Updated at 6:45 p.m. EST, Nov. 20, 2008
At least 14 Iraqis were killed and 39 more were wounded as a second day of chaos temporarily halted parliamentary debates over a U.S.-Iraqi security pact. No Coalition deaths were reported, but U.S. forces killed an al-Qaeda leader after receiving a tip to his whereabouts.
Debate over a proposed U.S-Iraqi security agreement was halted during a second day of disruptions in parliament. Leading the opposition are the Sadrists, who hope to influence undecided members into voting against it. Although the pact is expected to pass when lawmakers vote on Nov. 24, the margin by which it passes could have significant consequences. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani will support the deal only if it passes by a wide margin. The deal would allow U.S. forces to remain in Iraq after the U.N. mandate ends in December. David Satterfield, senior advisor to the US secretary of state and the country’s Iraq coordinator told an Iraqi newspaper that rejection could mean the immediate exit of U.S. troops now stationed in Iraq.
Without the Ayatollah’s support, the willingness of Shi’ite Iraqis to observe its conditions could evaporate. Shi’ite cleric Moqtada has warned that he could end a unilaterally imposed ceasefire should the agreement pass and suggested that a public referendum on the pact take place instead. His ceasefire is credited with significant reductions in violence over the last 18 months. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose continued political power is dependent on passage, reiterated that this agreement is Iraq’s best chance to restore sovereignty. Maliki and Sadr are political rivals, and January elections could alter the balance of power between them. Last March, their rivalry nearly ignited a civil war that ended only when Iran brokered a truce several weeks later.
U.S. forces killed two suspects and detained five others on Nov. 11 during a previously unreported raid in Baghdad’s Mansour district. The military waited until the body was positively identified as belonging to al-Qaeda leader Hajji Hammadi. Hammadi is believed to have abducted and killed an American soldier, as well as assassinating numerous Sunni sheikhs. He is also accused of masterminding a significant bombing in Garma last June and of leading Iraqi fighters into the second bottle of Fallujah.
Even though few reports of casualties have come out of Mosul in recent days, at least 10 bombings occur in the city on a daily basis. Late today, police were able to turn a suicide car bomber away from their station. He was killed but managed to injure 35 people during the incident.
Five bodies were discovered outside Mosul in Tal Abta. Two of them belonged to women.
In Baghdad, three people were wounded when a bomb attached to presidential guard vehicle in Karrada exploded.
An Iraqi army officer was killed and a soldier was wounded as the pair attempted to defuse a bomb in Saidiya.
U.S. and Iraqi forces described the issues facing them at the porous Iranian border and promised to increase security.
In Turkey, clashes between Turkish soldiers and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels yesterday left two soldiers dead and four more wounded. As many as four PKK rebels were killed as well; one of the rebels deaths though may have been already been listed in yesterday’s reports. Accurate figures from this area are difficult to obtain due to geography and a lack of third party observers. A Kurdish mayor was sentenced to 15 months in a Turkish jail for helping PKK forces.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis