11 Killed in Blasts
Talabani Forced to Delay Opening of Parliament
One of the deadly blasts on Thursday targeted an Iraqi army patrol in al-Amariyah, a middle-class neighbourhood in west Baghdad, killing nine civilians and wounding six, according to Major Falah al-Mohammedawi of the Interior Ministry.
At Yarmouk hospital in west Baghdad, a car bomb was detonated, killing at least two people and wounding 13 as they entered the clinic, according to police Lieutenant Thaer Mahmoud.
and adds, “Several other large blasts were heard in the capital on Thursday, but police only had details about one – a roadside bomb aimed at a police patrol in al-Jihad, a mostly Sunni western neighbourhood. Three bystanders were hurt.”
It has gotten to the point in Baghdad that you just hear these huge blasts in the distance all the time, and even the Arab press can’t always say exactly what happened.
Aljazeera also reports that the US military is now confirming that the 50 security guards of a firm owned by an uncle of Vice President Ghazi al-Yawir were kidnapped by persons unknown, who were wearing stolen uniforms of the special police commandos of the Ministry of the Interior. Most of them were from the mostly Sunni Arab Shamar tribe, to which the al-Yawirs belong. Many Shamar clans in the north form part of the guerrilla movement, but I am told that there was no reason to suspect this firm of being other than it represented itself. Obviously someone–probably hard line Shiites– had suspicions about it, however.
The United Iraqi Alliance (Shiite religious parties) has forced President Jalal Talabani to postpone calling parliament until March 19. Talabani had planned to call the first session on March 12 and to attempt to force the UIA to change its choice of prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari. Talabani, a Kurd, resented Jaafari’s determination to stop Kurdistan from annexing the oil city of Kirkuk, and Jaafari’s diplomacy with Turkey to that end. The UIA says that it will not drop Jaafari and has no intention of calling another party congress to reconsider their choice of prime minister.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that the delay, which is technically unconstitutional, was demanded by the Sadr Movement (30 seats) and the two branches of the Dawa Party (25 seats). Other factions disagreed, including the Virtue Party (15 seats), the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (30 seats) and some independents within the party (26 seats). But apparently the Sadrists and Da`wa prevailed on the UIA to close ranks behind the delay.
Salih Mutlak, a leader of the National Dialogue Council (11 seats; secular Sunni Arab), blamed all the delays in the formation of the new government on the flaws in the new constitution and the haste with which it was drafted. He said the major parties should quickly develop a strategy for ending the political impasse.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat’s Ma`d Fayyad reports [Ar.] that a leader of the Da`wa Party insisted that the party would stand behind its leader, Ibrahim Jaafari, as candidate for prime minister.
He reports that an independent member of the United Iraqi Alliance heard Jaafari say that he is “a believer that this is a duty under the law, and that God and the people chose him for this position.”*
Dr. Khidhir Abbas Hadi, a Da`wa Party official, said that the UIA had not considered any other candidate than its legal one, Jaafari. He added, “Jaafari respects the will of the masses, and the masses decided that he should be the head of the government. If he stepped aside from his candidacy, he would be disappointing the will of the masses, and he has not proposed any such step.”
Asked about the statement attributed to Jaafari, Hadi said he had not heard exactly those phrases from Jaafari, but had heard him affirm his respect for the choice of the people.
Hadi said that the high Shiite religious leadership, including Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, had asked the United Iraqi Alliance to remain steadfast and strong.
Hadi said, “Jaafari has no intention of withdrawing his name– that is not in the make-up of his personality.”
A UIA member of parliament who requested confidentiality told Fayyad of Jaafari, “He said to me, ‘God and the people have chosen me for this position.’ ” He added, “We know Jaafari, and when he insists on a position, he will not be moved from it easily. If right now, 50 Iraqis came out to demand that he maintain his candidacy, he would say, ‘Look, all the Iraqis want me.’ And if millions came out demanding his resignation, he would say, ‘America instigated them against me.’ “
Michael Schwartz explores the disintegration of Iraqi sovereignty at Tomdispatch.com, and Tom Englehardt writes an eloquent and acute introduction.
Al-Quds al-Arabi reports that [Ar.] Ninevah governor Duraid Muhammad Kashmula revealed that a 50 year old Iraqi man bought a 15 year old girl for $700, intending to make her his sex slave. Every time you think you’ve heard the worst possible thing about the new Iraq, some new horror–like the emergence of slavery– rears its head.
Donald Rumsfeld berated history teachers, according to Arianna Huffington, for neglecting to call attention to the ways in which all war-time presidents have been unpopular, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The only problem is: it is not true. Somehow if you fight against a real threat and win, people maintain a high opinion of you. If you lie them into war and then botch it and drag them into a quagmire, they turn on you.
By the way, the recent Pentagon excuses for the Zogby poll showing 72% of US troops in Iraq want to see a quick withdrawal from that country– that all soldiers in the field are unhappy about being there– is also untrue. I’m sure that if you could have polled US troops in WW II after D-Day, they wouldn’t have said we should withdraw from France and give up on the idea of making a drive on Berlin! Our guys in Iraq can’t understand what their mission is any more, and their conviction that it has something to do with 9/11 is just the result of their listening to too many Cheney speeches full of deliberate falsehoods.
*[Cole: Oh, great. First God chose George W. Bush and whispered things in his ear. Then He chose Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and whispered things in his ear. Now we have yet another messianic, divinely appointed leader out to do God’s will. If God really were choosing these people, couldn’t He come up with better candidates? And if He is giving them advice, why isn’t it better advice? I’d just like to caution all these political prophets that it is widely rumored among medieval observers, who were the real experts in things divine, that sometimes Satan manages to misrepresent himself to you as the voice of God. And sometimes the conviction that God is
speaking to and through you is not so much piety as the mortal sin of pride.]