Al Maliki Under Onslaught From Security

Al-Maliki Under Onslaught from Security Failures
VP Abdul Mahdi threatens to Resign
Parliament extends Work One Month
Mahdi Army Rallies Roil Najaf

Al-Hayat writing in Arabic says that PM Nuri al-Maliki has been exposed to vehement criticism from his own bloc (the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance) for his inability to provide security, and especially his inability to safeguard Shiite holy sites. He is also criticized for failing to put cabinet ministries to work, which have been vacant for months.

One sign of the tension is that the Shiite vice president, Adil Abdul Mahdi, tendered his resignation early last week, but was prevailed upon by president Jalal Talabani to withdraw it.

Al-Hayat says that the Iraqi parliament managed to muster a bare quorum of 140 members on Saturday, of whom 103 voted to extend the current session of parliament one month, until the end of July. They say they need the time to pass key legislation. The LA Times has more, and evinces optimism that the parliament will pass petroleum and revenue distribution bills.

Al-Hayat says that the Iraqi legislature issued a statement on the knighting by Queen Elizabeth II of author Salman Rushdie: “At a time when we call for a dialogue of religions and civilizations, and work to combat terrorism in all its forms and wherever it exists, we express our amazement and our regret that the Queen of England has honored a person who has insulted Islam and millions of its adherents.”

Note to Iraqi parliament: if a religion is true, it cannot be insulted, and if adherents have faith, they will be undeterred by criticism. Only false rites and weak faith need be afraid of novels. Insecurity in a supposed believer is unlovely.

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that PM Nuri al-Maliki has appointed a security commission for Karbala province, headed by a high-ranking Iraqi officer from the ministry of the interior to increase security in the province. Some 2000 extra police are being dispersed throughout it.

(My guess is that these measures aim to protect the Shiite shrine of Husayn, the prophet’s grandson. If the Sunni Arab guerrillas could ever blow it up, there would be hell to pay.)

Governor `Aqil al-Khaz`ali also announced that work had begun on a ditch around the city, starting in the west; it will cost 2 billion Iraqi dinars.

Hadi al-Amiri, the head of the [Shiite] Badr Corps paramilitary of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, visited Karbala on Friday. He said that the Iraqis had battled the Saddam regime for 20 years, and that they are prepared to struggle for that long and more to take Iraq into the phase of progress, stability, democracy, and to forestall the return of dictatorship. He consulted with local officials on the city’s security challenges. On Sunday, tribal chieftains will hold a congress in Karbala to discuss the best way to preserve its stability.

In another Shiite holy city south of Baghdad–Najaf– the Mahdi Army staged street marches for three days last week, ending on Friday. In the wake of these marches, the city saw assassinations and security disturbances.

Turkey alleged that PKK guerrillas rammed a fuel truck into a police station in eastern Anatolia. Turkish troops are already massed at the Iraqi border to deal with PKK fighters who have been given refuge inside Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkish bombardment of border villages has caused hundreds of Kurds to flee deeper into Iraq.

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