Iraqiya Drops Boycott of Parliament

The Iraqiya party said its members will soon return to their posts in the Iraqi parliament, a move that may reduce political and sectarian tensions. However, the announcement did not come soon enough for the 11 Iraqis who were killed in new attacks today. Another 31 people were wounded. One of the wounded is a prominent Diyala politician.

In a gesture of goodwill, the Iraqiya party is ending its boycott of parliament. A spokesperson also said that the party will immediately engage in activities such as releasing innocent detainees, preventing new arrests, and naming a new defense minister. Iraqiya cabinet members, however, are not returning their posts immediately. The change of heart comes a day after U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden made a series of phone calls to party leaders and ahead of a national conference aimed at ending political tensions.

The walkout began last month when Iraqiya accused Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of not honoring the power-sharing deal that created the current government. They also decried his attempts to stall provincial autonomy bids and the arrests of hundreds of Sunnis. The following day, as U.S. troops made their official withdrawal from Iraq, Maliki intensified the campaign against Sunnis by accusing his vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi, of ties to terrorism. Later, an arrest warrant was issued for the vice president, who fled to Kurdistan.

Separately, Amnesty International expressed fear for the welfare of two of Hashemi’s female staffers who were detained, perhaps illegally. At least one of the women had suffered a beating during a previous arrest. Many of Hashemi’s staffers have been arrested in the wake of Maliki’s campaign against his political rivals.

In Qadisiya, two Sahwa were killed and a third one was injured when gunmen shot up their checkpoint. Police chased the suspects, who threw a grenade that wounded three of the policemen.

In Baghdad, a bombing killed one person and wounded nine others in the Zaafaraniya district, which has seen increased activity in recent days.

Prominent Diyala provincial councilmember, Sheikh Ziyad Ahmed, was injured during a sticky bomb blast that also wounded two others in Baquba. Last month, he complained that the central government and security forces had not done enough to quash an increase in violence. The violence, likely due to Mahdi Army militants, was in response to a semi-autonomy bid by the province. He had also been a target for arrest even though he heads the local Integrity Commission offices.

In Baquba, four suspects were killed and five others were wounded as they were allegedly transferring bombs in their possession. A sticky bomb blast wounded a policeman.

In Muqdadiya, a bomb killed a civilian.

A sticky bomb killed a bus driver in Sharaban.

Gunmen in Arab Jubour killed a Sahwa member.

An attack on a Samarra home left one dead and one wounded.

Three Sahwa members were wounded during an attack on their Saidiya checkpoint.

In Ramadi, a sticky bomb targeting a bus wounded two civilians.

Two policemen were wounded as they tried to defuse a bomb in Tuz Khormato.

Author: Margaret Griffis

Margaret Griffis is a journalist from Miami Beach, Florida and has been covering Iraqi casualties for since 2006.