Cheney Greeted By Mortars

Cheney Greeted by Mortars, Demonstrations:
Iraqi Parliament pleads for US withdrawal

Al-Hayat writes in Arabic that US Vice President Dick Cheney was greeted, on his surprise visit to Baghdad, by a rain of mortar shells on the Green Zone and by protests in several cities organized by Puritan Shiite followers of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. One could have added the bombing in Irbil, the seat of close US ally Massoud Barzani, the Kurdistan leader.

Aljazeera is alleging that high on Cheney’s agenda is getting the new petroleum bill passed through parliament. That legislation is certainly one of the four benchmarks the Bush administration has pushed on the al-Maliki government, and given Cheney’s background as CEO of Halliburton, it is plausible that the oil bill looms large in his visit. It is probably behind his scolding of Iraqi parliamentarians for even considering a two-month hiatus this summer.

Cheney arrived a day after a majority of Iraqi parlimentarians signed a petition in favor of the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. Actually, last fall 131 signed a similar petition. By the rules of the Iraqi parliament, such petitions have no force. The sense of those deputies was communicated to a committe, which promised to report out the resolution to the entire parliament, which it apparently never did. So, Tuesday’s move shows a 10% rise in commitment to the principle of withdrawal over 6 months ago, but may be no more consequential. A petition is not a vote, and is a sign of how powerless the parlimentarians feel.

Reuters reports political violence in Iraq on Wednesday, including the killing of one US soldier and wounding of 3 others by a roadside bomb in Diyala. There were several bombings in Baghdad. Two more members of the Yazidi religion were killed at Mosul.

Police found 21 bodies in Baghdad on Wednesday, and 8 in Diyala Province.

a Kurdish leader is interviewed by Ben Lando concerning Iraq’s petroleum law. The link between Kurdish desire for relative autonomy and their commitment to privatizing the Iraqi petroleum industry comes out clearly in this piece.