Dozens Kidnapped At Higher Ed Ministry

Dozens Kidnapped at Higher Ed Ministry;
Other Killings leave 117 Dead

Western news organizations were able to identify 117 killings in Iraq’s civil war on Monday, though one suspects they only scratched the surface. Reuters surveys the carnage.

‘ BAGHDAD – A car bomb ripped through a crowded market area in Rasheed Street in central Baghdad, killing 10 people and wounding 25, police said. . .

BAGHDAD – Mortars killed four people and wounded six in al-Zuhur, in Baghdad’s northern outskirts.There was a significant battle in Ramadi between Marines and guerrillas that left 11 guerrillas dead and perhaps twice that many civilians.

MOSUL – Police found 11 bodies with gunshot wounds on Tuesday in the city of Mosul, north of Baghdad, police said. . .

BAQUBA – Iraqi police, backed by U.S. forces, discovered the bodies of 10 kidnap victims, bound, blindfolded and with gunshot wounds, inside a house in Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad . . .’

Sudarsan Raghavan of WaPo reports that a highly organized band of 80 guerrillas dressed as policemen invaded the Ministry of Higher Education building in Karrada and kidnapped dozens of people inside– from janitors to Ph.D.s, and of all religious backgrounds. Iraqi government spokesmen variously estimated the number of kidnapped at from 50 to 150. I saw on Aljazeera that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said when he heard about the episode he got on the phone to the ministers of defense and interior and had them intervene. Iraqi government spokesmen first claimed that everyone had been released, but that turned out to be mere spin. Then they said they got 30 released, but that is not clear either.

There was a lot of speculation as to who did this and why. The minister of higher education is a Sunni from the fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front. But the people kidnapped included all sorts, and Karrada is in a Shiite area. Some reports are blaming Shiites, saying it is a reprisal for the kidnapping of Shiites. But the operation does not fit the reprisal modus operandi.

Abed Dhiyab al-Ujaili, the Minister of Higher Education, initially threatened to suspend university classes as a result of the attack. Apparently in Baghdad, at least, nobody has been showing up for class for weeks, anyway. But then he backtracked and told Al-Sharq al-Awsat in Arabic that he would never close down the universities.

The facades of a normal society are gradually dropping in Iraq. It isn’t a place where you can go to the book bazaar and buy a book anymore. It isn’t a place where you can go to college like a normal student or professor. It is a dark, despairing, violent arena. People go about their lives, of course. But they never know when, abruptly, the Grim Reaper will grasp them as they shop for eggplants or fill up their tanks with gasoline or drop the kids off at school. And because they never know, the scope of these daily activities is curtailed more each day.

A big operation like this can only happen if the police are crooked or incredibly lazy. They couldn’t notice all those careening cars with 80 commandos in them going for miles? 5 police commanders were arrested on suspicion of collaboration.

And this is another problem with Maliki’s reaction, which was after the fact. If you have ministries in Iraq that are outside the Green Zone, wouldn’t you give them security details from the new army? Did the minister asked for more than 17 guards? (The guards were kidnapped!) Didn’t it occur to Maliki (it would to me)?

Iraq’s health minister talks about the disaster that has struck his country in part because of American mistakes.

Gary Kamiya at Salon.com suggests that funeral services for Neoconservatism are premature.

The ‘What did we ever do to them?’ column: Haaretz reports that the United States has plummeted in the estimation of the Lebanese public as a result of Bush’s encouragement to Israel to go on hitting the poor little thing during the war this summer. That was just mean, and the Lebanese recognize mean when they see it.

Al-Qaeda famously hates Shiites and kills them on sight. Iran’s leaders hate al-Qaeda. So when Con Coughlin writes silliness about Iran rearing the next generation of al-Qaeda leaders, you have to ask yourself why he is saying these crazy things? Either he has what he thinks is an inside source, but which is really feeding him disinformation. Or. . . Well, I don’t know what else. Something that would explain why someone writes things that are ridiculous on the face of it. Coughlin was also a big cheerleader for the Iraq War, of which he has repented. Like the Neoconservatives, all this penitence about how bad Iraq went is just a way to try to wipe the slate clean so that they can recover some credibility and get up the next war, this time against Iran.

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