Dozens of Bodies in Sinjar and Baghdad
40% Increase in Violent Deaths in November
AFP says that political violence left nearly 2000 dead in Iraq in November, a 40* percent increase over October. The number of wounded, however, fell substantially. AFP says that these numbers come from the Iraqi government. In fact, survey research has strongly suggested that the number is actually much higher but that many killings are not recorded by the central ministry of health.
McClatchy reports several deadly bombings in Baghdad on Friday, a firefight at Haifa St., the discovery of 20 bodies and the killing of 14 Shiite Kurds in Sinjar west of Mosul.
Reuters reports that fighting continued in the southern Shiite city of Samawa between Mahdi Army militiamen and local security forces dominated by the Badr Corps (also Shiite). There were also mortar attacks in Mahmudiyah, a mixed area south of Baghdad. There was a bombing in nearby Latifiyah, and in the northern city of Kirkuk a roadside bomb aimed at an American patrol killed and wounded Iraqi civilians.
The US may stop trying to reach out to Sunni Arab guerrillas, and just throw whole-hearted support to the Shiites and the Kurds, according to UPI. On the other hand, the US could be threatening the Sunni Arabs with this in order to make them better dialogue partners. Who knows? The Arab press is convinced that the Arab powers have forestalled an American outreach to Iran and Syria.
Iraqi Shiite politician and cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, in Jordan, prayed with a Sunni congregation in a gesture of reconciliation. No high-level Sunni notables were at the mosque. Al-Hakim, who will meet with Bush this coming week, denied a statement attributed to him in the Arab press that in any Iraqi civil war, Sunnis would be the losers. (This assertion was taken as a threat). He now says that all Iraqis would lose in such a war.
UpdateThe AFP article is here in English. Quotes from al-Hakim:
‘ “The eruption of a sectarian war will not only burn everyone but it will also undermine the security of the entire region and lead to the unknown . . .”
“We are attached to unity for Iraq and its people and we are opposed to any attempt to divide Iraq because our strength is in our unity . . .”
“We do not want a Shiite government that sidelines the Sunnis and we don’t want a Sunni government that marginalises the Shiites . . .”
“We want a government in which everyone takes part and that is at the service of all the citizens . . .” ‘
Al-Hakim, the head of the Shiite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, founded in Tehran in 1982, is viewed with suspicion by many Sunni Arab Iraqis because of his close alliance with Iran’s Supreme Jurisprudent, Ali Khamenei. He was for many years head of SCIRI’s paramilitary, the Badr Corps, one of the Shiite militias that has been implicated in death squad type killings of Sunnis.
The US will hand over control of another Iraqi army division to the Iraqi government. There are ten divisions. The 10th was deployed by PM Nuri al-Maliki to Basra this past summer. The new one under his control is in the north. “Control” is probably going too far, because I don’t think he can commit such a large force without clearing things with the US military even so.
*An earlier edition of this post had “4%,” an error deriving from a typo at al-Zaman.