UIA Divisions Endanger Security in Shrine Cities
Iraqi politicians said on Wednesday that the visit to Iraq of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw had proved counter-productive. Positions actually hardened with the visit. Haider al-Abadi said, “All it’s doing is hardening the position of people who are supporting Jaafari . . . They shouldn’t have come to Baghdad.” Someone let Niall Ferguson know that this revival of empire business isn’t going very well; the “natives” appear remarkably lacking in deference, and the viceroys remarkably ineffectual.
PM Ibrahim Jaafari has said he will fight to the finish for his position as candidate for prime minister in the next government.
The LA Times thinks that the United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition of religious parties, might split over the issue of who should be prime minister.
al-Zaman/ AFP report that US helicopters brought a Marines unit to Karbala, which went into a home in the Askari quarter and arrested followers of Muqtada al-Sadr. The arrest comes in the context of heightened tensions in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala because of the competition between the Dawa Party and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq for the post of prime minister. Apparently security forces guarding the shrines are choosing up sides between Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and Muqtada al-Sadr. Several other clerical lineages have dropped in importance, including al-Khoei, Shirazi and Mudarrisi. The Islamic Action Council of Muhammad Taqi al-Mudarris did not win a single seat in parliament. US troops have gone on alert at reports of heightened tensions in the shrine cities.
After what happened in Samarra and its aftermath, we should all be nervous about tensions in shrine cities.
Al-Zaman says that death squads have shown up in Basra and Diwaniyah for the first time.
The UN is seeking help to stop the ongoing assassinations of Iraqi professors.