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Max Bergmann

Max Bergmann

Posted: February 1, 2008 10:26 AM

NSN Iraq Daily Update 2/1/08

Read More: Warwire, Home News

BAGHDAD ROCKED BY HEAVY VIOLENCE DESPITE SECURITY GAINS

At least 68 killed in twin Baghdad market bombings. Two female suicide bombers blew themselves up Friday in separate attacks on Baghdad pet bazaars, killing at least 68 people and wounding scores. The attacks were the deadliest in the Iraqi capital since 30,000 additional American troops flooded into the center of the country last spring. The first attack occurred in the central al-Ghazi market, which has been bombed several times since the war started but has re-emerged as a popular place to shop as Baghdad security improved. About 20 minutes later, a second female bomber struck a bird market in a Shi'a area in southeastern Baghdad. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said about 70 people were killed in both attacks, which he said were committed by terrorists motivated by revenge and "to show that they are still able to stop the march of history and of our people toward reconciliation." [AP, 2/1/08]

SUPPORT FOR WITHDRAWING TROOPS REMAINS STRONG

54% - Bring troops home. According to a Pew survey, 54% favor brining U.S. troops home form Iraq as soon as possible, consistent with measures for the past year. Public views of the situation in Iraq, which turned more positive in the fall, have again slipped. Currently, 41% of Americans say the military effort in Iraq is going very well or fairly well, while 54% say that the situation there is not going well. [Pew Research Center, 2/1/08]

BUSH ADMINISTRATION SEEKS LONG-TERM DEAL WITH IRAQ, BUT DOES NOT WANT CONGRESS TO VOTE ON IT

The closely held draft document foresees a flexible agreement that will carve out the military, political and economic relationship the U.S. will have with the fledgling government. Laying out the legal parameters under which U.S. forces would operate, it will replace the U.N. Security Council resolution that now governs the U.S. and coalition presence in Iraq that will expire at the end of 2008. Officials have set an ambitious goal of completing the new agreement by July 31. Any U.S.-Iraq agreement will face criticism from Capitol Hill, where lawmakers say they will insist Congress review or approve it. Much to the chagrin of many politicians, administration officials say the agreement will not rise to the level of a treaty, but will be called a Status of Forces Agreement, thus not needing Congressional approval. While the agreement will not tie the U.S. to specific troop levels, officials do not rule out including some broad goals for the U.S. military presence there, reflecting the gradual transfer of security responsibilities to Iraqi forces. That goal is seen as critical to calming resistance from Iraqis who want their country free of U.S. control. [AP, 2/1/08]

SECTARIANISM CONTINUES TO HINDER POLITICAL PROGRESS

Kurdish influence appears to be declining as tensions rise with Iraqi Arabs. As a minority group in Iraq, the Kurds have enjoyed disproportionate influence in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. But now their leverage appears to be declining, as they pursue policies that are antagonizing other factions within Iraq. The Kurds' efforts to seize control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and to gain a more advantageous division of national revenues are uniting most Sunnis and many Shi'a with Mr. Maliki's government in opposition to the Kurdish demands. The loss of Kurdish power is part of a larger problem of political divisiveness in the country. Now, the Americans are increasingly placed in the uncomfortable position of choosing between the Kurds, whom they have long supported and protected, and the Iraqi Arabs, whose government the Americans helped create. [NY Times, 2/1/08]

US: SHI'A OFFICIAL KEEPING SUNNIS OUT OF SECURITY FORCES

The fate of Iraq's security forces, and their ability to bring peace to the country, may rest in the hands of a sectarian, 69-year-old female Iraqi rocket scientist. She is now one of the country's most powerful officials, in charge of a committee that determines, among other things, who can join the police and army. But U.S. generals say, al-Jaidri is doing to Sunnis what they once did to her by systematically excluding them from the Iraqi security forces. "She is one of our significant impediments to reconciliation," says Brig. Gen. David Phillips, who is in charge of the U.S. effort to train Iraqi police. He says al-Jaidri "should be one of the banned leaders in Iraq" because of her refusal to allow Sunnis to enter the army. Recently, an Iraqi general submitted a list of potential recruits to al-Jiadri that was 45% Sunni. She dropped all the Sunni names, and then stripped the general of his command. A similar issue arose when U.S. Brig. Gen. Huggins sent her a list of 3,000 mostly Sunni "Awakening" members for consideration. Only 400 Shi'a were approved. "That's a blatant example that someone is still looking at this thing with a sectarian eye," Huggins says. "I want to see more progress, and she's part of the reason it's moving at a snail's pace..."If these (Awakening members) aren't pulled into the security forces, then we have to wonder if we're just arming the next Sunni resistance," he says. [USA Today, 1/31/08]