Abdul Aziz al-Hakim to Tehran
Basra, Federalism, Iran’s Nuclear Program on Agenda
Shiite Iraqi clerical leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim is multi-tasking, according to al-Zaman [Ar.]/ AFP Al-Hakim first went to Najaf. There, he consulted with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and 2 other grand ayatollahs. Then he met with young Shiite nationalist Muqtada al-Sadr. Its sources say that the two discussed ways of calming the fighting and tensions between the Badr Corps fighters and the Mahdi Army in the southern port city of Basra, Iraq’s sole window to the outside world and sole secure avenue for the export of petroleum. Although PM Nuri al-Maliki declared a state of emergency and deployed the 10th Iraqi Army division there to man checkpoints, al-Zaman says that security has not notably improved. There are daily kidnappings and assassinations and firefights, it says. British installations are all taking mortar fire.
Then al-Hakim went off to Tehran. His trip has two purposes, according to the Baghdad daily. One is to mediate between the Americans and the Iranians over the nuclear crisis. The other is to explore with the Iranian government how it might be helpful in quieting Basra, and to consult with the ayatollahs in Tehran over al-Hakim’s plan to form regional confederacies out of provinces in the Shiite south of Iraq.
Car bombs in Baghdad on Monday killed 10 and wounded 51. Another 4 died in a bombing in Tal Afar in the north. Altogether 14 persons died in the ongoing civil war, not counting the 9 terror suspects killed at Baqubah. That would put total deaths in political violence at 23.
The Zarqawi terror group in Iraq has named a successor on the internet, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir. He may possibly be Abu Hamza al-Masri, though the Egyptian security forces have questioned whether such a person exists. The autopsy shows that Zarqawi died of lung damage from the air strike.
Jordanian authorities have arrested four members of the Jordanian parliament from the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood who went to Zarqa to mourn Zarqawi’s death with his family. The Jordanian regime and the majority of the Jordanian public despised Zarqawi as a terrorist who killed fellow Muslims in the hotel bombings in Amman. These four relatively radical MPs crossed a line in contemporary Jordanian politics and they will not get away with it.
US forces raided what they said was a terrorist safe house in Baqubah, killing 9 persons, and taking three wounded captive. Presumably the raid was prompted by information gleaned from hard disks and other sources captured when Zarqawi was killed. Two children were among the dead. This tells us only that the terror network is family-based, and the adult male fighters meet in homes where there are civilians.
At Tomdispatch.com: Former Diplomat John Brown Helps Bush Address the Nation.