60 Dead, including US Major, 2 British Soldiers, CBS Crew
Parliamentary Delegation Planned to Basra
The FCC will investigate the placing by the Bush administration of “video news releases” full of “good news” about Iraq on US television channels, passing them off as real news. Having defeated the Soviet Union, the US government seems increasingly intent on emulating its domestic security policies.
Wire services are reporting between 50 and 60 deaths from guerrilla violence in Iraq on Monday. The dead including two British members of a CBS camera crew embedded with the 4th ID in Baghdad along with a US army captain and an interpreter, and two British soldiers in Basra (another two British soldiers were injured).
Three massive bombs shook the area of Adhamiyah and Kadhimiyah [Kazimiyah] in northern Baghdad.
Adhamiyah, still from all accounts a Baath Party stronghold in the capital It was hit by an enormous car bomb, killing 12 and wounding 24. Then just a moment later, guerrillas detonated another car bomb, killing 5 and wounding 7.
Then guerrillas blew up a bus in neighboring Kadhimiyah, across the Tigris, killing 7 and wounding 9. Kadhimiyah has a major Shiite shrine.
The Iraqi parliament is concerned about the rising tensions in Basra. Conflicts among the Badr Corps of SCIRI, the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Fadhila or Virtue Party, threaten to break apart what is left of the United Iraqi Alliance, the biggest bloc in parliament, consisting of religious Shiite parties. Likewise, Sunnis in Basra, some of whom have received Saudi funding for militant activities, face increased ethnic cleansing at the hands of Shiites. Hundreds have fled to West Baghdad in recent weeks. Prime Minsiter Nuri al-Maliki may lead a delegation to the country’s second city, including representatives of major Shiite parties and also of the Sunni Arabs, in hopes of calming the fighting and assassinations.
Some of the fighting seems to me to be between Marsh Arab tribes loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr and the Badr Corps of the Supreme Council. An Iraqi from Basra told me that the rumors were that the Marsh Arabs were fighting “Iranian influence” in Basra. Badr is probably being coded as Iranian agents by the nativist Marsh Arabs.
Al-Zaman reports that the Fadhila or Virtue Party has expressed doubt that the new oil minister, Husain Shahristani, can resolve the fuel and electricity problems in Iraq, given that he is a technocrat with no popular base, and no particular experience in the petroleum sector. The Virtue Party, which is mainly based in Basra, had coveted the ministry of petroleum, and had had it in the previous, Jaafari government. It has withdrawn from the government coalition in disappointment and is conducting a work slow-down in the Basra petroleum industry in protest. Iraqi electricity supply has also faced substantial problems recently because of concerted guerrilla sabotage.
Al-Zaman reports from Riyadh that George W. Bush called Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Monday to discuss regional affairs, including The Palestinian question, Iraq, and Iran’s nuclear energy program.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that the British military attempted to hold a press conference on Monday, but that the local press refused to come in protest for an earlier incident, in which British troops fired on a Reuters cameraman.