Does Al-Maliki’s New Team Imperil Security Agreement? Al-Maliki asks Peshmerga to stay beyond Blue Line

The LAT reports doubts in Baghdad about whether the security agreement between the Bush administration and the Iraqi government will be achieved. Al-Maliki abruptly dismissed his negotiating team and replaced it with three officials close to himself. MP Mithal al-Alusi is convinced that the change was intended to derail the talks.

Diyala Province is still dangerous.

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has called on the Peshmerga paramilitary to honor the “blue line” that divides the Kurdistan Regional Government from Iraq proper. Peshmerga troops are in north-eastern Iraq cities such as Khanaqin, producing tension with the Iraqi army, which is going into those same cities as part of al-Maliki’s security campaign.

Anwar J. Ali writes about her trip to Baghdad at the NYT blog:

‘The streets in Baghdad after 9 p.m. are very dangerous and full of army, police and American checkpoints. Sometimes they can’t understand why you are out late and shoot, and sometimes they understand. . . The streets were empty, shops were closed. There was only us, the army and the blast walls. As we were driving in this dead city and empty neighborhood we saw a man who was only wearing shorts sitting half-naked in the middle of the road, at midnight. . . ‘

Aljazeera English reports on the Sunni Arab Awakening Councils in Iraq and Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s current crackdown on them. It raises the question of whether a battle looms between the Iraqi government and these American-backed militias. Mithal al-Alusi and Nir Rosen are interviewed.

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