Iraqi President Attacks Other Arab Leaders Over Inattention<P>By Robert F. Worth THE NEW YORK TIMES <P>BAGHDAD, IRAQ <P>Iraqi President Attacks Other
Arab Leaders Over Inattention
By Robert F. Worth
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Iraq’s Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, issued a bitter rhetorical broadside against other Arab countries on Monday, saying they had insulted Iraq by not sending diplomats to Baghdad and had not sent condolence letters about the stampede last week in which almost 1,000 Shiite pilgrims were killed.
The president spoke just after two dozen insurgents staged a brazen dawn raid on the heavily guarded offices of Iraq’s Interior Ministry in Baghdad, killing two police officers and wounding five, and two British soldiers were killed by a bomb in southern Iraq.
Speaking at a news conference, Talabani echoed and amplified complaints by other Iraqi leaders about the Arab states’ failure to recognize the stampede, which stunned Iraqis and caused the highest one-day death toll since the U.S. invasion. The complaints, coming largely from Shiites and aimed at the Arab world’s Sunni leaders, hinted at a sectarian bias against Iraq, where Shiites are about 60 percent of the population.
“We stood with our Arab brothers in their hard times,” Talabani said. “For instance, we sent a letter expressing our condolences on the terrorist attack which claimed a lot of innocent lives in Sharm el-Sheikh.”
Iraq’s prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, hinted at a similar criticism Monday when he was asked about the emir of Qatar, who donated $100 million to the American victims of Hurricane Katrina but nothing to the victims of the stampede.
“I’m not condemning what he did, but he should think of Iraq,” al-Jaafari said.
The comments by Talabani and al-Jaafari came at a time of heightened tension with other Arab nations. Last week Amr Mousa, the secretary of the Arab League, issued a public criticism of Iraq’s new constitution — written largely by Shiites and Kurds — in which he echoed the criticisms of some Sunni Arabs in Iraq. The Sunnis have opposed two provisions in particular: one that would create largely autonomous federal regions, and one that describes Iraq as an Islamic country but not an Arab one.