2 US Troops Killed; Marsh Arab Tribal Sheikh Murdered in Basra; Bombings, Kidnapping in Baghdad

The USG Open Source center translates from an Iraqi television report, “Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pledged to end the crisis facing his government as a result of the recurring withdrawals of the political blocs, asserting that there will be a change this week. In press statements, Al-Maliki said that the Presidency Council gave him two weeks to announce a new government — either with the return of the ministers of the Iraqi Al-Tawafuq Front and the Iraqi List or forming a new government. He added that there is only one week to do so, pointing out that if a new government is formed, it will be based on criteria other than the sectarian quota system.”

The Presidency Council ultimatum has put pressure on al-Maliki to bring the [Sunni fundamentalist] Iraqi Islamic Party back into his government, but I haven’t seen evidence that Iyad Allawi’s secular National Iraqi List is thinking of rejoining the cabinet.

Tensions are increasing between the Kurdistan Alliance and the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Outstanding issues include Kurdistan oil deals pursued independent of the Federal government, and the Baghdad government’s foot-dragging on arranging for a referendum in Kirkuk province on whether it should accede to the Kurdistan Regional Authority (a provincial confederacy wherein 3 provinces have erased their boundaries and elected a join parliament).

The Kurdish newspaper Hawlati reported on 27 January that Kirkuk Governorate Council member Muhammad Kamal has threatened to cut off links with Baghdad if Article 140 of the constitution, which provides for the referendum, is not implemented.

In a phrase appropriate to the state of news and analysis about Iraq in general, the USG Open Source Center quotes from Sharqiya or Iraqiya television: “Iraqi Defense Minister Abd-al-Qadir al-Ubaydi said that the situation in Mosul in central Ninawa Governorate in northern Iraq is much worse than he was told.” The Interior Ministry is recruiting 3,000 men to combat the guerrillas, in part from clans who saw loved ones killed or injured in the recent bomb blast near Mosul.

The USG Open Source Center reports from Iraqi television, “In Maysan Governorate in southern Iraq, the authorities set up a crisis management cell in the governorate. Meanwhile, a number of imitators of Ahmad Bin-al-Hasan, also known as Al-Yamani, were arrested. A source at the Maysan Governorate Police Department said that the cell, which is headed by the governor of Maysan and includes the police director, the head of the governorate municipal council, and a number of members of the Council of Representatives, aims at running the security affairs of the governorate in emergency cases and preventing any security violation there. He added that detachments from the Maysan Police Department arrested a number of Al-Mahdi (as heard) followers in Maysan for involvement in the incidents that took place in Basra and Al-Nasiriyah.”

Maysan is ruled by the Sadr Movement, which is clearly alarmed by the millenarian Supporters of the Mahdi. (The Sadrists are also mild millenarians, so this other movement is real competition for them). The report is saying that claimants to be the Mahdi or the Promised One of Islam are cropping up all over southern Iraq, and that the inchoate movement swirling around them easily turns violent. Think the David Koreish group at Waco on steroids.

Sawt al-Iraq reports that on Saturday afternoon, Shaikh Sami Husayn, the head of the Marsh Arab Bahadili tribe, was kidnapped in downtown Basra. On Sunday morning, his body was found in the street, with three bullets in his head. Shaikh Sami had been a member of the Baath Party under Saddam. Basra’s factions tribes are likely to be mired in a feud as a result of this assassination.

Reuters reports that:

‘BAGHDAD – One U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb while he was on patrol in Baghdad on Saturday, the U.S. military said. . . ‘

McClatchy adds accounts of further attacks:

‘ Baghdad

Around 10:00pm Saturday night, gunmen broke into the house of Ahmed J[a]wad Hashim, a former general director in Baghdad municipality during Saddam’s regime. The attack took place in Talbiyah neighborhood east Baghdad. The gunmen slaughtered Hashim, his wife, his daughter and his son, police said.

[Six] people were injured (3 civilians and two soldiers) in an IED explosion that targeted an Iraqi army patrol near al Nida’a mosque in Qahira neighborhood east Baghdad around 7,30 am.

Around 7:45 am, gunmen kidnapped a bus with its passengers (5 female employees who work in the college of languages) in New Baghdad neighborhood east Baghdad.

Around 10:00 am, an IED exploded near Saj al Reef restaurant in Karrada neighborhood downtown Baghdad. No casualties were reported.

A US army hummer was burnt in an IED explosion near the medical cotton factory intersection in Waziriyah neighborhood east Baghdad around 12:00 pm. The US army confirmed in a press release the news about the attack saying that one soldier was killed in the explosion.

Police found four anonymous bodies in Baghdad. Two bodies were found in Rusafa, the eastern side of Baghdad in the following neighborhoods (1 body in Sadr city and 1 body in Qahira). The other two bodies were found in Karkh, the western side of Baghdad in the following neighborhoods (1 body in Amil and 1 body in Bayaa)

Diyala

Two civilians were injured when an IED exploded near their house in Sadiyah area east of Baquba city today afternoon.

Police found four anonymous bodies in one of the orchards in Shirween village, part of Muqdadiyah town east of Baquba city.

Two policemen were injured in clashes between the Iraqi police and gunmen in Dalli Abbasa area north of Baquba city today afternoon . . .’

Reuters adds, “KIRKUK – Gunmen killed a man in a drive-by shooting on Saturday outside his house in central Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.”

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