Iraq: insurgents target Sunni sheikhs

A number of Sunni tribal leaders from the Anbar Salvation Council are among 12 people killed in a suicide bombing at the Mansour Hotel in central Baghdad June 25. Although the hotel is also home of the Chinese embassy and several political parties, the meeting of the Anbar sheikhs is believed to have been the target of the attack. The hotel bombing was one of five such attacks in Iraq today that killed more than 40 and injured scores. In the deadliest incident, suicide car bombers detonated outside the Baiji police station, killing 22, some 12 of them police officers. Eight people were killed in a blast in the southern city of Hilla. None of the bombings appeared to cause any US deaths. But the US military reported that one of its soldiers was killed in a small-arms attack. (BBC, WP, June 25)

See our last posts on Iraq, the insurgency and the Sunni civil war.

  1. Suicide blast killed Iraqi poet
    From AP, June 25:

    BAGHDAD – The poet Rahim al-Maliki wrote about his dreams of Iraqi unity in a place where such appeals are drowned out by daily bombings. One of them took his life on Monday.

    Al-Maliki – whose fame grew by hosting two shows on state-run television – was among 13 people killed in a suicide attack at a Baghdad hotel, where he was filming tribal leaders about their decision to join U.S.-led forces in the fight against factions linked to al-Qaeda. Four of the tribal sheiks from the western Anbar province were among the victims.

    In one of his shows, “The Guesthouses of our People,” the 39-year-old al-Maliki visited Sunni and Shiite groups and used his poetry to open dialogue about ways to end Iraq’s sectarian bloodshed. In Anbar, many tribal elders have agreed to help U.S.-Iraqi troops fight groups linked to al-Qaeda in an alliance that the Pentagon considers an important blow to the insurgency.

    Al-Maliki’s other show on the state-run Iraqiya television was “Feelings,” which examined love poetry written in the style he favored: the ordinary Iraqi dialect rather than classical Arabic.

    Al-Maliki, a Shiite who is not related to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, received several honors in recent years, including the top prize for patriotic poetry in 2006, colleagues said.

    Under Saddam Hussein, he was imprisoned twice on accusations of criticizing the government and expressing sympathy for fellow Shiites who suffered widespread crackdowns after a failed uprising in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. He did not publish his work during Saddam’s regime, but he read his poems at gatherings – and they were passed along by admirers who memorized the verses.

    Al-Maliki became well-known across the country after his shows were aired by Iraqiya.

    In one episode of “Guesthouses,” he was shown wearing Arab traditional dress among tribal chiefs and policemen in Ramadi, the main city of Anbar, calling for all Iraqis to be united. He also wrote poems praising Anbar tribes for taking up arms against al-Qaeda.

    Al-Maliki lived in the Baghdad district of Sadr City with his wife and four children.

    In one of his poems, he called upon all Iraqis to understand their shared stake in the country.

    If you do not love Iraq

    Then do not pray with me

    You, Iraq, the land of well-being

    When you stand tall, we stand tall

    They throw stones at your windows

    But your glass has destroyed their stones.

  2. Iraq: insurgents target Sunni shiekhs —again
    From the LAT, July 22:

    BAGHDAD, Iraq — A suicide bomber attacked a checkpoint near a planned meeting site of tribal leaders Sunday in a village north of the capital, killing at least three people and injuring 13, the U.S. military said.

    Local police put the death toll higher, saying at least five people were killed in the attack, mostly young men who volunteered to defend the area as part of the Taji Tribes Awakening Council, a partnership formed in recent months between tribal leaders, U.S. and Iraqi security forces.