else*in arranging for the shipping & insurance. Hence the preference for US wheat & for “fob” arrangements*Keep an eye out for this! . . . ‘