Guerrillas Kill 18 Sunnis Offered Only

Guerrillas Kill 18
Sunnis offered only 6 Cabinet Posts

The newly elected Iraqi government is planning to offer Iraqi Sunni Arabs only 6 cabinet posts. They had 17 MPs in the last parliament, and also 6 cabinet posts. They have 51 MPs in the new parliament. The Sunni Arabs are going to greet this announcement with howls of rage. In the last government, a Sunni Arab independent, Saadoun Dulaimi, who appears to have been pliable toward Shiite and Kurdish demands, was Minister of Defense. This time the Sunni Arabs want the same position, and want it to go to a prominent member of a Sunni Arab party. The Shiites and Kurds are unlikely to offer them any such thing.

The London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat [The Middle East] reports that Husain al-Falluji, a candidate for parliament on the Iraqi Accord Front list [Sunni fundamentalist] objected strenuously to Abdul Aziz al-Hakim’s comments a few days ago. He said al-Hakim had backed away from an earlier commitment to have a government of national unity, proposing instead an inclusive government that would recognize the victory of the Shiite fundamentalist United Iraqi Alliance in the election. He said al-Hakim’s remarks were an “ominous sign.”

CNN reports that on Wednesday morning in Iraq

“vehicles belong[ing] to a firm in charge of protecting employees of the Iraqna telecommunications company . . . were driving in the al-Jamia neighborhood [of Baghdad] when the ambush occurred about 9:45 a.m. (1:45 a.m. ET) Seven bodyguards and three drivers were killed, and the engineer, who is from Malawi, was kidnapped, police said. About 30 minutes earlier, three Iraqi police and one civilian were killed in a roadside bomb attack on a police patrol in al-Sa’diya, about 45 miles (70 km) east of Baquba. Four police were also wounded.”

On Tuesday night, CNN says, “Gunmen killed seven Iraqi men working at a Baghdad company that provides food for Iraqi soldiers, police said Tuesday night. About eight to 10 gunmen opened fire on the building about 9 p.m. then fled in two vehicles.”

A story like this from the Scotsman still has the ability to make me shake my head and mutter that this is not a good sign:

‘ Col Hussein Shiaa, commander of the 2nd Battalion of the Iraqi Army’s 4th Brigade, and his brother were abducted on Sunday when leaving their base in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, said army intelligence officer Capt Ibrahim Abdullah. They were found dead in western Baghdad’s dangerous al-Baiyaa district riddled with bullet wounds. ‘

If the commander of the 2nd Battalion o fhte 4th Army Brigade can be kidnapped and killed, anyone can be.

London-based Al-Hayat [Life] reports [Ar.] that Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari has worked out a deal with Dulaim tribal leaders in Ramadi. American troops will be withdrawn and replaced by Iraqi troops who are from Anbar province. The deal was brokered by Jaafari, US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, and Gen. George Casey at a Sunday summit in Ramadi. In return, the tribal leaders pledged to put pressure on foreign jihadis and to isolate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s terrorist group. The agreement opens the way to substantial recruitment of soldiers from Ramadi, in return for local forces expelling guerrilla bands from the area.

Guerrillas blew up Ramadi residents standing in line for military and police recruitment in early January, perhaps in an atempt to forestall this agreement.

Also party to the agreement were clan chieftains of the al-Fallahat in Khalidiyah and leaders of al-Karamah south of Fallujah. They formed committees on which Sunni clerics serve.

A similar plan was tried in Fallujah in spring-summer of 2004, but the guerrillas managed to take over the city once US forces had withdrawn. Al-Hayat, which has Saudi funding, has been pushing this story of a rift between the Iraqi resistance forces and the Zarqawi group in recent weeks, and I’m worried that they are exaggerating the severity of the dispute and the willingness of the Iraqi guerrillas to give up the fight against US military occupation.

Jalal Talabani, Kurdish leader and president of Iraq, suggested Tuesday that Saddam’s trial be moved from Baghdad, where the judges and lawyers face assassination, to Sulaymaniyah, which is more secure. This suggestion is another indication that Mam Jalal just doesn’t have any appreciation for Arab nationalism. For Saddam to be tried in Kurdistan would inflame Sunni Arab feelings. Talabani is not wrong that Baghdad is the wrong venue. In fact, Iraq is the wrong venue. The Iraqi political and legal system is simply not ready to do a proper job of such a tribunal.

UPI has now picked up the story that Cheney discussed an Arab peacekeeping force for Iraq with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak is said to have urged greater Sunni Arab representation in the government. (Egyptians are mostly Sunni Arabs and tend to sympathize with the guerrilla movement.)

Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that an official spokesman for Mubarak tried to throw cold water on the speculations about sending Egyptian troops to Iraq, denying it had been discussed. He said Egypt was willing to train Iraqi soldiers in Egypt.

James Ridgeway of the Village Voice also picked up the story about possible Cheney negotiations with Egypt over a military role for the latter in Iraq, and is kind in citing IF.

Nick Wadham of AP paints a plausible picture of the situation in Mosul, where, he says, neighborhood leaders called mukhtars are being assassinated and people are afraid to inform on the guerrillas.

It was nice of Ferry Biederman to go to Tal Afar and report on the situation there. But I’m damned if I know anything more now than I knew before. Tal Afar was emptied in August and it was reported that neighborhoods were destroyed by air strikes on Sunni Turkmen called down by Kurdish troops. Shiite Turkmen were used to identify guerrilla supporters among the majority Sunni Turkmen. So, how many of Tal Afar’s buildings were damaged? What is the current population of the city? Are Sunnis actually being ethnically cleansed? The quotes from gonzo US officers need to be there, but theirs is virtually the only sustained voice in the piece. Sounds like “embedded” journalism with all the flaws of same. I’d want to know what a Turkmen speaking journalist would find if he or she went out and talked to local people.

Raw Story has more on the tangled story of the forged documents alleging that Saddam had bought yellowcake uranium from Niger.

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