The US military on Friday arrested Ali Faisal al-Lami, a Sadrist who served on the Debaathification Committee under Ahmad Chalabi. The Pentagon maintains that Al-Lami is deeply involved with Iran-backed “special group” cells and implicated in a bombing in Sadr City that killed several people including two GIs. Chalabi, a notorious liar and embezzler to whom Rumsfeld and the Neocons had intended to turn over Iraq, protested al-Lami’s arrest and called for an end of the US ability to arrest Iraqis at will.
Chalabi’s closeness to al-Lami raises the question of his own relationship to Iran and/or the special groups.
Al-Hayat writes in Arabic that PM Nuri al-Maliki has changed the team that is negotiating the security agreement with the United States. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has been dropped and the new team will be led by national security adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubaie.
The head of the voting commission says that it is now impossible to hold provincial elections on their original schedule. The enabling legislation has not been passed by parliament. February 2009 is the earliest the elections can now be held.
The Iraqi military has taken control of Camp Ashraf, the base of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) terrorist group,in accordance with a longstanding demand of Iraqi Shiite parties that are close to Iran. Saddam Hussein had given the MEK this base in order to harass Iran. It has been alleged that the Pentagon was deploying the MEK against Iran, as well, even though the US State Department has put the group on the terrorist watch list.
China has signed a $3 billion petroleum contract with Iraq for the development of Iraqi fields. A reader at reddit.com entitled this item “4,000 US troops die for China’s access to Iraqi oil.”
“U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff told the [U.N.} meeting it was a violation of the U.N. charter for member states to use force against others, or threaten to use it, . . Russia’s U.N. envoy, Vitaly Churkin, suggested Wolff’s statement was hypocritical and referred to the U.S.-led March 2003 invasion of Iraq, which Moscow strongly opposed. “I would like to ask the distinguished representative of the United States — weapons of mass destruction. Have you found them yet in Iraq or are you still looking for them?” Wolff accused Churkin of making false comparisons. “I’m not a psychologist and I don’t know what brought on the free association we heard from Ambassador Churkin,” he said. . . .”
McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Thursday (please pay attention, Sen. McCain):
– Early morning, gunmen assassinated the brigadier general Najam Abdullah from the 7th division of the Iraqi army and his wife in front of his house in Adel neighborhood (west Baghdad).
– Mortars hit the international zone (IZ) in central Baghdad. No casualties reported.
– Two roadside bombs targeted an American patrol near Al-Khansa police station in Mashtal(east Baghdad). No casualties reported.
– Around 11 am, a roadside bomb targeted a police patrol in Baladiyat neighborhood (east Baghdad). Five people were injured (three policemen and two civilians).
– A mortar shell hit Baladiyat neighborhood (east Baghdad. Two people were injured.
– Around 2 pm, a roadside bomb targeted a police patrol near Al-Rubayee bridge in Karrada neighborhood (downtown Baghdad). Two policemen were injured.
– Police found two dead bodies in Baghdad today: 1 was found in Shaab neighborhood(north Baghdad) and 1 was found in Jihad neighborhood(west Baghdad).
– Around 7:30 am, a roadside bomb detonated at Abu Shanuna in balad Ruz (east Baquba). One shepherd was killed.
– Around 11 am, a roadside bomb detonated near Rashid Awa restaurant in downtown Kirkuk. One person was killed and 7 others were injured. Also some buildings and cars were damaged in the incident.
– Gunmen kidnapped 4 persons in bani Izz village in Qara Taba (north east Baghdad).’