50 Dead in Violence
Jaafari Refuses to Step Down
* The US announced the deaths of 5 US soldiers, 3 killed by a guerrilla bomb on Tuesday and another two on Sunday.
* Guerrilla violence killed 23 Iraqis on Tuesday. Reid writes, “A car bombing killed five people, and three others died when a bomb exploded on a minibus, both attacks in Shiite areas of the capital, police said.”
*Police found 24 corpses, mostly in Baghdad, the victims of sectarian reprisal killings.
Reid also writes about the rivalry between clerical politicians Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and Muqtada al-Sadr within the United Iraqi Alliance, which is in part responsible for the political gridlock. A government has still not been formed, and the Iraqi government appears basically not to be functioning, according to Louise Roug of the Los Angeles Times.
Al-Zaman /AFP report [Ar.] that sources in London from the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) are saying that Ibrahim Jaafari has absolutely refused to step aside as candidate for prime minister of the United Iraqi Alliance. One way to unseat him now would be to have another internal party vote, but he might win that again. Another way would be for the Iraqi parliament to elect a president, and for the president to appoint Jaafari prime minister, and then for Jaafari to lose a vote of no-confidence in the Iraqi legislature. The problem with that scenario is that no government can be formed and no president selected without a 2/3s majority in parliament. That cannot be had without the UIA, and the UIA won’t instruct its MPs to vote for a president who will turn around and try to depose the UIA prime minister. Catch-22.
Iraq will not attend a meeting of neighboring foreign ministers in Cairo to protest the recent remarks by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak criticizing Shiites for being more loyal to Iran than to their own countries. Iraqi Sunni cleric Harith al-Dhari of the fundamentalist Association of Muslim Scholars expressed regret that Iraq would not attend.
Mubarak either through a blunder or deliberately has put off the table any possibility for the deployment of Egyptian troops in Iraq under an Arab League or United Nations banner. The Iraqi Shiite majority would never easily have accepted them, except out of desperation. Now they will never accept them under any circumstances. I almost think Mubarak deliberately set out to anger the Shiites to produce this result. He is now off the hook, and if Cheney has been pressuring him to send a division to Iraq, that pressure will cease.
Infant mortality in Basra is up by 30% since the end of the Baath regime, according to some health officals in the southern, largely Shiite port city. This is where we came in. We used to all complain that US sanctions on Iraq were killing babies and children by denying them medicine. The sanctions are long gone. But now political insecurity and government paralysis and civil war are producing even worse results.
If the victory in Italy’s elections of Romano Prodi survives the challenge to a recount launched by Silvio Berlusconi, Prodi will almost certainly pull Italy’s troops out of Iraq on a short timetable. The likely result, it seems to me, is that Nasiriyah will be taken over by the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr.
Some Turkish politicians and journalists are accusing the United States of sheltering terrorists in northern Iraq, i.e. the PKK or Kurdish Worker’s Party, a violent group that has fought along guerrilla action against Ankara.
What a fall from 9/11, when the US was seen as the archetypal victim of terrorism. Now its friends call it an enabler of terrorists. And, don’t forget about those Mojahedin-e Khalq fighters at Ashrafiyah Base in Iraq, Iranian terrorists of whom the Pentagon just doesn’t seem able to let go.