Maliki/US Military Rift over Bombing Sadr City
33 Dead in Iraq bombings, Assassinations
Al-Hayat writes: A series of bombings shook Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 24 Iraqis. AP is reporting Iraq-wide deaths at 33, with twice that number wounded. Reuters has details of the violence, which including bombings at Shurja Market and a bank robbery netting $4000.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki criticized the American military for its bombing of Sadr City, saying that this attack on the Mahdi Army could endanger the reconciliation process.
Wire services reported that al-Maliki said,
‘ “It was conducted without the agreement of the government and it does not match the current national reconciliation environment in the country.”
The raid on Monday left three people dead, including a child. The US insisted it had backed up Iraqi forces to detain “individuals involved in torture cell activities”. ‘
His statement specifically deplored the killing of civilians in the operation. Al-Hayat gives more of al-Maliki’s speech: “I had ordered that no operation should be implemented in Sadr City because we in the government are preparing for a national reconciliation effort, as a way of strengthening the political process, especially since all the diverse political parties will have the opportunity to reply.”
Maliki was elected prime minister with support from members of parliament loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army.
7,000 US troops have been deployed in Baghdad in a new effort to impose security on the turbulent city and to put an end to the militias that rule much of it. Thus the attack on the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr in East Baghdad. The US will also attempt to curb the Badr Corps paramilitary of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Washington sees both militias as tied to Iran. (Cole: Badr yes, Mahdi Army, not so much.)
US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad expressed his belief that Iran will exploit the war in Lebanon to spread more turmoil in Iraq, and charging that there are Iranian forces in Iraq. (Cole: Neither allegation makes any sense. Iran wants a stable, Shiite-majority Iraq with the Shiites in charge. It is the Sunni Arabs who are trying to destabilize the situation. And, I’ll believe there are Iranian forces in Iraq when Iranian military men are captured there. If Badr Corps is so pro-Iranian, why would Tehran need to risk putting Persian speakers into Iraq. Makes no sense.)
Two companies of guerrillas attempted recently to cut off Baghdad from its southern, Shiite hinterland by cutting the road between the southern Shiite city of Kut and Baghdad. The guerrillas were tracked down and 45 of them killed by Iraqi police. Two survived to be captured.
Borzou Daragahi of the LA Times argues that the plan of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim for a 9-province provincial confederacy in the Shiite south of Iraq is tantamount to a partition plan. He reports that Shiite politicians are increasingly talking about the need for such a partition, and are thinking of the Tigris as a border that could demarcate Sunni Arab West Baghdad from Shiite East Baghdad. (Shiites should be careful, since this plan implies that they would lose Kadhimiyah). Al-Hakim clearly envisages deploying the Badr Corps along the resulting Sunni-Shiite border to stop the infiltration of bombers, just as the Kurdish Peshmerga functions as the army of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Daragahi is correct that the Shiites of the south envy the Kurds’ regional unity and semi-autonomy.
The Sunni Arabs will never, ever accept being reduced to a minority with no access to Iraq’s oil resources (which are mainly in the Shiite south and the Kurdish north), and any such partition is a recipe for a long drawn out civil war.
I have a sinking feeling that Iraq is over with, and that we’re just standing around watching the train wreck unfold.
Basra municipal government has collapsed to the point where the garbage is not being collected, and diseases are spreading. Al-Zaman says that Prime Minister Maliki formally withdrew from the Basra governing council the security portfolio.
The August GQ carries a very important piece by Jeffrey Gettleman of the NYT on how security in Baghdad has collapsed in the past year and a half.