Maliki Iraqis In Control Of Own

Maliki: Iraqis in Control of Own Security within 18 Months
50 dead in fresh violence

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Wednesday that Iraq will be able completely to handle security throughout the country within 18 months. He had earlier suggested that Coalition troops could leave by the end of this year.

UpdateNewsday covers the building conflict between al-Maliki and Bush/Blair on this issue. The American and British leaders want to go much slower, fearful of a collapse in Iraq and the Gulf if the withdrawal is too hasty. Newsday says that there are fears that the Mahdi Army would take over the south if the British and US troops leave. But since the British are leaving Maysan Province soon, who do you think will take it over? I suppose the real fear is that The Mahdi Army will take Baghdad. Al-Maliki’s Dawa Party has developed a political alliance with Muqtada.

Bush and Blair will do a press conference after 7 pm today, Thursday.

Reuters reports on the ongoing civil war in Iraq. The deadliest incidents:

‘ YUSUFIYA – Four gunmen and two members of the Iraqi security forces were killed in clashes that erupted during a raid and search operation by army and police . . .

BAGHDAD – Gunmen shot dead General Ahmed Dawod, a deputy chief of Baghdad municipality’s protection units . . .

NEAR BAQUBA – Gunmen attacked the convoy of Adil Issa, a member of the provincial council of Diyala province north of Baghdad, killing two of his bodyguards and wounding another, police said.

‘ BAGHDAD – A U.S. soldier was killed when his patrol was attacked by small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades south of the town of Balad on Tuesday . . .

US forces fought several skirmishes with guerrillas, killing a number.

Al-Hayat put the death toll at 50 on Tuesday, including 16 dead in tribal clashes near Suwayra. If so, it knows about more incidents than Reuters did. By the way, the two tribes that fought were settling a land dispute. Unfortunately, one tribe is Shiite, the other Sunni.

The same source said that Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi and Vice Premier Salam al-Zawbai, the two highest ranking Sunni Arabs in the new government, are asking the US and the Sunni Arab guerrillas to speak to one another. They are pressing the Americans and British for a withdrawal timetable, which has been a longstanding Sunni Arab demand. But al-Hashimi also said that the national resistance groups fighting the Americans had no choice but to negotiate with them.

Zawbai announced that he was ready to dialogue with any group, even Baathist, that renounced violence.

Hadi al-Amiri of the Badr Organization denies [Ar.] that his faction has been involved in death squads.

Al-Zaman says that [Ar.] Najaf police launched an attack on Tuesday evening in the Rahmah quarter of the city, most of the inhabitants of which belong to the Sadr Movement. The district only grew up after the fall of Saddam. The police launched a number of operations there, which al-Zaman did not specify, but presumably they were looking for weapons caches or known criminals.

Police also found 6 launching sites for Katyusha missiles in the vast Najaf cemetery.

Muqtada al-Sadr, the young cleric who leads the Sadr movement begun by his father, called Wednesday for Iraqi parties to avoid politicizing the universities.

Al-Zaman reports that the Governing Council of Karbala Province has dissolved the Security Committee that had been formed to address the security problems in the province. The step came after an escalation in assassinations, and the discovery of unidentified corpses. A spokesman for the council said that a new Security Committee has been formed that includes independent members. Also, a regulation has been enacted that no night-time arrests may be made without notifying the mayor of Karbala city and the municipal council.

National police and Interior Ministry special police commandos will patrol the area around the central shrines of the city, among the holiest in Shiite Islam. Volunteers may also join in.

The governor will discuss the security situation with a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

It seems pretty obvious that the first Security Committee is suspected of itself having been engaged in the assassinations and production of unidentified corpses! Throughout Iraq, the fox seems to be guarding the henhouse.

Governor Aqil al-Khaz`ali admitted that the security apparatuses are suffering from shortages of equipment and sophisticated weaponry for their struggle against local terrorists, who, he said, were taking aim at the civilizational monuments of Karbala.

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