At least 50 people were killed and 20 injured when a suicide bomber struck the funeral of two brothers who belonged to the Sunni Awakening Council, an organization whose purpose is to turn Sunni fighters against al-Qaeda.
In Brussels, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pleaded with NATO to provide more training and equipment to the Iraqi army, a request that The Real News analyst Pepe Escobar calls an “absolutely ludicrous proposition.”
Escobar also reports on a new statement from al-Qaeda in Iraq, which suggests that the group plans to target the Awakening Council that is siphoning away their support.
VOICE OF ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: At least fifty people were killed and twenty injured when a suicide bomber struck the funeral of two brothers who belonged to the Sunni Awakening Council in a town north of Baghdad on Thursday. The bomb broke a period of relative calm in Sunni areas. The US military has touted the decrease in violence as a major success of the troop surge and the strategy of encouraging awakening councils formed by the Sunni Arab resistance to turn against al-Qaeda. In Sadr City, a US air strike destroyed several vehicles and damaged residential buildings on Thursday according to residents and police. In the meantime, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appealed to NATO to step up its efforts in training and further equipping the Iraqi army. Al-Maliki said the main responsibility for ensuring Iraq’s safety would stay with Iraqi troops.
NOURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We did not come here to request extra troops that would replace the Iraqi troops in the confrontations against the challenges. We came here to ask for more training and more equipping. But the major security responsibility in Iraq will remain on the shoulders of the Iraqi troops.
For further commentary on the situation in Iraq, we go to Real News Analyst Pepe Escobar.
PEPE ESCOBAR, THE REAL NEWS ANALYST: Well, the notion of Maliki asking for support from NATO, weapons and men, it’s a ludicrous proposition, and in fact it’s pointless. He proves how desperate is the government in Baghdad. But the most important thing happening in Iraq at the moment won’t be reported by American mainstream corporate media; it’s the new audio tape, a 30-minute audio tape, published on a jihadi website by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. He’s a very important character. He’s the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, of which al-Qaeda in the Land of Two Rivers is part. He says some absolutely extraordinary things. For instance, about the battle of Basra, he says it was basically a Shiite-against-Shiite struggle for power, which is essentially true. He criticizes some of the Sunni tribes because they are collaborating with the Americans through the now-famous Awakening Councils. But he praises other tribes because they already said—and they are engaged in doing it—they should fight only what they call the occupier, basically the American forces. There’s something that is not exactly true when he said that most Sunni tribes are, together with the Mujahideen, supporting this fight against the occupier. This is not true. This is not true, because a lot of Sunni tribesmen, they were very, very upset by al-Qaeda’s, let’s say, extremely violent methods employed these past two years. And then the most important part is that al-Baghdadi says there is an agreement now between the Mujahideen, the jihadis, and Sunni tribes. This agreement will consist of the formation of a committee of clerics to solve any possible disputes in Sunni areas between jihadis and Mujahideen—holy warriors—and Sunni tribes, a campaign to, I wouldn’t say force, but to, let’s say, try to seduce people into not joining the Awakening Councils paid by the Americans $300 a month for each fighter, in an amnesty to anyone that has joined but is ready to desert the Iraqi army, the Iraqi police, or the Awakening Councils. So basically what al-Baghdadi’s saying is that the Sunnis should be fighting virtually everyone in Iraq, according to him: the Christians, [“der-MA-goos”]—that’s how he defines the Iranians, and that’s a reference to the Zoroastrian past of the Persians—and what he says are the Jews of Peshmerga, which is a mix of Jewish people with Kurdish fighters. One thing is certain. If this agreement stands, in the next few weeks we’re going to have a spate of suicide bombings all over Iraq, and, obviously, the life of General Petraeus’ surge soldiers in Iraq will become much, much, much harder.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.