Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki suddenly reversed himself on Friday, pledging a freeze on attacks on militias. Just a day before he had been saying that he would send the Iraqi military in after the Mahdi Army in Baghdad. Given what happened to the army in Basra, where the Sadr Movement isn’t all that strong, I wouldn’t have advised him to do that. Apparently someone with some sense got al-Maliki’s ear.
Meanwhile, Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr is pursuing his plans to hold a million-man march on next Wednesday, the anniversary of the fall of the ancien regime and the beginning of the American military occupation.
Al-Zaman writing in Arabic says that there were Sadrist demonstrations in Basra on Friday against the al-Maliki government. In Baghdad, the Mahdi Army was holed up in Sadr City, Shulah and Kadhimiya districts. The newspaper also alleges that Jalal al-Din Saghir, a prominent Shiite cleric who preaches in northern Baghdad, is suspected of secretly running a militia called the “Vanguard of Islam.”
Political violence killed at least 30 persons on Friday. A guerrilla with a bomb belt blew up a funeral in Sadiya in Diyala Province east of Baghdad, killing 20 persons. Another guerrilla attack, this one a roadside bomb, killed 3 policemen and wounded several others in Musayyab south of Baghdad. The US bombed Basra again at the request of the al-Maliki government.
Ned Parker of the LAT looks at the increasing Arab/ Kurdish tensions in and around Mosul. He comes back saying that the situation is a powderkeg with a fuse burning.
Muhsin al-Hakim, son of the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq, `Abdul `Aziz al-Hakim, said Friday what we all know but Bush, Cheney and McCain won’t acknowledge: “Tehran, by using its positive influence on the Iraqi nation, paved the way for the return of peace to Iraq and the new situation is the result of Iran’s efforts. . .”
Americans who fly on passenger planes know that we now have to limit liquids we bring aboard and take them out of our luggage in a plastic bag. This is because a cell of British Muslim jihadis wanted to blow up trans-Atlantic flights originating in Heathrow by mixing up an explosive brew and sitting next to a window, using the small explosion to blow out the window and start the airplane’s external skin to peeling off, causing a catastrophic event. It turns out that they say on martyrdom videos discovered when they were arrested and the plot broken up, that they were motivated to avenge US and British killing of Muslims in Iraq; some also mention Israeli actions against the Palestinians. The opinion polling shows that British Muslims, while they overwhelmingly see themselves as loyal to the UK, are absolutely furious about Britain’s military involvement in Iraq, which they view as a form of oppressive neo-colonialism.