Iraqi Government Fires 1300 Troops; Muqtada Pledges Defiance of US

The Iraqi government has discharged 1300 officers, troops and policemen who declined to fight the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr in late March. Most of them had been in Basra and Kut. Although the Iraqi and US governments are trying to spin the dismissals as having to do with laziness or cowardice, it seems obvious from Tina Susman’s reporting for the LAT that in fact they sympathized with the Sadr Movement. Hint: These 1300 are not the only ones.

Muqtada al-Sadr slapped away the hand offered him by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who had said Mutqtada al-Sadr was not considered an enemy by the US as long as he joined the political process. The Arab Times reports, “Radical cleric Muqtada Sadr says he will not enter any political process that would allow US forces to remain in Iraq. Sadr also denounces US Defense Secretary Robert Gates as a terrorist and says he will never work with Iraq’s occupiers.”

The Iraqi cabinet prepared a draft of a law forbidding parties with militias from running in the provincial elections scheduled for October. The measure is actually in an ironic way a victory for the Sadr Movement at which it is aimed, since originally Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had intimated that he could exclude the Sadrists from running by fiat. They pointed out that only parliament could bar parties from running. The question is whether, with summer fast approaching, parliament will be able to achieve a quorum for passing the bill into law, and whether al-Maliki has the votes to put it through. The bill is the height of hypocrisy, since all major parties in parliament have paramilities, especially al-Maliki’s current main partner, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (see yesterday’s posting on it and its strong relationship to Iran). ISCI denials that Badr any longer exists or has been wholly incorporated into government security forces are a Big Lie.

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that US and Iraqi forces making incursions into Sadr City in east Baghdad have taken 12 of 79 neighborhoods in the labyrinthine slum of 3 million persons. These districts are near to the gateways connecting Sadr City to the rest of the capital.

Susman also gets a great story about corrupt financier and notorious liar Ahmad Chalabi in Sadr City:

‘ Inside a small house off a dirt alley, hundreds of women, many of them sobbing, wailing and beating their chests in sorrow, were mourning the slaying Friday of a high-ranking Sadr aide, Riyadh Noori, who was gunned down in the holy city of Najaf by unknown assailants.

Ahmad Chalabi, the government’s point man for restoration of essential services in Baghdad, joined Noori’s father, two brothers and hundreds of others in a tent reserved for male mourners.

“They were angry at their loss, they were angry at the situation, and they were angry that five years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, people are still getting killed,” Chalabi said later.

After leaving the mourners, Chalabi visited a warehouse in Sadr City that is supposed to hold food rations distributed monthly to residents. There, he faced an enraged man who stood inches from Chalabi’s face and accused the government of failing its people.

“We voted for Maliki! How come he’s not protecting us?” Hayoun Hamid Amir yelled.

“He’s one of you,” Chalabi replied calmly.

“No, he’s not!” Amir screamed back.

He later accused Iraqi and U.S. forces of firing indiscriminately in residential areas of Sadr City. ‘

Al-Hayat, writing in Arabic, said that security specialists from Iraq’s neighbors met on Sunday. There were said to have been tensions between Iraq and Iran over Iran’s alleged role in training and arming militiamen in Iraq. Iran shot back complaints that Iraq was still harboring the Mujahidin-i Khalq terror organization, which has conducted bombings inside Iran. Kuwait requested an end to violations of its border by Iraqis.

McClatchy reports political violence on Sunday:

‘Baghdad

Around 10:00 a.m. Iraqi security forces detonated under control two bombs which were planted in Ferdows intersection in downtown Baghdad.

Two policemen were injured in an IED explosion that targeted their patrol near the national theater in Karrada neighborhood in downtown Baghdad around 12:00 p.m.

Around 4:00 p.m. two mortar shells hit the green zone.

Police found tow [sic] bodies in Baghdad today. The first body was found in Zayuna neighborhood and the other body was found in Saidiyah neighborhood.

Diyala

A civilian was killed and another was injured in a bomb explosion in Abo Saida area east of Baquba city around 10:00 a.m.

A civilian was killed in al Aswad area north of Baquba city around 11:00 a.m.

Kirkuk

Two members of awakening councils were injured seriously in a bomb explosion that targeted their bus near Wahid Huzairan area in south Kirkuk on Sunday morning.

A member of awakening council was killed in a bomb explosion that targeted his patrol in Dirsh village south of Kirkuk city on Sunday morning.

Three members of awakening council were wounded in a bomb explosion that targeted their patrol in Kharabat Rot village south of Kirkuk on Sunday morning.

A bomb exploded near the gate of an employee in the directorate of health in Kirkuk city causing material damages only.

Anbar

The deputy of the local council in Falluja town Qasim Mashkoor and his 11 years old son were injured seriously when an IED attached to their car exploded. The incident took place in Nowab al Thobat neighborhood in downtown Falluja town around 7:15 p.m.

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