In a continuing wave of violence in Iraq, 28 persons were killed and 40 wounded on Saturday. Among the dead were 9 members of the Kurdish Peshmerga paramilitary, killed by a roadside bomb near the disputed city of Khanaqin in Diyala. Arabs and Kurds are increasingly at odds over the future of this city, which Kurds wish to incorporate into the Kurdistan Regional Government.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that the director of the Sharqiyyah television channel is blaming the official Iraqiyyah television channel for a campaign of vilification of Sharqiyyah correspondents, which he said led to the kidnapping and killing of 4 Sharqiyyah staff in Mosul on Saturday. Sharqiyyah is run by a former director of television and radio under Saddam Hussein and so is considered a Baath organ and viewed with suspicion by Shiites and Kurds, who control the Iraqiyyah channel.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Kurdish politicians are now demanding that an article be struck from the proposed Status of Forces Agreement between the Bush administration and the al-Maliki government. The offending paragraph permits the Iraqi central government to strike similar security deals with its neighbors. Presumably the Kurds are afraid of being constrained by a Federal government SOFA with, e.g., Turkey or Iran. Al-Maliki spokesman Ali Dabbagh expressed surprise at the demand, saying that the Kurds had for some time been urging a swift passage of the SOFA and had never objected to that paragraph before.
The government’s increasing conflicts with the Kurds are also apparent in the collapse of a parliamentary committee appointed by speaker Mahmud al-Mashhadani to attempt to resolve the differences over Kirkuk so that the law on provincial elections can be passed. Members of the committee accused their Kurdish colleagues of continually bringing up issues that had nothing to do with the provincial elections, and thus derailing the party-based talks. There is a dispute about whether Kirkuk province should vote at the same time as the other provinces, and how power should be distributed there. The Kurdish leadership would like to incorporate oil-rich Kirkuk into the Kurdistan Regional Government, but Arabs and Turkmen object.
Amit Paley of WaPo finds that the Peshmerga have quietly expanded into 300 sq.mi.of neighboring territory, incorporating it de facto into the Kurdistan Regional Government even though it lies in Iraq proper. The US military,he reports,sees this Kurdish expansion as destabilizing.
Patrick Cockburn argues that Iraq violence is down, but not because of the US troop escalation or ‘surge’ of last year.
McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Saturday:
– A roadside bomb targeted a police patrol in Dora neighborhood(south Baghdad). Four policemen were wounded.
– Around 11:30 am, a roadside bomb targeted a national police patrol in Karrada neighborhood in central Baghdad. Three people were killed including one policeman and five others were wounded (including 2 policemen).
– Around noon, a bomb planted under a civilian car detonated near Adela Khatoon mosque in Bab Al-Mutham (north Baghdad). Four people were injured.
-Around 6:30 pm, a roadside bomb detonated near Mulla Huish mosque in Jamia’a neighborhood(west Baghdad). Three people were wounded.
– Around 8 pm, a bomb planted under a car in Adhemiyah neighborhood(north Baghdad) detonated when it stopped near a check point for the Sahwa members. Six people were wounded (three Sahwa members and three civilians).
– Police found two dead bodies in Baghdad neighborhoods today: One was found in Tobchi in western Baghdad in Karkh bank. While one was found in Binouk neighborhood in eastern Baghdad in Risafa bank.
– A roadside bomb targeted a Peshmerga patrol on the way between Khanaqeen city and Sadiyah town (east of Baquba). Nine members were killed including a colonel and three others were wounded.
– Around 12;30 pm, the Sharqiya crew of Iraqi satellite channel in Mosul who were 4 persons( the local manager, two camermen and driver) were kidnapped and then killed by gunmen who broke out the house where the crew was filming in Zanjili (west of Mosul). The four dead bodies were found 30 minutes later in AL-Bursa neighborhood in Zanjili.
-On Friday night, one civilian was killed and three others were wounded including a traffic policeman when an Iraqi soldier opened fire randomly in Abu Al-khaseeb market(about 13 miles south of Basra). The spokesman of the Iraqi army in Basra said that it was an accident when the soldier pulled the trigger by mistake and he is now in detention.’