50 Kidnapped Violently
AMS Pulls out of Reconciliation Conference
Megan Stack* poignantly describes the scene where 50 Iraqis were brazenly kidnapped by men in camouflage uniforms at a bus station in Baghdad on Monday. The wealthy among them will be identified and held for ransom. Some persons kidnapped eventually are released, others are killed.
One Italian soldier was killed and 3 wounded, one very seriously, when their vehicle was bombed in southern Iraq. Italian withdrawal from Iraq is top on the agenda of a meeting of PM Prodi with British PM Blair.
Reuters reports 10 Iraqis killed around the country, some of them guerrillas, in the ongoing war.
It does not mention another 10, reported by al-Zaman. These were university students shot down in the Dora district of Baghdad.
Al-Zaman also reports the assassination of a municipal council member in Mansur, a district of Baghdad.
I count 26 or so dead in political violence on Monday.
Al-Zaman says that the deputy governor of Najaf, Abdul Husain Aytan, has imprisoned hundreds of former members of the Baath Party during the past two weeks. Aytan is a member of the Badr Corps Shiite paramilitary.
The US military in Ramadi fired four artillery shells at the train station, attempting to take out guerrillas who were off-loading weaponry there. AP says, “A hospital official, Dr. Omar al-Duleimi, said American forces killed five civilians and wounded 15. The U.S. military said the mission had “positive effects on the target,” but it denied that civilians were killed or injured in the city west of the capital. ” I suppose 5 persons are dead and 15 are wounded, but that it is unclear if they were civilians or guerrillas. Anyway, that guerrillas might even think they could openly offload weaponry at the train station in Ramadi tells me all I need to know about the state of security in the city.
The Association of Muslim Scholars again warned the Maliki government not to launch a major Fallujah-style assault on Ramadi.
The Association of Muslim Scholars, a hard line Sunni religious group, says it will not participate in the Arab League-sponsored national reconciliation conference to be held on June 20. This withdrawal is very bad news if the point of the conference is to reach out to the persuadable in the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement, since the AMS clerics appear to have lines of communication into that group. The Arab League is pushing for the conference.
The 24,000 Palestinians in Baghdad, who lost their own homeland in 1948, are being targeted and forced to flee once more. Almost all Sunni Arabs supported the Baath at one time, so if that is the reason for targeting the Palestinians, then most Sunni Iraqis and large numbers of Shiites should be targeted, as well. The dilemma of the Palestinians, who labor under continued Israeli occupation in the West Bank and often in refugee camps elsewhere, seems never to end.
Doug Thompson maintains that field commanders are telling the Pentagon brass that the Iraq War is lost, and that they cannot contain the civil violence leaving some 1000 Iraqis dead per month.
The terrible stress of fighting in Iraq may help explain the rage and loss of control among US troops that led to the Haditha massacres.
This lyrical exploration of the geopolitical implications of the renewed militarism, and friendship for Bush, of Japan’s Prime Minister Koizumi is well worth reading.
Initially by mistake misattributed to Borzou Daragahi. Apologies to Ms. Stack.