Over 55 Killed, Including 25 in Sadr City Bombings
Iraq to Ask UN to Withdrew US Troop Immunity
Guerrillas detonated two huge car bombs in a Shiite neighborhood on Monday, killing 25 and wounding 41. The guerrillas set both off in the Talbiyah district of Sadr City, a stronghold of the Sadr Movement of Muqtada al-Sadr. Sunni Arabs accuse a Sadrist militia of having massacred 42 Sunnis in the al-Jihad district on Sunday.
Guerrillas set off two other bombs in the capital, as well. A bomb exploded outside a restaurant, killing 6 and wounding 28. A roadside bomb killed 5 policemen. Gunmen also killed two bodyguards of a judge.
Gunmen ambushed a bus in the Sunni Arab district of Amiriyah in the capital, killing 7 [late reports say 10].
That is 44 dead in the capital alone.
The Aljazeera report on the violence in the capital was particularly graphic and touching on Monday evening. You watched it and it was hard to see how this thing comes back together any time soon. You watched it and your heart broke.
CNN’s report was less graphic but no less depressing. Scroll down or keyword search to “watch how sectarian killings”
There were also bombings in Kirkuk, Hilla and Baquba. In Baquba, a member of the Diyala governing council was assassinated. The bombing at a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party office killed 5 and wounded 12. With bodies found in the river, and assassinations, the death toll for Monday in civil war violence was certainly more than 55.
Shaikh Mahmoud al-Sumaidaie of the Umm al-Qura Mosque (a hard line Sunni) has called for a summit and compact of honor among Iraq’s clergymen, to be held at Mecca. He suggested that Sunni and Shiite clerics gather in the holy city and revive the tradition of national unity against foreign occupation that characterized Iraq in the 1920s. He put forward the names of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and Muqtada al-Sadr as potential attendees.
The same source says that 200 fired policemen attacked the offices of the governor of Muthanna Province in Samawah and beat up some of the employees. The fired police have staged a number of demonstrations.
The Aljazeera program “Al-Mashhad al-`Iraqi” on Monday evening featured a debate between Shaikh Muhammad Bashar al-Faydi of the (hardline Sunni) Association of Muslim Scholars and Abu’l-Hadi al-Darraji of the (hard line Shiite) Sadr Movement. Shaikh Faydi reviewed all the help that the AMS proferred the Sadrists when they were fighting the Americans in spring-summer 2004, and expressed regret that relations had soured. He said that the Mahdi Army had now started attacking Sunnis. Shaikh al-Darraji maintained that it wasn’t the Mahdi Army that carried out massacres like that at the al-Jihad District, but possibly local militias or even (he hinted) foreign forces trying to divide Sunni and Shiite. He also said that he had not believed rumors that the 1920 Brigades guerrilla group was the armed wing of the Association of Muslim Scholars, and he was disappointed that Faydi had believed the rumors about the Mahdi Army. (Did Darraji just out Faydi?) Shaikh Faydi wasn’t buying it. Al-Darraji invited him to hold joint Sunni-Shiite prayer services.
I took away from the program that the prospect of any genuine pan-Islamic union against the US military presence has receded enormously in the past two years since I broached the possibility. The guerrilla movement, which is mainly led by secular Arab nationalists, ex-Baathists or post-Baathists in the main, has been trying to set Sunnis and Shiites at each other’s throats as a way of making the country ungovernable and forcing the US out. They seem to be on track to succeed in the former, at least. They won’t like their success.
The new Iraqi military still isn’t much of a force, mainly infantry with rifles and no heavy armor or artillery (or helicopter gunships). I don’t know how the US expects the Iraqis to accomplish anything if they don’t have any better equipment than the guerrillas.
Iraq will ask the United Nations to remove the immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts now enjoyed by US troops in Iraq. If it cannot get the UN Security Council to go along, the Iraqi government says it wants a major role in the investigation of the Mahumdiyah incident, where several US soldiers are accused of raping a 14 year old Iraqi girl, and killing her and her family after stalking her for a week.
A guerrilla group said it killed 3 US soldiers recently in revenge for the rape-murder.
The good news is that a majority of Jordanians considers Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to have been a terrorist, is glad to see him gone, and believes that it is unacceptable to offer his family condolences on his death. Only 15 percent view his organization as a legitimate resistance movement.
The bad news? Thirty percent of Jordanians are “angered” by his death, only 41 percent say that Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda is a terrorist group, and 77 percent see US military operations in Iraq as “terrorism.” Jordanian public opinion has shifted against the US with the bloody military occupation of Iraq and the Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip.
David Kaiser has some sobering thoughts about the likely consequences of a US strike on Iran being to mire America in an intractable asymmetrical struggle of the sort Israel faces in Gaza.