Dan Morse (Washington Post via San Francisco Chronicle) notes "at least 19 people were killed in Iraq" yesterday with at least eighty injured. Peter Cave reported on them for AM (Australia's ABC News -- link is text and audio):
"What do they want to achieve?" says this man watching the latest victims being carried away. "What do they want from all these killings? Will this end? What did the people do to be killed? A blind man who sells newspapers, another selling soup. What did those innocent people do? What do they want from the people?"
Violence continues today. Deng Shahsa (Xinhua) notes Sahwa leader Mulla Nadhim al-Jubouri was shot dead Tuesday night in Dhuluiyah: "Jubouri, who is introduced by the media as an expert with al- Qaida affairs, was a member of Dhuluiyah's most respected religious families. He first joined al-Qaida to fight the Americans after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, but then he switched sides to become leader of one of the U.S.-backed Awakening Councils that fought al-Qaida in his volatile country in north of Baghdad." Sammer N. Yaccoub (AP) adds that three years ago, the US detained him on suspicion of bringing down a US helicopter in 2006 and that "Postings on an Islamic extremist website celebrated al-Jubouri's death." Reuters notes a Baquba roadside bombing which injured one police officer.
Even with everything taking place in Iraq, many look to the US today as a result of yesterday's sentencing. Stan Wilson and Michael Martinez (CNN) reports Staff Sgt Frank G. Wuterich, who entered a guilty plea, will not serve any time for his part in the Haditha killings which claimed 24 lives November 19, 2005. Raheem Salman and Patrick J. McDonnell (Los Angeles Times) quote a teacher in Haditha, Rafid Abdul Majeed, stating, "The Americans killed children who were hiding inside cupboards or under beds. Was this Marine charged with dereliction of duty because he didn't kill more? Is Iraqi blood so cheap?" Fadhel al-Badrani (Reuters) quotes Ali Badr stating, "This sentence gives us the proof, the solid proof that the Americans don't respect human rights." Salman and McDonnell observe, "Overall reaction in Iraq to Wuterich's plea appeared somewhat muted Tuesday, reflecting, Iraqis say, an already deeply rooted skepticism about the U.S. justice system. Iraqis are also distracted by a political crisis that some fear could result in renewed sectarian warfare: At least 10 people were killed Tuesday in bombings in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, a Shiite Muslim stronghold."
Ivan Eland (Antiwar.com) observes of the political crisis, "In Iraq, even before U.S. forces had withdrawn, Shi'ite President Nouri al-Maliki was taking the country back toward dictatorship. Now that American forces are gone, with attempts to arrest the Sunni vice president and the detention of other prominent Sunnis, Maliki is accelerating the process. Meanwhile, the radical Sunni group al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia is stepping up attacks on Shi'ites, hoping to re-ignite the sectarian civil war of 2006 and 2007. With Iraq's long history of rival ethno-sectarian groups in conflict, Sunni dictators, and no culture of political compromise needed for democracy, the prospects for an imposed democracy taking root were never great."
And the official to feel sorry for right now is Iraqi President Jalal Talabani who just had spinal surgery and is attempting to deal with the mess Nouri's created in Iraq as well as the increased tensions with Turkey which Nouri also created. Al Mada reports Talabani spoke on the phone from his sickbed in Germany yesterday with an envoy for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani with the envoy passing on al-Sistani's hopes that Talabani has a swift recovery and outlining al-Sistani's concerns regarding the ongoing political crisis and the importance of resolving the differences. Meanwhile Al Rafidayn reports that the rumors are Iraqiya will resume attending sessions of Parliament and Cabinet meetings and that this will help lead to a resolution over Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq. Rumors of the return have sprouted repeatedly and I'm not seeing anything in this one that makes it any different. I am confused as to how the political crisis ends with the resolution of al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq. I grasp that the bulk of the US press messes up the timeline but Iraqiya announced their walkout on a Friday, the following Saturday is when Nouri began attacking al-Hashemi publicly and two days later, Monday, December 19th, is when the arrest warrant for al-Hashemi was issued. The point being, the political crisis is about more than those two officials. It is about the failure to implement the Erbil Agreement and Nouri's power-grabs primarily. That's why there's been the call -- by Talabani and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi for a national conference. Clearly a national conference couldn't resolve the al-Hashemi issue ("clearly" because various participants have demanded that it not be part of the national conference).
Along with speaking to al-Sistani's representative, Aswat al-Iraq reports:
Iraq's President Jalal Talabani has received a phone call from Turkish President Abdullah Gull, the first of its kind since the crisis that occurred due to the so-called "crisis of statements" between both countries, a presidential statement reported on Tuesday.
The statement, as was received by Aswat al-Iraq news agency, stressed that "during his phone call with Talabani, Gull wished continued health and prosperity for the Iraqi President," reiterating the significance of continued efforts, exerted to achieve national consensus and his continuous efforts to expand relations of friendship and cooperation between Iraq and Turkey."
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