Bombers struck at Shiite pilgrims for the third straight day on Sunday, killing as many as six new victims. This despite extensive security measures in the holy city of Karbala.
The city was divided into eight districts, with checkpoints and body searches. Teams of female inspectors checked women for bombs. US and Iraqi aircraft did continual aerial surveillance. This according to the Arabic press.
AFP also reports that in Baghdad’s Jadid district, Iraqi forces arrested the head of an Awakening Council for involvement in terrorism and conducted a raid on guerrillas so that 250 displaced persons could return to the neighborhood.
My guess is that this translates that at least some members of the Sunni Awakening Council had earlier been involved in ethnically cleansing Shiites, and that the al-Maliki government is now cracking down on it so that some Shiite families can safely return. The US views the Awakening Councils as valuable anti-al-Qaeda paramilitaries willing to take American money to fight the Qutbist vigilantes.
The Justice Department is going to probe the notorious Nisur Square shooting by Blackwater security guards last September in Baghdad that left 17 civilians dead, and for which, in the aftermath, there did not seem to be any real security justification.
There have reportedly been serious tensions between the Kurdish Peshmerga paramilitary in Diyala Province and the Iraqi army. There are conflicting reports on whether the Peshmerga will withdraw. The Kurdistan Regional Government claims the northern part of Diyala for itself because of its Kurdish population, though the province as a whole has an Arab majority.
Mark Kukis of Time explains why Iraq is still oil poor.
The majority of Britain’s 4,000 combat troops in southern Iraq will be withdrawn by next May. Along with the loss of 2,000 Georgian troops in Wasit Province, these withdrawals will affect the drawn-down of US troops originally planned for this year.
Abu Muqawamah on fixing the Iraqi elections: “On Dr. iRack’s recent Iraq voyage, many U.S. commanders, coalition officials, and Iraqis expressed growing concerns that the “Powers That Be” (Dawa, ISCI, the IIP, PUK, and KDP) will use their monopoly on official power–including their dominance of governors, provincial councils, and the Iraqi Security forces–to tilt the provincial elections in their favor against the “Powers That Aren’t” (the Sadrists, Awakening groups, independents, and secularists). This is problematic since the entire goal of the elections is to co-opt the latter into the political process, and, by giving them a stake in the system and peaceful means of sharing power, help solidify the security gains from the surge.”