70 Dead in Attacks;
Bombing in Fallujah;
Sadrists Warn US Military on Diwaniya;
US Seeks Dialogue with Sadrists
122 US troops died in Iraq in May, the worst total since late 2004.
A radical Salafi group in Baghdad claimed to have killed two US embassy employees, a husband and a wife, after robbing them of large sums. The US embassy will only say that the two are missing. An AP cameraman was shot and killed on Thursday.
A massive suicide bombing of police recruits in the largely Sunni city of Fallujah west of Baghdad killed 30 and wounded 20 on Thursday, a day when Iraqi authorities announced that almost 100 persons were killed, found dead, or injured [Ar.] in political violence. (Western wire services appear to have put their stories to bed before the full scope of the carnage was apparent.] Five bodies turned up in Mosul; there was a bombing in Baghdad that killed 1 and wounded 3; at least 2 were killed by rocket fire in Tal Afar.
29 bodies showed up in Baghdad streets. A lecturer in Fine Arts was shot down in Basra.. Now there is a parable for contemporary Iraq. I count over 70 dead in these various reports.
The US Military is saying that it is trying to reach out to the Sadr Movement in Iraq, the Shiite political movement lead by young cleric Muqtada al-Sadr that demands the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. This report says that Gen. Odierno recognizes that Muqtada will ‘always’ have a ‘grassroots movement.’ This is such a more realistic attitude than you heard from US generals in spring of 2004 when they were confident that Muqtada had only 1,000 fighters and they could just kill them all (or kill him) and be done with it. I’d estimate that a majority of Iraqi Shiites would now vote Sadrist if open elections were held. The Sadrist spokesmen predictably say that they have rebuffed American approaches. (See below.)
This article in Arabic from al-Hayat maintains that pamphlets dropped from the air over Diwaniya said that the Americans would put a military post into the Nahdah district of that southern Shiite city. The article says that the leaders of the Sadr Movement in Diwaniya are warning that if it happens, there will be renewed clashes between Shiite militiamen (who are numerous in that part of town) and the Americans there. The Sadr spokesman, Abu Zaynab, also alleged that someone was conducting assassinations inside the city and framing the Mahdi Army for them.
Al-Hayat also says that a delegation from the Islamic Virtue Party (Fadhila) in Basra went to see Christian leaders there to assure them that they are in no danger. Some newspapers, it says, had published reports that the Sadr Movement and the Islamic Virtue Party had threatened to kill local Christians if they did not convert to Islam. This, the delegation said, was entirely untrue and Christians faced no such danger. (Christians are a recognized community in Islamic law and there are no grounds for giving them such an ultimatum– which wouldn’t prevent some fringe Muslim fundamentalist group from issuing it; knowledge of Islamic law is not as widespread as one might hope in the Muslim world; Islamic law also stipulates that you cannot kill innocent noncombatants, including women and children in a jihad or holy war, and that you cannot launch a sneak attack in the course of one).
Al-Hayat further says that the Sadr Movement has formed a committee to explore dialogue with the Sunni Arabs, in accordance with an order issued by its leader, young Shiite nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Abdul Mahdi al-Mutayri called on the [Sunni] Association of Muslim Scholars and its leader Harith al-Dhari [now a wanted man living abroad] to accept the reform program put forward by Muqtada.
The article also talks about new blocs being formed withing broader alliances in parliament, one of independents in the Sunni Iraqi Accord Front. A Women’s Caucus is also being formed. Tom Tancredo will disapprove of that one, I take it.
Tensions are still at the boiling point on the border of Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan. The Turks are still apparently mulling hot pursuit of Kurdish terrorists who have taken refuge in Iraq. They blame them for a major recent bombing in Ankara, the Turkish capital.
More on Bush’s silly analogy to Korea, from Fred Kaplan.