The assassination of the police chief, Brig. Gen. Qais al-Mamori, who led the Iraqi police forces in Babil Province, was the latest of several attacks against provincial leaders in the mainly Shiite Arab region in recent months. General Mamori, who was 48, had become known for cracking down on militia leaders. He and the two bodyguards were killed as their police convoy rolled past a gas station in Hilla, the provincial capital, a local police official said.
The leader of the provincial council's security committee, Hassan Watwet, said an investigation into Sunday's explosion was under way, The Associated Press reported. "The primary suspect is Al Qaeda, but we do not rule out the second suspect, the militias," Mr. Watwet was quoted as saying, apparently referring to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the mostly homegrown insurgent group that the United States believes is foreign-led.
Last summer, the governors of two other southern Iraqi provinces were killed -- Muhammad Ali al-Hassani in Muthanna Province, and Khalil Jalil Hamza, the governor of Qadisiya Province -- in what appeared to be a power struggle among rival Shiite militias for control of the oil-rich region.
The above is from Paul von Zielbauer's "Bomb Kills an Iraqi Police Chief" in this morning's New York Times noting one of the latest instances of the targeting of officials in Iraq. The violence continues. And the Democrats run from the topic of the illegal war. In his latest piece, "Why the Democrats Could Lose" (Consortium News), Robert Parry explains how, on Iraq and other issues, Dems are blowing it:
Rank-and-file Democratic activists began demanding that their new majorities stand tough against Bush's open-ended war in Iraq and seek his impeachment if he continued his abrogation of constitutional powers.
But the Inside-the-Beltway Democratic consultants quickly began to reassert their influence over the national party. They called on the leaders to shelve proposals for curtailing the Iraq War and throw out any notion of impeachment, instead pushing for "kitchen-table" issues like raising the minimum wage.
"People are not looking to their individual members of Congress to solve the Iraq War," said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. "For the House to be focused on it now would look like partisan bickering rather than getting on with the people's business."
Lake's view of the Iraq War as a diversion was shared by several leading Democrats in Congress, including Hoyer and Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois.
Referring to Bush's Iraq War "surge" and the need to focus on the Democratic domestic agenda, Emanuel said, "I know where support for more troops is, and I know where support is for the minimum-wage increase." [Washington Post, Jan. 8, 2007]
But Democratic grassroots outrage forced the congressional leadership at least to pay lip service to stopping the war. So, the Democrats conducted what amounted to a phony legislative battle, putting up some symbolic anti-war resolutions and trying to attach timelines to war funding bills.
When faced with Republican filibusters or a Bush veto, however, the Democrats ran up the white flag. Instead of conducting their own filibuster to block another blank check for the war, the Democrats surrendered.
While the Democrats run from the issues, the illegal war continues. Among the many victims are women. Sinan Salaheddin's "Vigilantes Kill 40 Women in Iraq's South" (AP) reports on some targets in Basra:
Religious vigilantes have killed at least 40 women this year in the southern Iraqi city of Basra because of how they dressed, their mutilated bodies found with notes warning against "violating Islamic teachings," the police chief said Sunday.
Maj. Gen. Jalil Khalaf blamed sectarian groups that he said were trying to impose a strict interpretation of Islam. They dispatch patrols of motorbikes or unlicensed cars with tinted windows to accost women not wearing traditional dress and head scarves, he added.
"The women of Basra are being horrifically murdered and then dumped in the garbage with notes saying they were killed for un-Islamic behavior," Khalaf told The Associated Press. He said men with Western clothes or haircuts are also attacked in Basra, an oil-rich city some 30 miles from the Iranian border and 340 miles southeast of Baghdad.
Reuters reports a mortar attack on an Interior Ministry jail in Baghdad today that claimed the lives of 7 prisoners and left at least 21 prisoners and guards injured.
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paul von zielbauer
the new york times