In addition to the above, NINA notes a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life, a Muqdadiyah roadside bombing left two people injured, 3 people ('including a mosque preacher") were shot dead in Falluja, a bombing outside Tikrit left Col Samir Khalil injured, a Falluja sticky bombing killed 1 person, 1 person was shot dead in Mosul, 1 60-year-old man was shot dead outside of his Kirkuk home, 2 members of the police were injured in Kirkuk as they tried to defuse a bomb, and a roadside bombing outside Mosul left two people injured.
At least 9 dead and 44 injured in today's violence.
Today was Easter and Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) notes extra measures were taken in Bahgdad, "Soldiers and federal policemen in armored vehicles were posted outside churches and security patrols were increased in Christian areas. Because of Baghdad’s fragile security, at many churches the main Easter service traditionally ending at dawn Sunday morning was held Saturday night." The Financial Times of London points out, "Two-thirds of Iraq's estimated 1.4m Chirstian population are thought to have been driven out after the 2003 invasion turned into an ethno-sectarian war." AP quotes Fatin Yousef who attends St. Joseph Chaldean Church in Baghdad stating, "We pray for love and peace to spread through the world. We hope Pope Francies will help make it better for Christians in Iraq."
The political crises continue in Iraq and there's an interesting development there. In the last years, as numerous calls have come up for Nouri al-Maliki to resign as prime minister, the Kurds have been pretty much united with one exception: Goran or Change. That third party has always felt the need to step away from the Kurds two major political parties. Today All Iraq News reports that Goran has joined the call for Nouri al-Maliki to step down and quotes Goran MP Mohamed Kiania stating, Maliki has to quit since he is not able to address the deteriorated security and service situations in the country." Goran has refused to choose sides throughout the various political crises of the last years. Now even Goran is choosing sides. That can't be good for Nouri.
In March 23rd's "8 dead in Iraq as Barack blows off visiting," its noted, "Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports US President Barack Obama was called out by the Iraqi Parliament for Barack's visit to the region which did not include a trip to Iraq. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports on the lack of influence the US has in Iraq (though one insider insists, basically: We still supply the weapons!). " The Iraqi reaction to the non-visit is explored in Mustafa Habib's "We Uwed To Be Friends: Iraqis Feel Snubbed After Obama Trip" (Niqash):
Iraqi politicians note the lack of interest from US President Barack Obama during his Middle Eastern trip. It comes on top of an ever-diminishing US presence in Iraq.
Jordan is only an hour from Iraq by plane but it was too far for US President Barack Obama to come to visit his Iraqi allies in Baghdad. And of course, Iraqi politicians noticed.
The American leader was in Amman, Jordan, last week as part of a four day visit to the Middle East. He also visited Israel and Palestine. However, as was reported by the US press, expectations for any kind of real achievement were apparently fairly low. In Iraq, expectations were even lower.
Iraqis also noticed that Obama barely even mentioned their country during his tour. “There is no doubt that since they withdrew their troops from the country, Iraq is no longer a priority for the US,” Mohammed al-Shabaki, a member of the Committee for Foreign Affairs in the Iraqi Parliament, told NIQASH. “It feels as though the US has completely abandoned Iraq - as if it had never occupied the country and as if it wasn't a partner in both the country’s security and the politics.”
Meanwhile Raad al-Dahlaki, an MP for the opposition Iraqiya party blamed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the perceived lack of warmth from the US. “Al-Maliki has shaken the US’ confidence in him,” al-Dahlaki complained. “The US considered him an important ally and someone who could initiate national reconciliation here. But that hasn’t happened.”
Instead of a Presidential visit, the Iraqi got a surprise visit from John Kerry, the new Secretary of State. At a Baghdad press conference held two hours after his meeting with al-Maliki, Kerry was critical of Iraq for several reasons. Firstly, the fact that Iranian planes were flying through Iraqi airspace with weapons shipments for the Syrian regime, which the US no longer supports. And secondly Kerry was worried about the decision to postpone provincial elections in the Anbar and Mosul provinces, where mostly Sunni Muslim demonstrators have been protesting al-Maliki’s regime. Kerry urged al-Maliki to reconsider the postponement saying that the security factor was not a good enough reason to make voters wait.
It would be really great if the US government could figure out a way to engage with the Iraqi people other than supplying fighter jets and other weapons to the despot Nouri.
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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