22 Dead, Dozens Wounded in Mosul, Falluja Attacks; Sunni leaders Arrested in Diyala

The NYT reports that various attacks in Mosul and Falluja killed 22 on Sunday, including a suicide bombing targeting a US convoy in Mosul that missed and hit a restaurant instead. As many were wounded in the attacks as killed. There was also an assault on national police in Mosul, and a roadside bombing that killed Iraqi troops and wounded by-standers. In Falluja, guerrillas threw a grenade into a family home, killing an infant and wounding family members.

McClatchy reports that, in addition, a roadside bomb detonated in Adhamiya, north Baghdad, wounding 3.

The US and Iraqi militaries maintain that attacks are down by about half from this time last year, showing security progress. These statements seldom mention that a major reason for the fall in violence has been the ethnic cleansing of some 4 million Iraqis from their homes, reducing the contact of ethno-sectarian groups and so reducing violence among them.

Some Sunni fighters who had laid down their arms or fought religious radicals in the past two years are dismayed at the militant Shiism of the new Iraqi government, the lack of reconciliation with Sunnis, and the prospect that an American withdrawal will leave them at the mercy of Iran. Some are contemplating returning to armed struggle, according to McClatchy.

Dahr Jamail confirms the Sunnis’ sense of unease, which is exacerbated by steps such as the arrest of two Sunni leaders in Diyala province by the al-Maliki government on Monday morning. One of those just detained, Sheikh Riyadh al-Mujami, is a well-known leader of a local Awakening Council.

Meanwhile, an amnesty for Sunni Arabs who left the insurgency, passed last February as part of a quest by the government for reconciliation, is now being blamed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for the release of mainly Sunni Arab guerrillas who are behind the wave of bombings and other violence this spring. Al-Maliki wants to revise the law.

Arab notables of Kirkuk Province met near Hawija to plan out a pan-Arab political alliance in order to contest provincial elections there. Both Sunnis and Shiites attended. They are contesting the plan of Kurds to annex Kirkuk to the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Only a tiny fraction of Iraq’s some 4 million displaced persons, about 1.5 million of them abroad, have attempted to return to their old neighborhoods. McClatchy reports that often they have not found it safe, or have not found employment, and that they lack services.

The al-Maliki government is using libel lawsuits in an effort to close down the independent press in Iraq, and even some web sites. Political libel practices were common in the 16th and 17th centuries, but in most democratic countries they have gradually become more difficult to mount, as legislators and courts have recognized that they interfere with the healthy functioning of a free press. Ironically, the al-Maliki government appears itself to have confirmed the charge over which it sued the Kitabat (Writings) website in Germany, that members of the cabinet are corrupt and nepotistic.

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Iraqi researchers believe that Iraq is now a major conduit for drugs from the new golden triangle of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran to the countries of the Persian Gulf and the Levant. Some 14,000 Iraqis have themselves fallen into addiction.

Meanwhile, many Iraqis are upset that the US soldier who was convicted of raping an Iraqi minor girl, then killing her and others in her village, did not get the death penalty. Aljazeera English has video:

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