Crash Kills 7 GIs
Arab Demonstration in Kirkuk
A helicopter crash killed 7 US GIs on Wednesday. AP interviewed an Iraqi farmer in the area who said he heard a missile being fired before the crash, and a radical Muslim group took responsibility. Only an investigation will settle if it was a shoot-down, but the previous four such crashes clearly were. It is not clear whether the Sunni Arab guerrillas are getting better weaponry for use against US helicopters.
Hundreds of Arabs demonstrated in Kirkuk on Wednesday against the decree of the Committee for Normalization, which would send Arabs who were brought to the province during the Baath period back to the center or south of the country. The demonstrators maintained that as Iraqis they could live where they liked. Al-Zaman reported that Sunni and Shiite Arabs along with Turkmen all joined in the rally. They shouted or carried placards proclaiming, “No to the Partition of Iraq! Yes to National Unity!”
What they were alleging was that the Kurds are planning to grab Kirkuk province, add it to their Kurdistan Regional Government, and then have all four of their provinces secede from Iraq, taking Kirkuk’s petroleum with them.
Kurdish spokesmen maintained that the program, which provides about $15,000 in compensation, is voluntary. Arabs and Turkmen appear afraid that it is not.
Al-Zaman quotes Raad al-Sarkhi, head of the Sadr Movement office in the city, saying that both Islam and Arabism forbid the partition of Iraq. He said that that was the reason he and others had come out, on instructions from the leadership in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, to protest the expulsion of Arabs from the province. He said that most Arabs in Kirkuk had come 30 years ago, and no longer had property or homes in the south or even a place in local government registers, and no amount of compensation would allow them to replace their homes and shops in Kirkuk. Sheikh Abdullah Sami al-Asi of the local Council said that he rejected a second Palestine in Iraq [i.e. the expulsion of people from their homes by settlers]. Kurdish Kirkuk authorities estimate that 7400 Arab families would be affected by the expulsion decree. (At an average of 7 members per family, that would be over 50,000 individuals).
Iraqi Turkmen also allege that they are being ethnically cleansed, and warn that they will boycott the planned December referendum on whether Kirkuk will join the Kurdistan confederacy.
Iraqis in general are being displaced from their homes, with 1 in 7 having fled abroad . Intrepid journalist Warren Strobel writes, “Every day, violence displaces an estimated 1,300 more Iraqis in the country; every month, at least 40,000.” That would be half a million displaced persons a year.
The Bush administration has been happy to see Jordan and Syria swamped with the refugees, but has taken in hardly any, itself.
This article says it is the biggest such set of displacements since the Palestinians were expelled or fled in 1948.
That is absolutely true if one is concerned with the proportion of the population affected. Off the top of my head, what I remember is that some 950,000 out of 1.3 million Palestinians lost their homes and were made refugees. With regard to absolute numbers, there have been bigger disasters. In Afghanistan 1980-2001, 5 million were displaced abroad and more millions internally. The displacements from Lebanon 1975-1989 were also substantial as a proportion of the population.
More on sectarian displacement in Iraq
Police found 33 bullet-riddled bodies in Baghdad on Wednesday.
Reuters reports that guerrillas carried out deadly bombings in Baghdad and Suwayra. A mortar attack killed 4 in Falluja. Police found 3 bodies in Mahmudiyah and 2 in Yusufiyah.
The USG Open Source Center translates the following report:
‘ Former police officer beheaded in public north-east of Baghdad – website
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (Internet Version-WWW)
Wednesday, February 7, 2007 T17:29:20Z
Former police officer beheaded in public north-east of Baghdad – website
An insurgent group have beheaded a former Iraqi police officer in a public park in Sharaban area, north-east of Baghdad, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, PUK, website reported on 7 February.
The website quoted a security source from Sharaban area as saying the former lieutenant, Firas Khalifa al-Jaburi, had been abducted in the morning of Wednesday, 7 February, in the Al-Ibara area before he was taken away to Sharaban.
The website said the insurgents called on people to go to a public square in Hay al-Mu’alimin to see the beheading of Al-Jaburi.
The report said Al-Jaburi left his job with Dyiala police three months ago after he was threatened by insurgents that he and his family would be abducted if he would not quit the police.
(Description of Source: (Internet) Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic — Patriotic Union of Kurdistan media website) ‘
The statistics coming out of Iraq are dreary. A story like this, of a single person, is even more depressing.
[PDF} A Chatham House report on how likely it is that terrorist groups could deploy WMD in the UK. Apparently, not so much.
Jeff Cohen on Jonah Goldberg’s wretched bet, which I declined as inhumane. As Cohen points out, the worst travesty of all is that the Tribune Corp. that owns the LA Times fired Bob Scheer, who has a great deal of sound judgment, and hired Goldberg, who couldn’t find even his behind with both hands. NPR also gave Goldberg a perch, apparently to fend off the troglodytes in Congress. It isn’t right, but, well, the US is run by cranky old rich white men, and some of them like what Goldberg has to say. Has nothing to do with whether he actually knows what he is talking about. As his foolish bet shows, he hasn’t the slightest.