Baya` Bombing kills 2 Dozen
3 British troops killed at Basra
Congressional Study slams Iraqi security agencies
A massive bomb in the Shiite Baya’ district of Baghdad killed 25, wounded 40, and destroyed 40 cars on Thursday morning. In the southern port of Basra, guerrillas used a roadside bomb to kill 3 British soldiers and wound a fourth.
Townspeople of Khalis are disputing the US air force version of events, saying that a US airstrike killed civilians rather than guerrillas in the town.
Al-Zaman reports that order has completely broken down in Basra, with militia rule accounting for what little order there is. Basra, Iraq’s major port and petroleum exporting city, is key to the health of Iraq overall.
A Congressional study finds that Iraqi security forces are still some ways off from being able to get the job done on their own.
The LAT reports on Gen. Petraeus’s strategy of targeting “al-Qaeda,”, i.e. the Salafi Jihadis who specialize in spectacular and destabilizing bombings, and who have foreign volunteers in their ranks.
Obviously, there are some discrete set of groups engaged in this destabilization campaign, and the more they can be disrupted, the better.
But, my strong impression is that the guerrillas are getting a lot of support from the Sunni neighborhoods of Baquba, and that it isn’t involuntary. And the reason for that is that they are afraid of their new Shiite rulers, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the Badr Corps and the Mahdi Army. So until there are new elections in Diyala Province in which the majority Sunni Arab population takes part, so that they have a say in the shape of the police force etc., I suspect that killing guerrillas will just make guerrillas of their remaining brothers and cousins. But then, any good counter-insurgency analyst knows that the solutions are ultimately political.
Muqtada al-Sadr is still waiting for approval from the Iraqi government to stage a million-man protest march.
Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that Muqtada says he is willing to call off the march if the government asks him to do so.
Thamer Ghadban, the petroleum professional who advises Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on this issue, says that the draft petroleum bill will be put before parliament in two months! In other words, the June deadline for the 4 ‘benchmarks’ set by Bush won’t be met. And two months is, of course, optimistic. Ghadban says that contracts concluded during the Saddam period with Indonesia, India, China and other countries will have to be adjusted in light of the new law.
Iran, lacking refinery capacity and facing international sanctions over its nuclear energy research program, has imposed fuel rationing. The step produced demonstrations and riots in the country. Ahmadinejad, the president, is in the hot seat. He came to power as a populist, promising the masses a better life, but now his game of chicken with the UN security council over the nuclear issue is forcing him to take very unpopular steps. I wouldn’t look for his faction of the hardliners to do well in the next municipal and parliamentary elections. He faces the electorate in 2009.
Sawt al-Iraq reports in Arabic that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is on his way to Switzerland for the conference of the Socialist International. Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is a socialist party, and is now the major remaining leftist party with seats in the Iraqi parliament. (The parties in attendance will discuss the world’s unresolved conflicts.
This Arabic report says that the office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has angrily denied reports that it had halted an investigation of detained minister of culture, As`ad al-Hashimi. Maliki says that the investigation, as to whether al-Hashimi is implicated in the murder of sons of a parliamentarian, is ongoing. There had been vehement protests from the Iraqi Accord Front, the largest Sunni Arab bloc in parliament, with 44 seats.
Reuters reports political violence on Wednesday in Iraq. Police found 21 bodies in the capital, most of them shot to death. Guerrillas in al-Anbar province killed a US Marine during a clash. Other incidents:
‘ BAGHDAD – A car bomb killed seven people and wounded 14 in the Shi’ite district of Kadhimiya in Baghdad, police said. . .
BAGHDAD – A car bomb killed at least three people in an attack on police vehicles near a busy market in northern Baghdad, a witness said. Police said there had been an explosion in the Suleikh district and 10 people were wounded. . .
BAGHDAD – A suicide car bomb targeting a police commando checkpoint killed one policeman and wounded three other officers in the al-Jaderiyia district of southern Baghdad, police said. . .
KIRKUK – Four Iraqi policemen were killed in an ambush near the oil city of Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, when gunmen opened fire on their vehicles, police said.
SAMARRA – A roadside bomb killed seven people, including five police commandoes in Samarra, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, police said, adding that two civilians were killed when security forces opened fire in the aftermath of the blast.
MOSUL – Gunmen killed two members of the Assyrian’s [Christian] Beth-Nahrain Association Union in a drive-by shooting in central Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
MOSUL – Five people were killed and three wounded in different attacks by gunmen on Tuesday in Mosul, police said. . .
‘ 2 civilians were killed and 10 were injured by a U.S. military convoy fire in Sadr city today, Iraqi police said. U.S. officials didn’t immediately respond for comment. . .
A truck exploded near Al Shirqat last night. Iraqi security sources told two different versions about the incident and the location. The first account said the truck exploded while it was parked near Al Hugna village and killed 1 and injured 4. A police officer said the truck exploded as gunmen were rigging it as a truck bomb near Al Etha village and at least 10 gunmen were killed, he said. The two villages are close to Al Shirqat and no resident could be reached to verify the two accounts. . .
Three gunmen stormed house of a member of the boarders’ guards in Al Marbad area in Al Zubair. The policeman was killed as he fought back the attackers and killed one of them. ‘