Sunday, April 15, 2007

Juan Cole: Report on Iraq

The rest of the report is at Cole's blogspot.
It seems that the surge is causing some insurgents to migrate to softer targets elsewhere in Iraq.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

289 Iraqis Killed or Wounded in Day of Rage
Four Killed in Karbala Demonstration

McClatchy estimates that 289 Iraqis were killed or wounded in political violence on Saturday. This passage is extremely important to understanding the sentiments of the Shiites of the South, among the main victims of the violence:

' Aqeel al Khazaali, the governor of Karbala, blamed the Baghdad Security Plan for the attack inside the relatively safe southern city. Karbala is about 50 miles south of Baghdad. "The Baghdad crackdown and the tribes in Ramadi are forcing the terrorists to leave their cities," he said. "Now Karbala is under fire from terrorists, and the central government has to take the necessary steps to help us to protect the holy city." '

The destabilizing character of this assault on the city of the Prophet's Grandson is seen in that many residents blamed the elected governor for not ensuring security-- such that a big crowd rioted in protest. The crowd is said to have marched on the governor's mansion and surrounded it, demanding his resignation, and set two police cars afire. They accused the United States of having had a hand in the bombing. Nothing could be more dangerous to the position of the US in Iraq than to have it believed that it had anything to do with a massive bombing near the shrine of Imam Husayn. (It is a ridiculous allegation, but will be believed by the more disgruntled Shiites.)

Iraqi press sources say that Karbala police fired on the rioters and killed four. Ayatollah Muhammad Taqi Mudarrisi, the leading clerical authority in Karbala, has called for an investigation into the shootings, according to this Arabic article. He criticized the police for lack of self-discipline at a perilous time, and warned against attempt to foment Shiite on Shiite violence and social turmoil (fitnah).

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