Guerrillas Kill 37 Iraqis Wound 90 5

Guerrillas Kill 37 Iraqis wound 90; 5 GIs Killed
Muqtada Threatens “The Most Violent Response” to US Attack

Guerrillas set off two bombs in the al-Amin quarter of Baghdad on Thursday, killing 16 persons and wounding 90 others at a market and near a gas station. Al-Hayat [Ar.] reports that violence killed altogether 37 Iraqis in a “Bloody Thursday.” It is not clear whether that number includes 19 bodies, three of them police,and most discovered yesterday in East Baghdad. Also, the woman who is general director in the Ministry of Industry was kidnapped.

A US helicopter gunship fired a rocket into Sadr City on Thursday, killing a young woman and wounding 5 others. The US military maintains that the helicopter had taken fire from the ground. Sadr City is a stronghold of Muqtada al-Sadr, who is calling for US military withdrawal from Iraq and who has a substantial bloc of delegates in the new parliament. Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that [Ar.] Muqtada threatened the Americans with “the most violent of responses” over the incident. The fighting lasted 2 hours. Aside from the death and injuries, several houses were damaged. The Sadr movement issued a communique condemned the “terrorist US attacks.” It spoke of several women and children being hurt and then added, “these operations will be met with the most violent response if they continue, from the oppressed masses . . .”

Nir Rosen, who has actually met Muqtada al-Sadr, assesses his new role as kingmaker in Iraq at Salon.com.

Guerrillas had used small arms fire and roadside bombs to kill 5 GIs on Wednesday in separate incidents, one at Fallujah. Wasn’t the slogan that Fallujah was the safest place in Iraq after the US reduced it to rubble?

AP says that there is still no sign of a new Iraqi government, even though it is February and the election was held last December. Such long periods of political gridlock have in the past given an opening to the guerrillas, and this phenomenon seems to be repeating itself.

An official in the Coalition Provisional Authority, Robert Stein, has admitted to stealing $2 million, and to taking bribes for giving out contracts. Some $8.8 billion is unaccounted for from the CPA period, so only 8.798 billion is left to clear up.

The US military really should avoid shooting up the cars of ambassadors in Iraq, more particularly those of allies like Canada. The Canadians are taking over security duties in Qandahar in AFghanistan, and really are allies.

Christiane Amanpour thinks things are getting “worse and worse” in Iraq. Given that daily attacks are up from 55 per day to 77 per day over a year ago, and given that Baghdad (1/4 of the population) is being starved of fuel and electricity, and given that the Sunni Arabs rejected the constitution and are threatening to launch a civil disobedience campaign on top of the guerrilla war, I don’t see in what way her statement is controversial.

It is a measure of the fantasy world in which about 40 percent of Americans live that her statement is even a matter for comment. As for the charge that her views might affect her reporting, no one on the right is complaining about all those gung ho reporters who went to Iraq in 2003 believing it was a noble endeavor. Wouldn’t that philosophy have affected their reporting of the war? In fact, don’t Fox Cable News reporters get pressure from their editors and from Rupert to constantly downplay the guerrilla war in Iraq and to find silver linings in this mess? And Christiane, who has reported on wars all over the world and knows the Middle East like the back of her hand is the one who is out of line?

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