25 Dead in Sectarian Strike at Nahrawan
Curfew in Baghdadd
Sunni Arab guerrillas attacked Shiites in the town of Nahrawan. Some 25 are feared dead, with bodies being pulled out of a factory and some found in a field.
I would say that a communal attack of this scale is symptomatic of civil war.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari imposed a daytime curfew on the 6 million people of Baghdad for Friday, to discourage them from going to Friday prayers sermons, where sectarian passions might have run high. It includes a ban on driving vehicles.
In contrast, in Basra followers of Muqtada al-Sadr held a joint prayer service with Sunnis in the largest Sunni mosque, with 3,000 attending. Muqtada has called for Sunni-Shiite unity on a platform of expelling the Americans, but his followers are suspected of some of the worst excesses in the sectarian violence of the past week and a half.
I’d say it is no more than a rumor. but a Turkish newspaper is reporting that Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari asked Turkey to send troops to Iraq to replace the Americans on his recent trip to that country. A Bulgarian news wire says,
“According to the information the proposal was made by Jaafari to the Turkish Prime Minister Reccep Tayip Erdogan during the Iraqi Prime Minister’s visit to Ankara on Tuesday. According to the publication Jaafari has said: “The USA failed. USA cannot establish peace in Iraq. Only Turkey could do this.” ‘
Turkey might be tempted. Although all sides are now denying a statement attributed to a Czech diplomat that Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told him that if Coalition troops withdrew, Iraq would fall to the “Iranian model” (i.e. clerical, Islamist government), which then might spread to Turkey. Whether Gul said this out loud is irrelevant. Certainly the Turkish elite is very worried about Iranian hegemony in Iraq and Iranian and Iraqi Shiite influence spreading in Turkey. Turkey has hard line Sunni Islamists who hate Shiism but take some inspiration from Iran. About 20 percent of Turks are Alevis, a Shiite sect that is heterodox, often secular, and not mostly interested in Iranian style clerical Shiism. But similar heterodox groups among Iraqi Turkmen in the north in the past two decades became followers of the Sadr Movement, and the Turks may worry that the Alevis could go in that direction. Turkey offered to station troops in Anbar Province a couple of years ago, but that move was blocked by the Kurds.
If these rumors about the substance of Jaafari’s recent visit to Turkey had reached Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi Kurdish leader and current president, it would explain his vehement outburst and attack on Jaafari, and the subsequent Kurdish-Sunni attempt to get Jaafari dumped as candidate for Prime Minister in the new government.
On Thursday, 33 people were killed in guerrilla violence, including in a bomb attack on a Shiite area.
‘ In one of the bloodiest attacks on Thursday, at least five people were killed and eight wounded when a car bomb went off in the Shiite-dominated Sadr City district of Baghdad, a security official said.
“A car loaded with explosives was parked not far from a market in Sadr City,” the official said.
In another attack in Baghdad, four people were killed and 11 wounded, mostly women, when a bomb exploded in a market in the mixed south-eastern Jaafaraniya district, an Interior Ministry official said. ‘