Sadr and Shiite Politics
Sawt al-Iraq carries a report that Muqtada al-Sadr is back in Najaf after travels in Lebanon and Iran.
The US military is cautiously reporting the same information, though with less certainty. It is thought possible that Muqtada will preach in Kufa on Friday.
Meanwhile, the US military announced on Friday morning that Iraqi guerrillas had killed 6 US GIs.
Reuters reports civil war violence in Iraq for Thursday. Major incidents:
FALLUJA – A suicide car bomb targeting mourners at a funeral killed at least 27 people and wounded more than 30 others in Falluja, 50 km (35 miles) west of Baghdad. . .
HDAD – Gunmen stopped a minibus at a fake checkpoint in a Shi’ite district on Baghdad’s northern outskirts on Thursday and killed all 11 passengers, police said. A bomb hidden among the bodies then exploded, killing two civilians and wounding four people, including two policemen. . .
McClatchy details other attacks and notes that police found 22 bodies in the streets of Baghdad on Thursday.
A leader in the Sadr Movement, Sheikh Adnan al-Silawi, called on Britain Thursday to withdraw its troops from Basra.
Some analysts warn that if the British withdraw from the southern, largely Shiite port city of Basra, “The Mehdi Army and rival Shiite militias will attempt a coup to seize control of the entire official military and security establishments in Basra and other southern Iraqi cities.”
A more proximate threat to Basra stability is the prospect of a strike by the Petroleum Workers’ Union. They are threatening a work stoppage if the Petroleum Bill is not revised to be less of a give-away to Western oil majors. Almost all of the 1.6 million barrels a day of that Iraq exports goes through Basra.
Al-Khalij reports in Arabic that the head of the Council for the Salvation of al-Anbar, Hamid al-Hayyis said that a delegation from the Council met with the leadership of the Sadr Movement. They then ment with two cabinet members, the minister of state for national security affairs and the minister for national dialogue affairs. The Council delivered to the government a letter asking that it hasten national reconciliation and stop making sectarian speeches. Al-Hayyis said that this was the first major meeting of the two principal sects in Iraq, where national essentials were agreed upon and shedding Iraqi blood was prohibited.
al-Sharq al-Awsat reports in Arabic that MP Rida Jawad Taqi of the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance is saying that his bloc, the largest in parliament, realizes that it is being targeted. He said that the UIA (which groups the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the Da’wa Party and several other religious Shiite parties) is negotiating with the Islamic Virtue Party (Fadhila) in an attempt to bring it back into the coalition. Virtue left with its 15 members of parliament some months ago. He said that for the first time there are reports that Virtue wants to come back in. Jawad insisted that despite their withdrawal from the cabinet of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the Sadrists had not altogether left the United Iraqi Alliance inside parliament.