The Shiite world has been roiled for weeks by statements of Saudi, Wahhabi clergy in Mecca that Shiite shrines are works of idolatry and should be pulled down. Prime Minsiter Nuri al-Maliki used these anxieties politically to explain the violence at Karbala on Tuesday. Problem: the violence in Karbala was between two factions of Shiites and had nothing to do with Sunnis or Wahhabis or Saudis. While the Wahhabi threats against Shiite holy shrines is condemnable and contemptible, the Saudi fatwa should not be used to divert attention from the serious intra-Shiite faction-fighting that is becoming ever more widespread in the Shiite south.
The Bushies have been very critical of Britain’s record in the Shiite deep south, including in Basra, at least in not for attribution interviews. General Sir Mike Jackson of the British armed forces has just repaid the compliment. He thinks the Americans messed up Iraq through a series of bafflingly bad decisions.
Iranian shelling has displaced hundreds of Kurdish villagers in the north. Iran maintains that the PEJAK Kurdish terrorist group is operating from Iraqi Kurdistan and hitting targets in Iran.
Another aide of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has been assassinated, this time in Basra. Several such aides have been killed or kidnapped in recent weeks.
The LA Times profiles Ammar al-Hakim, the young cleric who is very possibly the new leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, since his father Abdul Aziz has cancer. The article correctly stresses the contradictions– that Ammar is very close to Iran but also takes positions that benefit the Bush administration, including opposing the setting of a timetable for US military withdrawal from Iraq.
USA Today’s Baghdad correspondents cover the maneuverings of Iyad Allawi that are aimed at unseating PM Nuri al-Maliki. The sources quoted think it is a long shot.
The journalists are still falling for the false Bush administration story that the death toll for US troops has fallen this summer because of the surge. First of all, the death toll has always fallen in the summer because it is hot as hell in Iraq then. Second, the death toll is way more than previous summers, and the total number of US dead this year is much greater than for the same period in 2006. Larry Johnson weighs in on this issue, as well.
And, see Kevin Drum’s chart.
From Barnett Rubin at the Global Affairs blog: Rollout to War with Iran, on the controversy over his initial report of a planned propaganda campaign to whip up war fever against Iran in September.