Congress Digs in its Heels over Iraq Funding; Iran-US Talks on Iraq Security

My analysis of this NYT piece is that Bush and the Republicans are betting that they can portray as irresponsible and unpatriotic the Democrats in Congress who decline to give Bush all the war funding he wants. The Democrats are betting that the public desperately wants them to stop the Iraq War, which is hemorrhaging money and costing American lives, all for goals that are unclear. If I were a betting man, I’d put a big bet on the Democrats in this regard, and even without a bet I predict that the Republicans are going to suffer an earthquake-like reversal next November.

Iran and the US have agreed with one another to conduct a further round of talks on improving security in Iraq. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) has been working hard on setting up such a meeting. He was in Iran for several months this fall undergoing chemotherapy.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has expressed severe reservations about the ISCI plan to create a Shiite regional confederacy out of 8 provinces in southern Iraq. If al-Maliki breaks with ISCI on this issue, he may lose his largest remaining Shiite partner. On the narrow issue of centralized government, the Sadr Movement will support him (as will the Sunni Arabs in parliament). But they do not like him on a lot of other issues and without ISCI I cannot see how al-Maliki can survive politically.

Al-Maliki also launched a diatribe against Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a fundamentalist Sunni, for, he said, having declined to sign 26 bills sent him for signature by parliament. All three members of the presidential council have to sign off on all laws. The Arabic original of the al-Hayat interview on which the NYT story is based is reprinted here at Sawt al-Iraq.

A transcript of my appearance on the Lehrer News Hour (PBS) is now on the web.

The Asia Times reports on the dire situation of Falluja, a city some have been extolling as a symbol of Iraq’s turnaround.

The Associated Press continues to point out that the US military’s charges against Pulitzer prize-winning photographer, Bilal Hussein, remain infuriatingly vague. Hussein’s American colleagues, who worked closely with him, tend to find the charges completely implausible, and AP says it has never been given convincing specifics. Since the US military and the Iraqi government both have an interest in the violence in Iraq not being documented, they are highly interested parties when it comes to prosecuting photographers. Interested parties need to be double-checked when they can act as judge, jury and executioner. The US holds 24,000 Iraqis, with many of them having never been charged with anything. Some number of them are only guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or having the wrong friends.

McClatchy reports civil war violence in Iraq on Tuesday.

‘ Baghdad

– Around 7 a.m., a roadside bomb exploded at Baladiyat neighborhood near the power supply transfers of the area injuring three people.

– Around 7.30 a.m., a car bomb exploded at Shariqa intersection in Bayaa neighborhood ( south west Baghdad ) killing two people and injuring 7 others.

– Around 8 a.m., gunmen assassinated Dr. Musa Ja’afar , the head of the Geological survey , killing one of his companions and injuring the other at Baratha mosque intersection in Uttaifiyah ( north Baghdad).

– Around 8 a.m., a random fire took place in Mansour neighborhood at Dragh district killing two people .

– Around 1 p.m., a roadside bomb targeted an American patrol at Baladiyat intersection in Al-Muhandiseen district injuring three civilians. . .

– Police found ( 6 ) unidentified bodies in . . . Baghdad . . .

Diyala

– Around noon , gunmen attacked a family in their house at Zighania ( 10 km south of Baquba ) killing three brothers and injuring their sister . . .

Falluja

– Around 4.30 p.m. of Monday afternoon, a planted bomb inside an officer’s car of the Ameriat Al-Falluja FBS exploded killing the officer ( Jamal Falij) and injuring two policemen near a police check point inside the residential complex in the area. Abu Risha guys had an instant movement and arrested 2 suspected who were not from the complex and found near the scene.

Kirkuk

– Monday night, a roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi army patrol at Sifra village on the Kirkuk – Biji route ( west Kirkuk ) killing one soldier and injuring three others.

– Around 7.30 p.m. of Monday evening , gunmen opened fire on an Iraqi army patrol at Hussainiyah village on Kirkuk – Biji ( west Kirkuk) which made the Iraqi patrol raided the village they came from arresting four suspected people having 3 machine guns ( AK4 ) taking them to their headquarter to investigate them.

Basra

– Basra morgue had delivered four unidentified bodies from two different neighborhoods in Basra city.’

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