THE BLOG
11/26/2007 11:52 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

NSN Iraq Daily Update 11/26/07

POLITICAL RECONCILIATION IS NOT HAPPENING DESPITE SECURITY GAINS

"Reconciliation" has been replaced by "accommodation" as the U.S. scales back political goals for Iraqi unity and instead pushes for symbolic gestures. With American military successes outpacing political gains in Iraq, the Bush administration has lowered its expectation of quickly achieving major steps toward unifying the country, including passage of a long-stymied plan to share oil revenues and holding regional elections. Short-term American targets include passage of a $48 billion Iraqi budget, something the Iraqis say they are on their way to doing anyway; renewing the United Nations mandate that authorizes an American presence in the country, which the Iraqis have done repeatedly before; and passing legislation to allow thousands of Baath Party members from Saddam Hussein's era to rejoin the government. A senior Bush administration official described that goal as largely symbolic since rehirings have been quietly taking place already. While Bush officials once said they aimed to secure "reconciliation" among Iraq's deeply divided religious, ethnic and sectarian groups, some officials now refer to their goal as "accommodation." [NY Times, 11/25/07]

VIOLENCE CONTINUES TO RAGE

Dozens are dead after Islamist militants attack two villages in central Iraq. The first attack occurred east of Baquba, where militants over-ran an Iraqi army position, killing three soldiers and wounding another three. They then stole a Humvee armored vehicle, changed into Iraqi army uniforms and attacked the headquarters of the Hawr Rajab Awakening Council, in the village of Hawr Rajab south of the capital. Three Iraqi soldiers and 10 members of a local anti-Islamist were killed, as were 19 militants and two civilians. [BBC, 11/22/07]

'Iranian backed' Shi'a militants bomb a busy Baghdad market, killing at least 13 and injuring dozens. The bomb packed with ball-bearings was hidden on Friday in a box of birds at the popular Ghazil market. Rear Adm. Gregory Smith said four people had been arrested overnight and that confessions pointed to an Iranian-backed special groups cell. He said the "group's purpose was to make it appear al-Qaeda was responsible for this attack," with the goal of frightening the Shi'a community into supporting the Shi'a militias as protectors. The admiral said there was no evidence to suggest the Iranian government ordered the attack, but he said Iran had trained, funded and equipped the groups believed to be responsible. [BBC, 11/24/07]

Car bomb kills 9 in Baghdad, wounds 31. The blast in Baghdad's medical district was was the second major bomb in the Iraqi capital in three days, after a recent lull in violence. The police said that the dead were all civilians, with two Iraqi soldiers among 31 people wounded by the blast during the morning rush hour in Bab al Muadham, close to the Health Ministry and the central morgue. Another person was killed by a roadside bomb elsewhere in the city. [NY Times, 11/26/07]

KIRKUK IS SEALED OFF AHEAD OF US-IRAQI RAID

3,500 Iraqi Security Forces and hundreds of US soldiers targeted Islamist militants in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. There were rumors that senior Islamist extremists may have made their way to Kirkuk to elude the increased security in and around Baghdad. Without warning local officials, a curfew was imposed and main routes in and out of the city were sealed on Saturday. Iraqi police said that more than 20 suspects had been detained so far. Kirkuk is home to a volatile mix of Kurds, Arabs and Turkomans, all of whom dispute its historical identity. [BBC, 11/24/07]

TROOP REDUCTION OVERALL, BUT AN INCREASE IN VOLATILE DIYALA PROVINCE

Increase of 2,400 troops for "the coming weeks and months." Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said the increase would be about 2,400 troops due to repositioning but he stressed that the overall U.S. force in Iraq will be reduced by 5,000. A brigade of about 5,000 soldiers will be withdrawn, but the number of soldiers in the volatile Diyala province northeast of Baghdad will actually increase with the transfer of the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. The comments underscore recent warnings by American commanders that northern Iraq has become more violent than other regions despite an overall decline in the number of attacks nationwide. [AP, 11/24/07]

IRAQI GOVERNMENT REMAINS FRACTURED ALONG SECTARIAN LINES

Shi'a faction objects to Baath reconciliation bill. A draft law that would ease restrictions on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party was presented in parliament on Sunday for the first time. Politicians loyal to Shi'a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr quickly objected to the measure, seen as crucial to national reconciliation. An argument erupted in the closed-door session, forcing postponement of the debate. "We reject the return of Baathists to any executive position, not even a hospital manager," said Shi'a lawmaker Liwa Smaysim, the head of Sadr's parliamentary bloc. "Our goal is to prosecute the Baath as a party and regime, not only as a regime." Aside from the law on the Baathists, important legislation to distribute oil revenues, reform the constitution and set a date for provincial elections also remain stalled. [Washington Post, 11/26/07]

LITTLE PROGRESS IN IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION

Reported cases of cholera have soared in recent weeks. According to May Yassem, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health, seventy-nine new cases have been reported, most in the slums of eastern Baghdad, where sanitary conditions are poor. According to the Health Ministry, cholera has killed 23 people in Iraq this year and nationwide, 4,626 cases have been reported. [Washington Post, 11/23/07]