Iraqi Troops thwart Attempted Car Bombing
Iraqi troops thwarted a car bombing Sunday outside a their regional headquarters northeast of Baghdad, killing an attacker before could detonate his vehicle. Two bystanders also died in the assault.
The would be car-bombing occurred in Baqouba, scene of fierce fighting last week between American soldiers and insurgents who tried to seize government buildings and police stations. According to Iraqi police, the would-be attacker was stopped Sunday for a routine search at an Iraqi National Guard checkpoint near the unit’s headquarters. The driver jumped from the vehicle, shouted “God is great” and “I’m going to kill you.” Guardsmen opened fire, killing him and triggering the explosives in the car, according to police chief Waleed al-Azawi. Two bystanders were killed in the explosion, hospital officials said.
Iraqi officials have blamed foreign fighters and religious extremists for the wave of vehicle bombings which have swept the country in recent months. The wave has led to fears that religious fanatics and Saddam Hussein loyalists may be joining forces to fight both the multinational force and the new Iraqi government.
Although Iraq regained sovereignty last Monday, about 160,000 foreign troops, most of them Americans, remain here under a U.N. resolution to help the new government restore security. On Sunday, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi politely but firmly rejected offers from Jordan’s King Abdullah II, telling ABC’s “This Week” that “we are not asking” for additional soldiers. The Iraqis are not anxious to bring in Arab troops — especially from neighboring countries — fearing that could complicate relations with Syria and Iran, which U.S. and Iraqi officials have alleged have not done enough to control infiltration across their borders.
Allawi’s government is expected to announce a package of initiatives to combat the insurgency, including limited emergency rule and an offer of amnesty to some of those who fought the U.S.-led occupation.
This should give Iraqis a bit of confidence that their new government is capable of providing security, perhaps enough so to allow them to begin turning in insurgents.
Allawi’s rejection of Jordanian troops is interesting news. Certainly, Iraqi-Jordanian relations have been very odd for two decades or so, alternately very warm (see their joint role in establishing the Arab Cooperation Council in 1989 and Jordan as the lone supporter of Saddam during Desert Storm) and rather chilly (most of the last decade or so). And balancing the relationship with Iran has been difficult since the rise of Khomeinism in 1979. Still, with the demand for more “boots on the ground” that has been a steady refrain for a year now, it’s surprising to see this move. One would think that Arab faces would be far preferable to American ones. (Of course, as we all know, an operation isn’t truly international unless it involves the French.)