Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Shiite Shrine Damaged

U.S. Won't Support Sectarian Goals

From Yahoo News22FEB06 - SAMARRA, Iraq - A large explosion Wednesday heavily damaged the golden dome of one of
Iraq's most famous Shiite shrines, sending protesters into the streets and triggering reprisal attacks against Sunni mosques. It was the third major attack against Shiite targets in as many days.

Shiite leaders called for calm, but militants attacked Sunni mosques and a gunfight broke out between Shiite militiamen and guards at a Sunni political party in Basra. Army Capt. Jassim al-Wahash said about 500 soldiers were sent to Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad to prevent clashes between Shiites and Sunnis.
The Interior Ministry said four men, one wearing military uniform and three in black, entered the mosque early Wednesday and detonated two bombs, one of which collapsed the dome and damaged part of the northern wall of the shrine.

A government statement said "several suspects" had been detained and some of them "might have had been involved in carrying out the crime."

Police believed some people might be buried under the debris after the 6:55 a.m. explosion but by late afternoon no casualties had been found. The shrine contains the tombs of two revered Shiite imams, both descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, and is among Iraq's most sacred sites for Shiite Muslims.
"This criminal act aims at igniting civil strife," said Mahmoud al-Samarie, a 28-year-old builder who was among the crowd. "We demand an investigation so that the criminals who did this be punished. If the government fails to do so, then we will take arm and chase the people behind this attack."

Religious leaders at other mosques and shrines throughout the city denounced the attack in statements read over loudspeakers from minarets.

President Jalal Talabani condemned the attack and called for restraint, saying the attack was designed to sabotage talks on a government of national unity following the Dec. 15 parliamentary election.
And this from NY Times International21FEB06 - BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 20 - The American ambassador to Iraq issued an unusually strong warning on Monday about the need for Iraq's political factions to come together, hinting for the first time that the United States would not be willing to support crucial public institutions plagued by sectarian agendas.

"The United States is investing billions of dollars" in Iraq's police and army, said the ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. "We are not going to invest the resources of the American people to build forces run by people who are sectarian."

Mr. Khalilzad spoke at a news conference on a day of fresh violence across Iraq. It was the bloodiest day in almost two months.

He was addressing allegations that Shiite death squads operate within the Interior Ministry. Such reports have grown in recent months, with accounts of hundreds of Sunni men being rounded up by men in police uniforms and found dead days or weeks later.

The deaths have infuriated the Sunni Arabs, whose radical fringe leads the insurgency here, and have sharpened their distrust of the Shiite-led government that swept into power last spring.
...The new Parliament is required by law to meet for the first time on Saturday, and Mr. Khalilzad's remarks seemed calculated to put pressure on Iraqis to overcome their differences.

He has sharply criticized Interior Ministry abuses in the past, echoing Sunni concerns about the ministry's failure to stop the killings. He amplified those concerns on Monday, urging the leaders to appoint interior and defense ministers who are "nonsectarian, broadly accepted and not tied to militias."

If Iraq cannot control the sectarian agendas within its government, Mr. Khalilzad said, it "faces the risk of warlordism that Afghanistan went through for a period." Mr. Khalilzad was born in Afghanistan and served as an American envoy there before coming to Iraq last year.

prying1 sez: It is obvious that the murders, suicide bombings and destruction of 'Holy Places' is designed to fire up the passions of both (or all) sects in Iraq. By playing the tit for tat game the people end up fulfilling the terrorists goals of dividing the country and leaving it a no mans land for their own nefarious purposes.

Iraq is a country filled with people being dragged into violence through no wish of their own. I'm certain the majority would prefer to not play the tit for tat game but when suddenly faced with a group of people wishing revenge for whatever reason it is hard to stay neutral and live.

This upcoming meeting mentioned above - "The new Parliament is required by law to meet for the first time on Saturday" - needs to be placed on prayer lists world wide.

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