Turkey Shells Iraqi Kurds; Pilgrims Bombed in Baghdad; Ammar Visits Sheikhs of al-Anbar; Muqtada Condemns Soft Partition;

The sectarian civil war in Iraq left dozens of persons dead and wounded on Sunday. One major bombing targeted Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad heading to the shrine of Kadhimiya, in the north of the capital, killing 10 persons in a minibus, including women and children, and wounding two dozen. There were other bombings and firefights, including near Ramadi.

One US soldier was killed and three were wounded in a roadside bombing in Baghdad. There were bombings or clashes in Kirkuk and Iskandariya. In Haswa, Shiite Mahdi Army militiamen clashed with Sunnis. Bodies were found near Baqubah.

Turkey shelled Iraqi Kurdish villages along the two countries’ mutual border on Sunday, saying it was a reprisal for PKK radical guerrilla attacks on Turkish troops last week.

The severe tensions between Turkey and the PKK and its Iraqi Kurdish sponsors such as Masoud Barzani helped put petroleum prices up near $84 a barrel. The declining dollar contributed to the high price. Bush’s policies are hurting millions around the world; it is incredible how much damage one person can do when the Peter Principle begins operating full time.

Meanwhile, Turkish chief of staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit warned that US relations with Turkey could be irreparably damaged if the US Congress passes the proposed resolution condemning Turkey for genocide against the Armenians in 1915-1916.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has a lot of wealthy Armenian-Americans in her district, pledged to push the resolution through the House.

Turkey retaliated against France after its parliament acted similarly by cutting off military cooperation with Paris. If Turkey did that to the US, Washington would lose access to Incirlik Air Base, through which 70% of the materiel shipped to US troops in Iraq goes. The US ability to manage the aftermath of its likely withdrawal from Iraq would also be damaged if it lost Incirlik.

The Iraqi government on Sunday demanded that the Blackwater security firm, which has juicy contracts from the State Department, leave Iraq within 6 months.

Young Shiite leader Ammar al-Hakim acting head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, visited Ramadi in Sunni al-Anbar province on Sunday, consulting with Ahmad Abu Rishah, the head of the Awakening Council or tribal militia there. Abu Rishah and his late brother Sattar have been battling Salafi fundamentalists and foreign jihadis in the province. Ammar brought along Hadi al-Amiri, the head of the Badr Corps, ISCI’s paramilitary, which was trained in Iran by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Many Sunnis believe that Badr has been involved in death squad activity against Sunnis, but apparently the pitch was that both the Awakening group and Badr are actually pitted against “al-Qaeda” (i.e. the Salafi Jihadis). Ammar again called for the formation of provincial confederacies (melding provinces together into larger regional authorities), a plan to which most Sunni Arabs are opposed.

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Sunni Arab sheikhs in Abu Risha’s Awakening Council said that they were resisting American and Iraqi pressure to declare a Western [Sunni Arab] Regional Authority or provincial confederacy. [Presumably it would encompass al-Anbar, Salahuddin and Ninevah provinces, all with strong Sunni majorities].

Sunni Arab guerrillas struck even while Abu Rishah and al-Hakim were consulting. Reuters says, “Police major Waheed Dulaimi and four members of his family were killed in a suicide car bomb attack on his house in the town of Baghdadi northwest of Ramadi in western Anbar province, police said. Eight other people were wounded.”

Ammar’s rival Muqtada al-Sadr, also a cleric in his mid-30s, spoke out against the al-Hakims’ plans for a soft partition of Iraq on Sunday, slamming the idea of provincial confederacies under a federal government. Ironically, his Mahdi Army militiamen were fighting Sunni Arabs in al-Haswa while the Badr Corps commander was having tea with them in Ramadi. The Sadrists much more often deploy a rhetoric of pan-Islam than do ISCI and the Badr Corps, but the Mahdi Army has been if anything more involved in death squad activity against Sunnis than its rival, Badr.

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