Khalilzad meets al-Hakim
Reuters reports several bombs and attacks in Baghdad, as well as in Baqubah, Khalis, Kirkuk and elsewhere, leaving over a dozen dead. Significant items include the assassination of 3 members of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Militia in Baqubah; the blowing up of a Sunni shrine in Tikrit; and a mortar attack on the offices in Baghdad of the National Dialogue Council (Sunni Arab neo-Baathists). [NDC leader Salih Mutlak said last summer that you couldn’t find a better party for Iraq than the Baath).
US ambassador in Baghdad Zalmay Khalilzad met Tuesday with the Shiite clerical leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim to discuss ways of defusing the current crisis.
Al-Hayat reports [Ar.] that leaders of the Sadr Movement met with President Jalal Talabani and other Kurdish leaders in an attempt to resolve the current crisis over the formation of a new government. Fadil al-Shara` suggested that the Kurds accept Ibrahim Jaafari as prime minister “as long as he is monitored by parliament and by the Sadr bloc.”
Faraj al-Haydari of the Kurdistan Democratic Party said that the Kurdistan Alliance position, that Jaafari must go, has not changed.
ABC News quotes retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, a former military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina, on how Iraq is already in a low-intensity civil war, and how Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s continued state of denial about this is putting the US in danger:
‘ “We’re in a civil war now; it’s just that not everybody’s joined in,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, a former military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina. “The failure to understand that the civil war is already taking place, just not necessarily at the maximum level, means that our counter measures are inadequate and therefore dangerous to our long-term interest.
“It’s our failure to understand reality that has caused us to be late throughout this experience of the last three years in Iraq,” added Nash, who is an ABC News consultant.
Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told ABC News, “If you talk to U.S. intelligence officers and military people privately, they’d say we’ve been involved in low level civil war with very slowly increasing intensity since the transfer of power in June 2004.”
Ayhan Simsek surveys the whole range of Turkey’s concerns in Iraq. They not only include worries that Kurdistan might become independent and draw in Turkish Kurds but also fear of Iranian political Islam having an impact on Turkey itself. Turks who hold this view see Iraq as a buffer between Iran and Turkey, and fear that the buffer is breaking down.
Kofi Annan says that two things are keeping back an expansion of UN activities in Iraq: no nation will transport UN workers inside Iraq by plane, and the general violence that plagues the country. All I can say is that this situation is pretty pitiful.