Najaf Bombing Kills 34, Wounds 122
A radical Sunni Arab group claimed responsibility Thursday for a horrific bombing in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, near the shrine of Ali. The bombing came during a holy day pilgrimage, and succeeded in deeply angering the inhabitants of Najaf.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat says the the Najaf police chief has revealed that the bomber’s aim was to blow up the shrine of Ali, the son-in-law and cousin of the Prophet Muhammad.
Look for expressions of Shiite anger over this incident, combining with anger over Israel’s war on the Shiites of Lebanon.
Shiite cleric and prominent political leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim called Friday morning for Shiite local militias to guard against terror attacks like this one:
‘ Shiite leader Abdelaziz Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, one of the pillars of the coalition government, demanded the right to form neighbourhood defence committees.
“The recurrence of such criminal acts confirms the perpetrators are takfiris (Sunni extremists), Baathists and the Saddamists who are aiming their dirty sectarian war against the descendants of the Prophet Mohammed,” he said. ‘
Al-Hakim’s plan is the opposite of the one urged by the United States, which is trying to clean out militias from key neighborhoods in Baghdad.
Meanwhile, a constitutional crisis. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had announced that he was stripping the provincial governing council of Basra of its security portfolio. Security is collapsing in the southern port city, oil exports through which account for the only income the Iraqi government has. The governing council has declared that it will not relinquish the security portfolio.
The stage is set for a contest between the central government’s armed forces, including the 10th Division of the army, and the Shiite militias that support the provincial government.