On March 2nd, terrorist bombings in Karbala and Baghdad killed well over one-hundred Iraqis and other religious pilgrims and wounded hundreds more. Those killed or wounded were nearly all Shiites, who had turned out in large numbers to observe Ashura, the holiest day of the year for their branch of Islam.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says the timing of the attacks was “no coincidence”:
“These events have occurred both on the days of celebrations in the Shiite community and of devotion by them, but also just a day after there was the very good news from Iraq of the agreement for what amounts to an interim constitution. . .to pave the way for the end to formal occupation by coalition forces at the end of June and the beginnings of representative democratic government in Iraq.”
Plans for such attacks were outlined in a letter intercepted earlier this year and attributed to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist with ties to al-Qaida. The letter said the only way for the terrorists to prevent Iraqis from moving toward a democratic society would be to incite a religious war between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
But it will not work. Adnan Pachachi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, says that Iraqis “will not allow the enemies of Iraq to weaken our country”:
“We have adopted unanimously an instrument, the law for the administration of the Iraqi state during the transition period, which includes, among other things, a comprehensive bill of rights, something which is really unheard of, unprecedented in this part of the world.”
The interim constitution provides the framework for a democratic Iraq with protections for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and other rights. The document also says the rights of women and of all ethnic groups in Iraq will be protected.
Despite the terrorist attacks of Iraq’s enemies, says the Coalition Provisional Authority’s Dan Senor, “the process for handing sovereignty over to the Iraqi people. . .will not be delayed.”