Reconciliation Sheikhs Kidnapped; Kirkuk, Karbala Bombings

LA Times says that 11 members of The Salam (Peace) tribal council of Baquba, were kidnapped at gunpoint as they were driving back from the Green Zone toward Baquba, where they are based. They had been conducting talks with the office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Although the kidnapping occurred in a largely Shiite district of the capital, it cannot be assumed that the Shiites are the problem.

There were also big bombings in the northern oil city of Kirkuk (8 dead, 25 wounded) and in the southern Shiite shrine city of Karbala. About Kirkuk, LAT says:

‘ A suicide car bomber killed seven people and wounded 25 in the disputed northern city of Kirkuk on Sunday, targeting a crowded bus terminal heavily used by travelers to the provinces that form the semiautonomous Kurdistan region, police and witnesses said. Ten shops and 15 cars were set ablaze by the afternoon explosion. “It was a suicide car; the driver detonated himself in front of a civilian crowd next to the bus terminal,” said witness Rebowar Mohammad, 32. “I was close to the explosion. There was thick, dark smoke covering the place.”

As for Karbala, the bombing, which left 6 dead, came in the wake of the announcement that US troops are withdrawing from the province, which is a big pilgrimage center. The withdrawal will allow the Shiite factions that have been fighting there to more openly contest control of it, and the bombing is probably an opening salvo. The martyred grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Husain, is interred in a shrine in Karbala.

The NYT says that Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq are thumbing their noses at Turkey. About the US dilemma in northern Iraq, where it is caught between its Kurdish and Turkish allies, Sabrina Tavernisse wickedly quotes a local Kurd: “The United States “is like a man with two wives,” said one Iraqi Kurd in Sulaimaniya. “They quarrel, but he doesn’t want to lose either of them.”

For just how rugged the territory is in which the PKK is hiding out, see Gordon Taylor at Progressive Historians.

The British officer corps says of the remaining UK presence in Basra, “Get us out of here!” and admits that in recent months the foreign troops may have been doing more harm than good.

McClatchy reports of Basra on Sunday:

‘ Basra

Yesterday night, Gunmen attacked a convoy of the Islamic Party killing one member in the party and injured 3 others. The attackers kidnapped 2 others from the convoy which was coming from Zubeer twon southwest Basra city towards Basra.

Gunmen killed one prominent member of the Supreme Election Committee in Basra (Ausama Al Abadi) downtown Basra yesterday night.

Around 12.00: the FBS of South Oil Co. in Basra open fire against the demonstrators who gathered in front of building of the company to demand of providing them with jobs in this company. 6 of demonstrators were injured in the incident. ‘

The Telegraph article talks of death squad rule in the city.

Tom Engelhardt reflects on Saturday’s anti-war demonstrations in the US.

Francois Furstenberg on Bush as a Jacobin. It is a point I’ve made, too, in connection with my book on Napoleon’s Egypt.

In its 10/28/07 roundup of Iraq news items, the USG Open Source Center gives several items from the hard line Sunni Fundamentalist newspaper al-Basa’ir, which is close to the Association of Muslim Scholars. AMS leaders have denounced the Iraqi Salafis who have begun styling themselves ‘al-Qaeda’ and who often engage in indiscriminate violence, but AMS is uncompromisingly Sunni fundamentalist itself, and has some sort of connection to the 1920 Revolution Brigades, which the US views as an insurgent group.

Al-Basa’ir on 24 October publishes on the front page a 600-word report on Statements 485 and 486 the Association of Muslim Scholars issued accusing the Shiite militias of displacing Sunni families in Baghdad and other governorates.

Al-Basa’ir on 24 October publishes on the front page a 300-word report on Statement 488 the Association of Muslim Scholars issued accusing the occupation forces of committing a massacre against the innocent Iraqi people in the Al-Sadr City. The statement also accuses the Iraqi Government of supporting the crimes committed by the occupation forces.

Al-Basa’ir on 24 October publishes on the front page and on page 2 a 1,200-word report on Statement 487 the Association of Muslim Scholars issued accusing the Shiite Militias of blowing up the Al-Barakah Mosque in the Al-Washash District in Baghdad.

Al-Basa’ir on 24 October publishes on the front page a 130-word report on the news statement the Association of Muslim Scholars issued condemning the kidnapping of priests in Mosul on 13 October.

Al-Basa’ir on 24 October publishes on the front page and on page 2 a 600-word report on the meeting of Abd-al-Salam al-Kubaysi, Association of Muslim Scholars undersecretary, with the association’s employees and members in the Umm al-Qura Mosque in Baghdad on 21 October. Al-Kubaysi affirmed that the association will not give up on its anti-occupation policies. . .

Al-Basa’ir on 24 October publishes on the front page a 600-word editorial saying that the Iraqi political forces, which are protected and backed by the occupation forces, have failed to implement their project to partition Iraq under the pretext of federalism. The writer says that the only way for the occupation forces to resolve the challenges they are facing in northern, central and southern Iraq is to withdraw and annul the political process. . .

Al-Basa’ir on 24 October publishes on page 5 a 300-word report on the Statements 481, 482, 483 and 484 issued by the Association of Muslim Scholars. The statements condemn the oil contracts signed by the Kurdish Government, Turkish threats to invade Kurdistan, the killing of 15 civilians in the Al-Tharthar District and the arrest of Association Member Yunus al-Akidi, in the Abu-Ghurayb District.’

(I am traveling abroad this week and postings may be irregular. Can’t put anything up Tuesday morning, e.g., but maybe later that day. Check back frequently.)

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