A suicide belt bomber killed his own clansmen at a tribal reconciliation meeting at Yusufiya just south of Baghdad, killing at least 30 and wounding 110. It was the first big suicide bombing of 2009.i
There was also a bombing each in Baghdad and Mosul that left 6 civilians wounded.
Sawt al-Iraq reports in Arabic that the Israeli attack on Gaza continues to roil Iraq. On Friday, worshipers at several mosques in the northern, largely Sunni Arab city of Mosul (pop. 1.7 mn.) prayed for the souls of the Palestinian victims. Mosque preachers condemned the attacks launched by the Israeli military on the Gaza Strip, and praised the steps being taken by the Turkish government to get a ceasefire.
The holding of extra mourning prayers was coordinated by the Sunni Pious Endowments Board in the city. The preachers urged worshippers to pray for their brethren in Gaza and to make mention of their sufferings in their daily personal prayers until they are succored. Mosul is some 80% Sunni Arab, and the Arabs there have had a special interest in the welfare of Palestinians for decades. There were demonstrations and riots in Mosul over the Zionist colonization of Palestine as far back as the 1930s.
There was a rally against the war on Gaza at the main mosque in Mosul on Wednesday.
The Shiite preachers of Kufa, Najaf, Karbala and Baghdad also condemned the Israeli attacks and called for urgent aid to be provided to the inhabitants of Gaza. Some 5,000 Shiite students protested Israel in Baghdad’s Sadr City and cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for international intervention to halt what he called a massacre of innocents in Gaza; he also called for humanitarian aid to be sent to the victims.
Sawt al-Iraq adds, “The Iraqi Air Force on Wednesday (12/31) made four flights to El Arish in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to ferry humanitarian and medical aid to the residents of the Gaza Strip, which has been subjected to Israeli air strikes for several days, according to the press spokesman for the [Iraqi] Ministry of Defense.”
Let me just repeat that. Iraq’s air force is carrying aid to the Gazans via Egypt! And when Iraq gets its act together and gets rich from oil and gas, isn’t it obvious that the aid will increase significantly?
Kurdish-Arab tension is rising in Mosul ahead of the Jan. 31 provincial elections, with one Arab party accusing Kurds of attempting to suppress it. On Wednesday, a candidate for the Sunni Arab party, “Iraq for Us,” was assassinated in a cafe in Mosul.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that there are lively contests among the Sunni Arab parties as well. The Iraqi Islamic Party (descended from the Muslim Brotherhood) is competing against the Awakening Councils or tribal levies paid by the US originally to turn on the radical fundamentalist vigilantes. There are also secular parties running.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that fear of sectarian violence in Baghdad is still keeping Iraqis from traveling out of their own neighborhoods. (There are few mixed districts left, and for Shiites to go into Sunni ones or vice versa is still thought dangerous). Dora in south Baghdad was for some years a stronghold of fundamentalist Sunni guerrillas, until they were expelled in 2007-2008 by Awakening Councils. The district is the site of the famed Assyrian Market, which was closed in 2006 at the height of the sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing campaigns. Al-Hayat reports that Shiite entrepreneur from Bayya’ to the north began a bus service between the two districts last week, offering passengers a way to move across the Sunni-Shiite divide for the first time in years.