Sadr City Residents Warned to Leave;

AFP reports, “25 killed as Rockets Shatter Basra Calm.” Shiite guerrillas fired a barrage of rockets at the British base out at the airport in Basra, killing two civilians. There was retaliatory fighting in Basra that left more dead.

Tina Susman of the LAT has some fun with the Bush administration’s fixation on Iran as a source of weapons and trouble in Iraq. She notes a major embarrassment last week when a cache of supposedly Iranian weapons seized in the Shiite holy city of Karbala turned out to be no such thing. The US military had just taken the word for it of local Karbala police. She says that this week when the Pentagon gave its overview of captured weapons, all of a sudden there was no mention of Iran at all.

The Iraqi military has warned civilians to leave the vast slum of Sadr City, apparently in preparation for a massive government assault on the Mahdi Army militia based there. Since slum dwellers notoriously lack the means to leave their slums, this call seems more likely to be for the sake of appearances than a realistic expectation. When thousands are massacred in the course of a military attack on a densely packed civilian area, the authorities will be able to say that they gave fair warning. Although the US demonizes the Mahdi Army, Many Sadr City residents view it as in part a charitable organization, and they also are often grateful for the security it provides. It is not as if the federal government is providing security.

Saddam Hussein was the Iraqi leader who invented the technique for the modern Iraqi state of ethnically cleansing rebellious populations as a way of making his rule stick. He did it to the Marsh Arabs in the south and also to Kurds in the north. The US has already either conducted or allowed ethnic cleansing in Falluja and West Baghdad. It now seems set to empty out the east of the capital.

Apparently the fractious, RPG-wielding slum dwellers are getting in the way of the planned Green Zone golf course, so they have to be removed.

You know some British colonial administrators were still planning new cricket fields in India in 1946.

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that the Iraqi parliament took up the conflict between PM Nuri al-Maliki and the Sadr Movement and President Jalal Talabani’s initiative to resolve it. At the same time, the two sides seemed to get farther apart, with al-Maliki continuing to insist on the disarming of the Mahdi Army militia. Talabani’s plan called for a first step of the militiamen pledging not to carry arms in public in Baghdad and troubled areas in the south. The Talabani plan may soon be voted on by parliament, but it is opposed by the Sadr Bloc of MPs.

Al-Hayat also reports on a planned meeting of al-Maliki with Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a component of the (Sunni fundamentalist) Iraqi Accord Front. Al-Hashimi is said to be set to rejoin the government. The proposed list of cabinet members from the IAF has not been accepted by al-Maliki. Dissent has broken out, however, in the Dialogue Council of Khalaf al-`Ulyan, one of the three components of the Iraqi Accord Front.

McClatchy reports political violence for Thursday.

‘ Baghdad

1 Katyusha rocket slammed into the Green Zone at 9 am Thursday. No casualties were reported.

2 Katyusha rockets slammed into the street next to al-Nasr cinema, Sadoon Street, central Baghdad killing 2 civilians, injuring 2 others and causing material damage to several civilian cars.

A roadside bomb exploded in Humat al-Watan intersection near Shaab stadium, east Baghdad. It targeted an Iraqi Army patrol injuring 5 servicemen.

An adhesive IED in a Kia minibus exploded killing 1 civilian, severely injuring 5 others. The incident took place in Zayuna neighbourhood, near the traffic fly over at around 3 pm Thursday.

A roadside bomb exploded behind the National Theatre in Karrada, central Baghdad injuring 3 civilians.

A parked car bomb exploded targeting a police patrol in Mansour neighbourhood, west Baghdad, near Samad restaurant in Rowad intersection at 5 pm Thursday. The explosion killed 3 policemen and 4 civilians and injured 2 policemen and 17 civilians amongst whom were 2 women and 1 child. The location is a central commercial centre and the explosion resulted in burning 4 civilian cars completely as well as the police vehicle in addition to extensive material damages to 10 stores and completely destroying the restaurant.

A roadside bomb exploded in Jihad neighbourhood, near Mohammed Rasool Allah Mosque at 7 pm injuring 7 civilians.

4 unidentified bodies were found in Baghdad today by Iraqi Police. 1 in Nahdha; 1 in Dola’I and 2 in Abu Disheer.

Salahuddin

Suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt detonated targeting mulla Nathim al-Juboor, head of Dhuluiayah Sahwa, a US supported militia, in Khazraj area, 5 km to the north of the town of Dhuluiayah. The mulla was in a motorcade with the Chief of Police and the District Commissioner of Dhuluiyah on a tour of reconstruction projects. This is the second assassination attempt he survives with only superficial injuries.

Basra

Violent clashes broke out between the security forces and gunmen in al-Askari neighbourhood, Zubair district 35 km t the west of Basra city after many Katyusha rockets were fired targeting a Notional Police camp in Zubair. The fighting continues and no casualties report was available at time of publication.’

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