« | »

Papers: Sectarian Violence Is/Isn’t Rising In Iraq

The DNC’s Washington Post:

Sectarian Violence Resurges in Iraq

By Nelson Hernandez and Daniela Deane
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, February 25, 2006

BAGHDAD, Feb. 25 — Fierce sectarian violence erupted anew Saturday despite an extraordinary daytime curfew, killing more than two dozen people in a series of incidents around the country, including a brazen attack on the funeral procession of an Iraqi television journalist in Baghdad.

The violence took place even though a daytime curfew emptied the streets of Baghdad and three neighboring provinces for a second day.

President Bush made a round of phone calls to Iraqi political leaders Saturday in an effort to defuse the violence that has killed more than 150 people in the country since the destruction of the golden-domed Shiite Askariya Shrine in Samarra four days ago.

Bush "encouraged them to continue to work together to thwart the efforts of the perpetrators of the violence to sow discord among Iraq’s communities," said Frederick Jones, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council, according to news agency reports.

Iraq’s top political and religious leaders held emergency talks in Baghdad and said they would join forces to ease the sectarian bloodshed that has put the country on tenterhooks waiting to see whether a full-scale civil war will erupt, news agencies reported from Baghdad. They also discussed the formation of a new government, the agencies reported.

In a symbolic gesture, Shiite and Sunni leaders held hands and then prayed after the talks at the Abu Hanifa mosque in Baghdad, the Reuters news agency reported from Baghdad.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry announced that the ban on all vehicular traffic will be continued in Baghdad and its suburbs for 24 hours from 6 a.m. Sunday. The ban was lifted for three other Iraqi provinces, Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said at a news conference, according to reports.

The first day of the curfew, Friday, brought a relative calm to the embattled country.

Shiite and Sunni Arab political leaders have issued public pleas for calm, but each side has accused the other of mounting revenge attacks since the Askariya bombing.

The main Sunni political bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front, issued a statement Saturday welcoming the government’s promise to rebuild the Shiite shrine in Samarra and Sunni mosques that were damaged in reprisal attacks afterwards.

The Sunnis suspended talks with the Shiites and Kurds on Thursday following attacks against more than 180 mosques in retaliation for the Samarra bombing.

Despite the flurry of meetings and calls, on Saturday there were signs that the Sunnis were conducting their own offensive. In the morning, gunmen burst into a Shiite house and killed 13 members of one family living near the predominantly Sunni Arab town of Baqubah, north of Baghdad. The victims, all men, consisted of three generations of one family, the Associated Press reported.

In Karbala, a Shiite holy city some 50 miles south of Baghdad, a car bomb explosion killed at least five people and injured more than 30, police and hospital officials said, according to the Associated Press. Karbala’s governor said on television that a suspect, who witnesses said detonated the bomb by remote control, was caught as he tried to flee the scene.

And in Baghdad, gunmen opened fire on the funeral procession for an Al Arabiya television reporter, who was killed along with two colleagues while covering the bombing in Samarra. One security guard was killed in the firefight, the network said.

When the mourners were returning from the cemetery, a car bomb ripped through an Iraqi military patrol that was escorting the mourners, news agencies reported. At least two soldiers and one police commando were killed then, police and army officials said, according to the Associated Press.

And at least two rockets slammed into homes in Baghdad’s Shiite slum, Sadr City, killing three people, including a child, the Associated Press reported.

Sunni leaders say Shiite militias affiliated with political parties have been allowed to rampage through the streets unchecked by the army and police. The Sunnis, in turn, have hastily organized groups of local men to defend their neighborhoods from attack.

Or the Australian Sunday Times:

Sunnis and Sadr’s Shiites make peace

From correspondents in Baghdad
26 Feb 06

THE movement of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, alleged to have played a role in the anti-Sunni violence over the last few days, publicly made peace with political and religious Sunni leaders overnight.

Four sheikhs from the Sadr movement made a "pact of honour" with the conservative Sunni Muslim Scholars Association, and called for an end to attacks on places of worship, the shedding of blood and condemning any act leading to sedition.

The agreement was made in the particularly symbolic setting of Baghdad’s premier Sunni mosque Abu Hanifa where the Shiite sheikhs prayed under the guidance of Sunni imam Abdel Salam al-Qubaissi.

The meeting was broadcast on television and the religious leaders all "condemned the blowing up of the Shiite mausoleum of Samarra as much as the acts of sabotage against the houses of God as well as the assassinations and terrorisation of Muslims".

The statement made reference to the key concerns of both communities with the violent aftermath to the attack on the Samarra mausoleum which saw more than 119 people die.

The sheikhs condemned "those who excommunicate Muslims" a reference to the "takfireen" or Islamist extremists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who justify killing fellow Muslims by declaring them non-Muslims.

"It is not permitted to spill the Iraqi blood and to touch the houses of God," said the statement, adding that any mosques taken over by another community should be returned.

The meeting also announced the formation of a commission to "determine the reasons for the crisis with a view to solving it", while also calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops.

On the political front, Salam al-Maliki, a cabinet minister allied to Sadr, and Iyad al-Sammaraie of the Sunni Islamic Party proclaimed their own reconciliation at a joint press conference, aired on Iraqi state television.

The Islamic Party belongs to the Sunni National Concord Front, which won 44 seats in parliament and has broken off talks on forming the next Iraqi government since Wednesday’s eruption of violence.

While overwhelmingly Shiite and representing thousands of poor and disaffected Shiites across the country, Sadr’s movement has often made overtures to the Sunni Arabs over their mutual dislike of the US presence in the country.

Still, the roving bands of gun-toting, black clad youths attacking Sunnis and their places of worship on Wednesday were widely believed to have connections to the Mehdi Army, the armed wing of Sadr’s movement.

In fact, Sadr’s office in Najaf issued a statement Saturday calling on his followers to eschew their trademark black uniforms.

"The order has been given to members of the Mehdi Army to no longer wear their black uniform, so that it not exploited by those who commit crimes," said the statement.

The statement added that those attacking mosques were "criminal bands with no links to the Sadr movement."

Maybe they are talking about two different Iraqs.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, February 25th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Papers: Sectarian Violence Is/Isn’t Rising In Iraq”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

« Front Page | To Top
« | »