Iranians Demand British Withdrawal

Iranians Demand British Withdrawal from Basra

Bombs in Baghdad and Yusufiyah; reprisal killings in Baghdad; and major pipeline sabotage targeting fuel supplies to the capital. Also, the audacious kidnapping of one of the wealthiest bankers in Iraq which leaves 5 of his bodyguards dead.

Al-Zaman / AFP report that guerrillas fired five rockets at the biggest US base in Anbar province (Sunni, western Iraq). An ex-Baathist and his son were assassinated in Mosul.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki [Muttaqi] called Friday for Britain to withdraw its troops from the southern Iraqi city of Basra (pop. 1.3 million), which is only 20 miles from the Iranian border. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected the call, saying that the British were in Basra at the invitation of the Iraqi government and as authorized by a United Nations Security Council resolution. (Blair, who tossed the UNSC in the trash can when it suited him before the war, obviously has no shame).

Nadim al-Jabiri of the Basra provincial council said that the British troops were still needed for the moment. But it is not clear that he was speaking for a majority on the council, since it is currently boycotting the British.

Al-Zaman [Ar.] reports that Mutakki also called on the new Iraqi government to demand an immediate departure of US troops.

Sabrina Tavernise of the NYT shows that Sunni-Shiite intermarriage in Baghdad has fallen from 3-5% in 2002 to virtually 0% today, as sectarian rancor has increased and broken up past such marriages.

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