Dems in Congress seek Withdrawal
Saudis intrigue against al-Maliki
The Democrats are gearing up to try to pass an appropriations measure for Iraq that also specifies that US troops must come home by fall, 2008. A similar effort in the Senate failed when one Democratic Senator defected to the Republican side over the withdrawal issue. In the House of Representatives, the Democrats have the votes to pass the measure only if almost all Democrats vote for it. Nancy Pelosi has had to attempt to muster votes from left-leading Democrats for whom the language does not go far enough in ending the war quickly.
Sunni Arab guerrillas killed two US soldiers in south Baghdad with a roadside bomb on Tuesday.
Police found 32 bodies in the streets of Baghdad on Tuesday, most of them in Sunni districts. The talk of Shiite death squad activity having been quelled by the US surge seems premature.
Reuters reports other political violence in Iraq on Tuesday, including these incidents:
‘BAGHDAD – Four mortar bombs killed at least seven people and wounded 20 in Abu Dsheer, a mostly Shi’ite area in southern Baghdad . . .
BAGHDAD – A car bomb near a police station killed at least five people and wounded 17 in central Baghdad, police said. . .
BAGHDAD – A car bomb killed three people and wounded seven near a bridge in Karrada district in central Baghdad . . .
BAGHDAD – A car bomb near a mosque killed a man and wounded three others in al-Ubaidi district in eastern Baghdad . . .
Sunni Arab guerrillas in Iraq have turned to new tactics to fight the security plan, including deploying chlorine gas and chemically-laced dirty bombs.
Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that Saudi Arabia and Jordan invited Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, for consultations in hopes of detaching him from his alliance with the fundamentalist Shiite parties. Al-Zaman says that its sources in Riyadh say that the Saudi royal family increasingly sees Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of the Shiite Islamic Call (Da’wa) Party as an obstacle to any movement toward peace and reconciliation. Al-Maliki was prominent in the Debaathification Commission that was punitive toward Sunni Arabs, and has during the past year had a tacit alliance with the Sadr Movement and its Mahdi Army militia, which many Sunnis believe comprises death squads that kill Sunni Arabs in the dark of night.
Many Iraqi police are not only not standing up as the US stands down (what Bush promised) but rather are themselves padded ‘ghosts.’
Paul Reynolds of the BBC looks at what is at stake in Iraq for that country’s major neighbors.
Chris Lindborg writes in Foreign Policy in Focus on what has happened to the Atlantic alliance because of Iraq.
Strategic Insights has published an important set of papers on the Iraq Crisis. Abbas Kadhim’s paper on Shiite responses to the Baker Hamilton Commission report is essential.
The UNHCR is planning a conference on humanitarian relief in Iraq. About 2 million Iraqis have been displaced abroad, and nearly that many have been internally displaced. Inside the country, nearly a quarter of the population is dependent on food aid. Iraq’s population is estimated at about 26 million. This report adds:
‘ Approximately 70 per cent of the population lacks access to adequate water supplies, while 80 per cent does not have effective sanitation. Almost a quarter of children are chronically malnourished, and the unemployment rate hovers at over 50 per cent. ‘