Thousands Demonstrate Against US Security Pact; MPs Said to Receive Death Threats

McClatchy reports that tens of thousands of protesters came out against the US-Iraqi security agreement on Friday, mainly Shiites of the Sadr Movement. Parliamentarians who favor the pact, such as Hadi al-Amiri of the pro-Iranian Badr Corps paramilitary, vowed that the demonstrations would make no difference to the vote.

AP emphasizes that the crowds burned Bush in effigy. Does that mean they aren’t planning to name a street after him after all?

The LAT Iraq blog reports the demonstration as well, noting the absence of US troops. The photographs are worth checking out.

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that there were similar demonstrations in Basra, Diyala and Salahuddin Provinces.

Al-Hayat also tries to figure the support for the agreement in parliament. They count 53 members of the Kurdistan Alliance and 83 members of the United Iraqi Alliance (Shiite fundamentalist), for 136 out of 275, less than the 138 needed to pass. But this accounting ignores the 5 seats held by the Kurdistan Islamic Union, which invariably votes with the other Kurds, so that comes to 141.

Al-Hayat figures 106 firmly against, including 41 from the Iraqi Accord Front (Sunni fundamentalists). But some members of IAF may vote for the agreement (2 of 6 IAF members voted in favor of it on the cabinet).

Al-Hayat speculates that the deputies leaving for pilgrimage to Mecca, who thereby will miss the vote on Monday, are largely from the United Iraqi Alliance, which would subtract positive votes in favor of the agreement. I’m not sure, however, why the UIA MPs would be more likely to go on pilgrimage than, e.g., Sadrists or Sunni fundamentalists.

Al-Hayat also says that some MPs are privately admitting that they will absent themselves on Monday because they are getting severe pressure to do so, and some are even getting death threats. That severe pressure and death threats thing could explain why so many MPs suddenly were stricken with an attack of piety such that they just had immediately to go on pilgrimage to Mecca.

If I were a betting man, I’d say that the security agreement is likely to pass through parliament, even if narrowly– though if the Sunni Arabs do unanimously vote against or absent themselves, the agreement will lack the legitimacy that would have come from a national consensus across ethno-religious groups.

Kurdish guerrillas of the PKK blew up the Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline on Friday, halting petroleum exports from the north.

McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Friday:

‘ Baghdad

A roadside bomb targeted civilians near a checkpoint manned by National Police in Doura, southern Baghdad at 7 a.m. Friday, killing three civilians, injuring fifteen people including three policemen.

A roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi Army foot patrol in al-Arabi neighbourhood in Mansour, central Baghdad injuring two soldiers and two civilians.

Nineveh

A truck bomb driven by a suicide bomber targeted a checkpoint manned by Iraqi Army in Thawra neighbourhood, downtown Mosul at 8.30 p.m. Thursday, injuring thirty six people including six soldiers and causing severe material damages to surrounding buildings and civilian cars.

Kirkuk

An adhesive bomb stuck to a civilian car parked in front of a civilian home in al-Ghaz neighbourhood detonated at 6.20 p.m. Friday causing material damages to the car.

A mortar round fell in al-Khassa neighbourhood, near Kirkuk Mosque without causing any casualties or damages.’