9 US Troops Dead
Truck Bomb at Shiite Mosque
The CBC reports that 9 US troops were announced dead on Monday, the highest one-day total this year. Guerrillas killed 4, a flash flood killed the other 5.
Also on Monday, guerrillas detonated three massive car bombs in Baghdad, two of them in Shiite neighborhoods. A truck bomber killed 10 and wounded 38 at the Shurufi Mosque in the Shaab quarter, not far from the Mustafa Husayniyah where a US/Iraqi force killed a number of Shiites Sunday a week ago. Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that the total deaths in Iraq from guerrilla violence Monday was 27.
Two Shiites, including a Shiite clergyman, were killed by a bomb in Sadr City, and another bomb wounded 6 in Karrada.
In the southern port city of Basra, guerrillas killed six persons in a drive-by shooting.
The Sadr Movement is accusing the Kurdish Peshmerga paramilitary [Ar.] of being responsible for the killings at the Mustafa Husayniyah 10 days ago. Sadrist member of parliament Karim al-Bakhati also complained about the Americans taking security duties back away from Iraqi forces in the Rusafah district of Baghdad. He alleged that it was so that the US could promote fighting among sectarian groups more effectively. The US maintains that it is trying to combat sectarian death squads.
The US has turned over security to local Iraqi forces not only in some districts of Baghdad but also in Najaf, Karbala, Samawa and Amarah in the south. It has also turned security over to local tribal levies in western Mosul.
In a truly excellent article, Asher Susser of the Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University argues that a break-up of Iraq into sectarian or ethnic statelets would be a catastrophe for Israel, Turkey and Jordan (all three of which have good diplomatic relations with one another). Susser also points to the peripheralization of the Sunni Arabs, with Iran and its Shiite allies now increasingly central.
Susser’s article does not only represent the views of liberal Israeli academics. It has reached me from Americans briefed by Israeli intelligence and military officers that the latter are extremely worried that Iraq’s instability will blow back on Israel. It already has blown back on Jordan, of course.
The Guardian reports that: ‘ Iraq’s interior ministry is refusing to deploy thousands of police recruits who have been trained by the US and the UK and is hiring its own men and putting them on the streets, according to western security advisers. ‘
The Interior Ministry is dominated by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the party that Bush and Blair had Rice and Straw try to put in charge of the prime ministership, i.e. the Iraqi executive. Since SCIRI knows that it may not keep control of Interior in the new government, it has every reason to try to stack it and the national police force associated with it with party loyalists.
Sectarian violence is interfering with the schooling of children. The truancy rate in Iraq is up to about a third of students, who are afraid to come out because of the fighting. The proportion of students in Baghdad who do not go to school is even greater. In neighborhoods like Dora and Ghazaliyah, violence is endemic.
Austrian-Kurdish journalist Kamal Qadir was pardoned after having been sentenced to 18 months for “defaming” Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani. This is not good enough. For the Kurds to have a law making it criminal libel to criticize sitting politicians is contrary to the new Iraqi constitution, and is deeply contrary to any democratic system. If you can’t criticize politicians, and criticize them harshly, then you invite dictatorship.
If you want to know what a lot of people in the Middle East actually think of the US presence in Iraq and its saber rattling toward Iran, check out this article on a Kuwaiti columnist. And, the Kuwaitis are generally hardly the most critical of the US.