Wissam Ali Kadhem Ibrahim was put on television in Iraq confessing his role in last Wednesday’s bombings. The former Baathist official described an operation that drew on old-time Baathist assets in Diyala province to Iraq’s northeast. The official spoke with cold, clinical precision. He showed no signs of torture. I found the confession at least plausible. In fact, I argued that something like this scenario lay behind the bombings last Wednesday. That, as Ibrahim says,the Baathist cells were operating in Diyala, that makes a lot of sense. Sunnis demonstrating in favor of Saddam Hussein came out in large numbers in Baqubah in fall of 2006, and were put down brutally by the Iraqi security forces.
The Financial Times argues that the US should prepare a realistic withdrawal timetable from Iraq, and perhaps a shorter one than envisaged in the Status of Forces Agreement between Washington and Baghdad.
Renewed violence in al-Anbar province, once al-Qaeda-in-Iraq Central, is threatening Obama’s withdrawal timetable.
When the Iranian government decided to campaign against the spread of the swine flu by cutting back on pilgrims going to Iraq, it plunged the economies of shrine cities Najaf and Karbala into economic stagnation. Iran has also been disturbed by the decline in security in Iraq and by the tendency of Iraqi politicians to blame Iran for violence there.
Iraq faces immense challenges such as the clearing of 25 million land mines laid in the course of the wars the country has faced in the past 40 years.
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