Shi’ite-Sunni rift laid bare by hanging

Shi’ite-Sunni rift laid bare by hanging

As predicted here by Hugh Fitzgerald.

By Lauren Frayer for AP, with thanks to Jeffrey Imm:

BAGHDAD — As Iraqis awoke yesterday to television images of Saddam Hussein’s neck twisted by a hangman’s noose, Shi’ites cheered, Sunnis vowed revenge and at least 80 persons died from bombings and death squads — not far from the daily average.In Baghdad’s Shi’ite neighborhood of Sadr City, victims of Saddam’s three decades of autocratic rule took to the streets celebrating, dancing, beating drums and hanging Saddam in effigy.

Celebratory gunfire erupted in other Shi’ite neighborhoods across the country.

Outside the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, west of the capital, loyalists marched with Saddam pictures and waved Iraqi flags.

Defying curfews, hundreds took to the streets vowing revenge in Samarra, north of Baghdad, and gunmen paraded and fired into the air in support of Saddam in Tikrit, his hometown.

“He’s gone, but our problems continue. We brought problems on ourselves after Saddam because we began fighting Shi’ite on Sunni and Sunni on Shi’ite,” said Haider Hamed, 34, a candy store owner in east Baghdad whose uncle was killed in one of Saddam’s many brutal purges….

There was no immediate sign of a feared Sunni uprising in retaliation for Saddam’s execution.

But the London Sunday Telegraph reported that 400 to 500 Shi’ites had been kidnapped in the past two months and messages to relatives said they would be killed if Saddam died.

The responses within Iraq to Saddam’s death echoed the larger reaction across the Middle East, with his enemies rejoicing and his defenders proclaiming him a martyr.

Iranians and Kuwaitis welcomed the death of the leader who led wars against each of their countries.

Some Arab governments denounced the timing of the 69-year-old former president’s hanging just before the start of the most important holiday of the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha.

Libya announced a three-day official mourning period and canceled all celebrations for Eid.

Pentagon: Shi’ite Sadr Army bigger threat than Al-Qaeda in Iraq

Pentagon: Shi’ite Sadr Army bigger threat than Al-Qaeda in Iraq

But who cares? As far as the incoming chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is concerned, it’s all the same thing anyway.

“Sadr Army is called top threat in Iraq: A Pentagon report cites the danger of the Shiite cleric’s militia,” by Julian E. Barnes in the Los Angeles Times, with thanks to Jeffrey Imm:

WASHINGTON — Armed militiamen affiliated with radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr pose the gravest danger to the security and stability of Iraq, surpassing Sunni Arab insurgents and Al Qaeda terrorists, a new Defense Department report to Congress says.The finding represents the military’s strongest characterization of the danger posed by Sadr and is among the conclusions of a quarterly report to Congress that chronicles the instability in Iraq and record level of sectarian violence.

In the last three months, the number of attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops and Iraqi civilians rose 22%, and the number of U.S. casualties grew 32%, the Pentagon assessment says.

As attacks have risen, the confidence of the Iraqi people has fallen, with fewer saying in surveys that they thought their government could protect them and more agreeing that civil war was likely.

The conclusion that Sadr-related militiamen posed the chief threat to the country’s security came after the U.S. military had complained for months that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shiite, had been unable to address armed Shiite groups and had obstructed American efforts to confront Sadr.

Meanwhile, everyone has gotten used to the idea that there is nothing unusual in a cleric having a militia in the first place. In any case, from reading Sam Harris, Andrew Sullivan, and the like, you’ll learn that the militia commanded by Jerry Falwell is far more lethal than As-Sadr’s anyway. What’s that? Falwell commands no militia? What are you, some kind of Islamophobe?

Posted by Robert at

String of bombings kills more than 150 in Sadr City

String of bombings kills more than 150 in Sadr City

Sunni-Shi’ite Jihad Update. “150 die in deadliest attack of Iraq war” by Thomas Wagner for The Associated Press:

BAGHDAD, Iraq – In the deadliest attack since the beginning of the Iraq war, suspected Sunni-Arab militants used three suicide car bombs and two mortar rounds on the capital’s Shiite Sadr City slum to kill at least 150 people and wound 238 on Thursday, police said.

The Shiites responded almost immediately, firing 10 mortar rounds at the Abu Hanifa Sunni mosque as Azamiya, killing one person and wounding seven people in their attack on the holiest Sunni shrine in Baghdad.

The Interior Ministry imposed a curfew on Baghdad until further notice.

Beginning at 3:10 p.m., the three car bomb attackers blew up their vehicles one after another, at 15 minute intervals, hitting Jamila market, al-Hay market and al-Shahidein Square in Sadr City. At about the same time, mortar rounds struck al-Shahidein Square and Mudhaffar Square, police said.

As the fiery explosions sent up huge plumes of black smoke up over northeastern Baghdad, and left streets covered with burning bodies and blood, angry residents and armed Shiite militiamen flooded the streets, hurling curses at Sunni Muslims and firing weapons into the air.

Ambulances raced to the scenes and police Col. Hassan Chaloub said at least 145 people were killed and 238 wounded in the blasts, which destroyed many outdoor food stalls and parked automobiles and buses.

[…]

Sectarian fighting also broke in another part of northern Iraq on Thursday, when 30 Sunni insurgents armed with machine guns and mortars attacked the Shiite-controlled Health Ministry building. After a three-hour battle, during which Iraqi soldiers and U.S. military helicopters intervened, the attackers were repulsed. But at least seven guards of the ministry were wounded, said police 1st. Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razaq.

The Sadr City and Health Ministry attacks were the latest example of widespread sectarian fighting involving Sunnis and Shiites that is leaving Iraq either on the verge of a civil war or already fighting one.

At about noon Thursday, heavy clashes broke out between about suspected Sunni insurgent gunmen and guards at the Shiite-controlled Health Ministry building in northwest Baghdad, security officials said.

State-run Iraqiyah television said the Health Ministry was being attacked with mortars by “terrorists who are intending to take control of the building.”

Security officials said about 30 gunmen, believed to be Sunni insurgents, had launched the attack. Iraqi troops were being rushed to the area and all roads leading to the ministry in Bab al-Muadham neighborhood were closed, said the security officials on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

Police Lt. Ali Muhsin said the attack began at 12:15 p.m. when three mortar shells hit the building, causing damage. After that, gunmen on the upper floors of surrounding buildings opened fire.

Ministry workers were trapped in the building.

“The gunmen fled as American helicopters and Iraqi armored vehicles arrived. Employees were able to leave starting about 3:15 p.m.,” Health ministry spokesman Qassim Yehyah said.

Health Minister Ali al-Shemari is a follower of al-Sadr, the radical anti-American Shiite cleric.

Iranians praise Saddam’s death sentence — The Iranians are hoping this won’t mean that the Iran-Iraq war will not be discussed in court — which would be a chance for them to advance their cause of establishing a Shi’ite Arab client state in Iraq. From AP:

Iranians praise Saddam’s death sentence

The Iranians are hoping this won’t mean that the Iran-Iraq war will not be discussed in court — which would be a chance for them to advance their cause of establishing a Shi’ite Arab client state in Iraq. From AP:

Tehran, Nov. 5(AP): Iranian officials praised Sunday’s death sentence against ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and said they hoped he would continue to be tried for other alleged crimes against humanity.“The death sentence for Saddam was a matter of happiness for me. He was a war criminal and a vampire in the current history,” said Kazen Jalai, a spokesman for Iran’s parliamentarian committee of national security and foreign policy.

Just after Saddam was sentenced in a Baghdad courtroom, Iran’ state-run television interrupted its regular program to announce: “A court in Iraq sentenced Saddam, the collapsed dictator to death.”

Saddam and two others were convicted and sentenced to death by hanging for war crimes in the 1982 killings of 148 people in the town of Dujail. The former Iraqi leader shouted out in the court, condemning what he called the occupation of Iraq by U.S.- and British-led coalition forces, and his attorney vowed to appeal the verdict.

For many Iranians, the memories were still fresh from of the destruction they suffered after Saddam invaded their country in 1980, setting in motion a deadly war that would last eight years.

Before Saddam’s verdict was announced, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said he felt that execution was the minimum sentence expected.

“Of course, it (the verdict) doesn’t mean that other issues like the Iran-Iraq war should not be reviewed in court,” Hosseini said.

U.S. tries to cut off terrorists’ cash flow

U.S. tries to cut off terrorists’ cash flow

“The Middle East is the center of graft and corruption in the universe.” Financial Jihad Update from Rowan Scarborough in the Washington Times, with thanks to Jeffrey Imm:

The U.S. military is not only trying to stop terrorists and arms from leaking into Iraq from Syria and Iran but also another just as dangerous commodity — cash.It’s the lifeblood of the enemy — whether they be al Qaeda terrorists, death squads or Sunnis trying to evict American forces and bring back dictator Saddam Hussein — and U.S. raiders have seized millions of dollars in cash during the conflict.

Military officials point to Syria and its secretive banking system as the main source of Sunni walking-around money, while Iran’s Revolutionary Guard funnels money to Shi’ite militias, such as cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

The enemy’s money began flowing into Iraq with the start of the insurgency in the summer of 2003, and the shipments are still coming in.

“There are billions coming in,” said Daniel Gallington, a former aide to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. “The Middle East is the center of graft and corruption in the universe. It really always has been. The fight in Iraq is about who controls what area is really all about who controls the money.”