Parliament Building Shelled
Iraqi Military Makes Plans for If the US Suddenly Decamps
Gulf States Fear Iraqi Violence
Guerrilla mortar shells hit the Iraqi parliament building on Monday. The air in the chamber filled with dust, but there were no casualties.
Reuters reports large numbers of bombings and attacks around the country, which on Monday tended to wound more people than they killed outright. About ten persons were killed, mostly police or Iraqi army, but including a British soldier in Basra.
Police found 24 bodies in the streets of Baghdad on Monday. McClatchy reports other Civil War news and ins’t afraid to say so.
The Iraqi military is making plans for how to keep security if the US suddenly withdraws. Apparently the minister of defense (who is himself under fire from Sunni Arab parliamentarians) believes that Bush may abandon the Iraqi government this September.
‘ Senior Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman confirmed that U.S. pressure was mounting, especially on the oil bill, which was endorsed by the Iraqi Cabinet three months ago but has yet to come to the floor of parliament.
“The Americans are pressuring us to accept the oil law. Their pressure is very strong. They want to show Congress that they have done something so they want the law to be adopted this month. This interference is negative and will have consequences,” Othman told AP. ‘
I have a friendly disagreement with Steve Walt and John Mearsheimer over petroleum as an impetus for the Iraq War. I think it was huge. And, that this petroleum law is what the Bushies really care about is obvious. At a time when the country is in flames, nearly 4 million people have been forced from their homes, unemployment is 60%, the Iraqi government and army are dysfunctional, etc., is a bill on foreign investments really the most important thing?
Another Bush “benchmark” for the Iraqis is amending the constitution to make it slightly more palatable to the Sunni Arabs. So far nothing has been done on that. Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that parliament has extended the deadline for the constitution revision committee to complete its work. The real problem is that politics in Iraq is consensus politics, and you can’t get a consensus on most things nowadays because of the civil war. In the absence of consensus, people are reluctant to try to go forward. That is why the Iraqi parliament looks to us as though it is paralyzed. Moving ahead on an issue in the absence of consensus would be an affront to those who dissent, and might well start a feud and fuel violence.
The same report in al-Zaman says that US spokesmen in Baghdad admit that the US has been conducting back channel negotiations with the Sunni Arab guerrillas. One demand the guerrillas are making is that Washington must pressure Iran to cease so strongly supporting the Shiite militias with money and arms.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports in Arabic that Ammar al-Hakim, the son of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, maintains that his father’s health is stable and that Abdul Aziz can exercise his leadership role even as he is receiving medical treatment for cancer in Tehran. He said that there is also a 15-man SIIC politburo that meets daily and has a leadership role. I would have been far more reassured if Ammar had announced that in his father’s absence, Adil Abdul Mahdi or some other respected figure in SIIC would take over for the time being.
The Oil Gulf governments are worried to death about Iraq-inspired militancy spreading among youths of their countries, according to Reuters. The conservative and cautious Saudi Minister of the Interior, Prince Nayef, said:
‘ “The security situation in Iraq is deteriorating and terrorism is growing there. Iraq has become fertile ground for creating a new generation of terrorists learning and practising all forms of murder and destruction,” he said. “The lax security situation in Iraq bears great dangers for our region and stability … in our countries.” ‘
Saudi officialdom usually doesn’t say much publicly, and often is sphinx-like. If they are talking like this publicly, I infer that they are panicked and frightened nearly to death.
I suppose I have to link to this silly article by poor Simon Tisdall in of all places, The Guardian, whom someone is using to push a sinister agenda. Yes, its sources are looney in positing a coming offensive jointly sponsored by Iran, the Mahdi Army and al-Qaeda. Anyone who reads IC regularly will see immediately holes in this story. At a time when Sunni Arab guerrillas are said to be opposing “al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia” for its indiscriminate violence against Iraqis, including Shiites, we are now expected to believe that Shiite Iran is allying with it. And, it claims that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are shelling the Green Zone. The parliament building that was hit to day by such shelling is dominated by the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and its paramilitary, the Badr Organization. Who trained Badr? The Iranian Revolutionary Guards. And they are trying to hit their own guys . . . why? By the way, the US has 16,000 suspected insurgents in custody. Tisdall should ask how many of them are Iranian. (Hint: close to none. What, do they just run faster than the others?) The article even traffics in the ridiculous assertion that Iran is backing hyper-Sunni, Shiite-killing Taliban in Afghanistan. Why not just cut to the quick and openly say that Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei is in reality . . . Satan! It really is discouraging that Tisdall didn’t report instead on what crazy things the US military spokesmen in Iraq told him. US military spokesmen have been trying to push implausible articles about Shiite Iran supporting Sunni insurgents for a couple of years now, and with virtually the sole exception of the New York Times, no one in the journalistic community has taken these wild charges seriously. But The Guardian?