Guerrilla Violence Kills 58
Khalilzad Accuses Iranians
A suicide bomber detonated his payload outside the major crime unit of the Ministry of the Interior on Thursday, killing 15 policemen and 10 civilians and wounding 35 others.
Then guerrillas blew up a market outside a Shiite mosque, killing 6 and wounding 20, with women and children among the victims.
Six bodies were found in Baghdad, and 8 were found in Fallujah, victims of night-time raids, kidnappings and killings.
There were other bombings of and firefights with Iraqi police in Baghdad that killed several people.
Interior Minister Bayan Jabr announced on Thursday that only a few hundred foreign jihadis (he called them “al-Qaeda”) are left in Iraq, down from as many as 2000 in late 2005. The foreign element in the Iraqi guerrilla movement has long been over-estimated. Most of the violence is committed by Iraqi insurgents.
Thousands of Iraqi families have been internally displaced by sectarian violence or the threat of it.
Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari called on Thursday for the US and Iran to expedite the holding of joint talks on Iraq. He clearly believes that these bilateral negotiations on the limited subject of Iraq might lead to better US-Iranian relations on other issues, including the nuclear one. He said, ‘ “I hope the US and Iran will start their meetings and talks as soon as possible and the knot in relations between the two countries would be untied through the negotiations.” ‘
US Ambassador in Baghdad Zalmay Khalilzad accused Iran on Thursday of training and supplying both the Mahdi Army militia of Muqtada al-Sadr and elements of the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement. Neither allegation is plausible in context. Muqtada’s men are mostly nativist Iraqi ghetto youth who often do not like Persians. The major force in Iraq trained by the Iranians is the Badr Corps of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a relative American ally. It is bizarre that Khalilzad should tie Iran to the Mahdi militia but not bring up Badr. Then to turn around and say that Iran is helping the Sunni Arab guerrillas who are blowing up Shiite Iraqis is just self-contradictory and wholly implausible.
Worse, I can’t see why Khalilzad thinks the Iranians will talk with him while he is badmouthing them.
Al-Hayat reports that [Ar.] Adnan Dulaimi of the (Sunni fundamentalist) Iraqi Accord Front has pushed the dissolution of Shiite militias as a key issue in his negotiations with the (Shiite fundamentalist) United Iraqi Alliance on the formation of a national unity government. He says that American information suggests that entire units of the Interior Ministry are composed of militias. He said that the Americans have a responsibility to shut down the militias.
In response, Sadrist leader Amir al-Husayni said that the existence of the Mahdi Army militia is tied to the issue of the terrorist groups.”
Abdul Karim Muhammadawi, an old-time fighter against Saddam, warned that the existence of such organized militias is paving the way to civil war.