Bombings Roil Diyala; Driving ban Imposed; US Soldier Killed

Radio Sawa reports in Arabic that Iraqi members of parliament dismiss the pledge of US presidential candidate Barack Obama to end the Iraq War and withdraw US troops from the country. They say it is just campaign talk and that if Obama were elected he would swiftly become more realistic. (It is my firm impression that the Iraqi political class has unrealistic expectations of the US public. The likelihod is that most US troops will be out by summer 2010 no matter who wins, and if Iraqi politicians want to avoid being taken out and shot in the aftermath, they had better cut some deals locally soon.

Frank Rich, perhaps our most perceptive political commentator points to a continuing public discontent over the Iraq War as a key causal factor in the Iowa primary results, where the two candidates least associated with the war did best. I made a similar argument on Friday.

The LA Times reports on demonstrations in Buhriz and Muqdadiya by members of Awakening Councils who are protesting the US arrest of two of their number. The Awakening Council members are often former insurgents or criminals who now take $10 a day to fight the Salafi Jihadis. But some are double agents, or just can’t shake criminal habits. The problem is that those who join the councils develop a tribal solidarity with one another, which is likely to bedevil the US and the Iraqi government. In the capital of Diyala Province, Baquba, the security situation is so bad that the US and the Iraqi government imposed a ban on the driving of private vehicles. Likewise, they banned traffic in two other cities. Such bans have worked in Fallujah and in Baghdad neighborhoods to cut down on car bombings, but they typically produce massive unemployment and hurt the retail sector.

The traffic bans in Diyala, however, did not stop several bombings from being implemented. RTE News writes, “A 24-hour traffic ban was enforced yesterday in major cities in Diyala in a bid to curb violence. Despite this, six people were killed when their minibus was blown up by a roadside bomb near the town of al-Sadiyah, 100km northeast of the provincial capital, Baquba. In Baquba itself, a roadside bomb killed one person and injured another.”

Also in Baghdad, Reuters says, “BAGHDAD – Four mortar bombs wounded three rubbish collectors and a girl in Adhamiya district in northern Baghdad, a hospital source said.”

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that a Baghad commander of Awakening Council troops insists that a majority of the Council members are former Baathists.

McClatchy reports more details on political violence in Iraq on Saturday:

‘7 civilians were wounded in an IED explosion inside a mini bus on al Salam bridge that links between Doura and New Baghdad neighborhoods around 3,00 pm.

Police found 12 anonymous bodies in Baghdad today . . .

Diyala

Six civilians (3 men, 2women and a child) were killed and three others (2 men and a woman) were injured in an IED explosion that targeted a mini bus on Sa’adiyah- Khanaqeen Street northeast of Baquba today morning.

A civilian was killed and another was injured while a carriage was passing near the IED near the Silo in the center of Baquba city today morning. When the members of Sahwa (the awakening) council came to help, another IED exploded in the same place injuring three members of Sahwa.

18 civilians were injured when an IED exploded inside a local market in Jalawla city northeast Baquba city around 5,00 pm. Two of the injured people were moved to Sulaimaniyah hospital because of their critical conditions.

An American soldier was killed in an IED explosion that targeted his vehicle while conducting a military operation in Diyala province. US army confirmed the news in a press released issued today.

Kirkuk

Police found a body of a young man near Sargaran area west of Kirkuk city. Police said that the body is of a young man from Arbil province and his name is Mohammed Ali.’

Baghdad, Diyala, al-Anbar, Salahuddin and Ninevah provinces were the most dangerous for US, Coalition and Iraqi troops in 2007, according to this op-ed in the NYT. I.e. the provinces where Sunni Arabs predominated (though that is no longer true of Baghdad itself, which now is probably 80% Shiite). Coming next was Kirkuk Province (Tamim), a center of civil war between Kurds and Arabs.

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