Nearly 60 Dead, 80 Wounded in Bombings, Assassinations
34,000 Shiites Have Fled
Guerrilla violence killed 25 in Iraq on Monday, 10 of them in a coordinated set of 7 car bombs in the capital that also wounded 80.
Iraqi police discovered 32 bodies of recent recruits to the new security forces at two sites in Baghdad and another in Mosul on Monday. Some 15 of the bodies belonged to recruits from Ramadi. The victims were therefore Sunni Arabs. Guerrillas have focused on recruits from Sunni cities before.
The Washington Post adds, “In a statement Monday, a government agency said more than 5,600 Shiite families comprising nearly 34,000 people have fled their homes in mainly Sunni regions of Baghdad and central Iraq because of violence. “
Al-Hayat [Ar.] reports that MP Ali al-Adib of the United Iraqi Alliance (religious Shiite parties) said Monday that his bloc “supports the Sunni Iraqi Accord Front in its nomination of one of its members for the portfolio of minister of defense, rather than having a Kurd. The reason is that Iraq is a member of the Arab League, and as long as the presidency went to the Kurds, it is necessary to achieve balance through having an Arab figure in Defense, so that Iraq will reach out to the Arab World.”
Sources in the UIA said that US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad is trying to get the defense ministry for Hajim al-Hasani, the former speaker of the house, on the grounds that he is “a moderate Islamist and an independent Sunni personality” after his withdrawal from the Iraqi Islamic Party last year. Moreover, Khalilzad is held to believe, he enjoys the confidence of the Shiites and Kurds.
Actually, Hajim al-Hasani (al-Hassani) was expelled from the Iraqi Islamic Party in November of 2004 because he refused to resign from the government of Iyad Allawi, where he was minister of industry. The IIP had pulled out of the government to protest the US assault on Fallujah, which damaged 2/3s of the buildings in the city and killed hundreds if not thousands of innocent civilians. My guess is that the IIP doesn’t forgive al-Hasani for this, and Khalilzad’s championing of him will actually hurt.
Khalilzad is reported to be pushing Ahmad Chalabi or Qasim Da’ud, secular Shiites, for the post of minister of the interior. Neither has links to the fundamentalist Shiite militias, but both have enormous baggage in Iraqi politics.
Al-Hayat maintains that Chalabi still has the trust of the Sadr Movement and the Dawa Party, as well as a number of independents, and is seen as “the Pentagon’s man” in Iraq.
It says that Qasim Daud faces severe opposition from Sadr, who accuses him of collaborating with Washington. Daud was minister of state during the fighting in 2004 between US forces and Muqtada’s Mahdi Army, and took stances then for which the Sadrists have never forgiven him.