Thousands of Shiites demonstrated on Friday after prayers against the security agreement being imposed on Iraq by the Bush administration. In Sadr City, crowds set fire to the American flag.
Even Iraqi government officials close to Washington are rejecting US demands that troops be allowed to undertake military missions without getting a go-ahead from the Iraqi government.
Helena Cobban blogs the appearance of 2 important Iraqi MPs and party leaders in Washington, DC, in which they rejected the terms of the US-Iraq security agreement or Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Interestingly, they say they only learned these details from press reporting. If major Iraqi parliamentarians who lead important parties don’t know what is going on, then the negotiations are closely held by the Prime Minister’s office.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that the Da’wa (Islamic Mission) Party has decisively split. It is the party of the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. The new branch, Da’wa- National Reform, has been formed by former PM Ibrahim Jaafari, and the local leadership of Islamic Mission political offices in many cities, including in Najaf, has defected to it. Al-Maliki’s faction vows to regain control of those offices. Al-Hayat estimated that at least 10 members of parliament have also defected to the new party led by Jaafari.
Those 10 members of Da’wa- National Reform in parliament have joined a new political bloc consisting of the Sadrists (30 MPs), the Iraqi List (24), National Dialogue (11), Islamic Virtue Party (Fadhila) (15). These 90 MPs oppose the soft partition of Iraq and generally have a strong Iraqi nationalist orientation. Several have expressed opposition to the US-Iraqi security agreement now being negotiated.
So, al-Maliki is not only not making a lot of progress in attaining national reconciliation, his own party is collapsing underneath him. It is really quite remarkable that a sitting prime minister should preside over a schism in his own party, despite his control of billions of dollars in patronage.
Apparently, al-Maliki has been maneuvered by the Bush administration into a position where he has virtually no popular or party support, and is left with Washington has his only anchor.
Actually the Islamic Mission Party already had had two main branches in parliament, the Da’wa Islamiya of al-Maliki and the Da’wa- Iraq Organization of Abdul Karim Anizi. The party was originally founded around 1958 and was among the first Muslim fundamentalist parties to strive for an Islamic state, which it finally attained with the Iraqi Constitution of 2005 (it forbids civil legislation that contradicts Islamic canon law.)
Nir Rosen reports from the streets of Baghdad on the realities of the Mahdi Army, the paramilitary of the Sadr Movement.
McClatchy reports political violence on Friday:
– Four gunmen were killed while planting a roadside bomb at Al Nasr Wa Salam area (18 miles west of Baghdad).
– Gunmen opened fire on a policeman at Al Nasr Wa Salam who received a note threatening to kill him from Ansar Al Sunna, a Sunni insurgent group. He was shot twice and his situation is critical.
– Gunmen kidnapped a colonel of the former Iraqi intelligence during Saddam’s regime. He was inside his car at the petrol station in Khadraa neighborhood in downtown Kirkuk city when a BMW car stopped and took him away .
– Gunmen opened fire injured a civilian in Azadi neighborhood in downtown Kirkuk city.
– A roadside bomb targeted an officer’s house in Sulaiman Beck town (south of Kirkuk).No casualties reported but small damage with the house.
– A roadside bomb targeted a house for the KDP’s(Kurdistan Democratic Party) member in Jalwla town (northeast of Baquba).One person was injured .
– A combined forces from the Iraqi army and police supported by American forces raided Al-Sukariya town(west of Baiji). Abu Abdu Allah Al-Saudi ,a leader of Al-Qaeda organization ,was killed with some weapons confiscated. ‘