50 Dead in Wave of Violence
Petroleum Industry, Electricity Generation Paralyzed
The Washington Post reports that guerrillas killed 50 Iraqis on Wednesday. In Salahuddin, they kidnapped and executed 25 persons they suspected of being police (or perhaps police informants?) In the Wahdah district of Baghdad, seven Shiites showed up dead. They detonated car bombs in Basra in the south and in Saadiyah east of Baghdad. They attacked police in Iskandariyah with small arms fire. Each of these actions produced deaths.
It was announced that on Monday, 35 police academy applicants were kidnapped north of Baghdad. The guerrilla movement targets police and police recruits as a way of weakening the current government.
The Italians have reduced their contingent at Nasiriyah in Iraq from 3,200 to 2,600. They expect to have only 1300 troops there by May, and to be out altogether at the end of 2006. Security in the southern Shiite city of Nasiriyah is now being provided by local police and security forces that are heavily drawn from the Shiite militia, the Badr Corps of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
the guerrilla movement has used terrorist tactics to bring Iraqi oil production to a standstill, according to Oil Ministry public relations manager Mohammed Ali Mustafa. He admitted,’ “There is no doubt that the US toppled the former regime for its own interests, but we are in need of foreign expertise and investment as well, so the benefits are reciprocal,” he said. ‘ Mr. Mustafa, who just admitted that his industry is paralyzed and that his government’s patron invaded for its own interests, seems to me to have a refreshing concept of “public relations.”
Guerrilla threats and sabotage have denied electricity to Baghdad for all but about 6 hours a day in recent weeks. These reports on poor living conditions in Iraq most often neglect to mention that you can’t run factories or workshops without electricity, so the shortages are holding back the economy and producing unemployment and economic hardship.
The key oil refining city of Baiji, according to the Washington Post, is virtually under the control of the guerrilla movement. Guerrillas have threatened truck drivers as a way of preventing the regular transport of refined petroleum from the area. But then they smuggle out petroleum to bankroll their own activities.
It may cost $20 billion to fix the electricity problem, even if enough security could be established to allow the work to be done and maintained.
Al-Hayat [Life] reports [Ar.]: The young Shiite nationalist cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, said that his Sadrists would not accept a “powerful” cabinet post in the future government since that would necessitate their dealing directly with the Americans. He said they preferred those cabinet posts that dealt with social services and the welfare of the people.
Sadr parliamentarian Hasan al-Rubaie said that the implementation of loose federalism (which allows provincial confederacies) cannot be decided by only “one faction.” He said that the UIA had pledged to work by the consensus of its constituent lists, failing which there should be an up and down vote at a general party congress. He said loose federalism contradicts Muqtada al-Sadr’s principles. But he said that if it were to ba adopted by a vote of the party congress, it is unlikely that the Sadrists would bolt from the coalition.
Baha’ al-Din A’raji said that the Sadr bloc supports Ibrahim Jaafari of the Dawa Party for prime minister.
The Supreme council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) emphasized that the United Iraqi Alliance [Shiite fundamentalist] must retain control of the Ministry of the Interior (which is in charge of police and security).
Sources told al-Hayat that there is an attempt to form a broad-based Sunni Arab bloc in parliament, uniting the Iraqi Accord Front (religious fundamentalists) with the National Dialogue Council of Salih al-Mutlak (post-Baathist secularists).
The VOA has a piece on Shiites and politics in Iraq and the Gulf that quotes me among others.