Pro-US Tribal Sheikhs Attacked at Mansur Hotel
Beiji Police Station Blown UP
The guerrillas are at it again on Monday morning. They detonated a bomb in the lobby of the al-Mansur Hotel during a meeting of tribal sheikhs, killing 12. Presumably these were leaders who had decided to fight the Salafi Jihadis or extremist Sunnis. AFP reports:
‘ An AFP correspondent said charred bodies of the victims and many of the wounded were lying near the reception desk in the rubble-strewn lobby, and that the ceiling had collapsed on the bodies.
A hotel employee said a group of five or six tribal sheikhs had come into the lobby and ordered tea. As the employee headed back to the kitchen the explosion went off behind him.
One of those killed was Fassal al-Gawud, an ex-governor of the western Sunni province of Anbar, where several tribal sheikhs have recently allied with US and Iraqi forces against Al-Qaeda, according to security officials.
Hussein Shaalan, a Shiite MP from the liberal Iraqi National List of former pro-Western premier Iyad Allawi’s political bloc and a tribal chief from the central city of Diwaniyah, was also killed along with his son and a bodyguard. ‘
Guerrillas also hit a police station with a fuel truck bomb in the refinery town of Baiji, killing 15 persons. There was other mayhem.
Some of the wave of attacks on Monday may have come in response to the verdict announced yesterday in the trial of “Chemical Ali” (Ali Hasan al-Majid), a high Baath commander and cousin of Saddam who spearheaded the Anfal campaign of using poison gas against the Kurds in the north. This was toward the end of the Iran-Iraq War, when the Kurdish political leadership had allied with Khomeini in its bid to secede from Iraq. The gas campaign was indiscriminate, hitting Kurdish villages far from the Iranian front, and taking on a racial and genocidal aspect.
Many of the deadliest cells operating in Iraq are actually Baathists, not Salafi Jihadis (what the US press and military mostly inaccurately call ‘al-Qaeda’). Though many Baathists have little use for Saddam or Chemical Ali, the prospect of further hangings of high Baath commanders by the Shiite Da`wa Party of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his Shiite allies is intolerable to them.
Then guerrillas detonated a bomb near the governor’s mansion in Hilla, the capital of the mixed Babil province south of Baghdad. They killed 8 and wounded 25. Hilla is a largely Shiite city, and Babil is controlled politically by the (Shiite) Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who is close to Iran. The northern reaches of Babil province, however, have a lot of Sunnis, who reject the new political situation.
Meanwhile, the Sunni Arab blocs in parliament have announced that they are boycotting the national legislature until former speaker Mahmud al-Mashhadani is reinstated. He was recently dismissed at the insistence of the Shiites and Kurds, allegedly for abusing MPs and for making outrageous statements. It was not widely reported in the Western press, but some of his anger against the Shiite MPs came from the kidnapping by the Mahdi Army of members of his own security guard.