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.