An American soldier was killed and five were wounded by roadside bombs on Friday in Diyala Province northeast of Baghdad.
Congress passed a $161 bn. budget for the Iraq War, with a bit for Afghanistan in it, but failed to get language about a timetable for troop withdrawal included. If Americans dislike this outcome, they will have to elect more senators (especially senators) and congressional representatives who want out of Iraq, of both parties, this fall. The gesture of November 2006 just was not strong enough, given the consensual rules of the Senate (where you really need 60 to accomplish anything) and the Hawks’ continued control of the White House. Oh, that is another thing they could change in November, if they don’t like throwing good money after bad.
Iraqi troops undertook a wave of arrests in Amarah on Friday, putting behind bars the mayor of the city, several members of the provincial council of Maysan, and 20 policemen, among dozens of others the government said were implicated in militia-led gangsterism in the city. Sadrists protested that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was attempting to weaken their part ahead of provincial elections. Maysan is the only province in Iraq run by the Sadr Movement, and al-Maliki’s main backer, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, would like to take it in the next election.
Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that a compromise has been reached on the provincial elections law in parliament, which should be voted on shortly. Kirkuk will not be included in the provinces voting, until after a referendum is held there on whether it should accede to the Kurdistan Regional Government. The KRG provinces, which have now been melded into a single confederacy, also will not vote in the fall. The Sadr Movement opposes this plan, insisting that Kirkuk take part. It also opposes a quota whereby 25% of seats on the provincial assemblies go to women. The United Iraqi Alliance and the Iraqi List insist on the quota for women. The Sadrists say they fear that the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq is attempting to delay provincial elections until early 2010 and have them coincide with the next parliamentary elections at the federal level. ISCI controls most of the Shiite provinces and the Sadrists say it is afraid it will lose them because it has not performed well.
Sadrist cleric As’ad al-Nasiri preached the sermon at the Kufa Mosque on Friday, condemning a proposed Status of Forces Agreement between Iraq and the US as a form of “eternal slavery.”
Al3marh.net reports that al-Nasiri criticized what he called secret provisions of the proposed SOFA. He said that it called for American military bases to remain in Iraq. He said that no self-respecting Iraqi would stand for such a notion.
Moreover, immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts was being extended from US troops even to big US corporations. which he condemned as an affront to Iraqi sovereignty.
He also found unacceptable any plan for the US to retain the ability to arrest Iraqis at will.
The same site reports in Arabic on the sermon of Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbala’i on Friday at the Mosque of al-Husayn in Karbala. He is the representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
Al-Karbala’i said that the Shiite religious leadership would endorse no party list or individual candidate in the upcoming provincial elections, but rather would remain equidistant from all.
He also said that any Status of Forces Agreement between Iraq and the US must meet the following conditions:
A roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi army patrol in al-Ghabat area Friday afternoon wounding eleven servicemen.
A parked car bomb targeted a police patrol in al-Wahda neighbourhood, downtown Mosul, wounding six policemen. . .
One unidentified body was found in Baghdad by Iraqi Police in Shaab.
A parked car exploded in Kindi Street, Harthiyah, central Baghdad at 9 p.m. Friday killing three civilians, injuring seven.
Gunmen blew up two houses in Ashti neighbourhood, al-Saadiyah district , to the northeast of Baquba Thursday evening. Both houses were empty when they were blown up by remote control, but a civilian passer by was in the vicinity and was injured by the blast. ‘