Iraqi Parliament Fails To Reach Quorum

Buyukanit Implies US Soft on Terrorism
Major engagement near Baquba kills Dozens
Iraqi Parliament fails to Reach Quorum

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that the Iraqi parliament was unable to reach a quorum on Wednesday. As a result, it postponed discussion of pending legislation, including bills on petroleum, on the distribution of petroleum receipts, and on revisions of the de-Baathification process. The suspension of participation in its deliberations of the Sadr Movement (Shiite fundamentalist, 32 seats), the Iraqi Accord Front (Sunni fundamentalist, 44 seats) and the Dialogue Front (Sunni secular, 11 seats) led to the failure to reach a quorum. (On the other hand, if so many parliamentarians were not out of town, even out of country, a quorum could still have been had, even with these defections).

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that the Sunni fundamentalist Association of Muslim Scholars, a major clerical grouping, has issued a fatwa forbidding deputies from voting in favor of the present draft of the petroleum law. Unlike in Shiite Islam, the authority of Sunni clerics is limited, and the AMS fatwa may not be decisive. But given that Sunni fundamentalist deputies already oppose the draft, it adds oil to the fire.

McClatchy reports that Sunni Arab lawmakers in the Iraqi parliament continue to reject the draft bills on petroleum and the sharing of revenues. The more key laws that are passed, as was the constitution itself, in the teeth of opposition from the Sunni Arabs, the more trouble there will be in Iraq.

The US military operation around Baquba continues, with recent battles leaving 35 guerrillas dead, according to US spokesmen.

Honest Aussies: Australian troops are in Iraq for the oil. Hmm. Is it just the Australians for whom this is true? Thanks to Defense Minister Brendan Nelson for being so frank.

Turkey killed five PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) guerrillas in clashes in eastern Anatolia near Iraq on Thursday morning.

Turkey’s hard line military chief of staff, Gen. Yasar Büyükanit has been complaining that even NATO allies are supporting the PKK, probably a veiled reference to the United States, which has allowed its allies in Iraqi Kurdistan to give safe harbor to thousands of PKK guerrillas. Prime Minister Erdogan made a similar point on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the leader of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, warned that a Turkish incursion would throw the whole region into chaos. His government is downplaying rumors that the Kurdistan paramilitary, the Peshmerga, is being positioned along the Iraq-Turkey border.

On Monday, the US military had warned Turkey against going into Iraq.

Nuri al-Maliki intends to reduce the number of cabinet ministers to 20 or 22 from the present 36, one of his political advisers said Wednesday. He will also seek to get away from the current system whereby (ethno-religious) political parties are apportioned ministries in a sort of spoils system, based on their strength in parliament. They system has not produced effective ministries, and has probably strengthened sectarian divisions rather than healing them. On the other hand, if al-Maliki changes the system, he may lack much support in Parliament. He has already suffered the defections of 12 cabinet ministers tied to the Sadrist and Sunni Arab parties. This Arabic article quotes al-Maliki as saying that first he will fill the 12 holes in his cabinet, then he will proceed to reform the whole system. (But why then bother to fill the 12 holes?) I don’t think he imagines steps that will be taken any time soon.

McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Wednesday, including the discovery of 16 bodies in the streets of the capital, likely victims of sectarian death squads. Other major incidents:

‘ Around 1.15 pm, a suicide car bomber targeted an Iraqi army check point [in Baghdad]. . . killing 2 soldiers and injuring 7 others. . .

– Around 1.30 pm, a roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi army patrol near Shurta Tunnel at Ja’amia neighborhood killing one soldier and injuring 3 others.

– Around 3 pm, mortars hit the green zone (IZ) without casualties recorded. . .

– Around 4.30 pm, gunmen with three different cars attacked some shops at Meshtal neighborhood in New Baghdad (east Baghdad) killing two men and kidnapping five others. . .

Salahuddin (157 km north of Baghdad): – Early morning of Wednesday, a roadside bomb exploded at Suleiman Bek (7 km south of Tuz Khurmatu which is km north of Tikrit) targeting an Iraqi patrol killing one soldier and injuring three others while their Humvee is totally destroyed. The soldiers who were in that vehicle are Kurds. . .

Basra (549 km south of Baghdad): – Tuesday night, a joint forces from investigation bureau and private unit had a raid on haunts in Fao area (90 km south of Basra) having 12 suspected in custody who belong Jund Al-Sama (Heaven’s soldiers) organization.

– Wednesday morning, police released five girls who were abducted at Al-Hussein neighborhood (west downtown Basra city).

Reuters reports other political violence in Iraq on Wednesday:

‘ BAIJI – A suicide car bomber killed three policemen and four civilians outside a restaurant in Baiji, 180 km (120 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. Eighteen people were wounded. . .

KIRKUK – Gunmen killed two policemen and wounded two other officers in a drive-by-shooting in the southern part of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk . . .

HILLA – Three Iraqi soldiers were wounded by a mortar attack on their camp near Hilla, 100 km (62 miles) south of Baghdad, police said. . .’

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