At least 26 Dead in Kirkuk Bombings
32 Bodies Found in Baghdad
Early reports said that a massive truck bombing downtown Kirkuk killed 19 and wounded 65. With three other bombings and other acts of violence, altogether 26 were said to have been killed and nearly 100 wounded in the northern oil city on Sunday. (The death toll is likely to rise, and al-Zaman is reporting three times this rate). Kirkuk is an object of rivalry among Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen (and Sunnis and Shiites). The bombing took place near the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the two major Kurdish parties, which suffered damage. The Kurds are trying to annex Kirkuk province to their regional confederacy, which already groups the provinces of Irbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah. Most Arabs and Turkmen reject this prospect. Kurdistan has also provoked anger among other Iraqis by refusing to fly the Iraqi national flag.
One of the bombers targeted the “Organization for Tolerance and Love” in Kirkuk, killing one woman and wounding other persons.
Al-Hayat says [Ar.] that Arab tribes in Kirkuk and its environs had renewed their calls for Saddam Hussein to be released from imprisonment as part of an over-all reconciliation program. Shaikh Abdul Rahman of the al-`Ubayd tribe said a number of Arab tribal leaders in Kirkuk had been targeted for assassination attempts, but that they were undeterred.
Another 34 bodies were found in Iraq on Sunday, 32 of them in Baghdad. They were victims of sectarian reprisal killings. The guerrilla groups battling in the capital appear to have switched to nighttime kidnappings and killings because car bombings are harder to pull off in the face of a big sweep by US and Iraqi troops. It is not clear that the death toll from the two tactics is different.
In Fallujah, a bombing and mortar strikes killed four and wounded 10.
Stories about Sunni Arab tribes in al-Anbar province taking on the radical Muslim fundamentalists began surfacing in al-Hayat newspaper last January. I didn’t find them plausible then and don’t much find them plausible now. Some tribes may develop feuds with some fundamentalists, but the likelihood of it amounting to much on a province-wide scale strikes me as low. Most Sunni Arab tribes are as opposed to the US presence as the fundamentalists. And most “tribes” aren’t any longer that well organized, efficient or powerful. Iraq is an urban country, where urban formations such as political parties are the leading forces. And, yes, secret cells and intelligence tradecraft are also urban.
Two armed Iraqi Sunni Arab groups threatened reprisals against Pope Benedict for his citation of a medieval Byzantine ruler’s negative remarks about the Prophet Muhammad. Grandstanding.
Iraq’s famed al-Mutanabbi Street, named after a great medieval poet, was once the center of bookbuying and intellectual life in Baghdad. WaPo says it is a shadow of its former self.
Veteran Middle East reporter and commentator Trudy Rubin makes impressive sense in her estimation of the dangers facing the US in Iraq and what Democrats might say about them.