35 Wounded in Mosul Car Bombing; Sistani Upbraids MPs; Al-Maliki Threatens to Resign

The Iraq War is still hot in the northern city of Mosul (pop. 1.7 mn.) , where 10-12 car bombs still are detonated every day. On Thursday, McClatchy reports, “A suicide car bomber detonated in Mosul city around 8:30 pm. Police opened fire on the car before targeting a police station in the area that made its driver swerved away of its direction. Thirty five people were injured in that incident.”

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has threatened to resign if the parliament does not pass the security agreement on November 24.

Some MPs are complaining that by the constitution, the agreement should have been turned over to the relevant parliamentary committees. Only if the latter reported it out should the government have proceeded with the first reading. Instead, the agreement went straight to the full parliament.

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani on Thursday lambasted members of the Iraqi parliament who have left to go on pilgrimage to Mecca rather than staying in Baghdad to debate and vote on the US-Iraqi security agreement. (Adult Muslims have a duty to go on pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetimes if they can afford to do so, but there was no pressing necessity for the MPs to go this year). Some of those who have left are members of the United Iraqi Alliance, the party that announces its allegiance to Sistani and has campaigned by using his image.

If the security agreement is passed, the 163,000 private contractors that the Pentagon employs in Iraq will become subject to Iraqi law and could be tried in Iraqi courts. It is not clear if private security firms such as Blackwater will be willing to operate in Iraq under such rules. Blackwater cowboying is accused of causing a lot of trouble in Iraq, as with Fallujah and Nissour Square.

In fact, some observers, according to McClatchy, , are suggesting that private security guards could be tried even for actions they took before the agreement was enacted.

Tom Engelhardt is skeptical of the Pentagon’s argument that the US has too much materiel in Iraq to withdraw it all in only 16 months.

Experts testifying, and members of Congress commenting, at a hearing Thursday on the Status of Forces Agreement insisted that it is a treaty and must be ratified by the Senate.

The US, Iraq and Turkey have established a joint committee to combat the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party), guerrillas of which are holed up in northern Iraq, from which they have launched attacks on Turks across the border.

A court ordered the release of 5 Algerians from Guantanamo on Thursday. They had been arrested in Bosnia and charged with being al-Qaeda. The judge found that the government had insufficient evidence to hold them. (Not to mention that during the Bosnia war, the US government had winked at Muslimm activists going to Sarajevo, on the grounds that they would fight rogue Serb forces; so it is ironic that Bush turned around and arrested these former allies.)

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