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Fri

13

Apr

2007

Parliament Bomber was Probably Bodyguard — Turkey Threatens to Invade Iraq — Wolfowitz Promotes Girlfriend
Friday, 13 April 2007 15:47
by Juan Cole

The bombing of the cafeteria in the Iraqi parliament on Thursday was likely the work of a bodyguard of one of the members of parliament. Who exactly was killed and wounded among the parliamentarians has been a matter of dispute, as Iraqslogger points out in a good overview. MP Muhammad Awadh of the National Dialogue Front, a secular-leaning Sunni Arab list, is the one on which the various reports agree. At least one other MP was killed, either a Kurd or a Shiite. Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that 3 MPs died, and says 30 persons were wounded, some seriously. It identifies the dead as Awadh, along with Taha al-Lahibi of the Sunni Iraqi Accord Front and Niyami al-Miya'i of the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance. Wire services said that between 10 and 14 MPs were wounded, said to include several members of the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance and more Kurds.

Survivors were said to be bloodied and dusty, and to be flicking human body parts off their suits. A video of the bombing is here, courtesy al-Hurra.

There was this spate of headlines about the Iraq parliament bombing that said "Bush condemns Bombing of Iraq Parliament." Why do American journalists do that? Is that really news? Did anyone entertain some doubt as to whether he would be pleased? In my view it is just a way for the White House to influence the news cycle and put a spin on the news (now it is not about how terrible the bombing was, but about Bush's disapproval). I'm not complaining about mentioning the condemnation way down in the article, the way the LA Times did. I mean where you make it the lede and headline. It is this kowtowing by editors to Karl "Benedict Arnold" Rove's spin machine that got us into this mess.

In Middle Eastern autocracies like Syria, the television news will show long clips of the president sitting with some visitor, with the sound off but some music in the background. It seems to go on forever. Stories about Bush's comments on an event like the parliament bombing are the American equivalent of those toadying, lingering camera caresses. Bush is responsible for everything that happens in Iraq, because he created this situation with his greed and ineptitude. If you were going to do a story on his reaction to a bombing in the Green Zone, it should be about how he didn't do enough to stop it. Or, you could ask why he keeps suggesting that there is a moral derangement in the bombers, which explains everything. The bombers aren't just immoral, they are using kamikaze tactics in a political cause (ending the US military presence in their country and dislodging the government set up under US auspices). Diverting attention from their politics to their immorality is a way for Bush to deny that his own political project in Iraq provoked this response.

Just to get a flavor of how "so and so condemns" stories really function, check out "Iranian FM spokeman strongly comdemns bombing Iraqi parliament". Surely Tehran's condemnation is as consequential as Washington's? And surely it is evidence against the silly US allegation of Iranian aid to Sunni Arab guerrillas? (For the real reasons for these absurd allegations coming from Washington, see John Pilger today.)

Al-Hayat also points out that the Sarrafiya Bridge, which was destroyed by a truck bombing on Thursday, had linked the Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiya in the east with the Shiite district of Kadhimiya in the west, and so had been a symbol of the cosmopolitan character of the capital. It was built by the British in the time of the monarchy (which ended in revolution in 1958). One thing I worry a lot about is that Shiite Kadhimiya is now isolated in largely Sunni West Baghdad, and its shrine, to the 7th Shiite leader or Imam, Imam Musa al-Kadhim, is vulnerable to attack. I have a foreboding that the bridge was hit to cut off the Shiites from help from East Baghdad, in prelude to doing something awful to them. Some 12 persons were killed in the bombing, 4 by drawning, and over 20 injured.

Parliament speaker Mahmud al-Mashhadani, a fundamentalist Sunni, had the opposite interpretation, expressing suspicions that the bridge was taken out to isolate the Sunnis of Karkh and Rusafa from one another.

Former Deputy Secretary of Defense and current head of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz is personally corrupt. He was corrupt when he tried to turn Iraq over to Ahmad Chalabi, who had been convicted of embezzling $300 million from his own bank. He was corrupt when he pushed the Iraq War with a bunch of phony arguments and the most disgusting campaigns of vilification against anyone who disagreed with him. And he was corrupt when he arranged for his Shiite Iraqi girlfriend, Shaha Riza, to get enormous wage increases.

Wolfowitz should be fired. After what he did to my country, he has no business in public office, anyway. But he is also just corrupt.

Bush has liberated Salih Rabi'a, all right-- from his 3 children, his wife, and probably to some extent his sanity.

Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski points out that the Bush administration is paralyzed by the Iraq War; that Bush rules by instilling fear in the public; that Bush intends to dump the problem in the lap of the next president; that the Dems probably can't stop him from doing just that; and that if Bush drags us into a war with Iran, it will tie down the US for 20 years and cripple US global leadership for a generation. Yup, Zbig has nailed it.

Former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke condemned the Bush administration for being stingy about letting Iraqis come to the US, whose lives had been put in danger because they worked for the Americans and who have been forced out of Iraq.

The powerful Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit said Thursday that Turkish forces needed to go into northern Iraq after Kurdish PKK guerrillas he believes are being given safe haven there. He said he had not yet submitted a request to parliament for authorization. The Turkish-Iraqi border is now a tinderbox. This is the other shoe in the Iraq conflict.

Buyukanit's comments probably come in response to a recent provocative interview given by Kurdistan leader Massoud Barzani.

Buyukanit also slammed US President George W. Bush implicitly, blaming the US for spoiling Barzani: “He [Mr Barzani] is at a very low level and I look to the one who enables him to speak so, who enables the division of Iraq, which is the greatest threat to the region.”

Ben Lando of UPI writes the really important story on Iraq-- the insecurity in Basra and its potential impact on the government in Baghdad. I am quoted:

' Also last week, British troops stationed in the area -- and on the verge of being withdrawn from the country -- were ambushed. Six were killed. Cole said if the British do leave, security in Basra is left to U.S. or Iraqi troops. Cole said he doubts they are up to the job.

"Then Basra could go completely out of control," Cole said. "Security in Basra is shaky. That to the extent it exists at all it's being provided by the British. Were the British to withdraw most of their troops by December under the new Labor (Party) prime minister, it's hard to see how security would be maintained.

"And if it's not maintained then it becomes more and more difficult to export petroleum through Basra and make sure the government actually gets any of the receipts," Cole said. "That would be the end of the Iraqi government." '


The Islamic Army of Iraq has split from the Islamic State in Iraq, which claims to be "al-Qaeda." In guerrilla wars, where you have a lot of guerrilla cells, there are often such splits and red on red violence. This was common in Afghanistan, too. Personally, I doubt it means much for the war. Members of both groups may be feuding, but they still hate the Americans more than they hate each other.

Juan Cole blogs at Informed Comment
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