65,000 Displaced in Iraq
52 Killed and Another Shiite Shrine Blown Up
*Guerrillas set off three bombs in Baqubah, destroying the dome of the Imam Rida Shrine in that city. It honors the 8th of 12 Shiite Imams or divinely appointed vicars and relatives of the Prophet Muhammad. The major shrine for Imam Rida is in Mashad, Iran, but folk religion in Iraq has thrown up its own. Shiites are still outraged over the blowing up of the Askariyah Shrine in Samarra, the tomb of the 10th and 11th Imams.
*Guerrillas detonated a bomb at a market in the small town of Sabea al-Boor north of Baghdad, leaving 15 dead.
*Guerrillas launched a daring attack on a police convoy near Taji, made up of Shiites from Najaf who were picking up vehicles up north. They destroyed all the cars and killed 17 police officers.
Assassins killed the brother of Sunni Arab religious leader Tariq al-Hashimi, a leader of the National Accord Front.
The Washington Post adds of violence on Thursday:
‘ At least 18 other Iraqis were either killed by gunmen or found dead elsewhere in the country, according to police and news service reports. Among the dead were seven Sunni employees of a construction company in the Shiite-dominated southern city of Basra who were among 10 people kidnapped on Thursday morning. The other three workers were released, while an interpreter who had been working with British troops in Basra and had been kidnapped on Wednesday was found dead. ‘
Two US soldiers were announced killed.
A suicide bomber attacked a police station in Mosul on Friday morning, wounding at least 7.
Take a look at Mike Davis’s provacative history of the car bomb over at Tomdispatch.com.
The concerned Iraqi ministry announced Thursday that 65,000 more Iraqis have been displaced during the past two weeks by ethnic violence and reprisal killings. If this rate of displacement continued for a year, it would result in a million and a half Iraqis being made internal refugees! Iraq is heading toward Afghanistan-scale catastrophe.
Aljazeera is reporting that the Kurds are rejecting Sunni Arab calls for the next president of Iraq to be a Sunni Arab. The incumbent, Jalal Talabani, is a Kurd, and he hopes to retain his position.
Al-Hayat reports that [Ar.] Muqtada al-Sadr has called for greater unity with the Sunni Arabs so as to form a political front “on nationalist foundations.” He also called on his followers not to join in the struggle of “foreign parties (including Iran”) that are trying to settle their conflicts with the United States in Iraq.”
Muqtada al-Sadr signalled that he differs from Iranian policy in Iraq. His communique said that his followers should “decline to join in any Western plots designed to steal our security and unity, whether the prime minister is Jaafari or someone else.”
He added, “Do not join with foreign parties that desire to settle their accounts with America. Be responsible.” Responding to charges that his Mahdi Army is cooperating with Iranian intelligence to make trouble, Al-Sadr declared, “Creating problems for this reason is forbidden, rather it is religiously prohibited (haram).” He said anyone who did not obey him on this issue is a “rebel.”
Muqtada said that his refusal to obey any other party had sometimes led to political boycotts of him.
He called on the warring foreign militaries and paramilitaries in Iraq to “keep the Iraqi people far from your disputes.”
He denied the charge that his Mahdi Army had attacked Sunni mosques in the aftermath of the bombing of the Golden Shrine in Samarra.
He warned that Iraqi internal disputes “must not come to serve the joint Israeli and imperial enemy.”
He condemned plans to “put Shiites behind a moat” with the plan for loose federalism and for giving the Sunnis the security portfolio. This was a slam at Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. Muqtada favors a strong central government and hopes to entice the fundamentalist Sunnis into an alliance with his forces on pan-Islamic grounds.
After the United Iraqi Alliance failed yesterday in another attempt to settle the dispute over Ibrahim Jaafari’s candidacy for the prime ministership, Muqtada put the ball in his opponents’ court, calling on them to choose a speaker of the house and his two deputies, as well as a president and two vice presidents, before taking up the issue of the prime minister, “in accordance with the text of the constitution.”