Sunnis are cautiously wondering what the future will bring even as they celebrate the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Meanwhile, at least 20 Iraqis were killed and 16 more were wounded in new violence.
Although Sunni Iraqis are happy to see U.S. troops leave the country, many remain concerned that sectarian tensions will increase after the withdrawal. In recent weeks, the Shi’ite-led central government stepped up arrests of Sunnis under the pretense of foiling a Ba’ath Party plot. The Maliki government has used such accusations before — to keep hundreds of Sunnis from running in last year’s election.
The new arrests persuaded Salah ad Din’s provincial council to seek more autonomy, much like that enjoyed in Iraqi Kurdistan. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki quickly dismissed Salah ad Din’s demand, but now parliamentary speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, who is Sunni, has come out in support. He said the request was legal and any efforts to prevent it would be unconstitutional. Salah ad Din is predominantly Sunni.
Diyala province joined them this week by launching their own bid. Kurdish M.P. Hassan Jihad has called on the central government to resist opposing Diyala’s call for semi-autonomy as it did for Salah ad Din. Some areas of Diyala are predominately Kurdish, but a large number of Sunnis reside there as well.
In Mosul, gunmen killed a Christian man and his wife. A police colonel and his bodyguard were shot dead. Three civilians were killed and a fourth one was wounded in a bomb blast.
A small arms attack on a minibus carrying judges in Falluja left three dead and six wounded. Two policemen and a civilian were killed. Three judges were among the wounded. In a separate attack, a blast killed two policemen and wounded another.
In Baghdad, a bomb killed two police officers and wounded three policemen.
Two people were killed and three more were wounded during a blast in Ishaqi.
Gunmen attacked a Sahwa member’s home in Abu Ghraib, killing him and wounding his wife.
A sticky bomb killed a police officer when it exploded in Shirqat.
The body of a soldier bearing gunshot wounds was found at his Mandali home.
A kidnapped taxi driver was found shot to death near Duquq.
A roadside bomb blast in Nadha wounded one soldier.
A religious school was set on fire in Ranya.
Bombs set an oil pipeline on fire near Basra. Firefighters were still working to extinguish it, and few details were released.