al-Hakim: Amnesty for Guerrillas who Killed US Troops
Civil War Violence Kills 50 Iraqis, with 29 Bodies Found
AFP reports an interview with Iraqi Shiite clerical leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, in which he urged that amnesty be extended to Iraqi guerrilla fighters who have attacked US troops. Al-Hakim is the leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a major party in parliament, and he also heads up the ruling United Iraqi Alliance party coalition. The reconciliation program put forward by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the Dawa Party ally of al-Hakim excluded those who have harmed US troops, journalists or foreigners.
Al-Hakim was dismissive of the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement, saying, “If there was a true resistance movement, then it should unmask itself so that we can sit down and negotiate with it, but I have seen no proof that such a movement actually exists.” He said that all the genuine resistance movements in modern Arab history had been led by known leaders, and had been honored by the people. He said that there could be not amnesty for supporters of Saddam Hussein or for Sunni Arab radicals who consider Shiites to be apostates from Islam.
Al-Hakim was also highly critical of the performance of US troops in Iraq: “They were not qualified to protect society. They were sucked into a quagmire and made many mistakes that have brought us to the present unfortunate stage. They must give more opportunities to Iraqis to take control.”
Al-Hakim has his own militia, the Badr Corps, some 20,000 strong, and has been frustrated that they are often marginalized by the Americans
Al-Zaman reports more of the AFP interview [Ar.], saying that he insisted that "there can be no retreat from the establishment of provincial confederacies," and he called on the Sunni Arabs to "establish their own regional confederacy in their areas." He said that with the establishment of a regional confederacy of Kurdistan, Iraq would become unbalanced and unstable if other regions did not establish their own provincial confederacies. Iraq has 18 provinces, but 3 of them in the north have joined to form the Kurdistan Region, and the Kurds are trying to induct a fourth, kirkuk.
Al-Hakim said that the establishment of a Sunni Arab regional confederacy would be the best way to fight terrorism. (I presume he means that it would go some ways in meeting Sunni Arab demands for more autonomy from the Shiite-dominated government.
He also said, apparently a propos of Coalition troops, "The Iraqi government will study this subject and will see where the benefit of the Iraqis lies, and then will take the appropriate decision through a timetable for the departure of foreign forces or their immediate withdrawal."
Al-Hakim's criticism of the US troops has as its background
incidents like the rape and murder at al-Mahmudiyah of a 15-year-old girl by a US soldier, which is now getting huge play on Aljazeera.
Al-Zaman/AFP say that Akram al-Hakim, minister of state for national dialogue [Ar.], has called on former supporters of the Baath Party that have now abandoned it, and who were uninvolved in its atrocities, to form a new political party and to enter the political process under its banner. This call is unprecedented since the fall of Saddam, and seems to imply that the re-branded Baathists might gain a seat at the political table if they cut their old ties in this symbolic way.
On another front, the Sunni Arab Iraqi Accord Front continued its boycott of parliament on Monday for a second day, protesting the kidnapping of one of its members last Saturday.
Al-Jazeerah reports that secular ex-Baathist and member of parliament Iyad Allawi is charging that several Iraqi officials in the ministries and members of parliament were listed in the telephone or computer files of slain terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He demanded an investigation of those officials, saying that you cannot be both in the insurgency and in the Iraqi government.
Reuters reports on civil war violence in Iraq for Monday, though with many omissions, according to the Iraqi press (see below):
In the northern city of Mosul, guerrillas set off a car bomb in a crowded market, killing 7 persons and wounding 28, including one policeman.
In Mahmudiyah south of the capital, guerrillas deployed a roadside bomb to kill 5 and wound 18 on a commercial street.
In Baghdad, guerrillas fired mortar rounds into a market in the northern Shaab District, wounding 10 persons.
Guerrillas killed two liquor dealers in the southern Shiite city of Diwaniyah.
Iraqi police discovered a beheaded corpse in the town of Hawija.
The deaths of two American soldiers were announced, one killed by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad and the other by enemy action during a military operation in al-Anbar Province.
35 persons were killed, or their bodies found Monday, in other incidents.
Al-Zaman reports that [Ar.] the morgue at the al-Adli Medical Hospital in Baghdad received 15 bodies of employees who had been kidnapped by militias in al-Amil District when they went to pick up their salaries from the al-Rafidayn Bank. The al-Zaman Baghdad correspondent said that the corpses were found near a gas plant and bore the marks of torture. Also, in al-Ma`alif District of southeast Baghdad, the bodies of 5 girls were kidnapped by militiamen wearing black and later found strangled, tortured and abused.
Al-Zaman/DPA report that [Ar.] 5 bodies were discovered on Monday belonging to Iraqi soldiers who had been shot in the village of Muqdadiyah near Baqubah. In Balad Ruz, also near Baqubah, a roadside bomb wounded 2 persons. In a stream in Karbala, 4 bodies were found floating, having been bound hand and foot and shot. In Najaf, gunmen invaded a house that was rumored to be a brothel and killed two women and a little girl. There have been several such incidents during the past year. The brothel is said to have received several warnings from a militia to cease its operation. Wine sellers in Najaf have also been threatened by groups wanting to establish a strict Islamic mini-state there. In Zaafaraniyah, guerrillas attacked the vehicle of special police commandos, killing 3. (This was Sunni on Shiite violence).
Guerrillas used explosive to attack oil pipelines in northern Iraq. The attack is not expected to affect exports, which are up to 2.5 million barrels a day, a post-war high.