Latest attacks in Iraq suggest insurgents feel shif of power to Shia


Many kneeling in prayer, Shiite Muslims were attacked in their mosques and on the streets Friday on the eve of their holiest day, with five bombings killing 36 people in the deadliest day in Iraq since the Jan. 30 national elections.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the blasts - three of them suicide attacks - in Baghdad and Iskandariyah, south of the capital. But Shiites blamed radical Sunni Muslim insurgents, who have staged car bombs, shootings and kidnappings to try to destabilize Iraq's reconstruction.

"Those infidel Wahhabis, those Osama bin Laden followers, they did this because they hate Shiites," said Sari Abdullah, a worshipper at Baghdad's al-Khadimain mosque who was injured by shrapnel from the explosion. "They are afraid of us. They are not Muslims. They are infidels."


Similar attacks last year during Ashoura killed 181 people in Baghdad and Karbala, a city that is holy to Shiites.

Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie, the national security adviser for the interim government, accused Jordanian-born terror suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and former Baath party members of trying to provoke a sectarian civil war.

"It's a paradoxical idea when they claim that they are fighting the infidels and at the same time, they kill Muslims during Friday prayers," he said.

He said Shiites, who make up 60 percent of the population, would not call for retaliation against the minority Sunnis who were favored by Saddam Hussein's regime.

"I am happy and proud of the people's reactions," al-Rubaie said. "Those who lost their sons and relatives didn't call for retaliation against Sunnis, which reflects their awareness and understanding of what is going on."

Walid Al-Hilly, a leading figure of the Shiite-led Dawa Party, said the attacks would not stop the Shiites from trying to cooperate with Sunnis and other minorities in a new government.

"They kill unarmed men, women and children who want to glorify the ceremonies of Ashoura. These terrorist actions will not intimidate us nor make us change the way that we choose freedom from tyranny and oppression," he told Al-Jazeera television. "We chose the path of brotherhood, cooperation and unity between Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, Shabak, Turkomen and Christians and all other sects."

This is quite remarkable. The feared bloodbath of Shia retribution just has not manifested itself. It is interesting that the Shia just will not rise to the provocation. The only bloodbath is that of the continued killing of Shia by the same Sunnis where were doing it when they had the power of the state to help them. The passive aggressive stance of teh Shia has to be deeply frustrating for Zarqawi and al Qaeda.


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