Can Obama Get out of Iraq in 16 Months? Bombings Shake Baghdad

The daily bombings in Baghdad that appear to signal a resurgence of the guerrilla movement continued on Thursday, with three bombings in the capital killing 5 persons and wounding dozens.

Time asks whether President Obama will stick to his 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. The article quotes. Gen.Ray Odierno and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari arguing for a more gradual withdrawal. The problem is that both have strong views on this matter growing out of political commitments. I’d be interested in what Iraqi analysts think.

British troops will be out of Iraq by summer, 2009, according to Sky News. It was also announced that small contingents from Romania and Bulgaria would leave by the end of December.

The US has returned an amended security agreement to the Iraqi government, having accepted some of its further demands, including Iraqi inspection of US mail. The US would go no further on Iraqi jurisdiction over off-duty US troops (Iraq wanted Iraqi authorities to decide whether a US soldier would be remanded to Iraqi custody once charged. Bush apparently made the concessions,including the one on mail inspections, because he is desperate to get a status of forces agreement concluded before he leaves office, as a way of cementing US and Iraqi relations. But McClatchy reveals that the Iraqis are calling the agreement a “withdrawal agreement.”

Alissa J. Rubin of the NYT argues, “Now the Iraqis appear to be feeling less pressure from Iran, perhaps because the Iranians are less worried that an Obama government will try to force a regime change in their country.”

LAT blog says that Al-Zaman is unconvinced that Iraq will be a high priority for President Obama, whereas Ahmad Chalabi’s al-Mu’tamar is encouraged that the Iraqis now have an American administration todeal with that wants to withdraw from Iraq.

A controversy has broken out in Iraq in the wake of the passage of a law limiting polygamy in Iraqi Kurdistan. Some women activists want a similar limitation throughout Iraq, citing the increased incidence of men taking multiple wives in Iraq. Other women oppose the measure on the grounds that the Qur’an allows a man up to four wives. (In fact, the Qur’an conditions taking more than one wife on a man’s ability to do justice to each spouse and expresses skepticism that the condition will be met. Some Iraqi commentators have wondered whether any such measure could pass parliament, given the dominance of the Shiite fundamentalist parties.

Andrew Bacevich sees the end of an arrogant evangelical foreign policy and the beginning of a more humble approach based on a Calvinist, Niebuhr-influenced realization of the sinful nature of human beings.

McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Thursday:

‘ Baghdad

– Around 7:30 am two roadside bombs targeted Sahwa members in Sheikh Omar neighborhood (north Baghdad). Two people were killed (including one Sahwa member) and five others were injured (including three Sahwa members).

– Around 8 am an adhesive bomb detonated under a civilian car near Hamza intersection in Sadr city (east Baghdad). Three civilians were wounded.

– Around 10 am a roadside bomb targeted a bus for the Baghdad municipality employees near the Ghilani shrine and mosque in Bab Al-Sharji(downtown Baghdad). One person was killed and 5 others were wounded.

– Around 8 pm a bomb which was put in a rubbish bin in Shalal market in Shaab neighborhood (east Baghdad). Five people were injured.

Mosul

– A roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi army patrol in Nahrwan neighborhood in Mosul city. Two soldiers were wounded.

– Police found one dead body for a girl in Karama neighborhood in Mosul city.

Kirkuk

– Police found a dead body in Sayada village on the way from Kirkuk to Taza ( south Kirkuk).’

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