Guerrillas detonated two big bombs in Shiite areas of Baghdad on Thursday morning, killing 12 and wounding 40.They were striking at Shiite worshipers celebrating the end of the month-long Ramadan fast. Many Iraqi Shiites observed the Eid al-Fitr on Thursday in accordance with the ruling of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
There were also 6 persons killed when guerrillas shot up a minibus near Baquba.
McClatchy also reports that in Diyala Province to the east of the capital, “In the early morning there were clashes between the emergency police and gunmen in Tahaniyah village of Mandli ( about 52 miles east of Baquba). Two gunmen were killed and three others were arrested. From their side police had four policemen injured.”
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports in Arabic that Iraqi Shiites split into 3 groups with regard to observing the Eid al-Fitr or the breaking of the Ramadan fast. Followers of Muhammad Husain Fadlallah of Lebanon commemorated the Eid on Tuesday, as did the the Sunnis. The Da’wa (Islamic Call or Islamic Mission) Party tends to follow Fadlallah as their legal counselor (faqih) but not as an unchallegeable source of religious authority (marja`iyyah). Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is a leader of the Da`wa.
Wednesday was favored by Ayatollah Kadhim al-Ha’iri, who resides in Qom and is followed by members of the Sadr Movement and Mahdi Army of Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr. Al-Sharq al-Awsat said most Iraqi Shiites commemorated Eid al-Fitr on Wednesday. That day was also favored by Ali Khamenei,the theocratic leader of Iran.
Followers of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani observed the holy day on Thursday in accordance with a legal ruling of Sistani, who insist that the moon must be seen with the naked eye.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat is convinced that many more Iraqi Shiites followed Kadhem al-Ha’iri than the others. If so, that datum may mark a turn of Iraqi public opinion toward the Sadr Movement. Unlike Sistani,it has been consistently demanding a US withdrawal.
The LAT reports that the Iraqi government, dominated by fundamentalist Shiites, on Wednesday took control of the Sunni Arab Awakening Councils or “Sons of Iraq” that had previously reported to the US military. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has long opposed the program and has brought vanishingly few into the Iraqi security forces. Only about 11,000 of the 56,000 such fighters in Baghdad will be admitted to the police or army, while the other 80% will be retrained, disarmed,and given civilian jobs. One big problem with this plan is that as soon as they are no longer in the Awakening Council, they are open to being assassinated by the fundamentalist vigilantes whom they fought on behalf of the US. Al-Maliki also plans to charge and arrest some of these Awakening Council members for the crimes they committed when they were part of the guerrilla resistance to the new government.
In a further sign that the US war in Iraq is winding down, the US military released 2400 prisoners during Ramadan. AFP remarks: “With the latest releases, the number of detainees in US custody has dropped to 17,900, the statement said. Since the start of 2008, some 14,200 detainees have been freed. . . Most detainees spend an average of one year behind bars, generally without being formally charged.”