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DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ الديموقراطيه في العراق

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Very good developement.. Iraqis are fedding up with these criminals.. The action by those Mujahideen army was so discusting, a lot of Iraqis "specially Sunni Arab" showed dis satisfaction with .

 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7600400/

From the article;

 

An Iraqi civilian helped U.S. soldiers in Task Force Baghdad locate the suspects, who were apprehended at two houses Saturday afternoon, the military said in a statement. The military did not identify the suspects or specify where they were captured.

 

......The Iraqi civilian told soldiers he knew where a blue pickup truck used in the attack was parked and led them to the site, the military said. When the soldiers reached the area, several other local residents confirmed the initial tip and showed them where the suspects lived, the statement said.

 

That is the good developement from the tragic article.

Will those taken captive be better off in a US jail or Iraqi jail ?

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Will those taken captive be better off in a US jail or Iraqi jail ?

 

They would love going to a US jail !!

Hope they don't.. That is what I understood from a friend who has a relative got captured by Iraqi police last week on accusation of relation to some violant activities.

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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7603020/

 

Iraqi comedy duo?

That's not the punch line

Freedom of expression is the best privilege we gained with the fall of Saddam’s regime. Under his rule the secret police would go over the script. Once they made me drop a skit from a play because an actress’ character said that her favorite meal is venison just like Saddam,” Mehdi said.

 

Free to mock government

Now Mehdi and Dadoush set out to criticize the government. But instead of getting into trouble, the men occasionally get calls from government officials thanking them for pointing out problems.

 

Recently Mehdi portrayed a man sitting in a bathtub while trying to row down a certain street that was flooded by sewage. In the sequence, Mehdi’s character calls his friend on a cell phone to apologize for being late because the sewage was particularly thick that day.

 

“One week later the district manager called me up and assured me not only was the sewage system fixed, but the road was repaved,” Mehdi exclaimed.

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Congratulations!!!!

 

Aljaafree just announced the forming of first Iraqi governemt..

First that is formed by pure Iraqi will after first Bremer's and then second AlIbraheemi's one

 

 

It is the new Iraq coming on , it is the new era ..

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Interesting excerpts from an article;

 

BAGHDAD (AFP) - At least four people have been killed in three separate car bombings around Iraq, one of them targeting a Baghdad meeting of Sunni Arab politicians who had taken part in negotiations for a new government.

 

...

 

...A second car bomb, possibly set off by a suicide attacker, exploded at around 2:30 pm (1030 GMT) outside a building where Sunni Arab politicians from the Council on National Dialogue were meeting, security officials said.

 

....The Sunni leaders escaped unscathed.

 

The council was one of a number of moderate Sunni groups that took part in negotiations for the new cabinet line-up unveiled Thursday, to the fury of insurgents and their hardline supporters among the ousted elite.

 

 

....Around Baghdad, Iraqi forces arrested 11 Sunni clerics on charges of abetting terrorism, a defence ministry official said.

 

"We arrested 11 imams on charges of inciting terrorism, mainly in the Baghdad al-Jadida district," the official said.

 

"The men captured yesterday and today were, among other things, calling for a boycott of the new government," the official said, without providing the names of the arrested clerics.

 

Four killed by Iraq car bombs

 

 

salim said;

It is the new Iraq coming on , it is the new era ..

If the new Iraqi govt arrests the "Imams" who protest against the new era in Iraq.....

Then the followers in the mosques of those Imams will need new teachers in the ways of the religion of peace

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were, among other things

 

The problem is not to protest against the new governement, it is a normal practice in the new Iraq .. Aljaafree him self asked for it .. It is the problem of calling and supporting terror.. It is about the "other things"..

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http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/51CF040...F9BF568CF46.htm

 

واعتقلت قوات الأمن العراقية 11 إماما لمساجد سنية أمس واليوم في منطقة بغداد الجديدة بتهمة "التحريض على العنف بشكل علني" في خطبهم للجمعة.

 

 

Aljezera coverage to the the arrest of the 11 Shiekhs..

 

"

They were arrested on bases of calling for violance publically in their Jumaa prayer" 

 

Just imagine if such thing happen in any westeren democracy, shall any media reporter would call them

The men captured yesterday and today were, among other things, calling for a boycott of the new government,"

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The problem is not to protest against the new governement, it is a normal practice in the new Iraq .. Aljaafree him self asked for it .. It is the problem of calling and supporting terror.. It is about the "other things"..

كان الله في عون الجعفري، فبعد اللف والدوران الذي استغرقوا كل هذا الوقت لا لشئ وانما كي يتأخر في الاعلان عن تشكيل الحكومة لحاجة في نفس يعقوب ، فهولاء المتباكون لو كانوا حريصين على وطنهم لتألفت الوزارة مباشرة بعد الانتخابات ولكنها دموع التماسيح.

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Optimism Continues after Iraq's Historic Election

 

IRI poll shows Iraqis see country taking right steps, hopeful for the future

 

Washingtion --An International Republican Institute poll conducted from February 27 to March 5, 2005 shows that a majority of Iraqis are optimistic about the direction of their country and hopeful for their future. Results also show a majority of Iraqis feel the January 30 election was fair and impartial and that the Transitional National Assembly (TNA) will represent the Iraqi people as a whole. To view a complete poll presentation click on the link below.
"

 

 

1- The new survey revealed that 61.5 percent of Iraqis believe that their country is headed in the right direction. The nearly 40 point margin between right direction and wrong direction is the largest since IRI began polling in May 2004, and this margin is more than double what it was in the poll taken from January 13 to 25, 2005.

 

2-The current poll further shows that more than 90 percent of Iraqis feel hopeful for their future.

 

3-more than 56 percent of Iraqis know that the TNA will be responsible for writing a permanent constitution. This number is up from 32.9 percent in the November 24 to December 5, 2004 poll. An additional 52.6 percent understood that the constitution drafted by the TNA will have to be approved by national referendum later in the year.

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استطلاع للرأي: ثلثا العراقيين يعتقدون بأن بلادهم تسير في الاتجاه الصحيح

 

واشنطن: تيلر مارشال: اشارت نتائج استطلاع أجراه «المعهد الجمهوري الدولي» بواشنطن، الى ان غالبية كبيرة وسط المواطنين العراقيين تشعر بالتفاؤل ازاء مستقبل البلاد. وأشارت نتائج الاستطلاع، الذي من المفترض ان يكون قد نشر امس، ان ثلثي العراقيين، الذين شاركوا في هذا الاستطلاع خلال منتصف شهر نيسان الماضي، يعتقدون بان البلاد تسير في الاتجاه الصحيح، اذ وصلت نسبة هؤلاء الى اعلى مستوى لها مقارنة بالاستطلاعات السبعة السابقة التي أجراها المعهد الجمهوري الدولي خلال العام الماضي. وكان أقوى تحول الى التفاؤل وسط العرب السنة، وهي المجموعة التي ظلت على مدى عقود تحظى بامتيازات دون غيرها من المجموعات الأخرى، قبل الغزو الذي قادته الولايات المتحدة للعراق في مارس (آذار) 2003. ويشكل المسلمون السنة جزءا كبيرا من التمرد ضد الحكومة العراقية والقوات التي تقودها الولايات المتحدة في العراق. وكان قادة السنة قد حثوا على مقاطعة الانتخابات العامة التي اجريت في يناير (كانون الثاني) الماضي. جدير بالذكر ان نسبة المسلمين السنة الذين شاركوا في الانتخابات العامة وأعربوا عن تفاؤلهم وقالوا ان البلاد تسير في الاتجاه الصحيح كانت اكثر بقليل من 10 بالمائة عند استطلاع آرائهم منتصف يناير الماضي، إلا ان هذه النسبة ارتفعت الى ما يزيد على 40 بالمائة الشهر الماضي. وارتفعت نسبة العراقيين الذين يتفقون مع الوجهة التي تسير فيها البلاد حوالي 15 في المائة مقارنة بنتائج الاستطلاع الذي اجري منتصف يناير الماضي. وتعتبر المؤسسة التي اجرت هذا الاستطلاع (المعهد الجمهوري الدولي) واحدة من بضع جهات غربية تجري استطلاعا للرأي في العراق، وتعد الجهة الوحيدة التي اجرت استطلاعات لآراء العراقيين هذا العام. وكان المعهد قد توقع في يناير الماضي نسبة إقبال كبيرة على الانتخابات وسط العراقيين، كما ان نتائج الاستطلاعات التي اجراها المعهد كانت مرجعا للمهتمين بالشؤون الخارجية. اجري الاستطلاع المذكور منتصف الشهر الماضي عقب اختيار ابراهيم الجعفري رئيسا للحكومة، وقبل ان ينهي القادة العراقيون شهرين من المفاوضات حول توزيع الحقائب الوزارية. وأشار المعهد الى ان الاستطلاع اجري بواسطة فريق عراقي محلي متخصص في هذا المجال، تلقى أفراده تدريبا على تقنيات ووسائل الاستطلاعات الغربية، إلا ان الاشخاص الذين شاركوا في الاستطلاع لم يبلغوا بأنه يجرى نيابة عن مؤسسة اميركية. وقال المشرفون على الاستطلاع ان هامش الخطأ فيه 2.75 بالمائة. وتعكس نتائج الاستطلاع تأييد العراقيين للعملية الانتخابية، وتبلغ نسبة الذين يعتزمون التصويت في الاستفتاء المرتقب بشأن صياغة دستور للبلاد 90 في المائة، فيما أعربت نسبة تقدر بحوالي 75 بالمائة من المشاركين في الاستطلاع عن اعتقادها بان العراق اذا تبنى نظام حكم جمهوريا، فإن الرئيس يجب ان ينتخب مباشرة بواسطة الشعب، بدلا من انتخابه على نحو غير مباشر بواسطة الجمعية الوطنية او تعيينه بواسطة الشخصيات الدينية أو قادة المجتمع. ومع اتجاه الحكومة العراقية الى صياغة دستور للبلاد، تشير نتائج الاستطلاع، الى ان هناك تمسكا وحرصا قويين على تضمين الدستور ما ينص على حماية حقوق الانسان وكفالة حق الاحتجاج على قرارات الحكومة. وكانت هذه الحقوق قد ادرجت قبل دعم الدولة للمؤسسات الدينية وحرية تكوين المجموعات المدنية وحرية الصحافة والتعليم الديني الإلزامي.

 

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In Arabic about the diffrences between Kurds them selfs on how to run their Fedral region.. Barazani seems to like a system where the head of the region had very wide authorities, while talabani refused such thing and ask for wider democratic measures..

 

 

 

الحزبان الكرديان الرئيسيان لا يزالان مختلفين حول صلاحيات رئيس الاقليم 

 

 

 

 

08/05/2005  19:46 (توقيت غرينتش)   

 

 

 

أخفق اجتماع عقد مساء أمس بين أعضاء في المكتبين السياسيين للاتحاد الوطني الكردستاني بزعامة الرئيس جلال طالباني والحزب الديمقراطيبقيادة مسعود البارزاني، في تسوية خلافات بين الحزبين تتعلق بصلاحيات منصب رئيس اقليم كردستان، المرشح لتوليه البارزاني، وهي خلافات تعيق انعقاد البرلمان الكردي الجديد.

 

فقد نقلت التقارير تصريحا وزعه اليوم مكتب الاعلام المركزي للاتحاد الوطني الكردستاني مفاده أن العملية السياسية في كردستان العراق متأخرة منذ أسبوع بسبب اختلاف الآراء بين الاتحاد الوطني والحزب الديمقراطي حول قانون رئاسة الاقليم.

 

وأشار المكتب إلى أن الاتحاد الوطني يرى أن من الممكن عقد جلسات المجلس التشريعي الكردي رغم تباين الآراء حول صلاحيات رئيس الاقليم. ولفت الى ان قيادة الحزب الديمقراطي الكردستاني تربط هاتين المسألتين، مما يشكل عقبة أمام إنعقاد الجلسة الاولى للبرلمان الكردستاني.

 

وأضاف البيان أن الخلاف بين الحزبين يدور حول مطالبة البارزاني بصلاحيات مطلقة وهو امر يرفضه الاتحاد الوطني الكردستاني الذي يطالب بصلاحيات واضحة ومعلنة لرئيس الاقليم، وأن تعرض أعماله أمام مرجعية دستورية أو قانونية.

 

ونقلت مصادر كردية أن حزب الطالباني طرح تعيين نائبه المشرف على الأجهزة الامنية كوسرت رسول نائبا للبارزاني في رئاسة الاقليم. لكن البارزاني أصر على عدم تعيين نائب له، وإنما يدعو إلى تعيين عضو من الاتحاد الوطني نائبا لرئيس وزراء الإقليم المفترض أن يكون نجيرفان البارزاني رئيس حكومة اربيل الحالي مقابل منح الاتحاد رئاسة المجلس التشريعي الكردستاني.

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Brits backed Sunni-led Iraq

 

BY KNUT ROYCE

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

 

June 23, 2005

 

WASHINGTON -- The British government, in sharp disagreement with the United States' ultimate position, believed that post-invasion Iraq should be run by a Sunni-led government and not one controlled by the majority Shias.

 

One of the so-called Downing Street documents, secret internal British memos stirring controversy on both sides of the Atlantic, drafted March 8, 2002, recommended two possibilities for a post-Saddam Hussein government - one run by a benevolent "Sunni military strongman," and the second, which it clearly preferred, for a "representative, broadly democratic government ... Sunni-led but within a federal structure."

 

The election process dictated by the United States resulted in the Shias, who represent 60 percent of the population, assuming a dominant role in the executive and legislative branches, as well as in drafting a new constitution.

 

The current insurgency is led by disaffected Sunnis who controlled the government under Hussein while only accounting for 20 percent of the Iraqi population.

 

Iraq's Arab neighbors have virtually boycotted the new government that resulted from the election process dictated by the United States. Only Egypt announced yesterday at a summit sponsored by the United States and the European Union in Brussels that it would send an ambassador to Baghdad. U.S. officials believe the reason is unease with the Shia leaders.

 

"What sort of Iraq [do] we want?" the British documents asked rhetorically. The first possibility, it said, involved a "Sunni military strongman" who, in return for aid, would abandon weapons of mass destruction and respect human rights and ethnic minorities. But, the report noted, the arrangement could result in Iraq ending up in the hands of another Sunni dictator.

 

A second possibility, the paper asserted, could be a "representative, broadly democratic government [that] would be Sunni-led but within a federal structure. The Kurds would be guaranteed autonomy and the Shias access to government. Such a regime would be less likely to develop WMD and threaten its neighbors. However, to survive, it would require the US and others to commit to nation building for many years."

 

The eight Downing Street documents, obtained by the London Times, are sprinkled with complaints that the Bush administration was rushing toward war with virtually no planning for its aftermath; suggest that the United States had decided on the invasion long before it acknowledged it would do so; and "fixed" weak weapons of mass destruction and terrorism intelligence to generate public and congressional support.

 

In a March 2002, memo, Britain's then-ambassador to Washington, Christopher Meyer, wrote that Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz had suggested " something like a functioning democracy" might replace Hussein.

 

Wolfowitz told reporters this week that he had not read the documents and declined to discuss them. "There will be a time and place to talk about history," he said, "but I really don't believe it's now."

Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.

 

 

البريطانيون أرادو ا لعراق ما بعد صدام حكومة يقودها السنة والأميركيون تركوها للشيعة

 

 

 

«وثائق داوننغ ستريت» اقترحت خيارين لم تأخذ واشنطن بأي منهما

 

واشنطن: نوت رويس

على النقيض من الموقف الأميركي، كانت الحكومة البريطانية تعتقد أن عراق ما بعد صدام حسين، ينبغي أن تديره حكومة يقودها السنة، وليست حكومة تهيمن عليها أغلبية شيعية. فقد أوصت احدى الوثائق التي تعرف باسم «وثائق داوننغ ستريت»، باعتماد احد خيارين لحكومة ما بعد صدام، الاول: حكومة يقودها «عسكري سني قوي» من الأخيار، والثاني، وهو ما كان واضحا ان لندن تفضله: «حكومة ديمقراطية ذات تمثيل واسع، يقودها السنة، ولكن في اطار بنية فيدرالية».

و«وثائق داوننغ ستريت»، هي مذكرات بريطانية داخلية سرية تثير الجدل على جانبي المحيط الأطلسي، اعدت يوم 8 مارس (اذار) 2003، أي قبل نحو اسبوعين من نشوب الحرب، التي اطاحت نظام صدام في 9 ابريل (نيسان). أما الولايات المتحدة فقد اختارت اجراء انتخابات على نطاق البلاد، أدت الى تولي الشيعة، الذين يشكلون 60 % من السكان، دورا مهيمنا في السلطتين التنفيذية والتشريعية، وكذلك في اعداد مسودة دستور دائم للبلاد. والتمرد الراهن في العراق يقوده العرب السنة الساخطون، الذين يشكلون نسبة 20% من السكان، وكانوا يهيمنون على الحكومة في عهد صدام. وقد قاطع جيران العراق العرب، الحكومة العراقية الجديدة، ويعتقد مسؤولون أميركيون، ان السبب في ذلك يرجع الى القلق من الزعماء الشيعة.

 

وتتساءل الوثيقة البريطانية «أي نوع من العراق نريد ؟«، وتجيب «هناك احتمالان»، الأول يتعلق بمجيء «رجل عسكري سني قوي «من المتوقع» أن يحافظ على وحدة الأراضي العراقية، ومقابل المساعدة الدولية، يتخلى عن أسلحة الدمار الشامل، ويحترم حقوق الانسان والأقليات الاثنية». ولكن هناك، كما يشير التقرير، «خطر كبير» من أن مثل هذا الترتيب يمكن أن يؤدي الى وقوع العراق في يد «دكتاتور سني أوتوقراطي» آخر.

 

وتؤكد ورقة الخيارات على أنه يمكن ان يكون البديل، «حكومة تمثيلية ديمقراطية واسعة، يمكن أن يقودها السنة ولكن في اطار بنية فيدرالية. ويمكن أن يضمن الأكراد استقلالهم الذاتي، بينما يشارك الشيعة في الحكومة. واحتمالات قيام مثل هذا النظام بتطوير أسلحة دمار شامل وتهديد الجيران ضعيفة، غير أنه من أجل أن تبقى مثل هذه الصيغة، فإنها تحتاج أن تتعهد الولايات المتحدة ودول أخرى ببناء الدولة لسنوات عديدة».

 

وجادل التقرير بأنه ليس من المحتمل، ان يلقى هذا الخيار مقاومة كبيرة من الشيعة.

 

وتشتمل «وثائق داوننغ ستريت» الثماني، التي حصلت عليها صحيفة «ذا تايمز» البريطانية، على شكاوى من أن ادارة الرئيس الأميركي جورج بوش، تندفع نحو الحرب من دون التخطيط فعليا لما بعدها، مشيرة الى أن الولايات المتحدة، كانت قد قررت القيام بالغزو قبل وقت طويل من اعترافها بأنها ستقوم به، و«حددت» معلومات ضعيفة عموما عن أسلحة الدمار الشامل، وعن الارهاب للحصول على دعم الشعب والكونغرس.

 

وفي 18 مارس 2002، أشارت مذكرة الى أن سفير بريطانيا في ذلك الوقت لدى واشنطن، قال ان مساعد وزير الدفاع بول وولفويتز كان قد تحدث عن احتمال استبدال صدام حسين، «بشيء شبيه بديمقراطية فاعلة».

 

وفي لقاء فطور الأسبوع الحالي مع صحافيين، قال وولفويتز انه لم يقرأ «وثائق داوننغ ستريت»، ورفض مناقشة محتوياتها. وقال إنه «سيكون هناك مكان ووقت مناسب للحديث عن التاريخ، ولكنني أعتقد حقا أنه ليس الآن». وقال الكولونيل المتقاعد باتريك لانغ، وهو أكبر ضابط استخبارات في وزارة الدفاع خلال حرب عاصفة الصحراء، أول من أمس، انه «من المحتم» ان حكومة شيعية في العراق، «سوف تتجه نحو ايران، شاءت أم أبت. فلا مكان آخر تتجه اليه. وسيرغمون على السير في ذلك الاتجاه، لأنهم الحلفاء الطبيعيون الوحيدون».

 

* خدمة «نيوزداي» ـ (خاص بـ«الشرق الأوسط»)

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I have two intakes on the article below..

First I don't know who is Alyasree that the writer is quoting .. This a serious matter that need to be discussed throughly within the constitution committe and Systani has nothing to do with it.. I personally don't buy such reports about his envolvement in such details..

 

The second point is that such a mechanism might not be accepted by Sunni Arab.. Sunni arab are scattered in many provinces and having such mechanism might lower their chances than increasing them.. It might be true that during the last January ellection, having such mechanism under heavy unvoting that this could be better for some provinces like Alnabar, where no significant Shia Arab , but would be not the case in Salahdeen, Musol or Diala where sunni arab don't have absolute majority

 

Looks to me that writer is not very aware about the real dynamics of the Iraqi socierty.. The nation wide based ellection is good for minorities not the other way .. Indeed some Shia political figures were claiming that the nation wide is hurting them!!

 

Any how , personally I don't think a faction based ellection system is workable or even demanded by Iraqis.. There might be some politicians pushing for such for personal political reasons though .. I think leave to the constitution committe and the people refrundom is the best way

 

Top Shiite Cleric Hints at Wider Voting Role for Sunnis

 

 

By SABRINA TAVERNISE

Published: June 28, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 27 - Iraq's most powerful Shiite cleric appeared to offer a major concession to the Sunni Arab minority on Monday when he indicated that he would support changes in the voting system that would probably give Sunnis more seats in the future parliament.

In a spate of attacks on Monday, the New Baghdad district of the capital was a particular target. Iraqis fled after a bombing at a Sunni mosque. More Photos >

 

In a meeting with a group of Sunni and Shiite leaders, the cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, outlined a proposal that would scrap the system used in the January election, according to a secular Shiite political leader, Abdul Aziz al-Yasiri, who was at the meeting. The election had a huge turnout by Shiites and Kurds but was mostly boycotted by Sunni Arabs.

 

Such a change would need to be written into Iraq's new constitution, which parliamentarians are drafting for an Aug. 15 deadline. Although there has been little public talk about what form elections might take under the constitution, Ayatollah Sistani has been highly influential in Iraq's nascent political system.

 

Under the proposal, voters in national elections would select leaders from each of the 19 provinces instead of choosing from a single country-wide list, as they did in January. The new system would essentially set aside a number of seats for Sunnis roughly proportionate to their numbers in the population, ensuring that no matter how low the Sunni turnout, they would be guaranteed seats.

 

Sunni Arabs welcomed news of the suggestion. "This should have been done from the beginning," said Saleh Mutlak, a member of the National Dialogue Council, a Sunni Arab political group that has pressed for a more active role in politics. "That election was wrong."

 

The January elections ended in a decisive victory for Shiite Arabs and Kurds, leaving just 17 seats for Sunni Arabs in the 275-seat National Assembly. Voting in largely Sunni areas was extremely low, depressed by threats from insurgent groups who opposed the election.

 

Iraqi and American officials say feelings of disenfranchisement among the Sunni Arabs, who ruled Iraq for decades, may be fueling the insurgency. The violence has cut deeply into Iraqi society, with about 1,200 Iraqis and more than 75 American soldiers killed in the past two months. The attacks have taken on increasingly sectarian overtones, raising fears that Iraq could be headed toward civil war.

 

At least 10 Iraqis were killed and more than 36 wounded in attacks across Iraq in the past 24 hours.

 

A car bomb exploded late Sunday outside a barbershop in the New Baghdad district of the capital, killing the shop owner, a customer and a 4-year-old boy, an Interior Ministry official said. Barbershops have been singled out by Islamic attackers because they offer Western-style shaves and haircuts. On Monday, at least 4 Iraqis were killed and 29 wounded when a car bomb exploded outside a restaurant in the same neighborhood.

 

Also on Monday, two American soldiers were killed when their Apache helicopter crashed about 11 a.m. near Taiji, a large air base northwest of Baghdad, said Master Sgt. Greg Kaufman, a military spokesman. It was the third loss of an American helicopter in about a month.

 

The military did not say what caused the crash. The Associated Press quoted an Iraqi witness as saying a rocket had hit it, and other witnesses heard heavy gunfire. Sergeant Kaufman could not confirm any of the details.

 

Another American was killed Monday in central Baghdad while he helped Iraqi policemen investigate a burning car, the military said.

 

In a Pentagon briefing on Monday, the top American commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., confirmed that American and Iraqi officials had been meeting with Sunni leaders in Iraq in hopes of defusing the insurgency and drawing their followers into the political process. General Casey denied that the meetings constituted negotiations, and said he was unaware of any direct contacts with insurgent fighters.

 

"They're discussions primarily aimed at bringing these Sunni leaders and the people they represent into the political process," he said at a briefing with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. "But to characterize them as negotiations with insurgents about stopping the insurgency, we're not quite there yet."

 

Both General Casey and Mr. Rumsfeld have said there have not been any contacts with foreign fighters like the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is believed to be responsible for some of the most deadly suicide attacks in Iraq.

 

The statements by Ayatollah Sistani are the latest foray into Iraqi politics by the Shiite leader. Pressure from him was a major factor in establishing an accelerated timetable for the elections in January. That pace, however, largely dictated the election's countrywide system, because United Nations organizers considered it the simplest and quickest way to organize the vote.

 

When United Nations officials met with the ayatollah in March, he chastised them for choosing the system, and said he favored setting assembly seats aside district by district, a preference he reiterated Monday. Mr. Yasiri, the Shiite politician, said Ayatollah Sistani had characterized the January election as flawed.

 

In the past, the ayatollah has reserved his efforts to pushing for measures, like nationwide elections, that were likely to enhance the power of Iraq's Shiite majority. His endorsement of a new voting system seemed to be made out of concern for the delicacy of the current political situation here.

 

"He said there were a lot of mistakes," Mr. Yasiri said. "He said this election must be different than the old one. He said we prefer that all the people share in it."

 

In other news, Iraq's foreign minister under Saddam Hussein, Tariq Aziz, in a videotape of his interrogation that was released Monday and described by Agence France-Presse, said Mr. Hussein had personally ordered the crackdown on a Shiite uprising in 1991 without consulting top aides. The testimony could help prosecutors build a case against Mr. Hussein for his trial.

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Islamic Army in Iraq targets Baathists

The recent denial by Baathist elements in Iraq that they are negotiating with the US and Iraqi governments apparently fell on deaf ears among the Islamic Army in Iraq and friends, who released the following statement

[source is reasonably credible]:

 

30jun05-harb_on_baathists.gif

PDF file of statement

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