Two suicide bombers struck at a village near Ramadi in al-Anbar Province on Saturday, killing 8 and wounding 27.
Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that officials in charge of “Operation Impose Law and Order” in Baghdad admit that the security situation in the capital has deteriorated and that there is a spike in the number and severity of attacks.
The increasing use of ‘sticky bombs’ is among the major concerns of security forces.
It is not surprising that Sadrist preachers condemned the proposed security pact between the al-Maliki government and the Bush administration in their Friday prayers sermons. It is much more significant that Sadr al-Din al-Qubanji of Najaf thundered against it. He represents the views of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, led by cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. If ISCI opposes the agreement, it has no chance whatever of passing through parliament. I think the AFP article linked above is wrong to speculate that Sunni Arabs are reluctant to see the US go because they fear Shiite and Iranian hegemony in the aftermath. Some may feel that way; I think they are a minority. The last polling I saw put it at 9% of Sunnis who wanted the US to stick around. As reported last week, VP Tariq al-Hashimi, head of the Sunni fundamentalist Iraqi Islamic Party, has called for a national referendum on the security agreement. I read that call as hostility on his part toward it, since it likely could not pass a national vote.
Bloomberg reports that the Iraqi political elite is torn over whether to conclude the agreement with Bush or just to wait for better terms from Obama.
Iraq’s Defense Minister, Lt. Gen. Abdul Qadir Ubaydi, said Saturday that “In the event of U.S. troops pulling out of Iraq, the army is ready to take responsibility for providing security in the country . . the Americans have handed over control of most of Iraq’s provinces to Iraq’s security forces.” He said that the handover shows that the Iraqi army can now provide order.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has suggested some constitutional amendments that would grant the federal government in Baghdad wider prerogatives, especially with regard to security and foreign policy. Al-Maliki wants the parliamentary commission on constitutional revision to take up these suggestions. He says that the 2005 constitution was written at a time when there were still fears that authoritarian government could return to Iraq, but that those fears had now receded and it was clear that the constitution actually shackles “the present and the future” (i.e. by decentralizing too much and leaving the central government too weak.) Al-Maliki also attacked the sectarian and ethnic quota system by which the government informally functions,saying that it might have been necessary at one stage but now must be jettisoned.
Al-Hayat also reports that Haydar al-`Ibadi, a leader of the Da’wa (Islamic Call) Party said that the door to negotiations with the US over the security agreement has still not been closed, despite what the US Ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, has said. Al-Hayat says that the members of parliament with whom it has spoken think it is highly unlikely even the revised security agreement can be approved by parliament during this calendar year.
Dhafir al-`Ani, a member of parliament from the Sunni fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front, accused the Da’wa Party, led by PM Nuri al-Maliki, of monopolizing negotiations with Washington at a time when most Iraqi parties had ceased being part of the negotiations. He warned that there would be popular disturbances if the agreement is signed while the Da’wa is dominating and monpolizing the process.
McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Saturday:
A roadside bomb targeted civilians in al-Qahira neighbourhood, northern Baghdad at around 10 a.m. Saturday killing one and injuring seven others.
A roadside bomb targeted a U.S. military convoy in Talbiyah, eastern Baghdad. No casualties were reported.
A roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi army patrol in Amil neighbourhood, southwestern Baghdad, at 8.30 p.m. injuring two civilians and one soldier.
One unidentified body was found in Obaidi neighbourhood, Saturday by Iraqi police.
A gunman fired at Iraqi security forces and Sahwa forces in al-Multaqa district, to the west of Kirkuk city and injured one soldier. The forces returned fire and killed the gunman.
A suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest targeted al-Jazeera checkpoint, 20 km to the northeast of Ramadi city at 2.30 p.m. Saturday, injuring three female inspectors with the police force and four policemen. About fifteen minutes later and after a crowd had gathered; a suicide car bomb wanted to get into the crowd but was detected by the police who opened fire at the car which detonated at a distance killing eight civilians, injuring ten.
A roadside bomb targeted Iraqi security forces in Mosul killing one soldier, injuring another.’