Wolf Blitzer (anchor of CNN's Situation Room) sees Iraq going the way of Yugoslavia, "But with U.S. troops now out of the country, I suspect we could be on the verge of seeing Iraq spiral into civil war. We already have seen a series of terrorist attacks in recent days. My fear is that this will only get worse. The Sunnis clearly don't trust the Shiites, especially Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Some of his recent actions, including an arrest warrant for the Sunni vice president, have fueled this fear of a civil war." AFP, however, speaks with the UN Secretary-General's special envoy to Iraq, Martin Kobler, who insists that despite "significant security problems," he does "not expect the outbreak of civil war."
The political crisis began two weeks ago with Nouri's return to Baghdad which was followed by military tanks surrounding the homes of his political opponents then Nouri announcing that he wanted to strip Saleh al-Mutlaq of the post of Deputy Prime Minister then having al-Mutlaq, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi pulled off a plane along with their bodyguards, having three of al-Hashemi's bodyguards arrested and then (as rumored for several days) announcing terrorism charges against al-Hashemi who was in the KRG meeting with officials and has remained in the KRG ever since. Rudaw has quoted the KRG President's chief of staff Fuad Hussein stating, "There's no way we would hand over Hashimi to Baghdad. He is our guest." Yesterday Moqtada al-Sadr was calling for al-Hashemi to be tried in Parliament and for new elections. In addition, there are efforts by provinces to become semi-autonomous and Nouri is in violation of the Constitution on that with regards to Salahuddin Province. Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) reports:
Mr. Maliki has denounced the autonomy moves as attempts by his opponents to fatally weaken the central government. In recent days, he has sought to head off the Sunni efforts by trying to persuade members of Iraqiya, the Sunni bloc in his coalition, to break away from their bloc, according to representatives of both sides in the discussions. Mr. Maliki has offered several Iraqiya parliamentarians promises of ministerial posts and other inducements to split from the bloc, according to the representatives.
Last week, Roy Gutman, Lesley Clark and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) explained Nouri had "ignored" and "seemed to brush aside" efforts by US Vice President Joe Biden to resolve the crisis. Meanwhile Aswat al-Iraq reports:
Iraq's Vice-President Tareq al-Hashimy, has said on Monday that he will not turn himself in to the Baghdad Judiciary, warning that he may leave Iraq if his personal security is exposed to danger.
Hashimy said from the Presidency Palace of Iraq's President Jalal Talabani in northern Iraq's Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya, in an interview with Agence France Press (AFP), that he won't hand himself in to the Baghdad Judiciary, stressing, "I may leave the country if my personal security is exposed to threats".
Violence continues in Iraq with Reuters noting a Hawija car bombing claiming 2 lives (two more injured) and a Mussayab roadside bombing injuring one Iraqi soldier.
To be the last to leave, the last to be gone,
stolen from the ones who hung on to it.
To be the last in line, the ones that live on,
silhouette of a dream, treasured by the ones
.. who hung on to it.
-- "Fireflies," written by Stevie Nicks, first appear on Fleetwood Mac Live.
Tom Bowman (NPR's Morning Edition) reports this morning on the 15,000 US embassy workers and the "5,000 security contractors" who will be protecting them. Lindsay Wise (Houston Chronicle) profiles three US contractors who worked in Iraq. David Zucchino (Los Angeles Times) reports on the Iraqis who worked as US translators and now remain in Iraq:
He rarely leaves his house. He's been shot at by gunmen in a passing car. He gets death threats over the phone.
"Traitor," the callers say. "American agent."
Tariq, 27, is a quick-witted, tech-savvy Iraqi who tosses off idiomatic American English phrases such as "I'm outta here" and "That's cool."
When he served as an interpreter for the U.S. military, Tariq lived on a secure base, safe from fellow Iraqis determined to kill him because of his service to America. But when the unit he served pulled out of Iraq on Oct. 13, he was dismissed and escorted off the base.
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