With the U.S. military withdrawal less than a month away, the situation with Iranian dissidents livng at Camp Ashraf could be heating up. Meanwhile, the Iraqi oil minister suggested to Kurdistan it either start playing by Baghdad’s rules or become fully independent. Both the residents of Ashraf and the Kurdish govenrment were hoping to resolve their separate issues with Baghdad long before the withdrawal, but with time running out, it seems unlikely. Violence was light. Only six Iraqis were reported killed.
A protest sponsored by the Islamic Supreme Council was held outside Camp Ashraf, where thousands of Iraqis demanded the closure of the camp. About 3,200 Iranian dissidents live there, but the Iraq and Iran governments want the camp closed and the residents gone. This protest was likely encouraged by Baghdad and/or Tehran. Their potential fate has caused considerable controversy internationally. The residents cannot return to Iran for fear of retribution, and no third country has been willing to take them. The group was conferred "protected status" under the Geneva Convention and was overseen by U.S. forces despite being on a State Department terrorist list. Another protest, earlier this year, was spurred on by the promise of giving land from the camp to local farmers.
Oil Minister Abdul Karim Luaybi spoke at length about the draft Oil & Gas Law impasse between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Baghdad. Luaybi asserts that Kurdistan region cannot make its own contracts without participation from the other provinces. According to him this makes it imperative that the central government control all trade in oil. Kurdistan has rejected this view as unconstitutional and already signed contracts with foreign companies. Luaybi suggested that Kurdistan become fully independent if it is unwilling to even coordinate it sales with the central government. Expectations that the oil ministers would meet and reach a compromise before the end of the year were dismissed by the minister.
At least six Iraqis were killed and six more were wounded in new attacks.
Two policemen were killed and a third one was seriously injured during a roadside blast in Abu Ghraib.
A sticky bomb place on a car belonging to an employee of the citizenship department exploded in a village west of Muqdadiya. It killed him and his cousin.
A Sahwa leader was killed and a bodyguard wounded outside the leader’s home in Baquba.
A bomb killed a policeman and wounded a bystander in Shirqat.
A bomb in Buhriz wounded two people.
In Wajihiya, a bomb wounded a tribal leader.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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- Seven U.S. Airmen Among 131 Killed in Iraq – March 16th, 2018