12 Killed in Mosque Bombing;
Controversy Rages over Security Pact
A suicide bomber detonated his payload outside a mosque in the largely Shiite town of Musayyib on Friday, killing 12 and wounding 23. Musayyib is in Babil province, and the US turned over security duties there to the Iraqi government last month. The Sadrists plamed the bombing on the security agreement and continued US presence in the country.
Hamza Hindawi of AP asks whether Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was weakened by the deal-making in which he had to engage to get the security pact through parliament. He had to agree to a national referendum, and to a package of reforms aimed at making Iraqi government more consensual and less concentrated in the executive, as for all practical purposes, it has become under al-Maliki. I am quoted as wondering whether the current alliance between al-Maliki's Islamic Da'wa (Mission) Party and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim will survive. If not, the two will square off against one another in December, during the next federal parliamentary elections. The constitutions stipulates that the largest single bloc in parliament gets first shot at forming a government, and that might not be the al-Da'wa Party.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that controversy continues to rage around the security pact, dividing communities against one another. The Association of Muslim Scholars condemned the Iraqi Islamic Party and other Sunni Arab parties for "selling Iraq" with their votes in its favor. Muqtada al-Sadr announced three days of mourning in protest against its enactment, but he did not order his supporters to engage in confrontation to overturn it, "in order to safeguard the unity of the country. One of the aides to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani called it a "diminution" of Iraq's sovereignty.
Muqtada asked his followers to mourn formally in mosques for three days, and to hold wakes (for all the world as though someone had died in the family). Muqtada all by himself will leave behind enough material to keep symbolic anthropologists busy for centuries. He sent out a statement expressing his "condolences" to Iraqis at this calamity, an agreement of abasement and humiliation. Hundreds of Sadrists managed to demonstrate after Friday prayers, despite strict security, and to burn American flags.
In Karbala, an aide to Sistani, Sheikh Ahmad al-Safi, said he had two concerns. First, would the Iraqi government actually exercise sovereignty to the degree stipulated in the agreement? And, second, he regretted the lack of any guarantee that Iraq would be removed from Chapter 7 of the UN Charter (and thus regain its independence from the UNSC). He pointed out that as long as US troops were on Iraqi soil, the government in Baghdad would not be truly sovereign, since it could not inspect the mail of American residents of Iraq, and US troops retained freedom of movement.
Ayatollah Muhammad al-Ya`qubi expressed his "disappointment" that the pact was enacted. (He is the spiritual leader of the Islamic Virtue Party or Fadhila, which is strong in Basra).
The Bush administration finally released the official English text on Friday. Some parliamentarians have expressed fears that it is not exactly the same as the Arabic text.
The European Union on Friday urged member states to take in 10,000 of the most vulnerable Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria. While it is a praiseworthy step, it cannot in itself resolve a massive crisis of 1.5 million Iraqis displaced abroad.
posted by Juan Cole @ 11/29/2008 12:21:00 AM