At Least 35 Killed
Lebanon Shiite Leaders Criticize American Meeting
Roadside bombs targetting police in Baghdad and Iskandariyah killed five and wounded a dozen on Wednesday.
Guerrillas in Baghdad killed 15 Shiite pilgrims in separate attacks, and wounded scores others, as they returnted from the 40th day commemoration of the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Husain, the grandson of the Prophet, at Karbala.
Thousands of enraged and grief-stricken Shiites marched with the bodies of 17 slain pilgrims to the shrine at Kadhimiyah in the capital. Sectarian tensions have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Iraqis since Febrary 22.
11 bodies showed up dead and with marks of torture in the streets of Baghdad on Wednesday morning.
Emboldened by their success in aiding a prison break on Tuesday, on Wednesday guerrillas attempted a similar operation at Mada’in. This attack was foiled when US soldiers arrived and intervened. Later on, the US took over 70 suspects into custody. The guerrillas had killed 4 policemen and wounded 5.
The United Nations is expressing concern that since the Askariyah Shrine bombing of Feb. 22, the security situation has been in a downward spiral and wants the Iraqi government to do something about it.
‘ The United Nations today called on Iraq’s Government to urgently assert control over the security forces and all armed groups in the war-torn country, saying February’s attack on a shrine in Samarra had led to a worsening situation, resulting in hundreds of cases of killings, torture, illegal detention and displacement. ‘
KarbalaNews.net reports that the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance may put forward a plan to end the stalemate over forming a new government. The UAI now intends to put forward a total of 3 candidates for prime minister, and to have the decision among them made by votes of the full parliament.
Adnan Dulaimi, a leader of the fundamentalist Sunni parties, the Iraqi Accord Front on Wednesday condemned the proposal by Shiite cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the UIA, to establish two new regional confederacies in the south, on the model of Kurdistan.
Since Ibrahim Jaafari is also opposed to this loose federalism and regional confederacies, it is very odd that Dulaimi’s group is trying to sideline him in favor of a PM from al-Hakim’s party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. It would be more logical for Dulaimi and his party to ally with Jaafari. Go figure.
Al-Zaman reports [Ar.] that there are divisions in the Shiite world about the decision of the Iranians to meet with Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador in Baghdad, to discuss security for Iraq. The Lebanese Hizbullah and the influential cleric Muhammad Husain Fadlullah have condemned it. Lebanon, Qom and Najaf seem to have very different views of these talks. Ibrahim Jaafari also seems skittish about them.
Meanwhile, after having sought the talks with Iran about Iraq for months, the Bush adminsitration reacted churlishly to Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei’s agreement to them, with Scott McClellan raising doubts about his timing. Scott should ask Zal Khalilzad if his remarks were helpful to actual real diplomacy, about which this White House knows absolutely nothing. (Hint: You don’t have to negotiate with your friends; you have to negotiate with your enemies. And, the alternative to negotiation can often be a military quagmire.)
Al-Hayat reports that over 3,000 families have been victims of ethnic cleansing in Iraq, most of them Shiites.