Iraq Press Roundup

By HIBA DAWOOD, UPI Correspondent  |  Aug. 1, 2007 at 2:27 PM
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In an editorial Tuesday titled "Karada Massacre," Falah al-Mishaal, editor of state-run Al Sabah newspaper, said Arab, Muslim and other countries were silent on the Karada car bombs last Thursday that took the lives of at least 50 people and wounded about 150 others in the Shiite majority part of Baghdad. The incident happened when Iraqi civilians were celebrating their soccer team's win over South Korea in the Asia Cup semifinals.

"As if we are a forgotten nation; alas, hundreds of people die everyday under the sight and silence of the world."

The editorial criticized Iraqi security forces, which have been unable to prevent explosions in that part of the city for the past four years.

"If the Iraqi forces can't save people's lives, where is the multinational forces rule?" the editorial asked.

It described the situation as a "continuation of Saddam's style to produce mass graves" while Iraqis are losing their lives every single day. It said political parties were watching from afar while arguing among themselves and threatening to boycott Parliament. In the meantime, we have the multinational forces that don't make any move toward achieving a relatively secure situation.

On Sunday, Al Adala newspaper, backed by Shiite cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq, reported a new barbed-wire fence was to be built around Baghdad's mostly Shiite Karada district.

"The Ministry of Interior has to take responsibility over these explosions and start using explosive detectors to discover where the car-bomb factories are," Baghdad Mayor Hussain al-Taee told Al Adala.

Taee didn't say when the new security barrier will be set up.

Al Bainna Al Jadida, a Basra-based newspaper backed by the Shiite Hezbollah Party Movement, reported European diplomats in Brussels raised concerns the U.S. military is planning to arm Sunni groups, specifically in and around Baghdad. The fear, the paper said, was that this would most likely lead to nationwide clashes between armed Sunnis and Shiite militias.

"The U.S. thinking is arming and supporting Sunnis to fight beside the Iraqi army ... (to) impose security and stability in the cities that they are in, and encourage them to resettle in Shiite majority neighborhoods so it balances the Shiite domination and Shiite militias in those areas," the paper said.

The U.S. plan, the newspaper said, would shrink the Shiite majority and raise the number of Sunnis in Iraq to half or close to half the population.

In a related development, Abbas Albayati, an Iraqi lawmaker and member of Parliament's Security and Defense Committee, told the newspaper that the U.S. plan to arm insurgents to fight al-Qaida was tantamount to "playing with fire."

"Weapons should only be in the hand of the security institutes," he said. "We should not go past the constitution."

The Sunni daily independent paper Al Mashriq commented Sunday that Friday prayers in Karbala were led by the Shiite Sadr Movement, and the prayer sermon reflected anger over a military raid on the home of one of the group's leaders in Karbala. U.S. helicopters and vehicles backed Iraqi forces last Thursday during the raid, which Mashriq reports resulted in clashes between the two sides. Abdul Hadi al-Muhamedawi, a local Sadr official, told his followers, "We won't repulse, our country and city ... comes first," the newspaper reported. He also called his followers not to assault the Iraqi police or army. "They are all Iraqis, and our enemy is one, that is the American occupation," the paper quoted him as saying.

The hospital in Karbala said that nine people were killed and 25 wounded in the raid, Mashriq reported.

The Iraqi Communist Party's newspaper Tareeq Al Shaab reported Sunday on a Turkish assault on northern Iraq. A source in the security forces said Turkish artillery bombed a series of areas on the borders in Zakhu city between Iraq and Turkey. The 250 artillery shells resulted in burning wide areas of the city. The paper also said this was the first time the assault extended this far into Iraq.

The independent Al Mutamar Newspaper, sponsored by Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, reported Sunday on an attack in Baqouba. Masked gunmen attacked the town at sunrise Saturday, resulting in injuries among the residents as well as the demolishing of many of the houses and buildings. It also reported that the Iraqi lawyers union began a nationwide strike Sunday. A union statement referred to the strike as "a protest against assassinations and kidnapping that the lawyers have been facing. One of the latest incidents was the assassination of Iraqi lawyer Hussam Al Naaei." The protest is to demand the Iraqi government take legal responsibility to protect lawyers and compensate those who lost their loved ones.

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