A suicide bomber in Baghdad killed 15 and wounded 29 in al-Adhamiya on Sunday. This neighborhood is what’s left of the Sunni enclave on the eastern side of the Tigris, and the bombing appears to have targeted a local Awakening Council leader, Faruq al-Ubaidi, who was killed. The US-financed Awakening Councils and the Qutbist vigilantes are struggling over control of Sunni neighborhoods. The bombing took place near the revered Abu Hanifa mosque, and will therefore have emotional resonances for Sunnis.
Kurdish forces killed one demonstrator and wounded 4 when the fired on protestors in Suran north of Irbil demanding water services.
Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr has called upon Iraqis to sign a personal pledge in blood of struggle (jihad) against the foreign military occupation of Iraq. Although he urges them to oppose it “militarily and culturally,” he currently has a ceasefire with the US, and this pledge campaign does not appear to threaten it. It seems to me that the pledges are a way for Muqtada to continue to burnish his anti-imperialist credentials even though he has actually made a deal with Washington. The campaign does, however, demonstrate that for the US to try to maintain long-term bases in Iraq would generate no end of trouble and indeed, much more trouble than it would be worth. Iraq is not South Korea, and isn’t afraid of its neighbors as South Korea and Japan are afraid of China (and used to be afraid of Russia). The US only gets long term bases when it is perceived to be in the host country’s benefit or when the host country is extremely weak. Neither will be true in Iraq.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Seniora will visit Baghdad this week, seeking petroleum at reduced prices for his country from Iraq. This visit follows on that of King Abdullah II of Jordan, which involved a similar request. The rise in oil prices (which are still high compared to only a couple of years ago) has given Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki sudden clout in the region. It is clear what Jordan and Lebanon want from him. The question is, what does he want from them? So far the quid pro quos are not being reported, unless it is just greater recognition and re-integration into the Arab political system. For instance, Saudi Arabia still declines to let al-Maliki visit Riyadh, apparently because of his enmity toward the Sunni Arab Awakening Councils, which are in part a Saudi project. Seniora and his backer Saad Hariri are close to Saudi Arabia and presumably will be intermediaries for al-Maliki in back channel communications to the Kingdom.
The oil majors are largely giving up on negotiating short-term contracts with the Iraqi oil ministry. The contracts aren’t that lucrative, and were just seen as ways of establishing a relationship, but the oil ministry played hard ball and so they could not come to terms.
Three quarters of Iraqi business people support the new investment law.
The Middle East News Agency reports:
‘ Cairo, 17 August: A second batch of Iraqi refugees seeking to go home left Egypt for Iraq on Sunday (17 August) at the Iraqi government’s expenses and on board the presidential plane of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
The group included 240 Iraqis, an official from Iraqi embassy in Cairo said while seeing them off at the airport.
The first batch of Iraqi refugees in Egypt flew home to Iraq Monday (11 August). It comprised 250 Iraqis who fled after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. This flight will be followed by other weekly flights with the aim of facilitating the process for displaced Iraqis to return home, Iraq has promised.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated the number of Iraqi refugees who fled the country after the US-led invasion in 2003 at about 4.4 million, including 2.2 million displaced inside Iraq and 2.2 million in neighbouring countries, mainly in Syria, Jordan and Egypt.’
McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Sunday:
– Gunmen threw a grenade at a car carrying a television crew for Afaq, a local T.V station funded by the ruling Dawaa party, as they were about to enter their headquarters in Baghdad’s Alawi al Hilla neighborhood. A reporter, cameraman and driver were seriously injured and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
– Around 8 pm, a suicide bomber riding a bicycle targeted one of the Sahwa leaders in Adhemiyah neighborhood(north Baghdad). Farouq Abu Omar the Sahwa leader who was the target was killed at once. Also five other people were killed and 13 others were injured including two of his sons who were guarding the father who had just finished his prayers in Abu Hanifa shrine.
– Police found 1 dead body today in Saidiyah neighborhood(south Baghdad).
– Around 6 pm, a roadside bomb detonated near Balad petrol station in Balad town(south of Tikrit). 6 people were injured.
– Gunmen killed a civilian who refused to give them his own sedan car when they stopped him in Hakimiyah neighborhood in Basra city.’