A suicide bomber blew himself up among worshippers outside a mosque loyal
to anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the town of Musayyib, south of
Baghdad, killing 12 people and wounding 15 others. The blast
came just one day after the Iraqi parliament voted to approve a new
military pact with the U.S. which extends the U.S. troop presence in
Iraq for three more years. Edward Yeranian reports for VOA from Cairo.
explosion at the Shi'ite mosque appeared to be aimed at supporters of
Moqtada al-Sadr who had criticized the military agreement and urged
followers to wear black to mourn the passage of what he called, "a
police spokesman said that the bomber blew himself up amid a throng of
some 300 worshippers, disrupting prayers, and laying waste to the
same mosque was targeted almost three and a half years ago by a truck
bomb that was detonated outside the building, killing 70 people.
reports said that the congregation of the mosque was mostly loyal to
Moqtada Sadr, and that its top clerics belong to his movement.
top Sadr deputy, Aws al Khafagi, told followers that his movement would
"continue rejecting the humiliating accord," which the Iraqi parliament
voted to approve Thursday.
bloc of 30 deputies raised banners, chanted, and pounded tables with
their fists Thursday, in a bid to block the vote to approve the new
U.S.-Iraq pact, which takes effect on January 1.
Paul Salem of the Beirut-based Carnegie Center for Peace in the Middle
East thinks that violence will continue in Iraq, following the vote to
approve the new military pact.
bombings will continue," he said. "There's serious and ongoing security problems
in Iraq and simmering civil wars of various types. Those never ended
and are not likely to end any time soon," said Salem. "The agreement
that was approved Thursday is very contentious; many groups opposed
it…. many groups had already been opposing the Maliki government and
opposing the U.S. presence from before this agreement, so no, I don't
think we've entered a fundamentally new phase."
Salem also thinks that Sadr will continue to oppose the U.S. presence in Iraq, if just to increase his own power base.
I mean, I can't exactly predict how they'll react," he said. "I'm sure
they will react somewhat negatively, but their position against the
pact goes beyond being against the pact itself and being against the
U.S. presence. It also reflects an internal struggle for power and
clearly Muqtada Sadr has thrown in his fortunes with the opposition to
the [U.S.] presence and figuring that well, the presence will stay for
now and he knows that, but he can capitalize politically a lot on being
leader of the opposition and setting himself up for a wider political
base," said Salem.
demonstration by Sadr loyalists in Baghdad's Firdous Square, exactly
one week ago, brought together thousands of opponents of the Iraqi
government and of the new military pact with the U.S. Sadr is now, once
again, calling on supporters to close shops, offices and other
institutions for "three days of peaceful protests."