19 Kurds Killed in Ninevah Bombing; US Troops Still Dying in Iraq; Russia Seeks Oil Deals

A suicide truck bomber detonated his payload in a Kurdish village near Mosul early Thursday morning, killing 19 and wounding 25. The attack followed a pattern in northern Iraq of Sunni Arab guerrilla groups attacking Kurds, apparently in hopes of provoking an Arab-Kurdish civil war. In the aftermath of such a destructive struggle, they appear to think, they might be able to stage a coup and come to power. They had deployed similar strategy against the Shiites earlier, and for their trouble were simply ethnically cleansed from Baghdad, the capital.

The attack came in the wake of a meeting reported on in Arabic by al-Zaman, between leaders of the al-Hadba (Arab nationalist) Party in Mosul and those of the Kurdish Brotherhood Party along with representatives of the Shabak and Yazidi groups. The gathering was hosted by the US consulate in Mosul, and was aimed at convincing the Kurds to stop boycotting provincial council meetings, which they used to dominate. In January’s provincial elections, al-Hadba won nearly half the seats, and the Kurds were reduced to about a fourth (reflecting Ninevah’s actual population mix). At the gathering, al-Hadba demanded that Iraqi government troops be allowed to patrol throughout Ninevah Province, but this demand was was rejected by the Kurds on several grounds. One is that they do not accept the borders of the provinces as drawn by the Baath regime and its predecessors, which leaves hundreds of thousands of Kurds outside the Kurdistan Regional Government, the confederacy that replaced the provinces of Irbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniya. Kurdish expansionists want to annex parts of Ninevah and Diyalah provinces, and all of Kirkuk Province, to their regional confederacy, even though the Arab majority in the former two strenuously objects.

Elsewhere, violence continued to bedevil Iraq on Wednesday, including a bombing in Kirkuk that killed 8 members of a single family, and which may have been targeting a leader of a local awakening council (pro-American Sunni Arab fighters). Tuesday had also been bloody, with four American troops and 10 Iraqi police killed in bombing attacks.

The Iraqi and Syrian foreign ministers met on Wednesday in an attempt to patch up the dispute between the two countries. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki accused Syria of harboring Baathist terrorists who blew up the Iraqi foreign ministry building on August 19, and demanded that Damascus turn them over. Syria angrily rejected the charges. Then the two governments recalled their ambassadors. Yesterday, Iraq and Syria appeared to have agreed to cease their noisy propaganda against one another.

(This is where I came in. When I was working for a newspaper in Beirut in 1978, I remember stories coming over the wires about Iraqi and Syrian secret agents in Europe assassinating each other. Baathist-Baathist relations weren’t better than Da’wa-Baathist relations. Arab unity seems a little unlikely when these two fertile crescent countries have such trouble getting along, through the decades. No wonder no one in the world community pays any attention to the Arab League and no wonder that its pet projects, such as Palestinian welfare, languish.)

Russia’s energy minister visited Baghdad on Wednesday and after his meetings he declared that Iraq is open for Russian investment.

Apparently, that assertion means that Russia is attempting to get back into Iraqi oil development.:

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