The Herald Sun reports via correspondents in Baghdad,
‘ A bomb planted in a minibus ripped through a market in Baghdad’s teeming Sadr City neighbourhood on Thursdya night (AEDT), killing five people and wounding 30. The bomb exploded about midday local time when the market in the mainly-Shi’ite neighbourhood was bustling with people. ‘
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Nuri al-Maliki hopes to form a new cabinet within the next week. It will tend toward the technocratic and be smaller than its predecessor, with about 22 seats. Presumably the cabinet will represent the four-party coalition that actually runs Iraq, apparently without much reference to parliament. They are the (Shiite) Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the (Shiite) Da’wa (Islamic Call) Party, the Kurdistan Alliance, and the (Sunni) Iraqi Accord Front. The IAF withdrew from the government last summer but appears set to return. If it returns, al-Maliki will regain his majority in parliament, since it has 44 seats, while the two Shiite parties and the Kurds have about 112, for a total of 156. A majority would be 138.
The pledge to release thousands of detained Iraqis (a majority of them Sunni) passed on Wednesday met a key demand of the Iraqi Accord Front.
Al-Hayat also has more reaction to the passage on Wednesday of three benchmark laws, a budget, an amnesty for prisoners, and a law on the provinces. It reports that Salih Mutlak of the National Dialogue Front complained that the laws were pushed through after political deal-making among the parliamentary blocs. He called for parliament to be dissolved and for there to be a new law on elections.
The Iraqi National List led by Iyad Allawi also called for early new elections for parliament. Usamah al-Nujayfi of this list criticized the decision to grant Kurdistan 17% of Iraq’s oil revenue. He also condemned the way the laws were passed (without an individual voice vote being recorded) as “unconstitutional.”
A spokesman for the Sadr Movement of Muqtada al-Sadr, Nassar al-Rubay`i, said that the Sadrists refused to vote for the budget, because it had not included an amendment to raise salaries for teachers, with the Sadrists had demanded repeatedly.
[Someone is already running for election in 2009.]
Muqtada al-Sadr on Thursday condemned the assassination of Shiite guerrilla Imad Mughniyah and announced a 3-day mourning period for him.
AP on why there are no Awakening Councils in Mosul. In an ethnically mixed area, the US military judges that they would upset the balance of power and cause way more trouble than they are worth. Since only al-Anbar is tribally fairly uniform among Iraq’s Sunni-majority provinces, though, that isn’t a good sign for the generalizability of the model.
John Tirman defends the Lancet study, which found 600,000 excess deaths in Iraq through summer of 2006, for a massive rightwing smear campaign in which supposed quotes have been made up.
McClatchy reports on political violence in Iraq on Thursday:
A roadside bomb exploded in the junction near the Shaab Stadium, east Baghdad injuring 3 civilians at around 08:00 this morning.
A car bomb exploded in Mraidi market place, Sadr City, north east Baghdad at around 12:30 this afternoon. The explosion left 4 civilians dead and 33 injured. The vehicle carrying the explosives was a Kia mini-bus parked on the side of the road at the entrance to the market.
3 bodies were found in Baghdad by Iraqi Police today . . .
Gunmen stormed a house in the town of Awja, 10 km to the south of Tikrit last night. They shot and killed Labib Ali al-Zaidan, his wife and 7 of his family members using silencers on their weapons.
Gunmen shot and killed Staff General and commander of a division in former Iraqi Army, Mejeed Mahmoud Hussein as he was driving his car near the industrial area, south Samarra at around 01:00 this afternoon. Hussein had been detained in Bucca prison by Coalition Forces for three years and was released 2 months ago.
Ninevah . . .
Chief of Ba’aj district Police Station, Colonel Hazim al-Juburi and 3 of his security detail were injured as a roadside bomb targeted his motorcade in Ba’aj, west Mosul before noon today.
A roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi Army patrol, injuring 2 soldiers and destroying the Hummer vehicle they were driving.
Gunmen attacked a checkpoint in Jalowlaa, 105 km to the east of Baquba. The commander of the checkpoint personnel called for re-enforcements, but their vehicle was targeted by an IED, 7 policemen were injured. . .
Gunmen assassinated Sheikh Abu Ali al-Buhruzawi, head of Iraq Hamas Brigades near al-Rahma Hospital, central Baquba.
3 civilians were abducted by gunmen who had set up a false checkpoint in Beledruz 20 km to the north of Baquba this evening.
A roadside bomb exploded in Muqdadiyah this afternoon injuring 3 children who were in a parked car near by. ‘
And Reuters adds:
‘ KERBALA – Police arrested three men they said were followers of Ahmed al-Hassan al-Yamani, a leader with a large following in Basra, and seized weapons and explosives from them. . .
BASRA – Two Iraqi soldiers were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol in the southern city of Basra, 550 km (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, police said . . .’
Jonathan Schwartz takes apart William Kristol on Iraq at Tomdispatch.com.
Barnett Rubin at our join Global Affairs blog on 1) fixing the elections in Pakistan and 2) US mistakes in Afghanistan and Pakistan.