Shiite Pilgrims, US Troops Killed
Parliament Meets to no End
Two Shiite pilgrims were shot dead in Baghdad on Wednesday, among other killings and bombings in the capital, in Baqubah and in Anbar province, which include the killing of two US soldiers.
It is the season of Arba’in in Iraq, the 40th day commemoration of the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Pilgrims are walking to the holy city of Karbala, seat of Husayn’s tomb. They are in danger of being killed by Sunni Arab guerrillas seeking to provoke Sunni-Shiite violence. In order to deal with this threat, the US military is sending nearly 1,000 extra troops, with armor and tanks, up to Iraq from Kuwait. A Sunni politician told al-Hayat that because the United Iraqi Alliance [Shiite fundamentalist coalition] is not completely united behind Jaafari, it might be possible to have the matter settled in a meeting of the whole parliament. He said that if the UIA stickes with Jaafari, “He will fail . . .’
He said that the Sunni Arabs are not holdin things up in Iraq, but that they feel that the Shiites have decided instead to support their co-religionsts in Iran.
Al-Hayat quotes Fadil Mirani, the secretary general of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Massoud Barzani, as saying that the crisis over the nomination of Ibrahim Jaafari as prime minister has not ended. He maintained that the Americans do not want Jaafari to be put forward, “because he has misbehaved.” He said that the Americans are applying enormous pressure to form a national unity government.
The Iraqi parliament will meet on Thursday, but it won’t actually do anything. It will literally just meet. It won’t even choose a speaker of the house, as it is required to do by the constitution during its first session. How will it get away with this lapse? It will declare that the first session lasts . . . until a speaker is chosen.
Veteran journalist Bob Scheer looks at Bush’s fantasies about Iraq. Scheer, among the most clear-sighted of our journalists, was an early critic of the Vietnam War. His criticisms of the Iraq War and of the Bush administration appear to have gotten him fired from the Los Angeles Times, possibly because the owner wanted an exemption from the FCC allowing to own a newspaper and a television station in the same market, and did not want to anger te administration. He now edits Truthdig.com, for which I write.
Sidney Blumenthal is less charitable, dissecting what he calls the Big Lie of George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld on Iraq and the “war on terror,” contrasting their somewhat strange allegations with the more sober positions of their actual ambassadors and generals on the ground.
Question: Why aren’t more Democratic politicians talking about Bush’s Iraq fantasies and his big lie?
The Open Source Center translates a Kurdish article from Hawlati alleging that the Iranian government pressured the Kurdish leaders to accept Ibrahim Jaafari as prime minister. Jalal Talabani has long been a close client of Iran, and this report seems to me plausible.
If the report is true, the implication is that Iran was able to over-rule the United States. Reportedly, the Bush administration did not want Jaafari as PM.
‘ Iraqi Paper Says Iran Pressured Kurdish Leadership To Accept Al-Ja’fari
Unattributed report: “Iran pressurizes Talabani and Barzani to accept Al-Ja’fari, Al-Sadr militias threatens Kurds in Baghdad”; p 1
Wednesday, March 15, 2006 T19:57:29Z
Journal Code: 8278 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: OSC Translated Excerpt
Word Count: 221
As a new round of talks began between the political factions in Iraq, Iran started to pressurize the Kurdish leadership to support the re-election of Al-Ja’fari.
The Iranian Ambassador Kazimi Qumi held closed door sessions with Barzani and Talabani in the recent few weeks. He asked them to re-elect Al-Ja’fari for the post of prime minister.
A well informed source told Hawlati: “Iran dedicated all its resources (for re-election of Al-Ja’fari), and so they have been able to cool off Talabani and Barzani.” (Passage omitted) “The effect of Iran’s pressure was apparent, as all participants were calm regarding Al-Ja’fari’s re-election” in yesterday’s meeting at the home of the United Iraqi Alliance leader Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim.
In the context of forcing Kurds to change their stance on the re-election of Al-Ja’fari, many Kurds living in Baghdad received threats from Shiite militias. The threats said: “If the Kurdish leadership insists on their stance, you must leave your homes.” Moreover, Hawlati phoned many Kurdish families in Baghdad and they all confirmed these reports. They said: “A number of black dressed young armed men threatened to evict them if the Kurdish leadership insists on going up against Al-Ja’fari’s re-election.”
(Description of Source: Al-Sulaymaniyah Hawlati in Sorani Kurdish — weekly independent newspaper) ‘
Other Open Source center paraphrases of Iraqi news, for March 14:
‘ Al-Bayyinah [Shiite religious] carries on the front page a 100-word report citing special sources saying that Iraqi Al-Tawafuq Front is conducting a campaign to stop the political process. The report cites Adnan al-Dulaymi saying that Al-Sadr City’s and Al-Shu’lah’s inhabitants are the origin of evil . . .
Al-Bayyinah carries on page 7 a 1,300-word article by Salman al-Shammari commenting on the attempts of political forces to “deny” the majority’s electoral representation. . .
Al-Dustur publishes on the front page a 500-word report citing Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr calling on Arab Sunnis to stay away from Zarqawis and takfiris following the bombing in Al-Sadr City which claimed the lives of 50 persons and injured over 200 others. . .
Al-Mashriq publishes on the front page a 340-word report citing member of Unified Iraqi Coalition Ali al-Adib informing the newspaper that the sectarian war is underway but it is not widespread, adding that he has lost confidence in the security forces. . .
Al-Da’wah runs on the front page a 220-word report on Mujahidin-e-Khalq organization’s reaction to the recent deployment of Bulgarian forces in Ashraf Camp . . .
Al-Da’wah publishes on the front page a 200-word report citing SCIRI confirming that it will sue Iraqi newspapers for publishing false news about the SCIRI leader. . .
Al-Furat runs on the front page a 120-word report citing sources in Baghdad confirming that two of Ahmad Chalabi’s bodyguards were killed during accidental clashes with staff members of a security company in Al-Mansur district in Baghdad yesterday, 13 March. . .
Al-Mu’tamar publishes on the front page a 600-word report entitled “Al-Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr: Iraqis Do Not Want Civil War; Al-Mahdi Army Arrests Terrorist Trying To Attack Blood Donors.” . . .
Al-Ittijah al-Akhar on 11 March carries on page 3 a 70-word report on a statement by Ba’th Party warning of federalism aimed at fragmenting Iraq.
Al-Ittijah al-Akhar on 11 March carries on page 4 a 600-word report on the agreement between Al-Sadr trend and Association of Muslim Scholars to unify Shiite and Sunni Waqfs [pious endowments].
Al-Mada publishes on page 2 a 500-word report citing the minister at the British Foreign Office saying that the goal of his visit to Iraq is to find investment opportunities in oil and gas sectors. . .
Tariq al-Sha’b publishes on the front page 750-word report entitled “Large Number of British Tanks on Streets in Basra; Armed Attacks on Civilians; Defense Ministry Arrests 108 Insurgents.” The report outlines the recent security developments in Baghdad and other governorates. . .
Al-Zaman carries on page 5 a 300-word report citing Health Minister Undersecretary Sabah al-Husayni saying that he will file a lawsuit against IRAQNA Mobile Company for stopping all communication following the [Sadr City] bombings. . .
Tariq al-Sha’b publishes on page 2 a 100-word report citing Hasanyan al-Safi, member of Basra Advisory Council and chairman of Council’s Investigation Committee, confirming human rights violations in Al-Ma’qal Prison. . .
Al-Mada publishes on page 7 a half page report that 20 percent of Iraqi families are under the poverty line. . .
Al-Sabah al-Jadid publishes on page 4 a 300-word report on the cooperation between Iraqi and Iranian investors to build brick factori es and two plastic factories in Al-Nasiriyah Governorate. . .
Al-Zaman carries on the front page a 300-word report citing British state minister for foreign affairs saying: “We could not convince British companies to invest in Iraq due to the security situation”, during a press conference in Basra. (OSC plans to process this item) . . .
Al-Mashriq publishes on page 5 a 400-word report that Mosul has refused to supply Arbil with gas. . .