Currency trader Ahmad Sharbar, like many of the merchants in the teeming bazaar of this ancient Shiite city, had become disillusioned with Iraq's new democracy.
He was upset with the failure of the government he voted for in 2005 to improve services or create jobs and with the endless political bickering in Baghdad that has paralyzed progress on many fronts.
He had even decided not to vote in Iraq's national elections March 7 until he heard that hundreds of candidates were to be barred from the poll because of their alleged ties to the former Baath Party of Saddam Hussein.
Pakistan's The News wonders whether or not Iraqis should even vote:
Seven years after the US-led invasion ushered in democracy, Iraqis making do with a few hours of power a day and living amid mounds of rubbish and pools of sewage wonder if they should vote in a March election.
"We don't trust the election or the candidates," Samir Salahuddin, a mechanic in the northern city of Kirkuk, said. "I am now searching for kerosene to warm my family during the night, yet we live in a country rich with oil." Election campaigning started on Friday with party workers putting up election advertisements across Baghdad. As in last year's provincial election, fierce competition is likely to turn cities into forests of banners and posters.
But Baghdad's Sadr City slum, perched atop an oilfield and ravaged by years of bombings and militia battles, is a symbol for many of political incompetence and corruption which have sapped voter enthusiasm and led to mismanagement of Iraq's vast oil wealth.
"I hear people say that Sadr City is rich, but I do not seethe wealth," Raziqa Fokus, a widow and mother of five, said. “Why do my children not look rich? Why do the streets look like this?" "I will not take part in the election because I did not see anything tangible from the government," she added, while heading out to throw a sack of garbage into the street. Another resident complained that rubbish usually remains uncollected for months.
Reuters notes seven people wounded in Baghdad bombings in what are seen as attacks on various political parties or politicians (including Saleh al-Mutlaq who is 'banned' from participation). In addition, Reuters notes a Baghdad car bombing left two people injured and Mosul roadside bombing which injured one.
Reuters notes a Mosul attack in which 1 child was killed and four people were injured.
Reuters notes 1 corpse was discovered in Tal Afar.
In England, the Iraq news is over the arrests of 8 Iraiqs in the June 24, 2003 deaths of six Royal Military Police officers. For background, from the BBC News' June 25, 2003 report:
A soldier from north Wales has been named among six British military policeman killed during what the army called an unprovoked attack in Iraq.
Lance Corporal Thomas Richard Keys, who lived at Llanuwchllyn, near Bala, died when the Royal Military Police came under attack in a village near Amara about 100 miles north of Basra.
Lance Corporal Keys, who was 20, was the youngest of the six soldiers to die in the incident on Tuesday.
[. . .]
Fourteen British soldiers were injured in the attack and at least four Iraqis were killed.
All of the dead soldiers belonged to 156 Provost Company, part of the 16th Air Assault Brigade, based in Colchester, Essex.
Thousands of extra British troops could be sent to Iraq in the wake of the killings, which were the worst suffered by British forces in a single day of the conflict.
Deborah Haynes' "Eight men to stand trial for mob killing of six Royal Military Policemen in Iraq" (Times of London):
A spokesman warned, however, that it was unclear when a court date would be set as Iraqi investigations were still ongoing and no formal charges had been made.
"The case is now at the investigative stage where the judge reviews the evidence. He has indicated that eight suspects now in custody will go to trial." he said.
"We are assisting the Iraqi Government in every way possible to secure convictions, including access to UK investigative materials and expertise."
Last Saturday, we noted Issa T. Salomi's kidnapping by the League of Righteous. Since then there have been rumors of another kidnapping -- on that would have taken place several years ago. And supposedly he is alive. We didn't note that here. Even when, on Monday, the Telegraph of London was reporting it and they generally -- as Robert Fisk will tell you -- have strong intelligence ties so tend to get many things right. We didn't note it because too many people were telling me that it was highly doubtful. If you're among the many who have written in the last six to seven days asking that we note it, we're still not noting it. We will note that AFP reports the US military has unofficially issued a statement on the alleged 2nd kidnapping victim with an anonymous source explaining they have seen no proof of the 2nd person being held.
Lastly on Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan. World Can't Wait notes:
Cindy Sheehan's Peace of the Action begins Camp OUT NOW on Saturday March 13 on the Mall. Peace Actions begin Monday March 22.
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