Saturday, February 16, 2013

At least 18 people killed in Iraq violence today

Through Friday, Iraq Body Count counts 169 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.  Violence sweeps through Iraq again today as targets include civilians, judges, police officers and government officials.  AFP notes, "Brigadier General Aouni Ali, the head of the country’s main intelligence academy, and two of his guards were killed in the bombing outside his home in Tal Afar, near Mosul, police and a doctor said."    Prensa Latina adds, "The attacker targeted Brigadier General Awni Ali''s residence in the northern city of Tal Afar today, detonating his explosives belt near the intelligence officer''s car."  Sufyan Masshhadani, Isabel Coles and Kevin Liffey (Reuters) report another bombing, "The bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives up to a military checkpoint in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, and detonated it, killing eight people and wounding 18, among them soldiers."  Alsumaria reports 2 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Mosul, a Bahgdad motorcyle drive-by left 1 civilian dead,  2 people were shot dead in Abu Dshir (to the south of Baghdad),  1 police officer was shot dead when assailants attacked his Mosul home, and 1 Kirkuk family court judge was killed by a Kirkuk sticky bombing which also left his son injured.

Meanwhile Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports that Iraqiya (the political slate that won the 2010 elections) states that there is a plot to assassinate Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi with rockets and that the State of Law bloc is behind it.  The alleged plan was to bomb Allawi's Baghdad home and Baghdad office.  Alsumaria covers the alleged threat here.  Allawi wasn't at his home or his office today.  All Iraq News reports he was in Erbil where he, Ahmed Chalabi and KRG President Massoud Barazni met to discuss potential successors for Nouri al-Malliki.  Kitabat adds that an unnamed representative was sent to the meeting by Moqtada al-Sadr to represent the Sadr bloc's interests.

Eli Sugarman and Omar al-Nidwadi (Foreign Affairs) offer their take on cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr:

Sadr hails from a family of distinguished clerics with a long history of political activism. Both his uncle, Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, a prominent religious philosopher, and his father, Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, a senior cleric, were killed by Saddam Hussein’s government. Sadr himself first appeared on the political stage in the summer of 2003. His oratory, which drew upon hate speech and conspiracy theories, resonated with disenfranchised Shia, who quickly became his base of support.
Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi Army -- along with Sunni counterparts in al Qaeda -- was responsible for much of the sectarian bloodletting that plagued Iraq from 2005 to 2008. The Mahdi Army terrorized large parts of Iraq’s center and south, and it pursued bloody purges of Sunni neighborhoods throughout Baghdad. During this period, Sadr did not hide his views or actions. Indeed, he was once recorded bragging about his ability to kill Sunnis under religious cover provided by Shia clerics. Between 2006 and 2008, he openly challenged Maliki’s government for control of Basra, Karbala, Maysan, and several neighborhoods in Baghdad, thereby precipitating a large-scale military confrontation with the government. His offensive was ultimately unsuccessful.
Anticipating defeat following the United States’ implementation of the “surge” strategy in 2007, Sadr left for Iran and stayed there for four years in self-imposed exile. Sadr’s relations with Maliki have oscillated more than once between direct military confrontation and close political cooperation. He returned to Iraq in early 2011 with a newfound confidence, following elections in which his faction won an impressive 40 seats in the new parliament. Upon returning, Sadr maintained a defiant tone and sought to leverage his sway in the parliament to force the appointment of a weak and malleable prime minister. But Maliki’s persistence, coupled with Iran’s fear of fracturing the Shia alliance in Iraq, compelled Sadr to grudgingly help Maliki win a second term in office. Without Sadr’s support, Maliki would have lost the premiership. Sadr proceeded to transform his party into the linchpin of Maliki’s coalition government, thereby challenging the Kurdish parties as the kingmaker in Baghdad.
But Sadr has not had an easy time influencing Maliki. On the contrary, Maliki has used his new term to splinter the Sunni opposition, marginalize the Kurds, and otherwise consolidate his power. To do so, the prime minister has combined threats and a selective application of the law against his opponents, including a politically motivated show trial for terrorism charges against former Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni. Meanwhile, Maliki also pushed aside Sadr and the various Shia parties. Together, these developments generated a backlash against the prime minister and complaints of a new dictatorship taking root in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, Iraqiya's Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi was in Saudi Arabia on official business.  All Iraq News reports he was received by King Abdullah and offered his condolences for the death Tuesday of Prince Sattam bin Abdul al-Aziz who passed away last week at the age of of 72 and was the King's twin brother.  The Speaker isn't the only one paying his respects.  Al Mada reports Ibrahim al-Jaafari, leader of the Shi'ite political slate the National Alliance, arrived in Riyadh late Friday to pay his respects.

In other news, All Iraq News reports that the office of President Jalal Talabani is decrying the arrest of a journalist by Nouri's Tigris Operation Command forces yesterday because the journalist was covering the protests.

The following community sites -- plus Antiwar. com, Media Channel, Jody Watley, Ms. magazine blog, Pacifica Evening News, Adam Kokesh and Susan's On the Edge -- updated last night and today:

  • Etc.
    11 hours ago


      We'll close with this on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee:

    Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
    United States Senate
    113th Congress, First Session
    Hearing Schedule
    Tuesday, February 26, 2013 2:00 p.m. 345 Cannon HOB (House Side)
    Joint Hearing on the legislative presentation of Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
    Thursday, February 28, 2013 10:00 a.m. SD-G50
    Joint Hearing on the legislative presentation of Military Officers Association of America, Retired Enlisted Association, Non Commissioned Officers Association, Blinded Veterans Association, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Wounded Warrior Project, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, American Ex-Prisoners of War
    Heather L Vachon
    Chief Clerk
    Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    SR-412 Russell Senate Office Building

    The e-mail address for this site is

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