Maliki and Timetable for US Withdrawal

A White House spokesman emphasized that US-Iraqi talks on a Status of Forces Agreement do not include mention of a hard date for US withdrawal.

The disclaimer came after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for the first time spoke of seeking a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops.

Al-Maliki is under pressure from the Sadr Movement, led by cleric Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr, to seek such a timetable. Thousands of Iraqis demonstrated Friday against the SOFA negotiations on the grounds that they surrendered too much of Iraq’s sovereignty.

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Sadrist aide Liwa’ Sumaisim praised al-Maliki’s statement as a “positive development” and said that the Sadr Movement was ready to support it.

Meanwhile, MP Jalal al-Din Saghir said that the latest proposed draft of the SOFA from the American side left a great deal to be desired.

A highly placed Iraqi source told al-Hayat that a study had been completed a month ago on a US withdrawal from Iraq. He said that the American negotiators had not forbidden it, and that they were themselves aware that Barack Obama might win the presidency. Obama has pledged to withdraw troops from Iraq.

Meanwhile, Sunni Arab guerrillas launched a violent campaign in provincial Iraq. They fired mortars at the mansion of the governor in Mosul. They wounded the mayor of Kirkuk. There were also several attacks on members of the Awakening Councils formed under the auspices of the US.

Al-Hayat reports that the Sunni Iraqi Accord Front has criticized the Iraqi government for its ambivalence on having the IAF rejoin the government, with cabinet members.

McClatchy profiles Col. David Paschal, the US commander in Kirkuk Province, depicting his success at deploying counter-insurgency techniques to reduce violence in the troubled northern area.

McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Monday.

‘Baghdad

An adhesive IED on a civilian car exploded in Adhamiyah, northern Baghdad injuring four civilians.. The car belonged to a university teacher, Mohammmed Sadoun who had just left the car when it blew. He was not amongst the injured.

Diyala

A female suicide bomber detonated inside a wedding dress store in al-Mafraq neighbourhood, central Baquba at 11 a.m. Monday. The explosion killed one woman and one man and wounded fourteen, mostly women and children.

One woman killed by unknown gunmen in al-Aheimir village, 10 km to the east of Baquba at 11.30 a.m.

Gunmen killed a member of the Sahwa Council, a U.S. backed militia, in al-Hashimiyah neighbourhood, western Baquba at around 10.30 a.m. Monday.

A roadside bomb targeted a woman in al-Aheimir village at 11.30 a.m.

A roadside bomb exploded killing two civilians in al-Mualimeen neighbourhood, western Baquba.

A roadside bomb targeted a civilian car on the route between Mendili and Neftekhana, Monday, killing four civilians from one family, injuring three others.

Nineveh

Six mortar rounds targeted the Governorate building in Mosul. Only one hit the building injuring six civilians including two employees.

Salahuddin

Gunmen killed one civilian and wounded another on the main route between Tikrit and Tuz Monday at noon. Victims were sheep traders; both were Shiite.

Kirkuk

A roadside bomb exploded in front of the residence of Mayor of Sulaiman Bek, to the south of Kirkuk Monday morning critically injuring the Mayor and wounding other civilians in the vicinity.

Anbar

A suicide car bomb targeted Sahwa Council offices, a U.S. backed militia, in Smeismiyah area, to the east of the town of Rawa during a meeting Sunday at noon injuring eleven Sahwa members, three of whom are critical.’