In what may be too obvious a message against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a suicide bomber attacked the Interior Ministry, leaving dozens of victims. Overall, at least 14 Iraqis were killed and 41 more were wounded in that and other assaults across the country. Three Iranian pilgrims were also wounded in an attack in Dujail. Meanwhile, the political upheaval Maliki launched continues to threaten the coalition government.
Seven people were killed and at least 37 others were wounded in a suicide attack against the Interior Ministry in Baghdad. Police said they were able to kill the car bomber before he was better able to position himself for a greater casualty count. Authorities believe the Interior Ministry was targeted because of an arrest warrant against Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who has been accused of running death squads and an assassination attempt against Maliki. In the past, the Interior Ministry was well known for its Shi’ite death squads.
The Iraqiya party rejected a request from the Council of Ministers to discuss the political situation after Iraqiya walked out on parliament last week. One Iraqiya member, Wahda al-Jumaili, said Iraqiya is not a government body, so the prime minister should have instead extended an invitation as the leader of his Dawa (State of Law) party. Last week, the prime minister retaliated against the walkout by demanding an arrest warrant for Hashemi and the sacking of Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq.
Concurrently, Iraqiya M.P. Haider al-Mulla called for withdrawing confidence from Maliki and finding a new prime minister. Iraqiya leader Dhafir al-Ani meanwhile asked for apologies from Maliki. Ani not only wants the prime minister to apologize for recent assaults against his party, but also for hiding information from the Iraqi people for years. Some of the accusations against the vice president date as far back as 2006.
Hashemi is declining any political help in the matter against him, offering that such help would undermine his reputation. He simply wants the trial moved to Kurdistan where he thinks the prime minister is unable to influence it and has rejected calls for him to return to Baghdad to face the charges there.
Separately, Iraqiya spokeswoman Maysoon al-Damlouji denied reports she implicated Maliki in the assassination of journalist Hadi al-Mahdi. Damlouji is on the committee investigating the murder. She clarified her statements by saying the dead man had informed police of receiving threatening letters from a Maliki confidante. She further remarked that threatening letters had been ignored in favor of focusing on the journalist’s personal life instead of his politics.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, an occasional ally of the prime minister, warns of seeking other options if the coalition government fails. While this may at first appear to endorse the prime minister’s goal of a truly Shi’ite government, in the past the I.S.C.I. has also supported the creation of a semi-autonomous Shi’ite region in the south. Several declarations of region change in recent weeks (after the arrests of hundreds of Sunnis) triggered the current political crisis. Kirkuk, where such bids have been discussed, fears an escalation of instability in the wake of this crisis. Diyala has already suffered from increased security issues.
Another sometimes ally, the Sadrists, called for new elections due to the instability. The last national elections occurred in 2010. Iraqiya won by only two seats, making it difficult for them to select a premier. Maliki then spent several months making deals with the other losing parties to arrive at a super coalition that seated him for a second term.
A blast at a Falluja checkpoint killed two policemen and wounded one more.
Two dumped bodies were discovered in Mussayab.
Gunmen attacked a checkpoint near Mosul in al-Yabsat, where they killed one policeman and wounded two other people.
The body of a Sahwa member was found in Baiji; he was shot in the head.
A Sahwa member was wounded in an Iskandariya bombing.
In Dujail, three Iranian pilgrims were wounded when a roadside bomb blasted their bus.
In regional news, five Iraqi fishermen were released after two days in Kuwaiti custody. Also, several organizations in Dahuk called on the government to demand Turkey resume the flow of water in the province’s Hizl River. A similar problem arose earlier this year when Iran shut off the flow of the Wand River. Iraq is at the mercy of its neighbors, Syria included, because its water supply has to travel through those countries first. Dam construction has seriously reduced that supply.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
- ISIS Attacks on Kirkuk Province Highways; Four Killed in Iraq – March 19th, 2018
- Bodies Pollute River in Mosul; 12 Killed in Iraq – March 18th, 2018
- Seven U.S. Airmen Among 131 Killed in Iraq – March 16th, 2018
- U.S. Military Helicopter Crash; 63 Killed in Iraq – March 15th, 2018
- Mass Grave Found Near Kirkuk; 29 Killed in Iraq – March 14th, 2018