24 Found Dead Interior Minister

24 Found Dead
Interior Minister Escapes Assassination

The transcript of my appearance on the Lehrer News Hour is now online.

Police patrols discovered 24 dead bodies in Baghdad on Wednesday, which had been strangled or shot. They were probably victims of sectarian reprisal killings. Another six were killed in bombings and other violence.

Iraqi special police commandos invaded the al-Rawafid security firm in Baghdad and arrested up to 50 workers. Aljazeera is reporting that police view the security firm as “under suspicion.”

Interior Minister Bayan Jabr Sulagh barely escaped assassination on Wednesday. (He is in charge of the national police force).

Guerrillas killed two US Marines.

Al-Zaman says that the security situation has gotten so bad in Mosul, with constant kidnappings and violence, that provincial governor Kashmulah has decreed that ordinary citizens may carry around a pistol or even a Kalashnikov machine gun.

The US State Department in its annual Human Rights report noticed these problems with the new Iraqi government’s human rights record (remember that the Bush administration presided over the installation of this government):

pervasive climate of violence
misappropriation of official authority by sectarian, criminal, terrorist, and insurgent groups
arbitrary deprivation of life
torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment
poor conditions in pretrial detention facilities
arbitrary arrest and detention
denial of fair public trial
an immature judicial system lacking capacity
limitations on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association due to terrorist and militia violence
restrictions on religious freedom
large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs)
lack of transparency and widespread corruption at all levels of government
constraints on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)
discrimination against women, ethnic, and religious minorities
limited exercise of labor rights

The report is detailed and worth reading.

Al-Bayyinah reports [Ar.] that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is encouraging the United Iraqi Alliance [Shiite religious parties] to maintain its unity and to abide by its internal party rules. He also called for national unity and for keeping the door of dialogue open. He was visited in Najaf by representatives of the two branches of the Da`wa Party (Shiite religious plaform).

KarbalaNews.net carries a communique from Sistani’s office, saying that the Grand Ayatollah is maintaining his neutrality on the issue of the prime ministerial candidate.

KarbalaNews.net reports that [Ar.] Muqtada al-Sadr, the young Shiite nationalist cleric, held a press conference in which he said that he was confident that the crisis between the United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdistan Alliance over the candidacy of Ibrahim Jaafari for prime minister could be quickly resolved.

Another member of the UIA, Baha’ al-Din Fayyad, said that the first session of parliament might be held next Sunday, but that it would be pro forma and would not take up the issue of who should be prime minister.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat maintains that in a meeting last month between Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and the leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, it came up that Iran was exerting pressure for the United Iraqi Alliance to nominate Ibrahim Jaafari as its candidate for prime minister, and that the Sadr Movement threatened violence if the candidate was Adil Abdul Mahdi of SCIRI.

This report doesn’t make sense to me. Baztab, an Iranian newspaper close to the hardliners, was clearly rooting for Abdul Mahdi, and SCIRI is closer to Tehran than Jaafari’s London-based branch of the Da`wa Party.

Open Source Center paraphrases of the Iraqi Press for 7 March:

‘ Al-Bayyinah on 7 March carries on the front page a 170-word report citing Iraqi Al-Tawafuq Front candidate Iyad al-Samarra’i confirming negotiations with Unified Iraqi Coalition and Al-Sadr trend on the next government . . .

Al-Bayyinah on 7 March carries on the front page a 100-word report on the survey conducted by the newspaper which showed that 60 percent of polled Iraqis support Al-Ja’fari. . .

Al-Bayan carries on the front page a 700-word report on the pro-Al-Ja’fari demonstrations in Baghdad and other governorates yesterday, 7 March. . .

Al-Da’wah on 7 March carries on the front page a 75-word report that Karbala’s inhabitants staged a demonstration supporting Ibrahim al-Ja’fari.

Al-Da’wah on 7 March carries on the front page a 150-word report citing Unified Iraqi Coalition member Husayn al-Shahristani saying that political forces’ attempts to replace Ibrahim al-Ja’fari have nothing to do with democracy. . . [Shahristani is close to Grand Ayatollah Sistani].

Al-Furat carries on the front page a 350-word report citing well-informed political sources saying that disputes continue between political forces with regard to the formation of the next government, which can be solved by an agreement between Unified Iraqi Coalition and Iraqi Al-Tawafuq Front. . . [I.e. Shiite fundamentalists and Sunni Arab fundamentalists . . .]

Al-Zaman carries on page 2 a 100-word report citing Muzaffar Arsalan, chairman of Iraqi Turkoman Autonomy Organization, demanding autonomy for Turkomans. . .

Al-Sabah al-Jadid carries on page 2 a 100-word report citing a source at Maysan Governorate Council saying that the council has decided to suspend its relations with British troops until the troops hand over the names of the soldiers who abused Iraqis. . .

Al-Basa’ir carries on the front page a 120-word report citing chairman of Iraqi Islamic Party accusing Iran of fuelling sectarian sedition and a civil war in Iraq. . .

Al-Basa’ir carries on page 2 a 600-word report that Association of Muslim Scholars took part in the “Solidarity with Iraqi resistance” festival in Amman. . .

Al-Hawzah runs on page 1 a 200-word report on the attacks against Shiites in Kirkuk by takfiris [“excommunicators’].

Al-Furat carries on page 2 a 270-word report citing a security source at Diyala Police saying that US “occupation” forces arrested two persons during a raid on Al-Sadr Bureau in the governorate.

Al-Mu’tamar carries on page 2 a 320-word report citing construction and housing minister saying that construction projects in Al-Anbar have stopped due to deterioration in security in the governorate. . .

Al-Basa’ir carries on the front page a 150-word report that US and Interior Ministry forces launched raids on Zawba’ tribes in Al-Fallujah.

Al-Basa’ir carries on the front page an 80-word report citing an authorized media spokesman for Association of Muslim Scholars denouncing the US raid on Al-Dulu’iyah since 3 March.

Al-Basa’ir carries on page 2 a 200-word report citing a source at Interior Ministry saying that Al-Ja’fari’s government has decided to arrest all Sunni religious clerics who call on people to “resist occupation”.

Al-Bayyinah on 7 March carries on page 4 a 120-word report citing Al-Sadr aide Hazim al-A’raji confirming that Al-Sadr trend has opened two bureaus in Baghdad to send back the Shiite families evicted following the Samarra bombings to their districts.

Al-Bayyinah on 7 March devotes all of page 5 to a report on the sufferings of Shiite refugees who were evicted from Abu-Ghurayb and other Sunni districts following the Samarra bombings. . .

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