Although casualties were light today—at least 13 Iraqis were killed and 15 were wounded—a number of important stories made the headlines. Among them is the announcement of Tony Blair’s appearance at the Iraq Inquiry. Meanwhile, a U.S. soldier was found guilty of cruelty, while the Iraqi government moved ahead with plans to sue a U.S. company. Disputes between Iraq and the neighboring countries of Iran and Syria were highlighted as well. Also, Sunni politicians complained at what they perceive is political disenfranchisement.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is set to testify on Jan. 29 at the Iraq Inquiry. Two previous investigations have cleared Blair of any wrongdoing in the build-up to war, but even if Blair were now found guilty, the Iraq Inquiry has no power to mete out punishment. Any new crimes would be referred to other authorities for further investigation.
A U.S. soldier was found guilty of cruelty and maltreatment in connection with the suicide death of a fellow American in Iraq. According to the military, there was no direct evidence that the abuse led an Ohio soldier to kill himself.
The Iraqi government is collecting signatures from victims of a shootout instigated by Blackwater contractors, giving the government permission to sue on their behalf. On New Year’s Eve, a judge threw out criminal charges against the company now known as Xe Services. Iraq has vowed to seek out justice by other means.
Iran and Iraq are holding talks on the ongoing border dispute that is focused on the Fakka oil field. To the west of Iraq, Syria is accusing Iraq of evading its responsibility to refugees who fled to the neighboring country.
Prominent Sunni lawmakers are condemning the barring of over 500 politicians from upcoming elections. They are accusing the Maliki government of "political assassination" and of being a "dictatorship."
In Baghdad, gunmen stormed a humanitarian aid office in the Adhamiya neighborhood, where they killed five workers; the gunmen left a bomb that later exploded and wounded two first responders. A roadside bomb wounded two people in Allawi. Two people were wounded in a blast in Mashtal last night. Also, 1.5 tons of explosives were found in Adil.
Four people were wounded in a roadside bomb blast in Saidiya.
In Mosul, gunmen wounded a bank employee. A Christian was shot dead inside a food store. Gunmen killed another person as well. A weapons cache was found. Also, three gunmen were arrested after they tossed a grenade at police.
A bomb that was planted on a policeman’s car in Fallujah killed three people.
Police in Diyala province took a bomb back to their station where it exploded, killing one person and wounding three more.
A joint U.S.-Iraqi force killed a gunman in Riyadh.
A bomb was defused in Qayara.
In Basra province, six suspects were detained. A group accused of defrauding patients was arrested. Also, the U.S. handed over control of the runway at Baghdad International Airport to Iraqi authorities.
Najaf province has ordered all Saddam loyalists to leave or face the consequences. Last week, Najaf suffered a rare but deadly bomb attack.