AP reports that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has denounced a US raid in Kut as a violation of the security agreement between Washington and Baghdad.
WaPo goes further and says that al-Maliki is actually calling for the troops involved to be prosecuted in Iraqi courts.
The US said its troops were targeting a major funder of militias, whom they accused of receiving monies and material from Iran. I.e. this was about the so-called ‘special cells’ or pro-Iranian groups inside the Shiite militias. Kut has a lot of Sadrists, who follow Muqtada al-Sadr and there are still Mahdi Army units active there. The raid left an innocent female bystander dead. Six captured alleged militiamen were released by the US military after al-Maliki’s protest.
In Kut, hundreds gathered in an anti-US demonstration.
The US maintains that the raid was coordinated with the Iraqi government. But it appears that the officials the US dealt with were local and that they neglected to pass news of the plan up to their superiors.
Under the Status of Forces Agreement, the US must notify the Iraqi government before it takes military action.
Al-Maliki is touchy about such an operation in Kut and probably wants personal approval in such matters. Kut is in the Shiite south, where al-Maliki has been attempting to spread the influence of his Islamic Mission Party (Da’wa). It has a significant Sadrist constituency, and al-Maliki is trying to put together coalition provincial governments with the Sadrists. So the US raid made al-Maliki look weak and puppet-like and made him unpopular in a key area where he wants support.
Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that Iraqi government officials are expecting further bombings this week, as the country prepares for a conference on investing in Iraq later this week. The officials say that the guerrillas are attempting to dissuade foreign investors and to give them the impression that Iraq is unstable and a poor place to invest. The guerrillas hope to keep the government of Nuri al-Maliki weak so as to be able to overthrow it.
The speaker of the Iranian House has warned Iraqi insurgents that Tehran would track them down and punish them for the attacks this past week on Iranian pilgrims to holy shrines in Iraq. He also took up the theme that the US might be behind attacks on Iranian targets.
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