4 Marines Die
Fadila Withdraws from Government
Friday’s guerrilla violence was relatively muted, though there were bombings and killings. The most serious incident was a firefight in Dhulu’iyyah between Shiite and Kurdish units in the Iraqi Army, which left 4 Iraqi soldiers and 7 civilians dead. Four Marines died when their tank rolled off a bridge into a canal.
A senior Sunni cleric was assassinated in Basra on Friday.
Al-Zaman says that anxiety has seized the Iraqi street over the continued inability of politicians to form a government.
The Fadila Party says it has withdrawn from the new Iraqi government because it is not being offered the ministry of petroleum. The party appears to believe that US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad is shaping the cabinet behind the scenes, and says it refuses to cooperate with this externally-directed process. This move is likely a piece of bargaining rather than a final disposition. The Fadila or Virtue Party is mainly popular in Basra, Iraq’s port city in the south, and follows Ayatollah Muhammad Yaqubi, a student of Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr. Although it stands in the line of Muqtada’s father, it does not follow Muqtada al-Sadr. Fadila has 15 seats in parliament, and it is unlikely that prime minister-designate Nuri al-Maliki can form a strong, independent government without it. He might still be able to rule, but only in coalition with the Kurdistan Alliance, giving the Kurds a veto over all government policy.
Joost Hiltermann argues that Kurdistan leaders need to move toward a pluralistic system, not try to construct a one-party state in Kurdistan. I’ve been hanging out with Joost at a conference the last couple of days and as always have been impressed by his long experience and perceptiveness.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that Association of Muslim Scholars’ leader Harith al-D\hari denies that he in close contact with the guerrilla movement. But, he says, he would like to see the guerrillas recognized.