20 Decapitated Bodies Found;
Turks Brand US Biggest Threat;
Muqtada calls for a million Man march on Samarra
AP says at least 60 persons died in political violence in Iraq on Thursday. It is being reported that twenty decapitated bodies were found in Salman Pak south of Baghdad, in another macabre instance of sectarian death squad killings. McClatchy reports that 15 bodies were found in the streets of Baghdad on Thursday. In Basra, British forces killed 5 persons in clashes. In Baghdad, roadside bombs and mortar attacks killed more individuals and left dozens wounded.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is still insisting on leading a million man march next Thursday to the large Sunni city of Samarra, north of Baghdad (where a major Shiite shrine has twice been bombed). Iraqi politicians have warned that it would be a very dangerous move, and the Iraqi government is urging that it be postponed until the security situation might allow it.
Muqtada issued a statement denying rumors circulating among Sunni Arabs that he wants to lead a mob up to Samarra who would toss Sunni Arab families out of their homes and settle Shiites there, turning it into a Shiite city.
The same al-Hayat article says that some families are beginng to flee Samarra for fear that it will become a sectarian battleground if the march goes forward.
The Sunni Sheikh Abd al-Sattar Abd al-Jabbar, member of the Council of Clergy of Iraq, charged that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps intended to surreptitiously join the million man march into the Sunni heartland and to commit acts of violence during the rally. [This is a wild and inaccurate charge; I don’t believe there have been any IRGC fighters h\captured among the 19,000 guerrillas arrested by the US military.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is warning of a “vast and dangerous plot” by the “al-Qaeda” organization, which is preparing to move its activities to neighboring countries, though he did not name them.
The Voice of America reports that many in the Turkish public are worried that their military will make a cross-border incursion into Iraq to chase PKK Kurdish guerrillas holing up in Iraqi Kurdistan. Many doubt that such an incursion would actually resolve the problem of PKK terror attacks inside Turkey. The Turkish military has been shelling PKK positions in and around border villages inside Iraq, producing new refugees. Iraq didn’t need more of those.
The VOA article contains the depressing statistic that in recent polls, Turks named the United States as th number one threat to their well-being, after the terrorist group, the PKK:
‘ In a recent opinion poll measuring what people in Turkey perceive as the country’s biggest threat, the United States was first and Iraqi Kurds were second. Leyla Tausanoglu, a political columnist for the independent Cumhuriyet newspaper, says many Turks are skeptical of American plans because of the Iraq war, and are now suspicious of U.S. ties with Iraqi Kurdish leaders.’
Many Turks reason that the US is the military power in Iraq, and if 5,000 PKK guerrillas have safe harbor in Iraqi Kurdistan, it must mean that the US supports the PKK. (In fact, it is on the State Department list of terrorist organizations).
Before W. got into the White House and ruined the world, 56% of Turks had a favorable view of the United States and the country was a firm NATO ally. Last I knew, the favorability rating had fallen to 12%, largely because Turks are afraid Bush’s misadventure in Iraq will blow back on them. Now they think the US is a greater threat to them than the major terrorist organization that has menaced them for the past 30 years! It would be like the English public saying the US is a greater threat than the Irish Republican Army, or the French public saying the US is a greater threat than the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (Groupe Islamique Armé).
You just want to weep and tear your hair out at the results of these polls around the world on what people think of the United States. It is as though they have concluded we are madmen bent on messing up their lives. And, well, we did put W. in power at least once. It is like a 4-year-old with ADD having the power to order the Pentagon to do things.
The Sunni Arab bloc in parliament, the Iraqi Accord Front, continues to insist on Mahmud al-Mashhadani as speaker of the Iraqi parliament, while the Shiite and Kurdish parties insist that he has been dismissed from that post. Al-Mashhadani was accused of assaulting other MPs and has a record of making inflammatory comments.