Mosul Bomber Kills 7, wounds 38; Further Arrests of Sunnis in Fadl; British Military Departing Basra

A suicide bomber struck a police station in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday, killing 7 persons (4 policemen)and wounding 38 (17 policemen). Mostly Sunni Arab Mosul remains a center of guerrilla war against the Shiite-dominated Baghdad government and troops.

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that the government of PM Nuri al-Maliki has announced the arrest of 20 persons, apparently from in and around the (Sunni Arab) Fadl district. Al-Maliki’s soldiers are said to have taken up sniping positions on rooftops around Fadl, backed by US helicopters, and by armored vehicles on street corners. The precautions come after the mutiny of the Awakening Council of Fadl after its leader, Adil al-Mashhadani, was arrested this weekend. His critics accused him of establishing a neo-Baath cell or of running protection rackets. His defenders (including al-Zaman) maintained that he is a hero for having taken on and defeated “al-Qaeda in Iraq” in his neighborhood. Three of his associates were arrested on Tuesday. Leaders of Awakening Councils of Sons of Iraq in neighborhoods of West Baghdad expressed anxiety that the al-Maliki government would come after them next. Many Awakening Council members and leaders had been guerrillas fighting the government before they defected to the Americans, and the Shiite-dominated government is not as forgiving of their past activities as the American military tended to be.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat writing in Arabic quotes the security commander for Baghdad as saying that the 150 Awakening Council fighters in Fadl had surrendered their weapons and had been incorporated into Iraqi government checkpoints under the command of the Iraqi military. He said that shops were reopening and that locals were happy to be under Iraqi government security forces. (Just to note that since Awakening Council fighters made large numbers of enemies among very violent people, disarming them now puts their lives in danger; and, while the possibility that Sunni Arab residents of Fadl like being under the control of a Shiite-dominated military, I’d need some proof.)

Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadr Movement, called Tuesday for a Million Man March on Baghdad on April 9, the anniversary of the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, to protest the continued US military presence in Iraq.

The intrepid Marc Santora of the NYT reports that the Iraq War is still going on in Balad Ruz, in Diyala Province.

Nathan Hodge at Wired asks whether the blow-up between a Sunni militia in the Shiite government of PM Nuri al-Maliki in the past few days bodes ill for US plans in Afghanistan. Good question!

British troops at Basra turned control of their base over to the US military on Tuesday, and began their withdrawal from Iraq. Britain has invaded Iraq 4 times since 1914, twice during WW I, once during WW II, and again in 2003, in cooperation with the Bush administration. Several major popular movements, including the 1920 rebellion, the 1941 Arab nationalist movement, the 1958 revolution against the British-installed monarchy, the 1972 oil nationalization drive, and the Sadrist uprisings of 2004, were aimed at making Iraq independent of the white Christian European overlords who kept showing up to govern in Basra and Baghdad. Those who thought Iraqis would welcome yet another such conquest were fooling themselves.

The LAT reports that Interior Minister Jawad Bulani says that his ministry employs 10,000 intelligence operatives now. These would be for spying on Iraqis. My recollection is that Saddam in the 1980s had 180,000 domestic spies.

Daud Salman reports on the “low expectations” of Iraqis:

‘While many acknowledge that the security situation has improved, runaway unemployment, entrenched corruption and faltering reconstruction efforts are continued problems. And few have confidence that their provincial leaders are up to coping with these problems.’

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