The current leader of the Iraqi Governing Council was killed by a [possible suicide] car bomb at the entry to the Green Zone a short time ago today.
Abdel-Zahraa Othman, also known as Izzadine Saleem, was among four Iraqis killed in the blast, according to Redha Jawad Taki, a member of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shi’ite Muslim organization known as SCIRI.
Saleem’s death is a major blow to the Coalition and its plans to turn over power on June 30. The bombing underscores the dangers for Iraqis working with and near the Coalition, and it’s one more message to anyone the insurgents consider collaborators.
Six other Iraqis and two U.S. soldiers were injured.
Saleem was a Shi’a and the leader of the Islamic Dawa Movement in Basra (Hizb al Dawa al Islamiyah). He was a writer, philosopher and political activist, who served as editor of several newspapers and magazines.
According to an online encyclopedia, he was born in Basra in 1943 and began studying religion and politics at a young age. When he was 18 he won first prize for his book, Fatimat al zahra. At 19, after he helped found the Hizb al Dawa, the Ba’athists recognized him as a threat to their power. He fled Iraq in his early 20s to Kuwait and became a teacher.
Following a short time in Kuwait, he moved to Iran and began editing a number of newspapers and working with SCIRI. He has written over 40 books about religion and politics.
Because of Hizb al Dawa’s actions against Saddam Hussein, the Ba’athists sent assassins against Saleem on numerous occasions. He choose the name of Izzadine Saleem, the name he preferred to his birth-name, to throw these assassins off his trail over the years.
But nearer to mind, it’s getting harder to see how the U.S. can hand over power to a sovereign Iraqi government when the Coalition seemingly can’t keep order on its own doorstep. Who will be in charge? How can a government — even a caretaker one — establish rule and prepare for elections in an environment that’s nigh boiling? Summer is coming, and power is still spotty. Temperatures and tempers will flare, and this will likely be a violent summer.
As I watch these procedings from Amman, waiting for a flight to Baghdad, I cannot help but feel apprehension for myself and dread for the future. I have tried to stay focused and optimistic, but that is becoming increasingly difficult. In that way, I guess I am understanding the Iraqis more and more each day.