Saturday, June 12, 2004

UK Elections: Blair's party takes a beating

UK Elections: Blair's party takes a beating

Clare Short, the former international development secretary, has called on Tony Blair to stand aside after the Labour party suffered its worst 24 hours at the polling booths since the mid-70s.

Short has said:

"I think that the electorate is sending a message to Tony Blair because the Labour party is incapable of correcting him. What he did in Iraq has brought disgrace and dishonour on Britain around the world. As Tony Blair won't change the policy, the only way to make a correction is for him to step aside from the leadership."


In Iraq Today

In Iraq Today

Bassam Salih Kubba gunned down
Was Iraq Ministry's most senior diplomat

The 60-year-old Kubba was a longtime diplomat, having served as acting chief the Iraqi mission to the United Nations and Iraq's ambassador to China. Kubba was the second senior Iraqi official to die in weeks. On May 17, Iraqi Governing Council head Izzadine Saleem was killed in a suicide car bombing near the U.S. military headquarters in Baghdad.

Three hostages were butchered by Lebanese hostage and two locals working for a foreign company in Iraq.


Shia Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gives Iraqi government conditional support
An aide told the Arab television station Al-Arabiya that al-Sadr would cooperate with the new government if it worked to end the U.S. military presence in the country.


In Sadr City

On Friday in Sadr City, one Mahdi Army militiaman was killed and several others were wounded in clashes with American forces in Sadr City, Baghdad. A Sadrist clergyman, Shaikh Nasir al-Sa'idi, preaching at the al-Hikmah mosque, warned nations considering joining the multinational force in Iraq that they will be treated the same way the present occupiers are treated.


In Kufa

At the Friday prayers at the Kufa Mosque, Shaikh Jabir al-Khafaji preached in the stead of Muqtada al-Sadr, reading the latter's prepared sermon for the third week in a row. During the sermon, he mentioned that Muqtada al-Sadr would support the caretaker government if it demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of Occupation forces from Iraq. He emphasized his "refusal to kowtow to the Occupiers."

In Najaf

On Thursday and early Friday, Mahdi Army militiamen looted and burned a Najaf police station after the police attempted to arrest an aide to Muqtada al-Sadr. Although US-installed Najaf governor Adnan Zurufi accused the Mahdi Army of breaking the truce, it is hard to see how the attempted arrest was consistent with a truce. Zurufi is probably egged on in these matters by Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority, but note that the US offered him no help on Friday. I think it is a legitimate demand that militias not appear in the streets armed. I'm not sure trying to arrest Muqtada's aides is so legitimate.

--Juan Cole


Food for Thought

A 6/19/2003 report by Juan Cole on the cancellation of planned municipal elections in Najaf was particularly painful for Professor Roger Myerson of the University of Chicago to reread from today's perspective. He wrote recently:

"You [meaning Prof. Cole] reported then that local US officials believed "Najaf was ready for elections and that the theocrats would have done poorly." But even if the Sadrists had won the election, their movement may have developed very differently over the past year if they could have built their political power by spending public funds for local reconstruction, rather than by recruiting soldiers for armed resistance."