Storm clouds over Baghdad
Iraq the Model adds this eyewitness account of the hornet's nest stirred up by the Shi'ite mosque explosion. His bullet points are reproduced verbatim below.
- President Talabani promises to make rebuilding the shrine his personal responsibility and to donate the required money from his own.
- Head of the Sunni endowment sheikh Ahmed al-Samarra'I announces that he will allocate 2 billion dinars (~1.4 million $) for the rebuilding of the shrine from the treasury of the Sunni endowment.
- Huge demonstrations in many of Iraq's provinces including Samarra and Mosul where thousands of people condemned the attack.
- The top 4 Shia Ayatollahs hold a meeting at Sistani's home to discuss the situation.
- The Association of Muslim scholars and the Islamic Party condemn the "criminal act".
- Retaliatory attacks on reportedly 29 Sunni mosques and the Accord Front warns from the consequences of such violent reactions.
- Jafari in a press conference calls for national unity and the leaders of the UIA hold a meeting. A press release is expected to come soon.
- The Iraqi TV opened the phone lines to receive the reactions of the audience to the attack and hosts Sunni clerics and politicians in an attempt to relieve the tension.
- Baghdad is in undeclared emergency situation, shops closed and streets nearly empty.
- Tight security around the shrine of Abu Haneefa in Aazamiya district of Baghdad, this is considered the top shrine/mosque for Sunni Muslims in Iraq.
- Masked gunmen attack Shia protestors in at least one neighborhood in western Baghdad and armed clashes in Ghazaliya and Hay al-A'amil.
- People exchange phones calls with their relatives and friends to check on them and discourage them from leaving their homes.
Bill Roggio's appreciation of who the perps are is given below:
The likely culprit is al-Qaeda in Iraq, or groups underneath the newly created Mujahedeen Shura Council. Zarqawi has desired a sectarian war between Shiites and Sunnis since his entry into the conflict, as he clearly stated in his letter to Osama bin Laden. al-Qaeda in Iraq has gone to through great pains of late to deny this, and will very likely not take credit in such an overt attack on the Shiite faithful. Silence and uncertainly will play into their hand, and feed conspiracy theories on who committed such an act. But the nature of the target and the sophistication of such an attack undeniably points to al-Qaeda. The detained “commandos” will be thoroughly interrogated, and the FBI will likely be called in to determine the nature of the charges used to destroy the dome.
The good news is that there are enough cools heads on both sides to try to keep the lid on. That fact alone attests to the accomplishment of those who have tried to build a unitary Iraq. The bad news is that the pressures -- stoked by parties unknown, though Iraq the Model suggests they are "foreign terror groups" -- may be too much to handle. The description above depicts a city going into voluntary and involuntary lockdown and implies, to me at least, the average Joe doesn't want the streets to run with blood.
This is going to be a test for the security apparatus of Iraq. My own hunch is that they will need to identify the perps quickly and hunt them down so that Iraqi society can confidently repose the task of justice to the authorities. The problem will be if the perps are across some nearby border.