70 Killed or found Dead on Sunday; Big Bombing Near Balad: Baquba Clashes

So first on Sunday, Sunni Arab guerrillas tried to overwhelm Iraqi security forces, Awakening Council members and US troops at two villages near Sinjar not far from the Syrian border. The pro-US forces fought them off, but 22 died in the encounter, some on each side. McClatchy describes the events thusly:

‘ A source in the Iraqi army said that gunmen from Qaida killed a family(parents and their four children) in Sinjar town west of Mosul city today morning. After the incident, joint troops (Sahwa and USA troops supported by the tribes) raided the strongholds of the insurgents and clashes with them. Ten insurgents were killed and three others were arrested. Six Sahwa members were killed two women were injured during the clashes. ‘

Then around 4:30 pm Baghdad time, in the village of Mazari’ah in Tikrit district, not far from the Shiite city of Balad, a truck bomber detonated his payload at a checkpoint manned by Sunni awakening council members near a market, killing 34 and wounding 37 and damaging many shops. Actual counts of killed and wounded were hindered because they were mostly Sunnis and the families were afraid to take them into Balad, which is Shiite-dominated.

In the west of Mosul, a suicide bomber driving a fuel tanker killed 4 Iraqi soldiers and wounded 7.

Then a suicide bomber hit a police checkpoint in Fallujah, killing 3 and wounding 7. Sunni fundamentalist guerrillas have been fighting with notables of the Dulaim tribe because the latter have thrown in with the Americans.

Ten bodies were found in and around Baghdad.

Although the Bush administration spokesmen keep saying that the guerrillas are on their last legs, the level of violence on Sunday does not accord with such a view. And, the awakening councils, where former insurgents are paid by the US to switch sides and patrol for the US military, have not worked out very well outside al-Anbar and are at the moment on strike in much of Diyala province.

In fact, Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that active fighting is going on between Awakening Council fighters and local police in Baquba. The dispute concerns two women kidnapped from near the town of Muqdadiya. The Awakening Councils closed their offices and are on strike in any case. The municipal authorities are calling for a quick end to the infighting and an end to the strike, since they say that Salafi Jihadis may take advantage of the situation to reestablish themselves in Baquba, the capital of Diyala Province east of Baghdad.

(The police in Baquba are mostly Shiites from the Badr Corps, whereas the Awakening Councils are mostly Sunni Arab, so that helps explain the clashes. But also the kidnapping of the women sounds like tribal hostage-taking. One of the things the Americans who are depending so heavily on tribal levies now are going to find out is that tribes typically enjoy feuding much more than they do peacekeeping, however much they are paid for the latter.)

Richard Luscombe of the Scotsman accuses US troops in Iraq of using “shady tactics” such as carrying spare machine guns to plant o the bodies of any Iraqis they wrongly killed. They are also accused of using the weapons as bait and of killing with sniper fire anyone who attempted to pick them up. The remarks surround an article on the conviction of Sergeant Evan Vela of unpremeditated murder at his court-martial. Vela was found guilty of wrongly killing Nesir Khudair al-Janabi and then of attempting to cover it up. Vela maintained that he was sleep deprived and following orders. His superior officer who gave the order to open fire as acquitted.

Michael Schwartz at Tomdispatch essays a first connected history of the Iraqi refugee crisis, which he terms the worst such crisis in the world. Actually, I would say that the Palestinian refugee crisis is still worse, since most Palestinians except those in Israel and Jordan are still stateless, and their total number is roughly 10.5 million (i.e. about 7 million are stateless, and even some of those with Jordanian citizenship still live in refugee camps. I would argue that long-term statelessness is akin to a condition of slavery insofar as many basic rights, including work permits, expectations of permanent residence in a country, etc., come only with citizenship). All of this is to take nothing away from the seriousness and tragedy of the Iraqi refugee crisis.

Aljazeera English does a report on the displaced Shiites living in grinding poverty the slums of Sadr City or East Baghdad, a largely Shiite enclave where the Sadr Movement is powerful:

The Bush administration and the Pentagon deep-sixed an unclassified RAND study of failures in the planning for the Iraq War. I’ll bet the shredders are working overtime in preparation for the arrival of the Dems in power early next year . . .

US civilian contractor deaths were up 17% in 2007, which is, according to experts, an “incredible” statistic. Makes a person suspicious that the fall in US military deaths was a little artificial and that contractors were sometimes sent in, instead, and that their deaths do not garner the same attention as those of US troops.

McClatchy reports other political violence for Sunday:

‘ Baghdad

Gunmen opened fire targeting Lieutenant General Mohammed Basim Abdul Redha and Colonel Farqad Salman Alwan, both work in the directorate in the general inspector of the defense ministry. The incident took place at 9:00 am in al Yarmook neighborhood west Baghdad.

A civilian was killed and two others were injured when gunmen opened fire randomly targeting a bus in al Nosoor square west Baghdad around 3:00 pm.

A joint force of the Iraqi army and the US army found a grave yard includes five bodies of men in Boob al Sham area north of Baghdad . . .

Salahuddin . . .

Gunmen killed two civilians near Tikrit- Baghdad Street north of Baghdad today afternoon.

Diyala

Two policemen were killed and 17 people (10 policemen and 7 civilians) were injured when ten mortar shells hit Baladrooz police station in Baladrooz town east of Baquba city today morning.

Kirkuk

The head of Abbasi Sahwa Majeed Ahmed Khalaf was injured with two of his followers when a suicide bomber detonated his car near their car on Abbasi- Hawija Street southwest Kirkuk city around 9:30 am. Police said that the suicide bomber was driving a pick up car carrying a cow in the back of the car and got close to Khalaf’s car then detonated his car. . .

Nineveh . . .

Four civilians were injured in a suicide car bomb that targeted a check point of the Iraqi army in al Hadba’a neighborhood downtown Mosul city north of Baghdad today afternoon.

Four Iraqi soldiers were killed and seven civilians were killed in suicide car bomb that targeted a check point of the Iraq army in al Sahaji area west of Mosul city today afternoon.

A fuel station owner was killed and three other civilians were injured when a gunman opened fire in Haj Ali village in Makhmoor town southeast of Mosul city ‘

Reuters adds:

‘ BAGHDAD – Ten bodies were found in different areas of Baghdad on Sunday, police said. Five of them were found in a grave in outskirts of northern Baghdad. . .

NEAR KIRKUK – A suicide car bomb blast aimed at a convoy of U.S.-backed neighbourhood policemen wounded three members including the unit’s leader, southwest of Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

NEAR HILLA – U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces arrested two suspected Shi’ite militia just north of Hilla, 100 km (62 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

KUT – Police arrested a senior al Qaeda member in Kut, 170 km (105 mile) southeast of Baghdad, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said.

NINEVEH PROVINCE – Five people, including a woman, were killed in clashes when gunmen attacked villages manned by neighbourhood policemen in the northern province of Nineveh, police said. ‘

Paul George says of the Iraq War, “It’s the oil, habibi, the oil,” quoting IC which in turn paraphrased Muqtada al-Sadr’s similar comment about the fighting in Kirkuk.

I thought Philip Cunningham’s comments at our collective Global Affairs blog on how Barack Obama is viewed in Southeast Asia just fascinating, and remarked that because of his stint in a (secular) Indonesian school, he is perceived as culturally “a bit Asian.”

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