Maliki Condemns US for Raid
Wednesday’s dramatic events in Iraq began with a US military raid into Sadr City, the vast Shiite slum full of followers of nationalist young cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The soldiers said that they were looking for a suspected death squad leader. The Americans were attacked by Mahdi Army militiamen, and they called in air support. US planes dropped bombs on this area full of civilians. Iraqi police and hospital officials reported that the fighting and bombing left 4 Iraqis dead and 18 wounded. Aljazeera is showing footage of a combination funeral/ anti-American demonstration in Sadr City.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki roundly condemned the US raid, of which he said he had had no foreknowledge, and he complained bitterly about the lack of coordination between the US and his office. Al-Maliki also, however, warned that armed militiamen in the streets would not be tolerated.
Al-Maliki also angrily rejected the timeline suggested by US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad for the performance of the Iraqi government with regard to reducing civil violence and addressing the militia problem. He said that no outside power could set a timeline for the sovereign Iraqi government.
Al-Hayat reports [Ar.] that al-Maliki said at a news conference: “Everyone knows that this government is a government reflecting the will of the people, and no one has a right to assign it a timetable.” He affirmed, “the government was elected by the people . . . and the only one with the right to talk about a timetable is the people that elected it.” He continued, “I am sure that this logic is not that of the American government.”
With regard to the US raid into Sadr City, al-Maliki said he would hold talks with US figures to ensure that the incident was not repeated.
Al-Hayat also reports that the Baghdad neighborhood of al-Dora has been partitioned. The eastern part is dominated by the Mahdi Army, while a Sunni Arab guerrilla group, the Omar Brigades, controls the western half. The de facto partition of the district has led to a slight reduction in violence, since Shiites have been chased from largely Sunni neighborhoods and vice verse.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that 100,000 Iraqis have been forced to leave Iraq and to live in Egypt by the security situation.
There is a likelihood that The Britis will withdraw most of their forces from Iraq during the next year.
Reuters lists political violence in Iraq. The US military in Ramadi killed 12 persons in clashes with local guerrillas.