al-Qaida in Iraq Threaten Diplomats
Iraq’s main terrorist group threatened to kill foreign diplomats as political leaders were urging people to vote in next month’s parliamentary elections.
Sunni-led insurgents killed six Iraqi police at a checkpoint Friday and fired a mortar round that struck a home outside the capital, killing a child, as Shiites began celebrating a major Muslim holiday. Al-Qaida in Iraq threatened more attacks on diplomats here.
The al-Qaida threat to foreign diplomats was contained in a statement posted on an Islamic Web site. It was posted one day after the country’s most feared terror group announced it had condemned two Moroccan embassy employees to death. “We are renewing our threat to those so-called diplomatic missions who have insisted on staying in Baghdad and have not yet realized the repercussions of such a challenge to the will of the mujahedeen,” the Friday statement said.
Last July, al-Qaida in Iraq kidnapped and killed two Algerian and one Egyptian diplomat in an apparent campaign to prevent Arab and Islamic countries from strengthening ties to the U.S.-backed Iraqi government. Senior envoys from Pakistan and Bahrain also escaped kidnap attempts. More than 40 diplomatic missions are currently in Iraq.
The latest al-Qaida statement appeared as majority Shiites began the three-day religious holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which ends a month of fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Most of Iraq’s minority Sunni Arabs began to celebrate Eid on Thursday Ã¢€” based on their different interpretation of the lunar calendar. In war-torn cities such as Baghdad, Sunnis marked the holiday by dressing up, taking their children to local amusement parks, and serving lavish meals to friends and relatives at their homes.
In a speech marking Eid in another part of Baghdad, a top Shiite leader urged voters to support his coalition in Iraq’s Dec. 15 parliamentary election. Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution of Iraq, told a crowd gathered at his party headquarters that the aim of his candidates is “to protect all Iraqis, not only Shiites but also minority Sunnis and Kurds.”
Two major religious parties Ã¢€” SCIRI and Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari’s Dawa Party Ã¢€” form Iraq’s top Shiite alliance. Both parties have been criticized for their close ties to Iran. When Iraq elected its current interim parliament on Jan. 30, many Sunnis boycotted the vote, and the Shiite alliance won the biggest share of seats. But many Sunnis are expected to vote in the Dec. 15 ballot for a new parliament, one that will remain in power for four years.
An interesting juxtaposition. It seems clear that the move towards democratic governance is continuing apace, despite the never-ending murder spree of the terrorists.
Historically, insurgencies have required substantial support among rank-and-file citizens in order to overcome the advantages of government forces. For whatever reason, the Iraqi terrorist-insurgency has managed to thrive, even grow, despite growing alienation from the population.
These trends are on a collision course. Ultimately, either democracy or terrorism has to win out; governments can not long sustain legitimacy if they can not provide a reasonable level of security. At this point, it is not at all apparent which it will be. The terrorists have the far easier task but the fact that the Iraqi people are willing to risk death to stand in long lines to vote in elections whose ultimate outcome is a mere hope is a very positive sign for democracy.