Huge Blast in Shiite Sadr City Kills 33
Muqtada Calls on al-Maliki to Boycott Washington over Israeli Assault on Lebanon
Guerrillas detonated a massive car bomb Sunday morning in Sadr City, Shiite East Baghdad, illing at least 33 persons and wounding 70. This bombing was an attempt to provoke the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr to further reprisal killings against Sunni Arabs.
On Saturday, the Associate Press reports that “Two American soldiers have been killed in Baghdad, seven Shiite construction workers were gunned down and five Sunni civilians were blown up, deepening the capital’s security crisis.” Iraqi officials [Ar.] put the death toll on Saturday around the country at 39, including 6 policemen or soldiers and 11 guerrillas.
The mayor of Samarra, a largely Sunni Arab city north of Baghdad, barely escaped an assassination attempt consisting of a suicide bombing carried out by one of his own bodyguards, a man who was related to him.
In Kut, a roadside bomb killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded 4 others. In Amara, gunmen shot down a policeman. These killings are in the south, in Shiite cities, and reflect a different dynamic than in the Sunni Arab areas. The perpetrators were likely violent splinter groups from the Sadr Movement or just Marsh Arab gangs fighting for turf.
There were four bombings in Baghdad, 2 of them targeting US military patrols in Canal Street in the east of the capital. A bombing in Hilla wounded several persons.
Patrick Cockburn reports that the city of Baghdad is “breaking up”, that the population is more terrified than he has seen them in all the time he has been going to Iraq since 1978, and that few shops are open and those are having fire sales.
Reuters reports that many in the Iraqi political elite have concluded that Iraq as a political project is finished.
All that is left is to divide up the country, including partitioning Baghdad, and try to hang on in the enclaves (Montenegro-ization). Or, others are fleeing the country. Game over, not yet declared as such by the referees.
BBC Monitoring translates form al-Sharqiyah Television:
‘July 21, 2006 Friday
HEADLINE: Iraqi Shi’i cleric Al-Sadr urges premier to cancel US visit
Text of report by Iraqi Al-Sharqiyah TV on 21 July
Delivering a Friday sermon at Al-Kufah Mosque [21 July], [Shi’i] Iraqi religious cleric Muqtada al-Sadr asked Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki not to visit the United States.
Al-Sadr said: “We heard that the prime minister is planning to head for America. We call on him not to do that.”
Al-Sadr added: “Do not go there for the sake of the two dear Al-Sadr martyrs and you will have our support.”
Al-Maliki, who is planning to visit the United States within the coming week, is scheduled to address a US Congress session on 26 July after meeting US President George Bush.
Source: Al-Sharqiyah TV, Baghdad, in Arabic 1400 gmt 21 Jul 06′
USG Open Source Center paraphrases Iraqi press reports, July 22:
‘ Al-Zaman carries on the front page a 300-word report entitled ‘Al-Mahdi Army Parades in Solidarity with Hizballah; Al-Sadr Demands Al-Maliki To Cancel His Visit to Washington. . .
Al-Mashriq carries on the front page a 1,200-word report citing Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr forbidding Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki from visiting the US. . .
Dar al-Salam on 20 July runs on page 2 a 250-word report entitled ‘Al-Rawi: Over 2,000 Professors Have Fled Country Since Occupation. . .
Al-Zaman runs on page 4 a 600-word report entitled ‘Al-Kut: Number of Displaced People 15,000. . .
Al-Mashriq carries on the front page a 120-word report citing the head of Security and Defense Committee in the Iraqi parliament accusing the US ambassador in Baghdad of hindering Iraqi security forces from confronting Saddam’s followers who are “implementing the sectarian violence game” in the country. . .
Dar al-Salam on 20 July carries on page 10 a 300-word report citing Dr Haydar al-Abadi, chairman of Displaced Persons Parliamentary Committee, confirming the displacement of 200,000 people in the last four months. . .
Dar al-Salam on 20 July publishes on page 6 a 1,500-word report citing travel agents and citizens confirming that growing numbers of Baghdadis are escaping from the city due to the deteriorating security situation and criticizing neighboring countries for their mistreatment. . .
Al-Zaman runs on page 5 a 500-word report on the statement issued by Salah al-Din Tribal Chiefs Council refusing Al-Sadr’s call for a million-people demonstration to repair the holy shrines in Samarra. . .
Al-Sabah carries on the front page a 270-word editorial by Chief Editor Falah al-Mish’al calling on politicians, religious clerics, and tribal shaykhs to play an important role in preventing a civil war by implementing Al-Maliki’s Initiative. . .
Al-Sabah carries on page 15 a 300-word report citing Al-Najaf deputy governor confirming that the electricity crisis is real in the governorate. He added that the governorate wishes to construct electricity stations that can provide 230 megawatts. . .
Torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was common, even after the revelations of torture and abuse became public.