At least 11 Iraqi were killed and 31 more were wounded, but the most significant news item coming out of Iraq today was the arrest of dozens of high ranking officials in what may be a Maliki power grab. No Coalition deaths were reported. Meanwhile, the shoe-lobber remains in the headlines.
As many as 35 officials, including four generals, from the Interior and Defense ministries were detained on suspicion of plotting a coup that would return Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party to power. The counterterrorism unit in charge of the operation reported directly to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, allowing the Prime Minister’s critics to claim the arrests had more to do with a grab for power ahead of next month’s elections. Furthermore, most former Ba’ath Party members were Sunnis, but this week’s arrests included Shi’ite Muslims as well.
Earlier this year, critics blamed Maliki’s hunger for power for excesses in security operations in Diyala and Basra provinces. The Basra operation in particular nearly led to a civil war between the central government followers of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Hundreds were killed throughout southern Iraq before an Iran-brokered truce was called. The operation in Diyala failed to catch many suspects, but was effective in straining relations with Kurdish officials who fear Maliki’s intentions.
The saga of the journalist who threw shoes at U.S. President Bush continues. The Prime Minister’s office said that Muntazer al-Zaidi has apologized for embarrassing al-Maliki in front of the whole world. His brother, however, suggests that any apologies had to be made under duress. Meanwhile, the court met without al-Zaidi present, or his shoes; it was reported to the court that the shoes have been destroyed and cannot be presented as evidence. Also, residents of Baghdad continue to demonstrate in support of al-Zaidi and perhaps are exerting their opinions more stridently as a result of the incident.
Ninewah province has formally asked the central government to delay provincial elections, citing fears that many Kurds and Christians who have fled the province do not have enough time to return home before elections. Meanwhile, Albanian troops have formally ended their mission in Mosul and are preparing to leave Iraq. Mosul remains one of the most dangerous areas in Iraq where multiple bombings and other incidents occur on a daily basis.
In international news, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown rejected calls for an investigation into Britain’s role Iraq, while Germany has denied indirectly supporting the war. In the U.S., a Justice Department report has shown that FBI agents deployed to Iraq improperly billed the government for hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime.
Somewhere in Diyala province, a roadside bomb killed two people and wounded 18 others.
A roadside bomb wounded six civilians in Baquba.
In Mosul, Iraqi soldiers killed three gunmen during a clash in eastern Mosul. In western Mosul, gunmen killed a traffic policeman. Also, a shootout left one policeman wounded and the gunman dead. A cache of TNT was also discovered.
Gunmen stormed the Kirkuk home of a Kurdish Communist Party leader where she was killed and beheaded. A party spokesperson believes the 37-year-old mother of two was targeted for her outspoken views on women’s rights. In a separate incident, six suspects were arrested.
East of Mosul in Baashieqa, a bomb exploded in front of the Kurdistan Democratic Party offices. No casualties were reported.
Eight suspects were arrested across northern and central Iraq.
Coalition forces killed three gunmen and arrested four during an operation northwest of Baghdad.
Committee to Protect Journalists reported that 11 journalists died in Iraq this year. While that is a sharp drop from previous years, it still keeps Iraq at the top of the list of dangerous countries for reporters.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis