Senate Comes Close to Condemning Iraq Escalation
Twin Bombings kill 11, Wound 65 at Kirkuk
The US Senate came very close to passing a resolution condemning Bush’s escalation of the Iraq War. It needed 60 to pass and got 56. Several Republicans voted for the resolution. In fact, if only 4 more had, it would have passed. This vote is very bad news for Bush’s Iraq policy, because it seems pretty likely that over the next few months, at least another 4 Republican senators will join the anti-war chorus.
AP reports that a US GI was killed on Friday in al-Anbar province.
The LA Times reports that the large number of wounded Iraqi Vets has overwhelmed the tracking system at Walter Reed Hospital, and that many may have fallen through the cracks. At least 4,000 US GIs have been very seriously injured in Iraq, out of a total of over 20,000.
On Saturday, two huge carbombings that targeted a Kurdish market in the northern oil city of Kirkuk. They killed 11 and wounded 65:
‘ Police and witnesses said the first blast occurred near shops and a bus depot. Minutes later, a suicide car bomber attacked the same area. The back-to-back blasts shattered about 20 shops and terrified shoppers fled screaming in panic amid burning cars and debris. Restaurant owner Saman Ahmed lay screaming on the sidewalk, his body soaked with hot cooking oil after one of the blasts hurled him onto the curb. ‘
The Kurdish officials in Kirkuk have been urging Arab families transplanted there by Saddam to leave for the south, raising ethnic tensions in the city.
The report also says that Secretary of State Condi Rice was told on her surprise visit to Baghdad that the Mahdi Army of young nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has decided to cooperate with the security plan and that East Baghdad (Sadr City) is quiet. Why, the al-Maliki government asked, should resources be devoted to an area that is not a problem? This explanation aimed at excusing the sole concentration of the security plan on Sunni Arab areas in West Baghdad.
There were two significant firefights between US troops and Sunni Arab guerrillas in Ramadi, which the US Air Force decided in favor of the US, killing 8 guerrillas.
Reuters reports that there were also significant firefights in the al-Anbar city of Hit between guerrillas and police, with 2 police killed and 8 wounded, and some 50 suspected guerrillas arrested.
Guerrillas also tried to detonate a car bomb at the Shiite holy city of Karbala, but were foiled at a checkpoint, where they set it off instead. Two policemen were wounded. If Sunni guerrillas ever succeeded in hitting the shrine of Imam Husayn at Karbala, that might be the end of Iraq.