71 Killed Bombings, Shootings;
Mosul, Kirkuk Targetted;
Islamic Army in Talks with US
Another US GI was killed in al-Anbar Province on Thursday.
Guerrillas set off bombs in four Iraqi cities on Thursday, leaving dozens dead and hundreds wounded.
*In Mosul a fuel truck loaded with explosives was driven into a police station. The driver was killed but his payload still detonated, killing mainly civilians at a nearby gas station. In a coordinated series of attacks, guerrillas then set off more car bombs in the city and launched mortar attacks. Altogether 20 persons were killed in the city.
Reuters reported it this way: “MOSUL – Six suicide bombers in vehicles, including one in a fuel truck, attacked Iraqi police and U.S. patrols, and insurgents fired mortars and clashed with police, U.S. officials and police said. The violence killed at least 20 people in the city 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad.”
The US military withdrew 3,000 troops from Mosul to send to Baghdad, where 15,000 US soldiers are now engaged in Operation Forward Together. Guerrillas in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city with a population of some 1.8 million, some 80% of them Sunni Arab, have taken advantage of the draw-down of US troops there to multiply the number of their attacks on police and the institutions of the new government. Mosul was a bastion of the Baath Party in the old days, and crowds there have chanted for Saddam even after his fall. Some Sunnis in Mosul support the fundamentalist Salafi movement.
*A carbombing in the northern oil city of Kirkuk struck at a popular market, killing 10 and wounding 58. Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Turkmen are contending for control of the city. There were there other bombings in or near Kirkuk according to Reuters, mainly targetting police, a number of whom were killed or wounded.
*Guerrillas used a roadside bomb to kill 10 persons and wounding 20 in the mostly Shiite city of Khalis 50 mi. north of Baghdad.
*In south Baghdad, guerrillas detonated a roadside bomb as a police convoy passed, killing 3 policemen and two by-standers. There were other bombings and shootings in the capital.
Reuters reports other political violence in Iraq on Thursday. They report 71 dead in these attacks.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports [Ar.] that tribal leaders and Baathists have recently formed protest groups in Tikrit and Kirkuk aimed at lobbying for the release of deposed president Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi Ministry of the Interior reacted with alarm to this development, threatening to arrest the founders of such pro-Saddam organizations.
Al-Hayat reports that [Ar.] representatives of the Islamic Army of Iraq, a major Sunni Arab guerrilla group, are secretly meeting in Amman with an American delegation. The meeting is also being attended by representatives of major tribes and by the Iraqi Accord Front, the fundamentalist Sunni coalition with 44 seats in the Iraqi parliament. The visit over the past 3 days to Amman of Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who is from the IAF, may have included helping make secret arrangements for this clandestine summit. While in Amman he called for Sunni Arab guerrillas to talk to the Americans, and he was threatened for it by the 1920 Revolution Brigades, which still is rejectionist. An Iraqi observer said that the talks do not rise to the level of negotiations, but that they demonstrate a desire on both sides for negotiations. I wonder if these prospective negotiations were among the things making Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite from the fundamentalist al-Da`wa al-Islamiyah Party, nervous about Washington’s commitment to him.
I said on the Lehrer News Hour on Monday that the “Battle for Baghdad” had failed and that attacks had actually increased since it started in August. The idea had been for the US and Iraqi troops to clean out the guerrilla cells from the Sunni Arab districts of the capital and stop attacks on Shiites, and then to go to the Shiites and demand they dissolve their militias, which they did not need any more because Sunni guerrilla capacity had been vastly degraded. But with attacks up, no neighborhood is going to give up its militia.
So here is what the wire services are reporting from Thursday: “Military spokesman Maj Gen William Caldwell said there had been a ‘disheartening’ 22 per cent rise in attacks in Baghdad since the end of last month.” He admitted that the security sweeps have not only failed to reduce attacks, they have failed to stem an increase in their frequency! I.e. what I said on Lehrer.
Christian spokesmen in Iraq say 35,000 Iraqi Christians have fled to Syria in 2006, about 5% of the entire community. Money graf from AP:
‘ “We want to live in safety. We don’t want to be killed. We love life,” said another Christian refugee, Saddallah Mardini, 43. Mardini said US forces should leave Iraq now. “The occupation has brought destruction to Iraq,” he said. His wife, Wissam, 25, complained of shortages of electricity and water in Iraq. “My kids go to school now (in Syria), which is something they were deprived of in Iraq,” she said. ‘
These are Christians speaking. Imagine what the Muslims think.