Guerrilla Violence Kills 48
Al-Maliki May announce Government without Interior, Defence
On Monday morning, guerrillas in the south launched a mortar barrage of 40 shells against the British Abu Naji base near Amara, wounding 4 British soldiers. Two had been killed by a roadside bomb on Saturday. This sort of operation strikes me as likely to have been carried out by ex-Baathist former Iraqi military rather than by a ragtag Shiite militia like that of Shaikh Ahmad al-Fartusi.
In one of the worst days of the Iraqi civil war this year, bombings, shootings and firefights had left around 48 dead on Sunday in Iraq, and some 70 wounded (-al-Sharq al-Awsat). Guerrillas set off two car bombs on the road to the airport, killing 14 persons and wounding 6 others. Other carbombs in the capital killed 12. The convoy of Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari was bombed, killing five of his bodyguards, but he was not in the motorcade.
Six small Shiite shrines around Baqubah were targeted for bombing. There was also fighting in the northern city of Mosul. Violence in the Shiite shrine cities is always very dangerous, so this item is alarming: “Suspected insurgents wearing police uniforms kidnapped five Iraqis from two homes in Karbala. Police also found the bodies of five Iraqis who apparently had been kidnapped and killed by death squads . . .”
The Hartford Courant reveals that the US military has deployed soldiers to Iraq that it knew to have mental problems.
Iraq’s prime minister-designate, Nuri al-Maliki, is coming up against a deadline to form his government. (Monday is the five-month [sorry for the earlier typo] anniversary of the December 15 elections, and there is still no government!) Al-Hayat is reporting that [Ar.] he may handle this problem by announcing a government that is mostly formed, but keeping the Defense and Interior portfolios for himself until he can appoint incumbents that are free of ties to militias and are also backed by parties he wants in his coalition. Al-Zaman says that Kurdish MP Mahmud Osman calls this step a clear sign of failure, since the security issue should have been settled and is the number one problem facing Iraqis.
The Fadhila Party reaffirmed its decision to leave the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite coalition. Fadilah has 15 seats in parliament. The party had insisted on the ministry of petroleum but that seems likely to go to Husain Shahristani, a confidant of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, or possibly to technocrat and experienced oil man Thamir Ghadban. [Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that the oil industry favors Ghadban for his experience, but admits that Shahristani is decisive and might end smuggling]. This desertion leaves the UIA unable to form a government unless it makes a permanent alliance with some other bloc and always pleases it. The Kurds are available, but will exact a heavy price.
The commercial-supported media in the United States have given us a sanitized war. We almost never see images of the wounded on television, or even just blood. HBO is about to do a special on the military Emergency Room in Iraq. For those who have HBO, it may not be pleasant, but it will be closer to reality.
The ancient Iraqi Christian community is shrinking with alarming rapidity, given Iraq’s insecurity and the targetting of Christians by guerrilla fighters. Many evangelicals in the US had hoped to use the Iraq War as leverage to convert large numbers of Iraqis to Protestant Christianity. Ironically, what they may have accomplished is instead a massive drop in the number of Iraqi Christians resident in the country.
Of course, most US evangelicals have never given a fig for indigenous Middle Eastern Christians, except as a mission target, because these locals are not evangelicals. [strikethrough: Calvinists].
Fawaz Gerges asks, “What does History Bring to the Study of Jihadism?” He demonstrates how important it is. Gerges is among our best authors on this subject, using the Arabic primary sources with agility and subtlety. His books are essential reading.
Tariq al-Hashimi of the Iraqi Accord Front (Sunni religious) called Sunday on the guerrilla resistance in Iraq to talk directly to the Americans. I saw him on Aljazeera. He said that they did not have to give up their resistance, which is a sacred right of Iraqis, in order to talk. Something is going on, since Harith al-Dhari of the hard line Association of Muslims Scholars was pushing for recognition of the guerrillas on Saturday, as well. See the translation below.
The following article from al-Sharq al-Awsat was translated by the USG Open Resource Center. Note that al-Dari is another way of transliterating al-Dhari:
‘ Head of Association of Muslim Scholars Denies Group is ‘Voice of Resistance’
Report by Muhammad al-Shayadimi in Casablanca: “Al-Dari says we do not speak on behalf of the resistance but we seek to get its official recognition; the head of the Association of Muslim Scholars tells Al-Sharq al-Awsat we have no connections with the leaders of the former Ba’thist regime”
Al-Sharq al-Awsat (Internet Version-WWW)
Sunday, May 14, 2006 T01:02:34Z
(Sunni) Shaykh Harith al-Dari, secretary general of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, has denied that the Association is the “spokesman” of the so-called “resistance”. He also denied that there a sectarian war is raging in Iraq between the Sunnis and the Shias. He said that the Sunnis are being targeted by quarters that seek to muddy the climate between them and the Shias. In an interview with Al-Sharq al-Awsat in Casablanca where he recently attended the Pan-Arab Conference, Al-Dari said, “The voice of the Association (of Muslim Scholars) is not a voice that speaks on behalf of the resistance. It is the voice that speaks on behalf of all of Iraq and on behalf of all those that reject the occupation. Since rejection of the occupation is expressed by mouth, hand, and heart, we express these above-mentioned voices”. Shaykh Al-Dari emphasized that they seek “the official recognition of the resistance because it has become a reality. These days the occupation is expanding its contacts to meet and speak with its leaders. Therefore, this resistance should not be disregarded. It should be recognized as an effective party that has its weight in Iraq. The problems of Iraq cannot be resolved without listening to the resistance and involving it in the affairs of the country”.
On whether the “resistance” operates on the basis of clear fatwas issued by the religious scholars or whether on the basis of its own individual opinions, Shaykh Al-Dari said, “The resistance consists of various factions and trends. Some – that constitute the majority – consult the religious scholars and some do not and operate on the basis of a trend that they believe in and that they apply in their deeds. We ask God to unify them”. On the accusations against this “resistance” that it targets innocent civilians in its car bombs and explosion in the markets and the streets, Al-Dari said, “This is not correct; it intends to distort the image of the resistance. This started since the resistance emerged against the occupiers that did not think that there is a tax to be paid for their occupation. We the Association of Muslim Scholars view the resistance as an honorable movement that is doing its national and jihadist role in a correct manner. It targets only the occupation and those that are 100% agents. As for talking about terrorism against the innocent, I say that there are several sources for this terrorism. The primary source of this terrorism is the occupation. There are also the governments that were formed by this occupation and that are in charge of the security policy. These governments serve these policies and their forces and resources are used to hunt down those that oppose the occupation either in collaboration with the occupation or on their own. Therefore, we consider them as part of the terrorism that exists in Iraq. Other sources of this terrorism also are the militias of the parties that participate in forming the government and the foreign US, British, and Israeli intelligence services and the intelligence services of other countries in the region that are wreaking corruption in the Iraqi arena. These are the ones that are committing these wicked deeds”.
Answering the charges that some are making that he has connections with some leaders of the former Ba’th Party, Al-Dari said, “Those who say such things know very well our position on the former regime and our relationship with it. The correct thing to say is that these people who accuse us have close relations with the former regime and they are in contact with this regime overtly and covertly. But, as the common saying goes, “They accuse us of what they are guilty of”. On what is being said about a covert war between the Sunnis and Shias, Al-Dari said, “Many people wonder whether there is indeed a covert war between the Shias and Sunnis in Iraq. I say there is no war between between the Sunnis and the Shias but there is a different kind of war that is being launched by forces that have an interest in fragmenting Iraq’s unity by fomenting sedition among its people. These are political forces that have their own interests and agendas. Some of these interests are purely selfish while others are influenced by external forces on them. Therefore, they seek to foment sedition and incite one side against the other in order to create a sort of conflict and hatred. This is obvious in several Iraqi towns, especially in Baghdad, Basra, and other towns”.
Asked about what the Sunnis in Iraq are being subjected to by other elements that are considered to be followers of Shiite groups, Al-Dari said, “Terrorism does not differentiate between Shias and Sunnis although what the Sunnis have been exposed to for some time is dominant in the Iraqi scene. When the occupation failed to hit the resistance it resorted to inciting one side against another. It attacked this or that sect to incite reactions that they think would lead to sedition and to clashes among the sons of the same homeland and thus achieve their desired end, namely, the fragmentation of Iraq on one hand and giving the occupation the upper hand on the other”.
(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic — Influential Saudi-owned London daily providing independent coverage of Arab and international issues; editorials reflect official Saudi views on foreign policy) ‘