Awakening Council in Diyala Bombed; Rumors of US Contacts with Sunni Resistance; Iran: Nukes forbidden in Islamic Law

A suicide bomber blew up a meeting of the Diyala Awakening Council of Sunni tribal shaikhs, killing five tribal chiefs who had been cooperating with the Americans against radical Sunni Salafi extremists.

Other violence in Iraq on Friday was concentrated in Baghdad, Diyala Province and Kirkuk, according to Reuters, and included roadside bombs and mortar attacks. McClatchy has more, especially on violence in the troubled Kirkuk province, which is contested among Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen (see the item below).

In a bid to tamp down the Iraq violence further (it is still the worst in the world), the Iraqi, the US and some regional governments have written formal letters to four Sunni Arab resistance movements. According to al-Hayat, they include the Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance, The Front for Holy War and Change, and the groups led by Izzat Ibrahim Duri, which fall into two sorts, some Sufis and the others Baathists. Al-Hayat says that these four have indicated a willingness to parley with the Iraqi government and its American backers, but insist that the talks be held outside Iraq and be guaranteed internationally (i.e. they want to be sure that they won’t just be arrested.) Duri in the past has been dead set against negotiations, so I do not know what to make of this report; there is always the danger that such unsourced and shadowy stories are intended as psychological warfare, are intended to harm the morale and break the back of the resistance.

A majority of Iraq members of parliament opposes the extension of the US military mandate in Iraq by the United Nations Security Council, but these lawmakers are being sidelined and marginalized.

The Friday prayers leader in Tehran, a member of the Council of Guardians, reaffirms that Islamic law forbids nuclear weapons. The law of war in Islam forbids the killing of innocent noncombatants. Since nuclear weapons inevitably kill large numbers of innocent women and children, Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei has pronounced these weapons contrary to Islam and insisted that Iran does not want them and would not use them.

Fred Kaplan wonders what, in the wake of the departure of Karen Hughes as US public relations czarina, the US might do to improve its relations with the Muslim world. He points to the successes that US soft power had in the old East Bloc and wonders what today’s analogies would be.

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