China's Xinhua reports, "An American marine died in Iraq at a result of an incident that did not involve combat on Tuesday, the U.S. military said. The soldier, assigned to Multi National Force-West (MNF-W), died on Tuesday, a military statement said without providing further details about the incident." The announcement brings the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4257.
In Iraq today, another suicide bomber. It's apparently a male so expect no hand wringing or reporters attempting to put the dead on the couch and figure out why, oh, why!!!!! That only happens when the bomber is a woman.
AP says 28 dead and twenty-eight wounded. Reuters gives the same figures and notes: "A source at Yarmouk hospital, the main hospital in western Baghdad, said it had received the body of a journalist working for al-Baghdadiya, an independent television station. Another journalist with al-Iraqiya state television was wounded, he said." The number of dead and wounded from the bombing may rise throughout the day. Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) is reporting:
An eyewitness said the Tuesday attack was carried out by a person wearing a national police uniform who struck a group of officials in a marketplace near the municipal building in Abu Ghraib, on the western outskirts of the capital. The Iraqi Interior Ministry put the death toll at 33, with 46 injured. Two days earlier, on Sunday, a suicide bomber killed 28 people in Baghdad.
The bombings suggest a renewed ability by insurgents to mount more effective suicide bombings, after a long period in which such attacks were relatively few and less lethal because of heavy security precautions.
By the way, there's no article filed on Iraq in today's New York Times (national version).
Meanwhile, Trenton Daniels does know the difference between a plurality and a majority which does put him ahead of some of his peers. He seems unaware that Kirkuk is an oil-rich area and that is among the reasons it is a disputed area. (Disputed as to who has dibs on it, the Kurdistan Regional Government or the central government out of Baghdad.) Oil is the only reason that Baghdad wants it. The KRG? They no doubt want the oil as well but they're also showing up with a sense of rage/anger over policies in place for many years during Saddam's ethnic cleansing/relocation. (Drive-bys, that's not me siding with the KRG. Read on.) From his "Ethnic tensions in Kirkuk turn U.S. military into mediator" (McClatchy Newspapers):
As American forces shift their focus from combat operations to peacekeeping efforts because of recent security gains, Gonsalves and his soldiers from the U.S. Army's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are working against the clock to mediate a long-standing dispute over oil and land and federalism and nationalism in the battleground of Kirkuk. The sense of urgency: Washington plans to pull out combat troops in August 2010. If left unresolved, the Kirkuk issue could explode.
Kurdish parties have dispatched forces well south of the Green Line, a United Nations-created boundary that's marked the semiautonomous region of Kurdistan since 1991. Arabs say that the Kurds are seizing land that rightfully belongs to them, while Kurds say the land was theirs until former dictator Saddam Hussein purged them from it. In this bitter contest, both sides have employed tactics that range from intimidation and detention to murder.
The central government and Kurdish troops nearly came to blows last year in Khanaqeen, in neighboring Diyala province, when Iraqi forces tried to move into the area. Stepping in, the Americans averted imminent clashes.
Reading the above, you should grasp why the US military needs to leave Iraq immediately. They are not trained in what they are being asked to do.
You should also grasp that the US has no business injecting itself into the decision on Kirkuk. One side will win, the other will lose. There will be hurt feelings (to put it mildly). Those will go on for years and years, generations and generations. That's regardless of who 'wins.' The US does not need to involve itself in that matter which is something for Iraqis to decide. It's doubtful that even the United Nations or another international body should attempt to lead on the issue. Decisions imposed upon a people (the post-WWII creation of the state of Israel, for example) tend to create hostility and lead to long standing tensions and violence.
It's an Iraqi issue to be settled by Iraqis. It actually shouldn't be made while US forces occupy the country because then the government is not legitimate (and there's nothing legitimate about al-Maliki) and it comes down to, "Years ago, the US installed government took Kirkuk from us/gave Kirkuk away!"
The KRG wants the issue dealt with. They can push for that and anything else they believe in/want. But the US doesn't need to 'lead' on this issue. Kirkuk is not a county in New Jersey. It's part of the supposedly sovereign nation of Iraq and Iraqis are the only ones who have the right to make any determination on what happens to the region. Most likely that decision will be made by a poll in Kirkuk. Just as the US has no business making the decision, they have no business delaying such a vote. That vote should have taken place long ago. Allowing the residents of Kirkuk self-determination is democracy. Yes, the KRG has packed the area in recent years with Kurds. But that vote should have taken place years ago.
It is not up to the US to 'decide' what happens. The only way a decision can be made 'immediately' (say from today through the next three years), is to allow the province to vote for itself. Anything else will be seen as US influence (outside influence), of the US interfering in Iraqi affairs and make the decision (which will enrage someone no matter how it goes) appear even less legitimate.
al-Maliki doesn't want the vote to take place which is why Kirkuk got tabled and denied a place in the January 31st elections. The United Nations helped 'broker' that decision but, looking at the decision, it backed al-Maliki's wishes. It didn't back the KRG's or, most important, the people living in Kirkuk. So the decision does not appear legitimate and people in Iraq have every right to be offended by the delay. It's an Iraqi matter and the easiest way to reach a decision is to allow Kirkuk to vote. Anything else should wait until the US is no longer an occupying force.
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alissa j. rubin