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NSN Iraq Daily Update 1/2/08

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VIOLENCE CONTINUES UNABATED

In the deadliest attack in Baghdad since August, a bomber targets funeral, killing 36 and wounding 37. The attacker detonated his explosives amid men gathered in Baghdad's eastern Zayouna neighborhood for the funeral of Nabil Hussein Jassim, a retired Iraqi army officer who was one of 14 people killed last week in a car bombing blamed on al-Qaida in Iraq. "At the end of a three-day mourning period, a terrorist blew up himself in the mourning tent, leaving bodies scattered," said one of the wounded men. [AP, 1/2/08]

Female suicide bomber killed 10 and wounded 26 near a Baqouba hospital. The attack in the capital of volatile Diyala province, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, included children, a policeman, and two members of a U.S.-backed armed volunteer group, the Brigades of 1920s Revolution. Sunni tribal groups known as Awakening Councils have turned against Islamist extremism, are paid by the U.S. military to protect their areas, and have been credited with contributing to an overall decline in violence. But members of the rapidly expanding movement, dubbed "Concerned Local Citizens" by the U.S. military, were singled out by Osama bin Laden recently as a "disgrace and shame," and are increasingly becoming targets. On Monday, a suicide bomber targeting Awakening Council members killed 12 people in Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad. The level of attacks is "perhaps one of the clearest indications of the importance that these Awakening movements and Concerned Local Citizens are having on improving the security situation," said Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner, a U.S. military spokesman. [AP, 1/2/08. Reuters, 1/2/08]

IRAN AND IRAQ TO MEET OVER DISPUTED WATER BORDER

Negotiations between Iran and Iraq over strategic waterway border to begin in mid-January. An adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the meeting will focus on removing soil that has eroded into the Iraqi side of the waterway, dredging out sunken ships and removing land mines left over from the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s from the Shatt el-Arab waterway. Talks will not involve renegotiating the border through the disputed waterway, which runs between Iran and Iraq and leads to the Persian Gulf. The waterway provides Iraq with its only outlet to the sea, and tensions have flared sporadically between the two countries over its delineation. [AP, 1/2/08]

LATEST DOD REPORT SAYS INCOMPETENT IRAQ GOVERNMENT- NOT THE U.S. - HAS FINAL SAY OVER THE SIZE OF ITS SECURITY FORCES

The Baghdad government has authorized a level of 550,000 military and police forces--an increase of more than 40 % over the U.S.-led coalition reported just three months ago. "While previous reports have listed numbers authorized by the Coalition and provided estimates of numbers on the payroll, the GoI [Government of Iraq] is now responsible for determining requirements and counting personnel," the Pentagon reported this month. "Therefore, reporting will now reflect GoI statistics." The increase by the GoI mainly represents police who have never been trained, as hiring has outstripped academy training. Unlike the coalition, the Iraqi defense and interior ministries use "the number of authorized and assigned personnel" rather than the number trained as a measure of development of their security forces. At their peak, Saddam Hussein's military and security forces were estimated to have totaled about 550,000. [Washington Post, 12/31/07]