2 US Troops Killed, Others Wounded; Sadr City Fighting; Bombing, Kidnappings in Baquba

The LAT says that 2 US troops were killed in Salahuddin Province north of Baghdad (a largely Sunni Arab area). Also, a roadside bomb struck a US troop transport in Basra, producing unspecified casualties.

In addition, LAT reports that fighting continued on Monday in Sadr City between its Mahdi Army militiamen and Iraqi government forces backed by US troops. Nine are said dead in the clashes. The government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is attempting to reduce the power of the Sadrist political movement, backed by the Mahdi Army, in favor of his new ally, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), headed by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. Al-Hakim’s movement is more middle and upper class and more tied to Iran, while the Sadrists are working class or poor slum dwellers and Iraqi nationalists. In Baquba, a Sunni female suicide bomber targeted US backed Sunni militiamen of the local Awakening council, killing 3.

Kudos to James Glanz and Alissa Rubin of the NYT for getting the story! They point out that the US and Iran are on the same side in southern Iraq, both fearful of the nativist Sadr movement. This correct narrative is completely the opposite of what Americans have been spoon fed on television and by Bush / Pentagon spokesmen. I had pointed out this Bush- Iran convergence last week and also pointed out that US intelligence analysis admits it. The article is the first one I have seen to say that Iran supports al-Hakim’s ISCI in its bid to create a Shiite superprovince in Iraq’s south. I’ve never been able to discover what the Iranians feel about this and had wondered if they weren’t at least a little bit worried about a soft partition of Iraq because of its implications for Iranian Kurdistan, which might become restive and seek to join Iraqi Kurdistan. But it is plausible that Tehran might risk this scenario in order to gain a permanent regional ally in the form of the Shiite Regional Government in southern Iraq.

The Badr Corps paramilitary says that it is now the Badr Organization and is no longer a militia. The Badr is modeled on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is a sort of National Guard in Iran, so I suppose Badr is saying that its troops now play a similar role in Iraq, functioning as a slightly less formal state security force. But the Badr reporting line goes to MP Hadi al-Amiri and thence to cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, not to the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki. Likewise, the Peshmerga paramilitary of the Kurds has been redefined as a National Guard and accepted as such in the Iraqi Constitution. But the question remains of what these militias would do if their own leadership did come into conflict with the prime minister. They are after all militias. As for Badr’s insistence that they haven’t run death squads, secret courts, or torture cells, actually they have. They just tend to do these things under the cover of the Ministry of the Interior. As the NYT report said, the US doesn’t see Badr as a militia “because they aren’t trying to kill us.”

What Condi’s diplomacy with Iraq’s neighbors looks like from Moscow:

Al-Hayat reports that US Secretary of State Condi Rice was been unable to get a prior, unambiguous commitment at a preparatory meeting in Manama from the Arab states to forgive Iraqi loans and other obligations incurred under Saddam Hussein, or to open embassies in Baghdad.

Professors and students in Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, are requesting protection after a rash of kidnappings targeting them, al-Hayat writes in Arabic. They also want past such kidnappers now in state custody to sentence them quickly, fearful that local tribal sheikhs will intervene to get the miscreants released, resulting in reprisals against the victims.

McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Monday:

‘ Baghdad

– Around 8 am, three IEDs planted in three cars targeted employees of the Cabinet office. The first one was in Dora and the employee was driving his own car the BMW when it exploded and he was injured in that incident .The second one targeted another employee who was injured as he was driving his Hyundai car with another passenger who was sitting by him. The third one targeted a female employee’s car at Alawi neighborhood. She was injured in that incident.

– Around 10 am, two roadside bombs targeted two cars near the red crescent in Mansour neighborhood .No casualties reported.

– Around 11 am, random clashes took place at Rubayee street of Zayuna (east Baghdad). Six people were killed including a woman in that incident.

– Around 3:20 pm, mortars hit the green zone (IZ) in central Baghdad.No casualties reported.

– Around 4 pm, a roadside bomb targeted a KIA mini bus near the oil marketing headquarter at Zayuna neighborhood (east Baghdad). One person was killed and five others were injured in that incident.

– Around 4 pm, a mortar shell hit Mashtal neighborhood (east Baghdad). Two people were injured in that incident.

– Around 4 pm, clashes took place at Mashtal neighborhood (east Baghdad) between the Iraqi army and the Mahdi army . Five people were injured in that clashes.

– Around 6 and 6:30 pm, two Katyusha missiles hit the Supreme council headquarters .No casualties reported.

– Around 6:10 pm, a Katyusha missile hit the Salhiyah compound (central Baghdad).No casualties recorded ,but some cars were damaged in that incident.

– Police found 4 dead bodies in Baghdad today: (3) were found in east Baghdad (Risafa bank); 1 was in Zayuna , 1 was in Husseiniyah and 1 was in Mashtal. While(1) was found in Dora.

Diyala

– Around 1.15 pm, a female suicide bomber detonated herself near one of the popular committees headquarter at Mafraq in Baquba .Three members were killed and 4 others were injured.

Basra

– In the afternoon, a roadside bomb targeted an American patrol at Al-Ghuzaza bridge (north Basra), witnesses in Basra said . While the MNF in Iraq gave us this reply “We can confirm there was an IED attack on US troops today in Basra with casualties. No further information is releasable at this time.” ‘

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