Scores Killed in Suicide Bomb Attacks
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
From NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.
Coming up, in the most violent place in the world today, a calm voice of reason.
First, the lead, which is from that place: Iraq. This has been the deadliest day there in months. Five US soldiers died in a roadside bombing in Baghdad, but Iraqi civilians suffered far more casualties. A suicide bomber in Karbala killed about 50 people and wounded scores more.
(Soundbite of site mayhem)
CHADWICK: That was the scene in Karbala. And in the city of Ramadi, another suicide bomber attacked a gathering of hundreds of police recruits. Reports say about 50 people died there, too. With us now from Baghdad is Borzou Daragahi; he's a reporter with the Los Angeles Times.
Borzou, a very, very bloody day. Can you say why it is that these things all occurred today?
Mr. BORZOU DARAGAHI (Los Angeles Times): Well, no one's quite sure because we don't really understand the command and control structure of the insurgency. But it definitely appears that the targets were not randomly chosen. On the one hand, you had an attack on a Shiite mosque that is among the most revered sites in all of Shiite Islam--obviously, an attempt to draw Iraq's Shiite majority, generally turning the other cheek whenever they're attacked by the insurgents into an all-out civil war. And in another instance, you had an attack on a recruiting center--from what we understand, a highly successful recruiting center, where they were recruiting Sunni Arabs into the Iraqi security forces--basically sending a message to Sunni Arabs, `If you throw your lot in with the current government, this is your fate.'
CHADWICK: Borzou, the votes are still being tallied from Iraq's parliamentary elections last month. What about the reports I see in The Associated Press that the various religious and ethnic factions may actually be close to achieving some kind of deal?
Mr. DARAGAHI: They're very close to achieving a deal, and it's one that cuts out Sunni Arab nationalists as well as people who are associated with the Baath Party--Saddam Hussein's former Baath Party. And so as far as the insurgents are concerned, this deal that's emerging cuts them out of power, so they're very angry.
CHADWICK: Is it just some Sunnis who are being cut out of this? There must be some role for Sunnis; they're a pretty significant part of the country there.
Mr. DARAGAHI: Absolutely. Only some Sunnis are being cut out. You know, as a matter of fact, there are a significant number of Sunnis that are being cut into the government: mostly religious Sunni Arabs, such as the Iraqi Islamic Party, which has a long history of opposing Saddam Hussein; and clerics like Adan Dulaimi, who also had a pretty principled stand against Saddam Hussein during Saddam Hussein's reign. I mean, that is apparently the key linchpin for who gets into this government: What did you do when Saddam Hussein was in power? And if you were a part of his apparatus, you're not getting in.
CHADWICK: When you have a day like today, with these deaths directed at a religious center and at police recruits--these bombings--and at US soldiers with the bombings in Baghdad, is that going to stop a deal from going forward with the government? Does it at least slow things down or interrupt them?
Mr. DARAGAHI: I think it won't stop or slow anything down. I think that Iraq they're--Iraq is two parallel places, one inside the Green Zone, where there's a sort of different life that goes on despite the violence outside; the Green Zone, listeners may know, is the US-protected fortress in the middle of the capital that is the center for most administrative decisions. And inside--I can tell you I was in the Green Zone today, and it was nothing like the world outside of the Green Zone. And the deals are going on, the talks are going on, the diplomats are exchanging niceties, and the Iraqi officials are moving forward.
CHADWICK: Borzou Daragahi of the Los Angeles Times speaking with us from Baghdad. Borzou, thank you.
Mr. DARAGAHI: Always a pleasure.
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