Guerrilla Violence Kills 26, Wounds 47
Negotiations on New Government Begin
A suicide bomber detonated his belt at a line of persons in Shiite East Baghdad waiting for government checks on Monday, killing at least 15 and wounding 30. Guerrillas shot to death 5 members of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq in Baqubah. There was an assassination in Ramadi and roadside bombs in Baghdad. On Sunday, 3 US troops were wounded and their Pakistani driver killed by such a bomb. All together, the violence killed 26 and left at least 47 (-al-Zaman) wounded.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat/ AFP report that the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdistan Alliance have begun have begun official maneuvering to form a new government and to distribute cabinet posts. AFP’s source within the UIA, Sami al-Askari, said, “The [Shiite] Alliance will never back down from its rightful claim on the ministry of defense.” The religious Shiites stipulate that any of their coalition partners must accept the articles of the constitution accepted by the Iraqi people on October 15, and must have a strong and clear stance against terrorism. The UIA is also insisting that cabinet posts will go to the members of the parties that won big in the elections. Al-Askari would not rule out a priori participation by former interim PM Iyad Allawi, but he said all coalition partners would have to sign on to the government’s program.
Kurdish politician Mahmud Uthman [Mahmoud Osman] said that any new alliance with Jaafari would require mechanisms to avoid the negative aspects of his previous term, in which the Kurds often felt marginalized. He also insisted on a role in the government for all 4 of the leading parties [i.e. including Iyad Allawi]. And, he said it is important to Kurds that the referendum be held in Kirkuk in 2007 on whether the province wishes to join the Kurdistan regional confederacy.
The UIA has also asked the fundamentalist Sunni list, the Iraqi Accord Front, to name negotiators so that the two can begin exploring a place for Sunnis in the new government.
Reuters reports on the discontents with the nomination of Ibrahim Jaafari to be prime minister of Iraq. Many Shiites feel he did not bring security in his last term. Kurds felt that he was inattentive to their needs. And Sunni Arabs blamed him for being too close to Iran and for winking at Shiite death squads.
Paul McGeough of the Sydney Morning Herald discusses the video techniques used by the guerrillas in Iraq. Mahan Abedin discusses divsions within the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement.
The BBC surveys Arab press reaction to the savage beating of some Iraqi teens by British soldiers, caught on videotape. The US press doesn’t do round-ups of Arab press reaction to things, mostly. Is it because the British care and the Americans don’t?
British authorities have made one arrest in the case already.
This piece argues that the US occupation of Iraq is brutal and corrupt. It especially focuses on the air war, which is invisible to US television.
An Iranian embassy official in Baghdad pledged Monday that Iran would never use Iraq to settle scores with the West. He points out that no (Shiite) Iranians have been arrested among the Sunni Arab guerrillas, even though thousands of persons suspected of being guerrillas or of working with them have been through US prisons in Iraq.
Diane Farrell, a Democratic candidate for Congress, is making a stand against the Iraq War central to her campaign. The WSJ discusses the difficulties this tack poses for her.
Winter floods have made over 30,000 Iraqis homeless. The Iraqis can’t win for losing.
Historians Against the Iraq War will convene for a conference this weekend in Austin, Texas.
There is a new biography of Iraq traveler Wilfred Thesiger. His own books are very much worth reading for anyone interested in Iraq and the Middle East.