Iraq: May 22, 2004

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A car bomb went off outside the home of the deputy interior minister, killing four Iraqi security guards and a passerby. Another car bomb in Baghdad killed an American soldier. A car bomb on the 17th killed the head of the Iraqi governing council who, it was revealed, used the money provided to hire personnel security  staff and instead hired inexperienced relatives. While providing jobs for friends and relatives is important, doing it at the expense of personal security is risky.

The al Sadr gunmen in Karbala, Kufa and Najaf have been forced back to the Shia shrines, where they had been stockpiling weapons and supplies. The senior Shia clergy criticized this, and condemned Muqtada al Sadr for ordering it. So for the past week American forces have been driving the al Sadr gunmen out of government offices and neighborhoods they had taken control of. Several hundred of the al Sadr supporters have been killed, thousands more have apparently given up the fight. But several hundred seem determined to fight it out from the shrines. But American forces are unlikely to take the shrines themselves. The senior Shia clergy, which has condemned al Sadr for his violence and use of the shrines, has not said how they would deal with the continued presence of  al Sadrs gunmen in the shrines. Iran has announced its support for al Sadr, as has Shia terrorist organization Hizbollah (founded and funded by Iran) in Lebanon. Most Iraqi Shia are leery of Iranian influence in their country.

 

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