130 Killed, Over 200 Wounded in Two Huge Bombings, Other Attacks
Al-Hakim Blames Coalition for Holding Shiite Commandos Back
Al-Hayat [Ar.]: Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Shiite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq [SCIRI] and head of the dominant United Iraqi Alliance in parliament, blamed Coalition forces (including, implicitly, the US) and “local political forces” [i.e. the Sunni Arabs] for the “dirty sectarian crimes” that mostly target Shiite Muslims.
His outburst was prompted by a bombing on Thursday that killed some 60 Shiite devotees near the sacred shrine of Imam Husain [the martyred grandson of the Prophet Muhammad] and left a similar number wounded.
For Shiite Muslims, Karbala is like Golgotha where Christ was crucified for Christians. It is the site of a cosmic, redemptive act of sacrifice by a holy figure, the Imam Husain, scion of the Prophet. They mourn Husain’s unjust death ritually for several days each year, especially the 10th of Muharram, called Ashura. Most weep, some strike themselves, and some even cut or whip themselves in grief. The makers of the Islamic Revolution in Iran put forward the slogan, “Every land is Karbala, and every day is Ashura.” Emotions run high about Husain and Karbala, including a sense of the truth being persecuted. Just as European Christian mobs sometimes targeted Jews, blaming them for Christ’s death, Shiites often blame the Sunni Muslims. Neither sort of blame is rooted in real history (Sunnism in its present form did not yet exist in 681 A.D.) or is justified. But the Karbala bombing was designed by Sunni guerrillas to provoke reprisals against Sunnis, so as to throw Iraq into civil war, force the US out, and allow them to come to power in a coup.
In Ramadi, an equal-opportunity terrorist waded into a crowd of potential police recruits and detonated a belt bomb, killing 50 and wounding 60 local Sunni Arabs.
Guerrillas also set off three car bombs in Baghdad, amid other operations. Altogether they killed 7 GIs.
Al-Hakim said: “We hold responsible Coalition forces, and political elements that have openly announced their support for terrorism, for the pure blood that has flowed.”
[Al-Hakim was saying that some of the Sunni Arab parties that ran for political office on Dec. 15 are soft on terrorism and even make excuses for it.]
Al-Hakim asserted that the attacks had escalated after “enormous pressure applied by the Coalition forces,” adding, “These crimes came after open statements and the threat of civil war issued by Iraqi political parties which failed to achieve their dream of winning the elections . . . and they bear the responsibility for every drop of blood.” Al-Hakim threatened that these parties would not be allowed to serve in the government. He said, “The continued holding of Iraqi lives hostage for the sake of immediate political interests will only increase our willingness to exclude those in the government who promulgate and make excuses for terrorism.”
He accused “excommunicators with sin-stained hands and the remnants of the Saddam regime” of having committed these crimes. Takfiris or excommunicators are Salafi radicals who declare other Muslims to be actually non-Muslims and to deserve death.
Al-Hakim is replying to US criticisms of the working of the Ministry of the Interior, which has been infiltrated by the Badr Corps, SCIRI’s paramilitary. It is accused by the US of setting up secret prisons and torturing largely Sunni Arab prisoners. Its special police commandos have also been accused of assassinating or kidnapping Sunni Arabs they suspected of a connection to the guerrilla movement. The US military has moved to rein in Interior’s police commandos. The US is also pressuring the Shiites to give up control of the Ministry of the Interior altogether, giving it to secular ex-Baathist Iyad Allawi. Allawi is not going to get Interior, and the Shiites, who won the Dec. 15 elections, are highly unlikely to give it up. Al-Hakim is saying, “after the Karbala bombings, no way are we surrendering control of Interior; in fact, the US should back off the constraints so far imposed.” [Al-Sharq al-Awsat says Allawi himself is blaming the Shiite parties for creating a sectarian atmosphere and always speaking of “revenge” (i.e. against Sunni Baathists). Everyone is using the Karbala bombings for his own purposes.]
Al-Hakim is saying that the US hasn’t let the Ministry of Interior do its job, and that is why Shiite pilgrims are being blown up in Karbala, which is SCIRI territory politically.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat [Ar.] reports that Jawad al-Maliki, the number two man in the Dawa Party that Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari heads, blasted Iraqi Sunni Arab politicians who go on Arab satellite television and defend the guerrillas as “holy warriors.” He did not name them.
Al-Hayat: Hadi al-Amiri, head of the Badr Organization revealed that the United Iraqi Alliance (victorious Shiite coalition) had made an agreement with the British and American ambassadors to hold a meeting to be attended by the ministers of the interior and defense and the prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari “to identify what is to blame for the grave deterioration in the security situation.”
The ambassadors denied the allegations that the Coalition forces had interfered with the work of the Iraqi security and military apparatuses in such a way as to paralyze them, in order to give other political forces the opportunity to join in political activity–which is, according to al-Amiri, “what gave the green light to terrorists to implement their filthy operations against civilians.” [I.e. al-Amiri was saying that the Americans and British are coddling the Sunni Arabs in hopes of getting them involved in civil politics, but are naive, since the Sunni Arabs will go on blowing things up whether they are involved in parliament or not. The ambassadors are denying all this.]
Al-Amiri said that “Iraqi security forces have affirmed more than once their ability to take responsibility on condition that the [US] advisers be withdrawn.”
The Association of Muslim Scholars and the Iraqi Islamic Party, both Sunni fundamentalist groups, condemned the attacks on Shiites. The AMS said in a communique, “Dozens of innocent Iraqi victims fell in the city of Karbala as a result of a suspicious, criminal operation.” It added, “The AMS decries these terrorist crimes and condemns the party behind them, whoever it may be.”