blogenlust
1.24.2005

News From Iraq


The Good News:
Iraqi security forces have arrested the "most lethal" top lieutenant of al-Qaida's leader in Iraq -- a man allegedly behind 75 percent of the car bombings in Baghdad since the U.S.-led invasion, the prime minister's office said Monday. Sami Mohammed Ali Said al-Jaaf, also known as Abu Omar al-Kurdi, was arrested during a Jan. 15 raid in Baghdad, a government statement said Monday. Two other militants linked to Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terror group also have been arrested, authorities announced Monday. Al-Jaaf was "the most lethal of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's lieutenants," the statement said.
Of course this is great progress, but it still seems like we've had car bombs in or near Baghdad at least once a day since January 15. The Bad News:
The protest in Baghdad and others in towns across southern Iraq, including Kut, Amarah and Karbala, marked the latest campaign by Sadr's group, a grass-roots movement led by Shiite clergy that claims to speak on behalf of the Shiite downtrodden. Through protests, sermons and declarations by the reclusive Sadr, the movement is signaling its doubts about the Iraqi election, ending months of ambiguity over whether Sadr had surrendered his arms for a place in the political process. [...] Sadr's men have stopped short of calling for a boycott but insist they are not supporting the election. In coded language, they have ridiculed Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the country's most influential religious leader, whose perceived backing of the top Shiite coalition has made it the favorite in the vote. Loath to provoke the U.S. military, which killed hundreds of its followers in last year's fighting, the Sadr movement has relegated its militia to a lower profile while keeping up its strident rhetoric.
I don't know how much influence Sadr has within the greater Shiite community, but I do know he can get people's attention. If a solid percentage of Shiites join Sunnis in boycotting the election, then the election will really be futile.