Iran has taken notice of the escalating political tensions in Iraq and sent a delegation to Iraqi Kurdistan to help defuse the situation. The tensions which have a significant sectarian component led to last Thursday’s bombings in Baghdad, according to those who took credit for the violence. Meanwhile, at least 13 Iraqis were killed and 13 more were wounded in new attacks.
A top Iranian delegation has apparently traveled to Iraqi Kurdistan to referee the political situation between the Kurds and Baghdad over an arrest warrant issued against Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi. The vice president has been accused of running deaths squads, but he says the allegations are part of a "political vendetta" against Sunnis.The group tried to persuade Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but both men refused to travel to their respective cities for talks.
Echoing the Sadrists, who only yesterday called for new elections, Barzani said that early elections would have to take place if current political disputes are not resolved. New elections would follow the dissolution of parliament. That would require either a request from the prime minister or a majority vote from parliament members.
Meanwhile, the Ahrar Block, which represents Sadrists, said it will not support the sacking of Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq because there is no reason for it and it would only add to tensions. Maliki fired Mutlaq, who like Hashemi is Sunni, only a day after Maliki made accusations against Hashemi. Parliament would have to approve the dismissal.
Separately, the Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaeda affiliate took responsibility for last Thursday’s extensive attacks against government targets in Baghdad. The group says the attacks were in support of Sunni prisoners. They also advised Sunnis to not believe accusations made against other Sunnis. Certainly, Hashemi is included among them, but several hundred other Sunnis were arrested in recent weeks.
Officials in Tuz Khormato demanded Kurdish security forces patrol predominantly Kurdish areas of the city. The Salah ad-Din provincial council denied the request, possibly fearing ethnic tensions.
Three people were killed and an unknown number were wounded when a car bomb blew up in Kirkuk. A sticky bomb wounded the head of the local Red Crescent office.
A car bomb killed two people and wounded two others in Hawija.
A Katyusha rocket attack in Tal Afar wounded two people.
In Mussayab, a roadside bomb wounded a soldier.
Gunmen attacked a motorcade on a road between Kut and Diyala. One person was wounded.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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