A suicide bombing at a funeral for pro-American militiamen in a village northeast of Baghdad in Diyala province killed at least 60 persons on Thursday and wounded a similar number. This attack follows a previous bombing in the provincial capital of Baquba that had killed 60. The US-backed ‘Awakening Councils’ are being fought in Diyala by Sunni guerrillas, some of them calling themselves ‘the Islamic State of Iraq.’ In Diyala, unlike al-Anbar, one also sees reports that older, less fundamentalist guerrilla groups such as the 1920 Revolution Brigades, the armed wing of the Association of Muslim Scholars, continue to attack US troops. Diyala is a mixed province, and poor Sunni Arab relations with Shiites and Kurds make the Awakening Councils more difficult to implement, especially since the Shiites control many key institutions.
A National Defense University study by a former Pentagon official finds that the Iraq War is a debacle, the outcome of which is in doubt. McClatchy reports of the paper:
‘ The report said that the United States has suffered serious political costs, with its standing in the world seriously diminished. Moreover, operations in Iraq have diverted “manpower, materiel and the attention of decision-makers” from “all other efforts in the war on terror” and severely strained the U.S. armed forces.
“Compounding all of these problems, our efforts there (in Iraq) were designed to enhance U.S. national security, but they have become, at least temporarily, an incubator for terrorism and have emboldened Iran to expand its influence throughout the Middle East,” the report continued. ‘
The US will free about half of its 23,000 Iraqi prisoners, 2/3s of whom are Sunni Arabs. (By the way, this statistic proves that the US has been fighting ordinary Iraqis in Iraq, not “al-Qaeda.” It typically has less than 150 foreign fighters in custody.) This prisoner release was a demand of the Iraqi Accord Front, the Sunni Arab political coalition that withdrew from the al-Maliki government last summer. There are now reports that the IAF will rejoin the al-Maliki government, with six cabinet posts given to its members.
Does this mean that the US has been holding some 12,000 Iraqis who actually aren’t dangerous?
Secretary of State Condi Rice wants the Arab states to shield Iraq from Iran’s “nefarious influence.” Rice seems unaware that she has installed in Baghdad parties like the Islamic Mission Party (al-Da’wa) and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) that are very close to Tehran, and that Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia advised her not invade Iraq because this would happen. And Sunnis, Salafis and Wahhabis would dissuade Iraq’s Shiite majority from good relations with their Iranian Shiite neighbors . . . how? Whenever I hear Bush administration officials say something about the Middle East, it is as though I am listening to bad fiction read with a drunken slur. Opinion polling does not find that the Arab publics are afraid of or worried about Iran in any numbers, and in fact Israel’s attack on largely defenseless little Lebanon in 2006 made Iran and Hizbullah more popular in the region.
Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail do interviews with Fallujans who maintain that the city is still crippled and was largely destroyed by the US.
Far rightwing Israeli politician Binyamin Netanyahu of the Likud party says that 9/11 was good for Israel. Even if it were true, couldn’t Netanyahu have the decency not to say it? Netanyahu also made crazy allegations against Iran of preparing for global domination or something. Hmmm. I should have thought people who are the objects of bizarre conspiracy theories themselves would be sensitive about spreading them around about other people. Iran isn’t even very powerful in its own neighborhood and has not aggressively invaded another country in its modern history. It isn’t colonizing anyone else’s land and hasn’t dropped bombs on its neighbors. It doesn’t have an atomic bomb and there is no evidence it is seeking one. In all these ways, the contrasts favor Iran over the Israeli Right.
Robin Wright at WaPo writes that “Suicide bombers conducted 658 attacks around the world last year, including 542 in US-occupied Afghanistan and Iraq . . .” 542 out of 658 is about 83%, lending further testimony to Chicago Political Scientist Robert Pape’s theory that suicide bombings tend to occur in countries under foreign military occupation by an otherwise democratic government. (That is, they are staged for the public in the occupying country to some extent; people tend not to bother to blow themselves up when occupied by a dictatorship.)
I am looking forward to reading Wright’s new book, “Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East”
McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Thursday:
A roadside bomb exploded in the industrial street 52, Karrada, downtown Baghdad at 10 am Thursday, injuring 2 civilians.
Gunmen riding a motorbike opened random fire upon the stores in al-Rubaei Street, a shopping centre in east Baghdad at 10.30 am today, injuring 3 civilians.
A roadside bomb targeted a US Military convoy in Abu Disheer, south Baghdad at 11 am Thursday. No comment from the US Military was available at the time of publication.
A roadside bomb targeted a US Military convoy in Bayaa, southwest Baghdad at noon Thursday. No comment from the US Military was available at the time of publication.
A Katyusha rocket fell behind the Mansour Milia Hotel on the river bank in central Baghdad at 4.45 pm today. One civilian was injured.
A roadside bomb targeted a police patrol near the new Diala Bridge in Zafaraniyah, southeast Baghdad at 3 pm Thursday, killing 1 policeman and 1 civilian. The explosion also injured 6 policemen and 4 civilians.
1 Katyusha rocket fell inside the Green Zone at 4 pm today. No casualties were reported.
Doura Local Council Member, Saad al-Nuaimi was assassinated by gunmen at 5 pm today. He was driving his car near the bridge intersection and his son, Saifuddin was with him. Al-Nuaimi was killed outright, but his son, although severely injured, survived.
A roadside bomb targeted a Sahwa checkpoint, the US sponsored militia in Akhtal Street, Adhamiyah, north Baghdad at 5.30 pm Thursday. The explosion killed 5 Sahwa members, 1 civilian and injured 2 children.
4 unidentified bodies were found in Baghdad today by Iraqi police. 2 in Shaab, 1 in al-Amin and 1 in Doura.
A suicide bomber detonated in the funeral of a tribal sheikh who was a leading member in the local Sahwa Council, a US sponsored militia, in al-Hiwaysat village, al-Athaem area, Thursday. The explosion killed 60 civilians, injured tens.
4 MNFI servicemen and 1 Iraqi Army officer were wounded during a raid conducted by the joint force in Jalowlaa district near the town of Khanaqin, northeast Diyala, said Iraqi Police. A gunman targeted them with a hand grenade from one of the houses in the area being searched, said Iraqi police. No comment from the US Military was available at the time of publication.
Gunmen driving a modern car opened fire targeting 2 policemen in Jazair neighbourhood, near al-Abayachi Mosque in Basra city centre killing both instantly.
A policeman from the National Police was targeted by gunmen while he was on guard duty on top of a high building in al-Kornish area in the centre of Basra city. He escaped with superficial wounds.’