Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki slammed his rival, Iyad Allawi of the National Concord Movement, for engaging in secret talks with the Izzat al-Duri branch of the Baath guerrilla movement, aimed at bringing it in to the political process. Al-Maliki said that such activities equated to terrorism. On Wednesday, two members of Allawi’s 25-member bloc, Safiya Suhail and Hajim al-Hasani, announced their withdrawal from it according to al-Sharq al-Awsat, saying that Allawi was behaving high-handedly and that they could not understand what the party’s strategic vision was.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports in Arabic that Allawi responded on Thursday, saying that it was the al-Maliki government that was talking to the Baathists, not he, and that he rejected what were clearly “hollow threats” by al-Maliki.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat also reports in Arabic that Iraq’s Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, says that Iraqi politicians are maneuvering to call a vote of no confidence in the al-Maliki government. Only 55 MPs are needed for such a move, and it is not clear that the government could survive the maneuver.
The US kidnapped another Iranian from Iraqi Kurdistan, alleging that he is an officer in the Quds Force section of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and an arms smuggler. The Kurdistan Regional Authority says that he is Aghai Farhadi, a trade representative of Kirmanshah Province in Iran.
Either the US suspicions about Farhadi are baseless, or the Kurds are the major conduit for Iranian arms into Iraq. Five other Iranians were kidnapped from Irbil by the US military. Farhadi would not be doing what he was doing in Sulaimaniya unless he was the guest of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. If he was smuggling in arms, he was smuggling them to the Peshmerga, the Kurdish paramilitary, which is allied with the United States. Presumably this means that the Peshmerga is either transfering the weapons to the Badr Corps or selling the arms off on the Iraqi black market. If this scenario is correct, then it is pure propaganda for the USG to complain so loudly and bitterly about Iranian meddling in Iraq, when it is being facilitated by some Kurds, who are in turn putative US allies.
The cholera outbreak in northern Iraq has now reached Baghdad. This article reveals that chlorine shipments into Iraq from Jordan are being held up, presumably by the US military. Sunni Arab guerrillas have launched several chlorine truck bomb attacks, and presumably the chlorine ban responds to such threats. But without chlorine, water purification plants won’t work, which means Iraqis downstream of a big city are drinking sewage.
The Turkish military has launched an operation in eastern and southern Anatolia against guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party. The Turks charge that the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government is harboring Kurdish terrorists who hit targets in Turkey, so the operation could have spill-over effects in northern Iraq.
Tareq Y. Ismail presents a severe evaluation of the ‘surge’ or troop escalation and its architects from an Iraqi point of view.
At the Napoleon’s Egypt blog: A French officer writes home about preparations to rescue a caravan from the predations of the deposed beys and their Mamluks.