Explosions tore through two police stations Thursday in the western Iraqi city of Fallouja, leaving at least 16 people dead, and a blast in a northern city killed two U.S. soldiers in the latest reminders of this country's fragile security situation.
The attacks came on the heels of other large blasts this week that targeted Iraqi and U.S. security forces and left dozens of people dead.
That's Tina Susman sketching out yesterday's events in "Iraq blasts in Fallouja and Mosul kill at least 18, including 2 U.S. soldiers" (Los Angeles Times) while Campbell Robertson's "Iraq Approves U.S. Security Pact as Violence Flares" (New York Times) initial focus is the treaty passing the presidency council:
The security agreement sets the terms of the American occupation and envisions a complete troop pullout by the end of 2011. Its approval by the council -- which comprises the president and two vice presidents -- along with an accompanying strategic framework that lays down a broad outline of American-Iraqi relations, was widely expected after it was ratified by the Parliament last week.
A deal was made in Parliament when Shiite and Kurdish lawmakers who backed the pact agreed to demands by Sunni Arab legislators for a nonbinding resolution on political reforms and a nationwide referendum on the pact, both of which were also approved Thursday.
If the pact were to fail in the referendum, which is scheduled to be held in July, Iraq would pull out of the agreement. But that process, under the agreement’s terms, would require giving the Americans a year's notice.
That's actually the best job the paper's done describing the treaty including what happens should a referendum call for the breaking of the treaty.
This week South Korea was among those ending their missions in Iraq. The KRG notes Nechirvan Barzani, KRG Prime Minister, declared to Kim Joong-ryun (Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chair), "We are pleased with this relationship and proud of this friendship with the people of Korea. The motto that you brought to the Kurdistan Region was 'We are friends'. I can say with full sincerity, and from the bottom of my heart, that we in the Kurdistan Region are your true friends, too." Mike noted Tony Perry's "IRAQ: Back to Azerbaijan, 'land of valiant sons'" (Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond) last night on Azerbaijan's departure and , Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported yesterday on a ceremony held in Iraq for Tonga who "became the latest member of the 'coalition of the willing' to end its mission in Iraq." (Tonga had 55 service members stationed in Iraq.)
Any nations who decide to continue stationing troops in Iraq will need to reach some agreement one-on-one with the puppet government. Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that next month only six countries are expected to have troops in Iraq: Australia, El Salvador, Estonia, Romania, the UK and the US.
On the issue of the duped workers now trapped/imprisoned in Iraq, Michael Ware (CNN) reports:
Some Ugandan men said the Iraqi police handcuffed and beat them. "They say, 'If you are here for the U.S., we're going to show you the difference between the U.S. government and the Iraqi government. Let's see if the U.S. is going to help you,' " one man said. Iraqi police would not answer questions regarding those allegations.
As the men spoke to CNN on camera, an official in charge of them threatened to lock them out of the compound unless they returned inside within two minutes.
KBR was not involved in recruiting the men. The company told CNN it does not condone unethical behavior, saying its contractors abide by its code of conduct, including training in human trafficking. The company said when it becomes aware of possible trafficking it works "to remediate the problem and report the matter to proper authorities. KBR then works with authorities to rectify the matter."
KBR is liable. They put in a bid for a US government contract, won the bid and sub-contracted out. Najlaa Catering Services was their 'hire'. They are responsible in the same way that the US government would be responsible for giving a contract to someone completely unqualified. US government money (not a great deal, KBR took the biggest slice)has gone to NCS and it has been via KBR which now has a great to deal to answer for. Beyond the very real ethical responsibility, they also have a legal responsibility.
Deborah Haynes (Times of London) has filed a number of reports on the situation and this is from her "Makeshift camp for Nepalese squatters in Baghdad" (the paper's Inside Iraq blog):
About 50 Nepalese men and a handful of Indians are living under the jumble of wooden planks and soiled carpets. Some of the shelters have scraps of tarpaulin over the top to keep out the rain but there is little protection from the winter chill.
"We have no money, no food, no toilet, no water, no job," said Ganesh Kumar Bhagat, 22. "The first time I arrived here I was happy, I had a good feeling. But we have not been lucky. Nobody should come to Iraq."
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