30 Killed 33 Freed In Company Sized

Truck Bombing of Kurdish HQ in Mosul Kills or Injures 45

A recent report on the readiness of Iraqi troops. says that the Iraqi military won’t be ready to ‘stand up’ any time soon, according to the General Accounting Office. A third of Iraqi troops are on leave at any one time. Many troops on the books who draw a salary don’t really exist and are just a scam. And, the Iraqi troops are deeply dependent on the US for the simplest logistics.

Reuters reports political violence for Wednesday. Among the major operations:

‘ MOSUL – Five people were killed and 40 were wounded when a suicide bomber blew up his truck at the headquarters of a Kurdish party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, in the northern city of Mosul on Wednesday during the celebration of the spring festival of Nawruz, police said. . .’

MOSUL – Police said that they found the bodies of seven people shot dead on Tuesday in different districts of the northern city of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad. . .

DIWANIYA – A policeman was killed and eight wounded, including four civilians, when clashes erupted between police and gunmen on Tuesday in several districts of Diwaniya, 180 km (110 miles) south of Baghdad, police said. . . ‘

The southern Diwaniya Province is a stronghold the the Sadr Movement, though the police seem to be dominated by the Badr Corps paramilitary of the rival Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

The Sadr Movement and its paramilitary, the Mahdi Army, has never been very unified. Both were leant a certain unity by loyalty to the young cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. With the latter in hiding, the movement is predictably splintering. It is not at all clear that a splintered Mahdi Army is less dangerous than a disciplined one, as this article makes clear.

The increasing hostility of the Sadr Movement to the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and toward his new security plan, may help explain why al-Maliki went to the mat to secure the release of Sheikh Ahmad al-Shibani, an aide to Muqtada who was arrested in 2004. Al-Shibani was found innocent of the charges against him by a tribunal, but was kept in US custody anyway. Although the press keeps saying that al-Maliki will get street credibility because of the release, I can’t actually believe that getting one Sadrist out of jail, who had been held illegally by the US for over a year, would make much impact on attitudes.

Meanwhile, questions have arisen about a raid by US troops on a Husayniya or Shiite mourning center. The Mahdi Army is claiming that US troops broke up a peaceful religious meeting and killed worshippers. The US military is investigating. One has a sinking feeling that whatever the investigation reveals, the Shiites of that Baghdad district aren’t going to be dissuaded from the “Americans invade religious building and kill innocent worshippers” sotry.

Iraqi vice president Tariq al-Hashimi, from the Sunni fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front, said Wednesday that Iraq should be talking to the insurgents and trying to cut a deal with them. Although the Iraqi government sometimes maintains that it is on the verge of getting Sunni tribesmen in Western Iraq to attack foreign fundamentalist Salafi vigilantes in Iraq, that seems to me quite a stretch.

Al-Hashimi also called for electoral reform and for new elections. The Sunni Arabs are frustrated by Shiite dominance of the new government and Shiite refusal to even think about negotiating with the Sunni Baathists and Salafi fundamentalists who are blowing their people up. I can’t imagine that anyone in Iraq is really ready to go to the polls for national elections again so soon. It is true that in a genuine parliamentary system, Nuri al-Maliki’s government might well fall as a result of a vote of no confidence, and that would lead to new elections. Iraq, however, is only going through the motions when it comes to democracy, and the top politicians cut deals with one another and rule by fiat.

The following item was somehow thrown up at google news from an old data base via the Gulf Daily News and was erroneously marked breaking news for Thursday morning. The item is actually very old, and I apologize to readers for this error– which, however, was not my own. Early in the morning on Thursday, before dawn, some 200 Sunni Arab guerrillas in Muqdadiya (Diyala Province) stormed a jail and freed 33 prisoners, many of them guerrillas. I can’t think of another recent operation that involved a company-sized fighting force. Thirty persons died in the fighting. One wire service reported, “Insurgents battled Iraqi and US reinforcements, set fire to the police station, courthouse and 20 police vehicles before making their escape.” If they accomplished all that after US reinforcements arrived, imagine what they could have accomplished if no US and Iraqi troops had come out to confront them.