45 Dead, 79 Wounded in Wave of Violence; Bombing in Jalawla’ Raises Tensions with Baghdad

Why Iraq still matters to the presidential campaign,according to Mark Brunswick of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Violence erupted throughout central, eastern and northern Iraq on Tuesday, leaving at least 45 dead and some 79 wounded. The major single attack was a suicide bombing that struck at a police recruiting center in the mostly Kurdish town of Jalaula’ northeast of Baquba in troubled Diyala Province.

The attack raised suspicions among Kurds because it comes in the wake of disputes between the Kurds of Diyala and the government of Nuri al-Maliki, who has sent Iraqi government troops into Diyala. When the troops entered Khanaqin, a potentially oil-rich city near the Iranian border that is largely Kurdish, there were tensions with the local population and with the Peshmerga Kurdish paramilitary. On Tuesday, residents of Khanaqin staged a demonstration against the presence in their city of government troops.

Jalawla’ is near Khanaqin. Al-Hayat writes in Arabic that when Iraqi troops first went into the northern, Kurdish areas of Diyala, they gave the local Peshmerga 24 hours to get out of the region. The Diyala governing council resisted this ultimatum, creating tension with the central government. The Kurdistan Regional Government also disputed the decree, eliciting charges from Baghdad that the KRG was attempting to extend its authority into provinces not in its purview (Diyala is not part of the KRG). Al-Hayat says that the Peshmerga had just returned to Khanaqin and Jalawla’ after the withdrawal of federal troops.

Shawn Brimley and Colin Kahl argue against al-Maliki’s crackdown on the Sunni Arab Awakening Councils.

Kurdish journalists are in danger in Iraqi Kurdistan. Al-Hayat reports a new poll that shows that half of KRG residents feel that they have little freedom of speech.

Antiwar.com reviews political violence in Iraq on Tuesday.

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