20 Killed in Guerrilla Violence
Al-Enzy Warns US on Interference
Mariam Karouny of Reuters reports that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani of Najaf played a central role in keeping the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance together during the recent Kurdish/Arab/US attempt to fracture its unity and unseat its candidate for prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari.
Steve Negus of the Financial Times looks at the role of the disputed oil city of Kirkuk in the recent attempt by Kurdish leaders to unseat Jaafari.
Mariam Karouny of Reuters says that the failure to form a government expeditiously may have a long-term negative impact on the Iraqi petroleum industry. Iraq pumped only 1.3 million barrels a day in February. Before the war it did 2.8 million a day, even with substantial international sanctions and disabilities. She says that there is a danger that the internationl petroleum market will discount Iraq as a regular and reliable major supplier, seeing it instead as a reserve. The disaster of a constitution that was hastily drafted last summer and passed by referendum on Oct. 15 also creates a worrisome provincial claim on new oil finds, potentially unleashing chaos in the industry.
Zalmay Khalilzad is calling for a convocation of top Iraqi leaders to work out their differences, “possibly away from Baghdad.”
Abdul Karim al-Enzy [al-`Anizi], leader of one of the two major wings of the Da`wa Party and minister of National Security, has given an interview to the intrepid and courageous Paul McGeough of the Sydney Morning Herald. Al-Enzy called on US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to stop interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs. He defended Minister of the Interior Bayan Jabr, a fellow Shiite, from US criticism. In the aftermath of the bombing of the Askari Shrine in Samarra, Shiites are in no mood to compromise on issues of security, and resent what they see as Khalilzad’s attempt to push around the Shiite coalition. They are also suspicious that the US wants to divide and rule Iraq.
Andrew Arato looks at the role of the Iraqi constitution in the current crisis.
The Associated Press reports on the violence in Iraq on Friday:
‘ A truck bomb ripped through a line of cars at a checkpoint in Fallujah as bombings and shootings across Iraq Friday killed at least 20 people, including a U.S. Marine . . . The U.S. military identified the five killed in the Fallujah attack as a U.S. Marine, three members of an Iraqi family and an Iraqi soldier. [Later reports spoke of 11 dead in this attack.] Car bombs also killed three people in Samarra . . . Authorities in Baghdad and south of the capital discovered the bodies of eight more men – many of them blindfolded, handcuffed and shot in the back of the head. ‘
Alexandra Zavis with Qassim Abdul Zahra of AP report that the US military has turned over responsibility for Sadr City to units of the new Iraqi Army. There is substantial pessimism, however, that these mostly Shiite troops will supplant or operate independently from the Mahdi Army militia of Muqtada al-Sadr, which is powerful in the 3 million-strong Baghdad city district.
Kudos to Donna Abu-Nasr for taking up one of the more important stories in the region–the question of whether Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq will spill over into the Oil Gulf. She doesn’t find any immediate evidence that it has, but everyone there is clearly nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
Work is going ahead on the Najaf International Airport, which will cater to Shiite pilgrims: ‘ “Religious tourism could be bigger than oil,” says Riyadh Bahr Uloum, a member of the Najaf provincial council, ‘ Jane’s writes.
John Burns of the New York Times, always a clear-eyed and tough analyst, has turned pretty decisively pessimistic about Iraq’s prospects.
Robert Cornwell examines the intellectual collapse of the Neoconservative movement and the apostasy of most of its supporters, with regard to the wisdom of the Iraq War.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is now calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq. Bouteflika has credibility as an analyst of such situations. The Algerians themselves fought a bloody guerrilla insurgency to get the French out of their country. And they in the 1990s they fell into a civil war between Islamists and secularists. Bouteflika must know the risks, but he appears to have decided that the US and other foreign troops are making things worse rather than better. I’d be interested in seeing his more extended comments on the issue.