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SCIRI Meeting In Washington
President George W. Bush met Monday with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric. Hakim holds the title of president of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq -- SCIRI -- and is the leader of the United Iraqi Alliance, the most powerful political bloc in the new Iraqi parliament.
President George W. Bush met Monday with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric. Hakim holds the title of president of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq -- SCIRI -- and is the leader of the United Iraqi Alliance, the most powerful political bloc in the new Iraqi parliament.
by Claude Salhani
UPI International Editor
Washington (UPI) Dec 06, 2006
The Bush administration continues to look for ways out of the Iraqi conundrum amid rising violence pitting the country's Sunni minority against the Shiite majority with the specter of a full-fledged civil war never too far off. As the week began, more than 100 people were killed on Monday and some 40 others died on Tuesday.

Those who did not die as a result of car bombings had been abducted and tortured before being brutally murdered. Sadly, this has become almost the norm in Iraq.

And on Wednesday, the much-anticipated report on Iraq prepared by the so-called Iraq Study Group, chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker III and former Democratic congressman from Indiana, Lee Hamilton, will make its recommendations public.

What is highly expected is that the ISG will make recommendations for U.S. troops to redeploy, if not to begin a gradual withdrawal to safer bases outside the country as Iraqi forces step up to the plate.

With that in mind President George W. Bush met Monday with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric. Hakim holds the title of president of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq -- SCIRI -- and is the leader of the United Iraqi Alliance, the most powerful political bloc in the new Iraqi parliament.

Hakim, who is a political ally of Iran, rejected the idea of an international conference on Iraq, preferring instead to let Iraqis handle their own affairs. But the crux of the matter is that when Iraqis are left to handle their own problems, more often than not, they turn to violence for the solution. As has been the case over the past three years.

Hakim later met with journalists at the U.S. Institute of Peace where he addressed the issue of the formation of federal regions, an issue that has many concerned. "The constitution has confirmed that Iraq is a federal country, and in light of that, the Iraqis voted on that decisive issue with their own free will for the first time in the history of their country," he said.

True, the Iraqis did vote. But the Iraqis are also killing Iraqis by the score on a daily basis. The fact that Iraqis went to the polls three times since the downfall of the regime and can proudly display purple thumbs, does not automatically qualify them for Jeffersonian democracy.

On the subject of civil war, Hakim said: "Eliminating the danger of the civil war in Iraq could only be achieved through directing decisive strikes against the terrorist Ba'athists 'takfiris,' (non-believers) in Iraq. Otherwise we'll continue to witness massacres being committed every now and then against the innocent Iraqis."

In other words, he blames the slaughter on Iraq's Sunnis. That is no doubt correct when it comes to the Shiites being killed. But who is to blame for the torture and killing of Sunnis?

"I do not mean the civil war in Iraq is impossible because as they say, 'patience has its limits,'" said the Iraqi cleric.

Cautioning against an escalation of violence, Hakim said: "I am afraid that someday the Shiite religious authorities might lose their ability to calm down the reaction to the continuous sectarian cleansing attacks and violating the sovereignty of the holy places of the Shiites aiming to displace them by the Arab media."

In other words, we might reach the point where we will be unable to restrain our fellow Shiites. "Talking about the civil war does not only scare the others," said Hakim. "It scares us too."

And with good cause. Once you cross that threshold of logic into the madness of civil war, only fools would fail to recognize the real dangers that accompany a civil war.

Hakim said the religious authorities in Iraq are the last fortress that Iraqis resort to from the danger of division and civil war. The Iraqi cleric said, "We should not resort to dealing with issues that may weaken the religious authorities, otherwise Iraq may be subjected to catastrophic storms that no power in the world could calm or control to return Iraq to its senses."

Given the scale of the violence, the hundreds of tortured bodies that turn up every day in the cities' morgues, one might assume that Iraqis had lost their senses quite a while ago. Or at least, those senseless enough to drag the country into chaos.

Source: United Press International

Related Links
Iraq Study Group
Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq

Benchmarks: 22,000 US Troops Injured
Washington (UPI) Dec 06, 2006
U.S. casualties in Iraq have passed another grim benchmark: Some 22,000 U.S. troops there have now been wounded since the start of the war. As of Tuesday, Dec. 6, 22,057 U.S. soldiers had been injured in Iraq since the start of military operations to topple Saddam Hussein, according to official figures issued by the U.S. Department of Defense.







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