Updated at 5:39 p.m. EDT, May 19, 2009
At least five Iraqis were killed and 12 more were wounded in today’s violence. Meanwhile, a second Sunni leader was arrested in Diyala province, prompting critics to wonder openly if a security operation there is really a harassment campaign against Awakening Council (Sahwa) members and other Sunni leaders. Also, the Swedish Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy Tobias Billstrom spoke with Jordanian Interior Minister Saud al-Qadi on the 500,000 Iraqi refugees living in Jordan.
Central government officials spent the day reassuring Sunni tribal leaders that it is not unjustly targeting Sunnis and asked them for patience. Yesterday, two Sunni leaders, one a Sahwa and the other a politician, were detained on terrorism charges in Diyala province. In recent weeks, other Sahwa leaders have been arrested, but some were released shortly after being cleared of all charges. In related concerns, delays in pay have been blamed on both bureaucratic and economic issues. About 100,000 of the fighters were promised security jobs or other training when the U.S. handed authority over the militia group to the Iraqi government last autumn. Some Sahwa have even walked away from their posts over a lack of pay and training.
The Sahwa were a major force in reducing violence in Iraq, but the Sunni group and the Shi’ite-led government share a mistrust of each other. To add further insult, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently called for majority rule in the country despite, or perhaps because of, gains by Sunnis in the last elections. Should the Sunni fighters feel threatened by the latest actions, they could return to the resistence.
Two people were killed and five more were wounded when a roadside bomb blasted their vehicle in the Baghdad suburb of Taji.
A female body was found near Makhmour in Aqarat village. Random bodies have been found in this area in the last several months.
Four people were wounded when a bomb was detonated inside a mechanic’s shop in Tal Abta.
A roadside bomb wounded two people in Tal Afar.
A Sahwa leader was wounded in Jurf al-Sakhar during a roadside bomb attack.
In Baghdad, a Katyusha rocker fell on the Green Zone but left no casualties.