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NSN Iraq Daily Update 12/7/07

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IRAQI PARLIAMENT ADJOURNS UNTIL NEXT YEAR

Parliament goes home for another vacation, despite lack of progress. Iraqi legislators have suspended parliamentary sessions Thursday until the end of the month because of the Muslim religious season. The decision to suspend sessions followed days of debate over a draft bill that would allow thousands of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to return to jobs in the government. The Iraqi government continues to make little progress on U.S.-backed legislation aimed at achieving national reconciliation. [AP, 12/7/07]

SECTARIANISM STILL DOMINATES IRAQI POLITICAL DISCUSSION

"Iraq's government talks publicly about national reconciliation, but in reality we do not find this reconciliation." A political stumbling block has manifested over raids on the home and offices of Adnan al-Dulaimi, one of Iraq's most powerful Sunni politicians that led to the arrest of his security detail, after a guard was found with the keys to an explosives-rigged car. He accused the Shi'a-led government of trying to silence a pro-Sunni voice by putting him under virtual house arrest. The government says he was being protected because he no longer had bodyguards. Al-Dulaimi was being kept in a hotel in the fortified Green Zone. He returned home Friday under the protection of Iraqi army Humvees. "I do not need protection, and I think that these vehicles were meant to put me under observation rather than protecting me," he said. During a sermon Friday at Baghdad's main Sunni mosque, Sheik Jamal al-Obeidi said the dispute over al-Dulaimi pointed to a broader problem: "Iraq's government talks publicly about national reconciliation, but in reality we do not find this reconciliation." [AP, 12/7/07]

VIOLENCE CONTINUES TO RAGE IN IRAQ

Female suicide bomber kills 12, and a second attack kills 10. A female suicide bomber detonated an explosives belt outside the offices of former Sunni insurgents who have made alliances with the U.S. to fight Sunni extremists. The explosion happened Friday morning on the outskirts of Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad in Diyala province. It was the second suicide attack involving a woman in less than two weeks. The second suicide occurred about 20 miles east of Diyala's the provincial capital of Baqouba, in the Mansouriayah area. A suicide bomber drove his car into an Iraqi army checkpoint, killing seven Iraqi soldiers and three members of a local anti-extremist group. [AP, 12/6/07]

U.S. TRYING TO BYPASS IRAQI'S SECTARIAN INCOMPETENCE

U.S. shifts job placement plans for former insurgents. The U.S. military plans to establish a civilian jobs corps to absorb tens of thousands of mostly Sunni security volunteers whom Iraq's Shi'a-dominated government has balked at hiring into local police forces. The new jobs program marks a sharp departure from one of the most highly touted goals of the so-called Sunni awakening; to funnel the U.S.-paid volunteers, many of them former insurgents, into Iraq's police and military. The Shi'a-led government has shown only grudging interest in the program, despite constant U.S. pressure. So far the Iraqi government has approved police jobs for only 1,738 members of what the United States calls the Concerned Local Citizens program, or CLC. Of a total 60,321 registered volunteers, about 51,190 are currently on short-term U.S. contracts that pay an average of $300 a month, officials said. Sectarian concerns are "still an obstacle. I won't lie to you about that," said Col. Martin Stanton, who tracks the program for Petraeus's command. "They're deeply suspicious of any organized group of Sunnis," Stanton said of the government. [Washington Post, 12/7/07]

THE WAR CONTINUES TO BE MISMANAGED

Pentagon audit uncovers poor controls for Iraq fund. A Pentagon audit of a $5.2 billion fund used to train and equip Iraqi security forces found that U.S. commanders used sloppy accounting and could not always show that equipment, services and construction were delivered properly. According to the report, by the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General, that the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq, the command in charge, was unable to provide "reasonable assurance" that the money was used for what it was intended. [AP, 12/7/07]