Tal Afar Bombing Kills 25 60 Bodies

Republican Candidates for Staying the Course;
Tal Afar Bombing Kills 25;
60 Bodies found Near Baquba;
190,000 Guns Unaccounted for by Pentagon

Republican candidates on Iraq Sunday:

“They are making progress, and we are winning on the ground,” said Senator John McCain of Arizona. “We must win. And we will not set a date for surrender, as the Democrats want us to do.” . .

“The reality is that you do not achieve peace through weakness and appeasement,” said Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York. . .

Mr. Romney said: “I think we’re pretty much in the same place. It is critical for us to win this conflict. It is essential, and that’s why we’re going to continue to pursue this effort.”

Could they please define “win this conflict”? What would that look like? Whose ox would they gore to achieve it? How exactly would they pull it off?

A suicide bomber hit a Shiite neighborhood in the northern Turkmen city of Tal Afar Monday morning. Initial reports gave the death toll as 25 and the wounded as 22, but the tolls are expected to rise.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani denied that Iran is supporting Shiite militias in Iraq, saying that the idea was probably based on old intelligence.

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that Talabani met with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, along with Shiite vice president Adil Abdul Mahdi. Talabani says he had had a conversation with George W. Bush and was instructed to impress on al-Maliki that Bush’s support is for the general political process in Iraq, not for any one individual. Talabani said that the implication is that al-Maliki is to blame for the current political crisis in which over a dozen ministers and the parties they represent have withdrawn from his government. Sunni VP Tariq al-Hashimi did not attend the meeting, since his party is among those who withdrew from the government. Al-Maliki declined to accept the Sunnis’ resignations, leaving the door open to reconciliation. Talabani is pursuing talks with the Sunni Arabs.

Al-Maliki’s government is clearly teetering and may fall.

[At the group blog, A. Richard Norton comments on Sunday’s outcome in the Lebanese by-election. Also some info on the situation in Afghanistan.]

The Bush administration cannot account for 190,000 AK 47 machine guns and pistols it gave Iraqi security forces in 04 and 05. Actually, I think it is pretty obvious where some of them went.

Reuters reports that Iraqi police say they discovered 60 decomposing bodies in a field near Baqubah. The city is a prize in the ongoing fight between Sunni Arabs (the majority in the city) and the Shiite militias (from whom the local police are recruited).

In Baghdad, Police found 18 corpses in the streets, victims of sectarian death squads.

Guerrillas used mortars to target civilians in a Shiite Baghdad market, killing 11.

Reuters adds, “The bodies of three people were found shot and tortured on Saturday in the town of Mahaweel, 75 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.”

In Mosul, Iraqi guards had to call in US troops to help put down a major riot at Badoush prison involving over 60 inmates, leaving one dead and two wounded.

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