Sunday, February 26, 2006

Iraq settling down, but still simmering

Baghdad remained quiet as the security clampdown was extended, with a traffic ban extended until Monday to reduce the threat of further violence.Jerusalem Post |Embattled Baghdad hopes worst of sectarian fury has passed

Defence Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi warned on Saturday of the risk of endless "civil war" as sectarian violence flared again, killing more than 40, and Sunni and Shi'ite leaders pleaded for a halt to four days of bloodshed.

President Bush asked Iraqi leaders to work together to end the violence that followed the al Qaeda bombing of a Shi'ite shrine at Samarra on Wednesday.

Shi'ite Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, together with Kurdish and Arab Sunni leaders, called on all Iraqis to unite, end the sectarian bloodshed and fight terrorism. Over 200 people have died in the fighting since Wednesday.

In one particularly horrible incident today,Cindy Sheehan's brave `Freedom Fighters' opened fire on a crowd of teenage boys playing soccer in the Iraqi town of Baquba, killing two of them and wounding five.

According to police, three terrorists in a car drove up to the area where the boys were gathered and opened fire. They were playing soccer in a mixed Shi'ite and Sunni neighbourhood in Baquba.

It takes a special kind of human being (and I use the term loosely)to open fire on a bunch of innocent kids playing soccer.

On the plus side, As I predicted, the Iraqi leaders and the Iraqi people have taken a deep breath, pulled together and realized that a civil war only helps the terrorists and is to no one's benefit.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, President Jalal Talabani and a host of Shiite and Sunni leaders met at Mr Jaafari's house yesterday for the first time since the violence started on Wednesday.

"All the leaders felt a need to accelerate the political process and proposed to sign a national pact between all the different political factions," Mr Jaafari said later.

"If I have any good news it is that Iraq is far away from a civil war. There is no Shiite against a Sunni or a Muslim against a non-Muslim . . . the name of Iraq is above everything."

The talks came after US President George Bush phoned seven Iraqi political leaders encouraging them to work together.

Shiite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has been a major force in calming the waters and helping to end the violence. He even brought the rabble rousing Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr around, forcing him to make peace and appear in public with Sunni leaders.

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