Security Summit begins in Baghdad
Saddam’s Judge Flees Iraq
Reuters reports political violence on Friday: Sunni Arab guerrillas killed a Marine in a firefight in al-Anbar Province. Police found 10 bullet-riddled bodies in Baghdad. Snipers killed another 4 in the capital. In Hibhib, a Sunni Arab town north of the capital, guerrillas attacked a police station. They killed one policeman, wounded three more, and kidnapped 10 others, who are still missing. The policemen are said not to have put up mich of a fight, and are being investigated. Guerrillas detonated a bomb in Kirkuk, killing one and wounding another person. US forces forestalled an attack on an American convoy by guerrillas west of Baghdad’s airport, killing 12 and taking out their anti-aircraft battery, mounted on a truck.
Al-Zaman writes in Arabic that an international summit on security in Iraq began in Baghdad on Saturday morning. US Secretary of State Condi Rice and US ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad will be attending despite the presence of delegates from Iran and Syria, with whom the Bush administration had generally refused to meet.
Al-Zaman says that even as the delegates began meeting, 15 organizations demanded that the political process in Iraq be ceased and that the Iraqi constitution be suspended until it can be rewritten by Iraqis alone. (These demands are typical of Sunni Arab dissident groups).
Liz Sly of the Chicago Tribune writes about the rumors in Iraq that Iyad Allawi is being primed to replace Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Allawi is an ex-Baathist and old time CIA asset whose list got 9 percent of the vote in the last parliamentary elections and who is widely unpopular in the country because of the stupendous corruption of his appointed government in the second half of 2004. Literally billions of dollars appear to have gone missing on his watch.
The Iraqi judge who pronounced the death sentence on Saddam has fled the country and is seeking political asylum in Britain.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari praised Iran’s role in Iraq on Friday. IRNA reports that he told the Iranian delegation to the summit on Saturday,
‘ “Iran has a vital role in resolution of Iraq’s problems and it has always played a constructive and positive part in easing our nation’s sufferings. . .’
Clearly Iraqi high officialdom lives in a different universe than US high officialdom.
As the US prepared for war in spring of 2003, the CIA bribed Iraqi oil workers not to allow the destruction of wellheads by Saddam’s forces, according to Rep. Joseph Wilson.*
Ooops, originally misidentified the source as former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Thanks to readers who alerted me– I’ve got the best copy editors in the world.