Sawt al-Iraq reports in Arabic that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has pledged not to allow Iraq to become a base for regional or international powers to settle scores. (This announcement seems to me to be an attempt to forewarn the Bush administration that it may not use Iraq as a base for an attack on Iran).
The British have begun to move 500 troops from the Palace in downtown Basra out to the airport. They will turn over all policing in Basra proper to the Iraqi police. Henceforward the British troops out by the airport will only come into town at the request of the Iraqi government.
Behind the scenes, says Gulf News, the Bush administration is putting pressure on PM Nuri al-Maliki to cancel the proposed visit of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to Baghdad. The Bahraini newspaper’s Iraq sources told it that the Iraqi government is split on the visit. If you attend closely to the subsequent comments, you can clearly see that the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim favors the visit (SIIC is also Bush’s best friend in Iraq), and the Sunni Arab bloc, the Iraqi Accord Front, has the most severe reservations.
“Stone said the children make effective fighters because they are easily influenced, don’t experience fear in the same way as adults and don’t draw as much scrutiny from U.S. forces. Stone said some children have told interrogators that their parents encouraged them to do the militants’ dirty work because the extremists have deep pockets.”
Sawt al-Iraq reports in Arabic that the Iraqi Parliament will begin its sessions again on Tuesday, and is expected to take up debaathification and the oil and gas law. Despite much discussion of both, the controversial character of these issues has so far forestalled the passage of actual legislation.
Iraq is seeking one to two billion dollars in investment from abroad in upgrading petrochemical facilities in Basra.
But the lack of laws protecting and regulating such investments has hampered economic development in Iraq.
The Iraqi parliament has ruled out holding a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, at least for now, according to VP Adil Abdul Mahdi. (Abdul Mahdi is one of al-Maliki’s primary rivals for the post).