Updated at 8:29 p.m. EST, Feb. 25, 2010
At least six Iraqis were killed and five more were wounded in the latest violence. A blast in Fallujah could increase those figures as details about the bombing emerge later. Meanwhile, a leading Sunni party has decided to participate in next month’s elections despite the barring of one of its most popular members.
Sunni parliament member Saleh al-Mutlaq has announced that his party, the National Dialogue Front, would run in next month’s election despite having recently pulled out of the race. The popular lawmaker was banned from running over allegations of ties to the outlawed Ba’ath Party. Despite Mutlaq’s inability to run, his supporters have called for other candidates to compete as a boycott would further reduce Sunni power.
What may have helped trigger Mutlaq’s change of heart are Sadrist gains in recent polling. The Sadrists are loyal to Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and part of the larger Iraqi National Alliance (INA) bloc. Even the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, which is also part of the INA, admits the Sadrists could pull ahead of them and have a shot at picking the next prime minister. If that were to happen, the new Iraqi leader could likely be influenced by Sadr and Iran’s Shi’ite-led government, a development the U.S. would not like to see happen.
The Marjaiya have elected to not to pick sides and will back no one at the polls next month. This four man group headquartered in Najaf are Iraq’s top religious leaders and include Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
Christians are again fleeing Mosul over a surge in attacks. Many are finding refuge in nearby Christian villages as they did during a similar surge in late 2008. The Iraqi government has promised to look into the matter.
Also in Mosul, a woman was stabbed to death. The body of a beheaded woman was found. Gunmen killed two Shabak Iraqis inside a store. A man was killed in a drive-by shooting. Later, an unidentified male body bearing knife wounds was found in Tal el-Rimman. A man was wounded in a shootout in Rifaie.
In Baghdad, four people were wounded in a blast near the finance ministry.
Ten suspects were detained and mortars were seized in Basra province.
No casualties were reported near Amara where a bomb targeting a U.S. convoy exploded.
A day after the Accountability and Justice commission suggested firing 376 security personnel for ties to the Ba’ath Party and Saddam Hussein, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has re-instated over 20,000 army officers who served under the former Iraqi leader.