It’s great to be back among friends. When I say among friends, I mean not only the distinguished guests that are from around the world who have joined us in this conference. I also mean to be back here in Germany, to be back here in Europe. I have traveled over 640,000 miles since I’ve been Vice President, and most of the time the President sends me to places that he doesn’t want to go. (Laughter.) So I’ve spent an awful lot of time with McCain and others in Afghanistan and Iraq, and so it’s nice to be here in Germany. (Laughter.) It’s nice to be invited back. (Applause.)
Well the words may have seemed funny in Germany. They were less funny in Iraq. Al Mada's picked up on the speech and pointed that Barack's dislike for Iraq is found not only in Biden's words but in Barack's refusal to take Nouri al-Maliki's November 13th phone call congratulating Barack on re-election. Again, less funny are the words in Iraq. Not a real good moment for diplomacy.
Meanwhile, protests continue. Al Mada reports Nouri's flunky Hussein al-Shahristani (Deputy Prime Minister of Energy) began meeting with people in Mosul. The protesters say he is not genuine and refuse to meet with him while also stating that no one else can speak for them.
On the legislative front, Alsumaria notes that Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi states Nouri is attempting to intimidate those MPs who voted to limit the three presidencies to two terms. The three presidencies are the Prime Minister, the President and the Speaker of Parliament. Iraqiya is the political slate that came in ahead of Nouri's State of Law in the 2010 parliamentary elections. Al Mada adds that Allawi sent a memo to the National Alliance stating it is time they selected a replacement for Nouri.
Violence continues in Iraq. Alsumaria notes that there was an assassination attempt via sticky bombing on a judge in Ramadi (the judge was not injured). Al Mada notes that there was an attack in Kirkuk that has left over one hundred people dead or injured and that the Kurds are blaming the violence on the Tigris Operation Command. Al Jazeera adds:
Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said she was receiving "conflicting reports on what exactly happened in the attack".
"This attack took place in the directorate of police, which is in a crowded area, lots of markets around. Civilians as well as police are thought to be among the dead," she said.
AFP notes, "Thirty people were killed today when grenade-throwing gunmen assaulted a police headquarters immediately following a suicide bomb attack in the disputed ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq." Mustafa Mahmoud (Reuters) quotes an unnamed police official stating, "A suicide bomber driving a vehicle packed with explosives hit the entrance of the headquarters and after the blast gunmen in explosive vests attacked with AK47s and grenades, but the guards killed them." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes Kirkuk is oil-rich and "one of the disputed areas in the country between the central government and Kurdistan Regional Government." At least one hundred dead or wounded? Remember that when Iraq becomes a 'hot topic' in a few weeks (anniversary of the start of the Iraq War) and writers tell you the war is over.
I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shock love away
-- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name
The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.
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