1,000 Killed in Iraq in Past Week;
Parliamentarians call for Expulsion of Arabs, Iranians
Al-Hayat [Life] reports in Arabic that a tit for tat debate broke out in the Iraqi parliament on Sunday. Shiite delegates from the United Iraqi Alliance demanded the expulsion of all Arabs from Iraq. By “Arabs,” they mean the foreign nationals of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Sudan, Egypt, etc. These persons are Sunnis and the Shiites are implying that they tend to be recruited for terrorism.
In response, the Sunni speaker of the house, Mahmud al-Mashhadani, suggested that “non-Arabs” also be expelled, by which he meant Iranians.
Then Iraqi government spokesman Ali Dabbagh charged that 50 percent of Arab jihadis infiltrate Iraq through Syria. Syria denies the charge.
Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that Sunni members of parliament are demanding a formal investigation of the Najaf authorities (and perhaps the US air force) for the killing of hundreds of persons last Sunday and Monday. They maintain that Iraqi troops and US pilots mistook innocent members of the Hawatimah and Khaz’al tribes for insurgents and killed them along with their women and children. They were said to have been coming to Najaf to commemorate the martyrdom of al-Husayn, the Prophet’s grandson. The Sunnis are archly comparing what they are calling a massacre to the killings at Dujjail in 1982. It was for killing 150 or so persons there, in response to their attempt to assassinate him, that Saddam Hussein was hanged. The Sunnis are implying that now that the Shiites are in power, it is they who are massacring people when they prove troublesome, and that maybe some more hangings are in order.
I still can’t understand why you would go to Najaf for that commemoration. Husayn’s tomb is in nearby Karbala, and 2 million other people went there, including people from Najaf. Maybe this kind of suspicious detail is the reason for which only Sunnis are taking the allegations seriously.
Iraqi authorities estmate that 1,000 Iraqis have been killed in political violence in the past week. The US military admitted that 4 military helicopters have been shot down by guerrillas in recent weeks, killing 20 servicemen, along with one helicopter belonging to civilian security guards. It raises the question of whether the guerrillas are getting better shoulder held missiles.
AP counted 100 dead in Iraq on Sunday but admits that the statistics were largely drawn from Baghdad. With the information added by al-Zaman, the toll from political violence is closer to 150. In the capital, police found 46 bodies in the streets. (Cole says that a lot of those were Sunni Arabs killed by Shiites in revenge for the massive truck bombing on Saturday). Two car bombings killed another 7, and 7 died in mortar attacks, apparently mostly in Adhamiya, a Sunni district near Shiite areas. Al-Zaman says that the actual toll from the mortar shells was 15 dead and 56 wounded, and lists a number of other violent incidents in the capital that apparently came after the English wire services filed, including a car bombing that killed 4 policemen. Outside Baghdad, Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that another 14 bodies were found in various cities, including 8 in Falluja, 3 in Kut, 2 in Tikrit.
A car bomb in Baquba, a mixed city northeast of Baghdad, killed 4 and wounded 20.
McClatchy has more details. It also reports that in the city of Tikrit (Saddam Hussein’s birthplace), American forces on Sunday evening raided the house of Sheikh Hamid Iqab, the chieftain of the powerful Dulaim tribe in Tikrit and a member of the Salahuddin Provincial governing council. (Salahuddin north of Baghdad is a major Sunni Arab province with a population of a little over a million). His brother said that American forces warned the Iqab family against allowing their house to be filmed by Iraqi media, and said that if that were allowed, the American troops would take the women of the household into custody. (In conservative parts of Iraq, for a woman to be alone in the company of unrelated males– for example, US Marines– permanently casts doubt on her chastity and brings shame upon the family of a sort that may require someone’s death– the Marine’s, or the woman’s– to expunge.) US forces also raided the house of Dr. Basim al-Ghaishi, a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Tikrit.
The significance of this report is that the political leadership of Sunni Arab Tikrit, the people who on the surface look as though they are cooperating with the new order, are actually suspected of themselves being involved with the insurgency. It also suggests that US forces use hostage-taking and threats of dishonoring women in a desperate attempt to control the locals. But I can tell you that these techniques will backfire big time. You don’t mess with the women of a Dulaim sheikh unless you want a century-long feud with the whole Dulaim tribe. Then Bush says he’s worried they’ll came after us over here if the troops leave. No wonder he’s worried.
Al-Zaman reports that in the southern port city of Basra, gunmen shot and killed Sheikh Khalil al-Maliki, a leader of the Sadr Movement in the city.
In Hilla, the body of Col. Aqil Khalil of the Iraqi army was found, riddled with bullets.