Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki lauded the mass arrests of suspected Ba’ath Party members, while downplaying obvious criticisms of the operation. Meanwhile, insurgents killed nine Iraqis and wounded 17 more in attacks. Across, the border in a Kurdish area of Turkey, a female suicide bomber killed three people and wounded twenty others.
The number of Ba’ath Party suspects in custody grew to 615 detainees, said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki today. He called the detainees a threat to state security, but many Sunnis disagree with him and believe this crackdown is just the latest in a campaign of harassment against them. Sunni lawmaker Hamid al-Mutlaq warned that it is the arrests themselves that threaten the country’s goal of unification.
Many suspects are being transferred from their home provinces to Baghdad, stirring up memories of previous prison transfers that lead to the torture of Sunni prisoners. Also, Saadoun Obeid al-Shaalan, who is the Deputy Chairman of the provincial council in predominantly Sunni Anbar, recently criticized the arrest orders, many of which are seriously flawed. Apparently, several of the wanted men in Anbar died years ago.
Demonstrations against the arrests took place in Salah ad Din and Anbar provinces. A highway in Anbar was shut down due to the protestors, but the council in Salah ad Din went so far as to declare symbolic autonomy. Maliki denounced the declaration, but they may have the right to so legally.
The last massive campaign against Sunnis under the De-Ba’athification scheme prevented hundreds of candidates from running in 2009 elections. The ban helped Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stay in office. More recently, Maliki personally oversaw the harassment of Sunnis in Anbar under the pretense that Iraq was investigating the massacre of Shi’ite pilgrims in Nukhaib.
At least nine Iraqis were killed and 17 more were wounded in the last round of attacks.
In Baghdad, a sticky bomb killed a civil servant and wounded two passersby in Ilam. Nearby, a sticky bomb planted on a policeman’s car exploded prematurely and wounded two bystanders and the policeman. A pediatrician was kidnapped. A Katyusha rocket struck a building.
Gunmen killed two teenagers during a jewelry store robbery in Hafriya.
An I.E.D. in Khalis killed a teenage girl while wounding her father and brother.
Near Balad, gunmen killed a policeman and wounded three others.
A liquor store owner was shot dead outside his Deli Abbas home.
A bomb attack was foiled in Ne’imiya, but one soldier was killed two people were wounded despite the effort.
A civilian was wounded during a botched kidnapping in Kirkuk.
A female suicide bomber blew herself up at a tea house near the AK Party headquarters in Bingol, Turkey. At least three people were killed and 20 more were wounded in the explosion. Elsewhere, Turkish police used water cannons on demonstrators in Diyarbakir, and soldiers in Hakkari were forced to kill a mule they suspected carried explosives.