Sunni Guerrillas at Mosul Kill a US Soldier; Kirkuk Council Member Predicts Permanent US Base in Kirkuk

Guerrillas in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday subjected a US military base to a barrage of mortar fire, killing a US soldier. The guerrillas successfully targeted a mililtary counter-insurgency office intended to deal with the guerrillas. That move shows that they have infiltrated the base and have someone on the inside telling them where key offices are.

al-Zaman reports in Arabic that the arrival of United Nations counselors in Kirkuk with an aim of compiling a list of ‘original’ inhabitants of the city has provoked a wave of assassinations in the disputed city.

Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Alliance renewed its call for Article 140 of the constitution to be implemented (i.e. for a referendum to be held in Kirkuk Province on whether it should join the Kurdistan Regional Government. It is thought that the Kurds, who control the security forces, have flooded other Kurds into the province, such that they are now about half of its population. The other two major groups are the Arabs and Turkmen. They typically oppose the plan to join Kurdistan.

Jala Naftji, a Turkmen member of the Kirkuk governing council, told Al-Zaman that he had been afraid of an increasing security vacuum in the province, but has been reassured since Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki sent an Iraqi Army unit up. He also expected that an enduring US base would be established in the city of Kirkuk. He said that in the last meeting of the governing council with Gen. Ray Odierno, the latter had pledged that the US would not give up the security mission before the Kirkuk issue was resolved.

The deputy governor of Kirkuk, Rakan Said al-Juburi, told the paper, “If there is not a joint administration [of Kirkuk Province] and balance throughout the security agencies among the various ethnicities in order to resolve the complicated problem of Kirkuk, I believe that conflict with break out once the Americans withdraw.”

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party said on the occasion of the visit of former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani to Iraq that the visit was unwelcome and that an investigation should be opened into Iranian meddling in Iraq. President Jalal Talabani (a Kurd) criticized al-Hashimi for the statement, saying that it oversteeped the prerogatives of the vice presidency and was unfriendly.

Rafsanjani, now head of the clerical Expediency Council (sort of an Iranian senate), visited the Shiite shrines at Samarra and Karbala. There was no word that he had gone to Najaf, as prominent Iranian visitors typically do, for consultations with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that Muqtada al-Sadr blessed an alliance between his followers, who won seats on provincial council as independents, with the Islamic Mission Party (Da`wa) of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Amir al-Kanani, the leader of the List of the Free, which is supported by the Sadrist Bloc, told al-Zaman that Muqtada al-Sadr is supported of the negotiations being conducted by his list with al-Maliki’s coalition. The Sadrist position is new, coming nearly a year after al-Maliki and his American allies defeated Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia in Basra, Diwaniya and Sadr City. Al-Kanani said that each provincial council is negotiating its own arrangements with regard to the distribution of power among the victorious members.

McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Tuesday, including the firing of 8 mortar rounds at a US military base at Mosul in the north.

‘ Baghdad

A roadside bomb targeted a U.S. convoy in al Alawi central bus station, central Baghdad at 10.30 a.m. Tuesday. No casualties were reported.

A roadside bomb exploded on Mohammed al Qassim highway, near New Baghdad at 11 a.m. injuring two civilians.

One unidentified body was found in Shaab, northern Baghdad. The body was cut up in many pieces and dumped.

Twelve unidentified bodies were found in Baghdad Province during the month of February, said Iraqi Police, mostly in the suburbs.

Nineveh

Gunmen riding motorbikes opened fire upon a civilian in al Shaareen marketplace, central Mosul and killed him instantly.

Eight mortar rounds targeted the U.S. military base in al Ghizlani, southern Mosul on Tuesday according to Iraqi Police in Mosul. No comment was available from the U.S. Military at time of publication.

Diyala

A roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi Police patrol in Gatoun neighbourhood, southwestern Baquba at 8 a.m. injuring seven people including four policemen and three civilians.

Kirkuk

Gunmen driving a speeding car opened fire upon Werya Fattah Agha al Kakai, brother to Adnan Agha al Kakai, prominent notable of al Kakai clan in Kirkuk, and killed him, on his door step straight away. The incident took place in central Kirkuk, Tuesday morning.’

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