Al Maliki Calls For Provincial

Al-Maliki Calls for Provincial Elections
MP Janabi defects to Guerrillas
Sadrists Reject new Parliamentary bloc

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is calling for provincial elections to be held in Iraq by the fall of 2007. This step would be significant because Sunni Arabs boycotted the last round of provincial elections, in late January, 2005. As a result, Sunni Arab provincial officials in al-Anbar and Salahuddin provinces don’t represent much of anyone. (In al-Anbar the turnout was 2%), or they are drawn from Shiite parties (as at Diyala). Having politicians in the Sunni Arab provinces that actually represent the population would be a potential first step to national reconciliation.

Here is a sign, though, that getting an agreement between the Shiite goverment and the sullen Sunni Arab population may not be easy. Abdul Nasser al-Janabi, a Sunni Arab parliamentarian from the Iraqi Accord Front (Sunni fundamentalist) announced from Jordan on Sunday that he had resigned from the Iraqi parliament and joined the insurgency! The move comes in the wake of Iraqi government charges against a Sunni Arab cabinet minister that he ordered a hit on the sons of a Sunni parliamentarian. As a result, the Iraqi Accord Front from which the cabinet minister came says that it is pulling out of the ‘national unity government’ of PM Nuri al-Maliki. All this in turn led to al-Janabi’s dramatic turn-around. He is calling for Iraq’s Sunni Arab neighbors and the United Nations to intervene directly in the country.

Sawt al-Iraq transmits a piece from al-Ittihad that reports that on Sunday, political violence took 77 Iraqi lives, mostly members of the police force or the military. If so many police are being killed in a single day, it perhaps makes the 30% reduction in civilian deaths during June a little less significant. Details below.

The big military campaign in Baquba seems to have fizzled out. This Arabic source says that 70% of the guerrilla leadership had fled Baquba. Hence, not much of anyone to fight, what with the enemy melting away that way. Despite the US and Iraqi military presence, many Sunni Arab neighborhoods in the city appear to be sullen and just waiting for the opportunity to resume guerrilla activities.

A Kurdish delegation to Najaf proposed that the Peshmerga or Kurdistan paramilitary provide a guard for the al-Askariya Shrine in Samarra, which has been attacked by bombers twice, both times heightening sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shiites.

The Sadr Movement opposed moves toward a presidential system in Iraq, insisting on a parliamentary one in which the prime minister plays the central role. In addition, the Sadrists rejected a proposed parliamentary coalition consisting of the Kurdistan Alliance, the Da`wa Party, and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, which is designed to strengthen Prime Minsiter Nuri al-Maliki and allow him to dispense with . . . the Sadrists.

Senator Richard Lugar is urging on Bush an orderly withdrawal from Iraq. He clearly thinks that the ‘surge’ leads to a disorderly withdrawal down the road.

McClatchy reports political violence on Sunday, including the discovery of 14 dead bodies throughout the capital. Other major incidents:

‘ Baghdad: Around 11 a.m. gunmen attacked police patrol using machine guns at the same time a road side bomb exploded targeting police. 3 policemen were killed and 8 were injured (5 of them are civilians). . .

Two tribes clashed today for two hours in Al Deir, 35 km, north of Basra. Al Sayamir and Al Halaf tribes used different types of weapons; mortars, RBG-7 rockets and machineguns. 9 people were killed and 5 others were injured. . .

Fallujah general hospital received yesterday 40 dead bodies. Police force found them in a mass grave south of Fallujah. The mosques used loud speakers to ask citizens to identify the bodies. 25 families identified the bodies as their missing sons. The bodies were found in Al Biyar area about 30 km south of the city. . .

Reuters adds:

‘ FALLUJA – A suicide truck bomb blew up at a police checkpoint killing two policemen and wounding four officers in Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad, police said. . .

RAMADI – A suicide car bomber targeting a police station killed five policemen and wounded 14 others in Ramadi, 110 km (68 miles) west of Baghdad, police said. . .

BAGHDAD – Iraqi soldiers killed eight militants and detained 29 others in operations around Iraq in the last 24 hours, the Defence Ministry said. . .

BAGHDAD – Twelve people were wounded by a mortar round attack on Saturday in Baghdad’s southern district of Doura, police said.

BAQUBA – Three Iraqi soldiers were killed and three wounded when they entered a booby trapped house in the city of Baquba on Saturday, police said. . .

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