A wave of violence rolled over the northern city of Mosul (pop. 1.5 million, Iraq’s second largest) on Sunday. A member of the Ninevah Provincial Council and his three body guards were assassinated by machine gun fire; gunmen killed two policemen in the east of the city; armed men killed two people in a market; and 11 bodies were found in the streets, executed in the night. These nearly 20 deaths were produced by an insurgency. It targeted an official of the government and policemen (2 soldiers were also wounded), and sought to disrupt commerce by attacking people in the market. Death squads are operating, either killing persons of another ethnicity or party, or punishing those it brands ‘collaborators.’ Everything points to Sunday’s campaign of violence as having been well planned out and coordinated. Has the Mahdi Army, unwitting abetted by the US military, pushed Sunni guerrillas out of Baghdad in such numbers that some are establishing themselves in the (largely Sunni Arab) northern city of Mosul? See below for details.
The US embassy in Baghad on Sunday condemned the US Senate resolution calling for a soft partition of Iraq.
One mystery about all the denunciations of the Senate vote is that the resolution the senators passed is just the plan of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a central member of the (Shiite) United Iraqi Alliance, which rules Iraq. Al-Hakim pushed through parliament (by a simple majority with barely a quorum) his plan for an 8-province Shiite confederacy last October. The only concession he had to give was to wait 18 months, (i.e. until next March) to proceed. Of course, the al-Hakim plan differs from that of Biden in not forcing the Sunni Arabs to form a regional government of their own. (The Sunni Arabs don’t like the idea of provincial confederacies, preferring strong central government rule a la France.)
The resemblance between the al-Hakim plan and that of Joe Biden is an embarrassment to ISCI, since the US is not popular in Iraq. Radio Sawa reports in Arabic that Ammar al-Hakim (the son and currently plenipotentiary of Abdul Aziz, who is in Iran for cancer treatment) denied the similarity and expressed amazement that the US Senate should try to legislate on such a matter. His denials do not strike me as convincing– and they lack any specifics.
Alexandra Zavis of the LAT reports that Gen. David Petraeus says Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki told him that when al-Maliki was in Iran, he talked to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about the need to interdict weapons flows from Iran to Iraq and to stop rogue militiamen getting training. Ahmadinejad reportedly promised cooperation on these fronts.
I’m sure that Ahmadinejad did not admit to having sent bombs and training in the first place– Iranian government officials have consistently denied these charges. But Iran has its equivalents of Blackwater, and my guess is that private money-making networks are smuggling weapons and providing some training, and that was what Ahmadinejad pledged to put an end to. Gen. Petraeus says he can see some faint evidence that perhaps the Iranians followed through.
Seymour Hersh on how weak the US and Israeli case is against Iran, and on the American need always to create at all times at least one Hitler figure.
Reuters reports civil war violence in Iraq for Sunday. Major incidents:
‘BAGHDAD – One U.S. soldier was killed and another was wounded on Saturday when their unit was hit by a roadside bomb and came under small arms fire, the U.S. military said. . .
MOSUL – Eleven handcuffed and blindfolded bodies, all with gunshot wounds and showing signs of torture, were found dumped in one place Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. . .
MOSUL – Gunmen killed two policemen in eastern Mosul, police said. . .
MOSUL – Gunmen killed two people in a market in Mosul, police said. . .
MOSUL – Two policemen were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol in Mosul, police said. . .
MOSUL – A member of the Nineveh provincial council and his three guards were killed when gunmen sprayed their car with bullets in southeast Mosul police said. . .
BAGHDAD – Five bodies were found in different areas of Baghdad in the past 24 hours, police said.
BAGHDAD – U.S. forces killed 20 insurgents on Saturday after an attack using a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire on a U.S. aircraft in an area about 30 km (20 miles) northwest of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.
[HASWA] – Police found three unidentified bodies with signs of torture in the town of al-Haswa, south of Baghdad.
HAWIJA – A roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol and wounded two policemen in the town of Hawija, 70 km (40 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, police said. ‘