Pipeline Blasted Again Sunnis Want

Pipeline Blasted Again
Sunnis want Federalism postponed until 2009

Guerrillas blew up pipelines again on Wednesday, halting Iraqi petroleum exports through Turkey. There were some other bombings and shootings. Interior Ministry police commandos (usually Shiites) killed a Sunni cleric in Samarra. This looks bad.

A new report says that the Iraq quagmire is causing the US Army to reach the breaking point. The report notes that the army now appears to be meeting its recruiting goals by admitting high school dropouts. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the worst SecDef in the history of the country, wants the military to move in the direction of high tech. I’d say he needs a high school and a university within the army if the dropouts are eventually going to operate that machinery.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said that Arab peace keeping forces for Iraq would require that 1) a sovereign, Iraq, national-unity government ask for them and 2) that US troops withdraw. He said that Arab troops would decline to serve under a US command. An Arab peace keeping force, led by Syria, was deployed in Lebanon during the civil war there.

Iraq needs $60 billion to revive its industries, according to the Iraqi government.

Paul McLeary reports from Baghdad, ‘ These days, more American reporters are leaving Iraq than arriving. In large part, for the U.S. press, “The party’s pretty much over.” ‘ (A tip of the hat to CBS’s Public Eye.

A Kurdish writer sentenced to 30 years in prison for “defaming Kurdistan” (a.k.a. warlord Massoud Barzani) will be retried. In civilized countries, journalists are not tried for criticizing governments.

Iraqi journalists constantly face threats, either from guerrillas or from supporters of government officials, for writing critically about either. Reuters reveals that there really is not any freedom of the press in Iraq, and nor could there be given the poor security situation and the unconventional civil war.

Ghali Hassan argues that the US military is another impediment to a free press in Iraq.

Al-Zaman /AFP report [Ar.] that Sunni Arab politicians renewed their opposition to loose federalism and regional confederacies when they met Wednesday with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the Shiite cleric who leads the largest bloc in parliament. Salih Mutlak of the National Dialogue Council (11 seats) told Agence France Presse that the delegates insisted that loose federalism be abandoned before they would enter the new government. He said that this matter could be taken up by the next parliament, to be elected in 2009.

On another front, Virtue Party leader Nadim al-Jabiri said that the United Iraqi Alliance had broken pledges it had made to coalition partners about the distribution of compensatory seats. Virtue was given only one of these seats, whereas it had joined the United Iraqi Alliance on the promise that it would be given 15 regular seats and 5 compensatory ones. He said that most of the compensatory seats went to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Badr organization, while a few went to the Sadrist movement. He said that when he complained, the UIA leadership denied they had pledged him 5 compensatory seats.

Researcher Reidar Vissar analyzes the affiliation of the members of the United Iraqi Alliance. He concludes that they broke down as follows before the compensatory seats are figured in:

Sadrists (Muqtada): 23%
Da`wa: 23%
Independents: 22%
Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and Badr: 19%
Virtue Party: 13%

Another 19 seats had yet to be apportioned when Vissar made this chart. Jabiri, above, is claiming that most of the 19 went to SCIRI. My own suspicion is that SCIRI and Badr are also much richer than the other factions inside the UIA, in part because of likely Iranian support. Still, an alliance of Sadrists and the Da`wa Party could form a powerful challenge to SCIRI leadership.

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