FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Target: Hoshyar Zebari

by PATRICK COCKBURN

Baghdad.

Assassins tried to kill Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, yesterday morning by leaving a car packed with explosives on a road where he was about to travel. His guards discovered the bomb shortly before his convoy went past.

The repeated attempts to murder Mr Zebari since he took over as Foreign Minister last year are a back-handed tribute by the insurgents to his effectiveness as the interim Iraqi government’s international spokesman.

“They don’t dare ambush us because they know they will be killed,” he said defiantly in an interview just after the latest attack was foiled. He expected the assassination campaign against government ministers to escalate.

The bomb yesterday was the second attempt on his life in recent months. He shows, with a certain pride, two photographs of another car bomb containing 800kg of explosives that had been intercepted near his house.

The elaborate bomb included white blocks of TNT, a dozen or more 130mm shells and even a torpedo all connected with red electrical wire. “It’s frightening,” he said. “The whole neighbourhood would have been wiped out, not one or two or three houses.”

Mr Zebari, a veteran leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party who fought as a guerrilla for many years against Saddam Hussein in the mountains of Kurdistan, expects the insurgents to try again. He said the number of their operations had dropped from 106 a day to between 60 and 80 since the capture of Fallujah. But, overall, he did not sound optimistic that the level of violence would be much reduced.

He confirmed Dr Iyad Allawi will go to Jordan on Wednesday or close to that date to talk to opponents of the government. But he was quick to add that it was not a conference. The meetings would be with “religious leaders, tribal chiefs and Baathists, though not those on the wanted list”. Most come from the western Iraqi city of Ramadi which after Fallujah is one of the main centres of resistance.

Mr Zebari left no doubt that the Iraqi election would go ahead on 30 January. He said the Iraqi National Security Council, of which he is a member, had met at the weekend and decided the poll must go ahead. “Any postponement, any weakness will benefit our enemies, our opponents.

“There are no guarantees that the security would be better if there was a postponement.” He added with a laugh that there were also no assurances that security would be any better after the election.

The reason why the Sunni party leaders wanted a delay was obvious enough, said the Foreign Minister. They feared a boycott of the poll in Sunni districts which would wipe them out politically. “They are afraid there will be a Shia majority and they are not organised enough,” Mr Zebari said. “They need consensual arrangements with other communities.”

Mr Zebari thought the uprising in Sunni parts of Iraq would fail because it was an attempt by a minority to impose its will. He said “definitely the great majority of the Iraqi people will not tolerate a minority hijacking the country at gunpoint for its own selfish power interests.”

The US is strongly committed to a poll on 30 January. The election was mentioned repeatedly by George Bush as a symbol of the success of his policy of bringing democracy to Iraq. And Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the influential Shia religious leader, has long demanded an election. The US and the interim government do not want to alienate him.

 

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andrew Tillett-Saks
Labor’s Political Stockholm Syndrome: Why Unions Must Stop Supporting Democrats Like Clinton
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
 Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
Jeffrey St. Clair
Night of the Hollow Men: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Renee Parsons
Blame It on the Russians
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is it the Cops or the Cameras? Putting Police Brutality in Historical Context
Russell Mokhiber
Dems Dropping the N Word: When in Trouble, Blame Ralph
Howard Lisnoff
The Elephant in the Living Room
Pepe Escobar
The Real Secret of the South China Sea
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail