US Pressures Turkey not to Attack Mahdi Army attacks Police in Karbala Rubin on Cheney’s Roll-out of Iran War

The Bush administration made a diplomatic ‘full court press’ with Turkish leaders to dissuade them from attacking the Kurdish Workers Party [PKK] guerrillas hiding out in Iraq after the killing of 17 Turkish troops and the capture of 8 others by the PKK on Sunday. Turkish Prime Minister Rejeb Tayyip Erdogan is alleged to have told US Secretary of State Condi Rice that the only way for the US to forestall a Turkish invasion is for its military to arrest the PKK leaders in Iraq themselves and to turn them over to Ankara.

Under all this American pressure, The PKK is said to be offering a conditional ceasefire with Ankara. The ‘conditional’ part doesn’t seem very promising to me.

Although the US says it cannot control the PKK because it has few troops in the north of Iraq, this excuse neglects another reason that the US is essentially coddling a terrorist group that is killing fellow NATO troops. The fact is that the PKK is being coddled by Massoud Barzani and his Peshmerga, who could stop them hitting Turkey if they so desired. The other fact is that the US only has one really reliable ally in Iraq, which is the Kurds, and their paramilitary or the Peshmerga is the only element in the new Iraqi army that fights with any spunk or initiative. The US cannot afford to alienate Barzani or the Peshmerga; hence it is forced to try to wheedle Turkey into inaction in the face of a rather dramatic set of provocations.

South of Baghdad in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, fierce clashes broke out between Mahdi Army fighters and Iraqi police (most of them from the rival Badr Corps paramilitary of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq). The Mahdi Army guerrillas ambushed the police, killing 6 of them. The fighting came on the heels of a US military strike on a building being used by guerrillas in Sadr City (which is politically largely Sadrist) that killed 49. The Iraqi government maintains that many of the dead were civilians, including women and children. The US apparently arrested a prominent Karbala-based Mahdi Army leader, named Abdul Hadi al-Muhammadawi, then in Sadr City, during its operation.

Reuters reports civil war violence for Monday. Major incidents:


MOSUL – Five bodies, including one of a female lawyer, were found in various parts of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – Police said they found five bodies dumped across Baghdad on Monday.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol killed one soldier and wounded two others in the Jamiea district of western Baghdad, police said. . .

BAGHDAD – Police found six bodies, victims of violence, across Baghdad on Sunday, police said. . .

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb killed two people and wounded 13 when it exploded in the Karrada district of central Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – Two roadside bombs killed two people and wounded eight others, including three policemen, when they exploded in quick succession in the southern Baghdad outskirt of Zaafaraniya, police said.

BAGHDAD – Gunmen killed Ahmed al-Mashhadani, an advisor of senior Sunni politician Adnan al-Dulaimi, on Thursday, Dulaimi’s party said. . .

KUT – Gunmen killed a former member of the ousted Baath Party in a drive-by shooting in the city of Kut, 170 km (105 miles) southeast of Baghdad, police said.

IFECH – Abbas al-Ghurabi, a local Sadr official in the town of Ifech near the southern city of Diwaniya, was found critically wounded hours after local police had arrested him, officials in Sadr’s office said.

MOSUL – A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed one policeman and wounded four, including one policeman, in the northern city of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. . .

ISKANDARIYA – Gunmen killed an automotive engineer in the town of Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

ISKANDARIYA – A roadside bomb killed two men on Sunday evening in the town of Iskandariya, police said. ‘

Barnett Rubin follows Cheney’s roll-out of his campaign for war on Iran, a roll-out of which his sources warned us last month. He joins Fareed Zakariya in asking what planet we are on if we think Iran a threat to the international order.

Chalmers Johnson at Tomdispatch.com on intellectual fallacies of the ‘war on terror.’

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