Car Bomb Kills 32 at Shula; Plummeting Oil Prices Hit Iraqi Army; Agricultural Crisis Looms as Euphrates falls

A parked car bomb detonated near a popular restaurant in Shula, a poverty-stricken Shiite neighborhood in northwest Baghdad on Wednesday evening , killing 35 persons and wounding 72. It was the deadliest bombing this year.

As. Gen. Ray Odierno said recently, it is not going to stop, right? There will be low-intensity violence of this sort for some time to come. As long as the guerrillas cannot take and hold territory and cannot stand up to a frontal assault by the Iraqi army, they are just a big annoyance. They can discourage foreign investment, keep white collar Iraqis abroad or fleeing, and generally damage Iraq’s stability a nd ability to repair its infrastructure. But they cannot win the war.

On another front, Iraq warned Wednesday of a looming catastrophe because of the low levels of the Euphrates River, which is suffering the effects of a drought and which Turkey has dammed and is using for irrigation in Anatolia. Low levels of water contribute to salinization in southern Iraq, further damaging crop yields. Najaf Province has forbidden farmers to plant rice this year because it is a water-intensive crop. China’s Xinhua news service says that some Iraqi farmers are giving up and moving to the cities because agriculture is just too difficult and poorly rewarded under these circumstances.

Just to say that things like this could cause violence if they aren’t dealt with diplomatically.

When it doesn’t rain it doesn’t pour. The drastic fall in energy prices because of the world-wide economic slowdown has left Iraq without the money to equip its army at the pace the government had hoped. Even just maintaining the military equipment already received from the US will be a challenge at this rate.

Desperate for revenues, the Iraqi cabinet a 35% corporate tax rate for foreign oil companies doing business in Iraq. This measure is only steep compared to Paul Bremer’s 15% ‘flat tax,’ a crackpot idea that favors the super-wealthy and which he wrote into Iraqi law. Anyway, Iraq is too unstable to see much foreign investment any time soon.

McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq for Wednesday:

‘ Baghdad

A roadside bomb targeted a U.S. military convoy in Shaab neighbourhood, northern Baghdad Wednesday at 2 p.m. causing material damage to one vehicle. No casualties were reported.

A parked car bomb targeted civilians in Shula neighbourhood, northwest Baghdad at 7.30 p.m. Wednesday. The explosion took place near a restaurant and an ice-cream and fruit-juice parlour killing at least 34 civilians and injuring at least 72 others many of whom were women and children said Iraqi Police.

Nineveh

Gunmen opened fire and killed one civilian in al Zinjili neighbourhood in western Mosul Wednesday morning and got away.

Iraqi Police found an unidentified body in Jisr al Sewess neighbourhood, eastern Mosul Wednesday. The victim was stabbed many times.

An IED planted in a mechanic’s workshop in Tel Abta neighbourhood, southwest Mosul exploded Tuesday injuring four civilians who were the owner of the shop and owners of adjacent shops. ‘

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