Vol. 5 Num 1141 Tue. August 14, 2007  

Arabs urged to stop 'genocide campaign' by Iraqi Shias

Iraq's most senior Sunni politician issued a desperate appeal Sunday for Arab nations to help stop what he called an "unprecedented genocide campaign" by Shia militias armed, trained and controlled by Iran.

The US military reported five American soldiers were killed, apparently lured into an al-Qaeda trap.

Adnan al-Dulaimi said "Persians" and "Safawis," Sunni terms for Iranian Shias, were on the brink of total control in Baghdad and soon would threaten Sunni Arab regimes which predominate in the Mideast.

"It is a war that has started in Baghdad and they will not stop there but will expand it to all Arab lands," al-Dulaimi wrote in an impassioned e-mail to The Associated Press.

Sunni Arab regimes throughout the Middle East fear the growing influence of Iran's Shia theocracy with radical groups like Hezbollah and Hamas as well as the Syrian regime. Raising the specter of Iranian power reaching the Arab doorstep, unlikely in the near-term, betrayed al-Dulaimi's desperation.

But his fears of a Shia takeover of Baghdad were not as farfetched. Mahdi Army militiamen have cleansed entire neighbourhoods of Sunni residents and seized Sunni mosques. Day by day, hundreds have been killed and thousands have fled their homes, seeking safety in the shrinking number of majority Sunni districts.

The fighters, nominally loyal to radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, are believed to operate as death squads blamed for much of the country's sectarian slaughter.

Sunni extremists, many with al-Qaeda links, are responsible too, mainly through massive bombings, often carried out by suicide attackers.