Guerrillas in Iraq set off three bombs one after another on Monday morning, targeting Shiite pilgrims on their way to the Shrine of Imam Musa al-Kadhim in Kadhimiya, north Baghdad, to commemorate his death. They killed at least 11 persons and wounded some 33. The bombings on this Shiite holy day are an unwelcome reminder that Sunni-Shiite sectarian tensions remain high in Baghdad and that Sunni Arab guerrillas are still attempting to provoke sectarian feuding as a way of destabilizing the situation. All this, despiteIraqi police attempts to forestall such attacks.
On Sunday, Sunni Arab guerrillas shot down seven Shiite pilgrims as they passed through a Sunni area on their way to Kadhimiya, according to AP (though the report has been questioned). Imam Musa al-Kadhim is the 7th in the line of close relatives of the Prophet Muhammad who, Shiites, believe, were his rightful vicars.
Meanwhile, Turkey bombed 12 positions inside northern Iraq of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which the US has designated as a terrorist organization, and which has killed dozens of Turkish troops in the past year.
The Kurdish issue has delayed the passage of the law on provincial elections in the Iraqi parliament, which must successfully legislate soon on the issue if the elections are to be held this fall.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that attempts to come to a compromise on the provincial elections in parliament on Sunday failed. Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani warned that the dispute had brought Iraq to “dangerous” straits.
The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and its paramilitary, the Badr Organization, had split on the provisions regarding power sharing in Kirkuk in the bill that was vetoed. ISCI official Ammar al-Hakim said that compromise language in the original draft, on which the Kurds had signed off, had been altered at the last minute.
Al-Hakim also told al-Hayat, “Iraq needs to regulate its relations with the United States, as a state that has a special position regarding the presence of its forces in Iraq.” Apparently he means that it is a pressing matter to pass a Status of Forces Agreement.
In a remarkable convergence, two journalists come to similar conclusions today about the situation in Iraq. One, Ned Parker of the LA Times, is on the ground in Baghdad. The other, Bob Dreyfuss, writes from Washington, D.C.
“Despite the gains, the political horizon is clouded: Shiite Muslim parties are locked in dangerous rivalries across central and southern Iraq. Kurds and Arabs in the north compete for land with no resolution in sight. U.S.-backed Sunni Arab fighters who turned on the group Al Qaeda in Iraq could return to the insurgency if the government does not deliver jobs and a chance to join the political process. Bombings, assassinations and kidnappings still occur almost daily. And those out enjoying Baghdad’s night life feel safe only because they are staying inside their own districts in a city transformed into a patchwork of enclaves after years of sectarian violence.”
Parker, with the support of colleagues Saif Hameed, Saif Rasheed, Caesar Ahmed and Said Rifai and “a correspondent in Basra” (i.e. Basra is still too dangerous to do journalism in public), provides a tour of the situation in Sadr City, Mosul, Adhamiya and Basra. In each case he finds it improved but precarious.
Legendary difficulties beset journalists attempting to tell a nuanced story (“things are a bit better but not all that better and besides, they could deteriorate easily”), which is much harder than just parroting that “the surge worked.” Parker and his colleagues are to be congratulated for making this attempt to get beyond the political talking points.
Dreyfuss points to unresolved and potentially explosive tensions— Shiite/ Sunni in Baghdad, Sunni on Sunni in al-Anbar Province, and Shiite on Shiite in the south.
Those three bank employees killed by US troops last May, whom the Pentagon initially accused of being criminals? Nope, just bank employees, and ones with high level clearances to be driving where they were, at that.
MacClatchy reports political violence on Sunday:
Gunmen injured Abdul Hadi al Jaza’iri, an official in the Baghdad Operation Command, while he was driving his car in al Rasheed Street in south Baghdad at 2 p.m. Three civilians were injured when a Katyusha rocket slammed into al Jamia’a neighborhood in west Baghdad. Six stores were damaged by the explosion.
Wire services reported that seven Shiite pilgrims were killed in Mada’in town south of Baghdad while they were coming towards the holy shrine in Kadhemiyah neighborhood on Sunday morning. Officials in the Ministry of Interior and the local council of Mada’in told McClatchy Newspapers that the incident did not occur.
Two Iraqi soldiers, one of which was a captain, were killed in a roadside bomb which targeted an Iraq army patrol in Kirkuk north of Baghdad on Sunday morning.
A civilian was injured in a roadside bomb in al Hussein neighborhood in west Basra, south of Baghdad on Sunday morning.
Seven Iraqi soldiers were wounded in a roadside bomb that targeted a convoy of the Iraqi army in Baladroz, east of Baquba around 11 a.m. Two Government guards protecting oil ministry facilities were killed in a bombing that targeted them as they road their bicycles to work. The explosion occurred in the town of Buhruz, south of Baquba city on Sunday morning.
A policeman and two children were injured when insurgents attacked Abo Khamees police station south of Baquba city around 12:30 p.m. The insurgents also blew up two houses during the attack, police said.
Anbar Two IEDs exploded inside the house of Zaki Obid, a member of the local council of Fallujah in Anbar province. The first IED exploded in the garden of Obid’s house in al Thobbat neighborhood in downtown Fallujah city caused no casualties.
The second IED was attached to Obid’s car. Two of Obid’s guards were killed and two others wounded. Zaki Obid and his son were injured seriously and they were moved to one of Baghdad’s hospitals.
Two Iraqi soldiers including an officer were killed and three other soldiers were injured when a joint force of the Iraqi army and the US army clashed with insurgents in the Makhmour district southeast of Mosul city. The joint force raided al Jdaida village in the district after getting information about insurgents in the area. . .’