New Age Islam
Fri Jan 22 2021, 04:27 AM


Islam and the West ( 12 Aug 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Iraq Demands 'Clear Timeline' for US Withdrawal amidst a Wave of Bomb Attacks

By: Robert H. Reid, The Associated Press

Sunday 10 August 2008


Iraq's foreign minister insisted Sunday that any security deal with the United States must contain a "very clear timeline" for the departure of U.S. troops. A suicide bomber struck north of Baghdad, killing at least five people including an American soldier.


    Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters that American and Iraqi negotiators were "very close" to reaching a long-term security agreement that will set the rules for U.S. troops in Iraq after the U.N. mandate expires at the end of the year.


    Zebari said the Iraqis were insisting that the agreement include a "very clear timeline" for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces, but he refused to talk about specific dates.


    "We have said that this is a condition-driven process," he added, suggesting that the departure schedule could be modified if the security situation changed.


    But Zebari made clear that the Iraqis would not accept a deal that lacks a timeline for the end of the U.S. military presence.


    "No, no definitely there has to be a very clear timeline," Zebari replied when asked if the Iraqis would accept an agreement that did not mention dates.


    Differences over a withdrawal timetable have become one of the most contentious issues remaining in the talks, which began early this year. U.S. and Iraqi negotiators missed a July 31 target date for completing the deal, which must be approved by Iraq's parliament.


    President Bush has steadfastly refused to accept any timetable for bringing U.S. troops home. Last month, however, Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed to set a "general time horizon" for a U.S. departure.


    Last week, two senior Iraqi officials told The Associated Press that American negotiators had agreement to a formula which would remove U.S. forces from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009, with all combat troops out of the country by October 2010.


    The last American support troops would leave about three years later, the Iraqis said.


    But U.S. officials insist there is no agreement on specific dates. Both the American and Iraqi officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are ongoing. Iraq's Shiite-led government believes a withdrawal schedule is essential to win parliamentary approval.


    American officials have been less optimistic because of major differences on key issues including who can authorize U.S. military operations and immunity for U.S. troops from prosecution under Iraqi law.


    The White House said discussions continued on a bilateral agreement and said any timeframe discussed was due to major improvements in security over the past year.


    "We are only now able to discuss conditions-based time horizons because security has improved so much. This would not have been possible 18 months ago," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Sunday. "We all look forward to the day when Iraqi security forces take the lead on more combat missions, allowing U.S. troops to serve in an overwatch role, and more importantly return home."


    Iraq's position in the U.S. talks hardened after a series of Iraqi military successes against Shiite and Sunni extremists in Basra, Baghdad, Mosul and other major cities.


    Violence in Iraq has declined sharply over the past year following a U.S. troop buildup, a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq and a Shiite militia cease-fire.


    But attacks continue, raising concern that the militants are trying to regroup.


    The suicide bomber struck Sunday afternoon as U.S. and Iraqi troops were responding to a roadside bombing that wounded an Iraqi in Tarmiyah, 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.


    Four Iraqi civilians were killed along with the American soldier, military spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Stover said. Two American soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were among 24 people wounded.


    No group claimed responsibility for the blast but suicide bombings are the signature attack of al-Qaida in Iraq.


    "This was a heinous attack by al-Qaida in Iraq against an Iraqi family, followed by a cowardly attack against innocent civilians, their security forces and U.S. soldiers," Stover said.


    Elsewhere, a car bomb exploded outside the Kurdish security department in Khanaqin, 90 miles northeast of Baghdad. At least two people were killed and 25 wounded, including the commander of local Kurdish forces, Lt. Col. Majid Ahmed, police said.


    First reports indicated it was a suicide attack. But the U.S. military later said the bomb was in a white truck filled with watermelons and that witnesses saw the occupants leave the vehicle just before the blast.


    Ethnic tensions have been rising in northern Iraq amid disputes between Kurds, Turkomen and mostly Sunni Arabs over Kurdish demands to annex the oil-rich city of Kirkuk into their self-ruled region.


    Sawarah Ghalib, 25, who was wounded in the blast, said he believed military operations under way south of the city in Diyala province had pushed insurgents into the Khanaqin area.


    "I did not expect that a terrorist attack to take place in our secure town," Ghalib said from his bed in the Khanaqin hospital. "Al-Qaida is to blame for this attack. Operations in Diyala have pushed them here."


    In Baghdad, six people were killed in a series of bombings on the first day of the Iraqi work week.


    The deadliest blast occurred about 8:15 a.m. in a crowded area where people wait for buses in the capital's mainly Shiite southeastern district of Kamaliya. Four people were killed, including a woman and her brother, and 11 others wounded, according to police.


    A car bomb later exploded as an Iraqi army patrol transporting money to a state-run bank passed by in Baghdad's central Khillani square, killing two people including an Iraqi soldier and wounding nine other people, a police officer said.


    Another Iraqi soldier was killed and five were wounded by a car bomb in Salman Pak, about 15 miles south of Baghdad, police said.


    Associated Press writers Hamza Hendawi, Kim Gamel and Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad and Yahya Barzanji in Sulaimaniyah contributed to this report.





Iraq Struck by Wave of Bomb Attacks, Killing 13


By: Campbell Robertson and Suadad al-Salhy, The New York Times

Sunday 10 August 2008


In a Kirkuk hospital, a bombing victim's wounds are treated. Thirteen people were killed and many wounded in a series of attacks in Iraq on Sunday. (Photo: Reuters)


    Baghdad - At least 13 people were killed, including an American soldier, and scores were wounded in a wave of attacks across Iraq on Sunday, military and security officials said.


    The soldier died along with four Iraqis in a calculated, two-prong attack on Baghdad's outskirts, the deadliest of the day, the United States military said.


    The attack began when a bomb exploded around 2 p.m. at a vacant house in Tarmiya, a largely Sunni district and once a major stronghold of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown militant Sunni group that American intelligence has said is foreign led. Shortly after Iraqi and American security forces reached the scene, they were attacked by a suicide bomber and by gunmen.


    A local security official said the American tally of five dead was too low. He said 10 Iraqis - three members of the Awakening Council, a citizens patrol, and seven others - were killed and 20 others wounded. The military said two American soldiers were wounded.


    While the death toll nationwide on Sunday was not as high as in some recent outbursts of violence, the number of attacks was higher than usual.


    Lt. Col. Steve Stover, an American military spokesman in Baghdad, said the number of attacks in Baghdad was still down, averaging about four a day, compared with 40 per day last June and 10 per day earlier this year.


    Hailing the improved security, Iraqi officials presided Sunday over the dedication of a newly renovated Parliament building outside the heavily fortified Green Zone. The thump of an explosion, however, could be heard as the ceremony was starting.


    Several Interior Ministry officials theorized that some of the attacks - at least six occurred in Baghdad - were related to the impasse in Parliament over the provincial council election law.


    Lawmakers recessed last week without passing the legislation. They were stymied by disagreements among Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens about the status of the ethnically mixed northern city of Kirkuk. The dispute has raised tensions and led to several attacks in the north of Iraq.


    "When there is fighting between politicians in Parliament, there are many explosions in the street," said a high-ranking officer in the Iraqi security forces who insisted on not being named for reasons of safety.


    In nearby Diyala Province, two people were killed and 27 were wounded when a car bomb exploded on a commercial street in the city of Khanaqin. Ten of the wounded were members of the Kurdish police force, including a colonel, a local security official said.


    By midday, five roadside bombs had detonated around Baghdad and most appeared to have been aimed at Iraqi Army patrols, according to the Interior Ministry. Three people were killed and 10 were wounded in the deadliest attack within the city, which singled out an Iraqi Army patrol near Baghdad's town hall.


    A bomb hidden in a pile of garbage exploded around 8:30 a.m. in the Shiite neighborhood of Kamaliya, in eastern Baghdad, killing two civilians and wounding 10, most of whom were waiting in line at a bank. A car bomb at a gas station in a southeastern neighborhood of Baghdad killed one person and wounded five.


    Iraqi officials continued to say on Sunday that a security agreement with the United States was close, but disagreements remained on a timeline for withdrawal and on immunity from prosecution for American troops.


    "The Iraqi side would like to say that forces should withdraw in the middle of 2010, while the American side says the forces should not leave until December 2011," said Khalil al-Azawy, an adviser to Tariq al-Hashimi, one of Iraq's two vice presidents. "The other disagreement is over the immunity of American soldiers."


    Bush administration officials have not publicly mentioned specific dates for a withdrawal of combat troops, though President Bush has agreed to a "general time horizon."


    Even after a draft of the agreement is approved by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, said Sami al-Askari, an Iraqi lawmaker close to him, it must be authorized by the Presidency Council, comprising the president and the two vice presidents, and, more important, by the 19-member national security council.


    At the dedication of the renovated Parliament building, Mr. Maliki described the move beyond the Green Zone as a sign of success by Iraqi security forces. Lawmakers are scheduled to occupy the building, used by Parliament during the Saddam Hussein era, in early September.


    Not everyone feels as confident as Mr. Maliki does.


    "Honestly speaking, there is some resentment among the Parliament members about the new change," Ibrahim Thanoon, a Sunni lawmaker, said in a telephone interview.


    "This new location will expose us to assassination by I.E.D.'s or gunfire."


    Ali Hameed and Mohammed Hussein contributed reporting from Baghdad, and an Iraqi employee of The New York Times from Diyala.






Iraqis suspend military operations in Diyala


By BUSHRA JUHI, Associated Press Writer

11 Aug 2008


BAGHDAD - The Iraqi government said Monday it has halted military operations in Diyala province for a week to give insurgents time to surrender, even as deadly bombings struck the area northeast of Baghdad.


In the most dramatic attack, a female suicide bomber struck a market checkpoint in the provincial capital of Baqouba, killing at least one policeman and wounding 14 other people, including nine officers, officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media.


The woman detonated explosives hidden under her all-encompassing traditional Islamic black robe as she approached the checkpoint manned by Iraqi police at the central market, witnesses said.


The blast sent black smoke billowing into the sky. Iraqi security forces began shooting into the air to clear the area while shoppers and shop owners began shouting and running from the site.


Another bomb exploded in the Wijaihiyah area, about 12 miles east of Baqouba, killing two women and wounding four people, including a child, according to the Diyala security operations center.


Sporadic attacks have continued in Diyala — including several carried out by women — despite a new U.S.-Iraqi military operation launched last month in the latest government crackdown against suspected insurgent hideouts in the area.


The Iraqi Defense Ministry said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered the Diyala military operations to be suspended for a week starting Monday "to give gunmen a chance to surrender."


The prime minister's office has announced an amnesty offer and unspecified monetary rewards for those who hand over "heavy and medium weapons, roadside bombs, rifles or any other kind of explosives," according to a statement.


Al-Maliki has made amnesty offers during similar operations against Sunni and Shiite extremists in Baghdad's Sadr City district, Mosul and the southern cities of Basra and Amarah, but they have had limited effect.


Violence also struck the capital Monday.


A bomb stuck under a car exploded in eastern Baghdad, killing the driver and wounding two other people, police said.


The U.S. military, meanwhile, confirmed that the suicide bomber who killed a U.S. soldier and at least four Iraqis on Sunday in a complex attack north of the capital also was a woman.


An Iraqi police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of security concerns, said 23 Iraqis were killed, including six members of a U.S.-allied Sunni group, three Iraqi security forces and 14 civilians. The conflicting casualty tolls couldn't be reconciled.


The female suicide bomber struck as U.S. and Iraqi troops were responding to a roadside bombing that wounded an Iraqi in Tarmiyah, 30 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.


Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Baghdad, said a wanted al-Qaida in Iraq militant was arrested near the scene.


The U.S. military has warned that Sunni insurgents are increasingly recruiting and using women to carry out bombings because they are more easily able to hide explosives under their robes and avoid being searched at checkpoints.


In response, the U.S. has stepped up efforts to recruit and train women for Iraq's police force and enlist them to join Sunnis fighting al-Qaida.


U.S. military figures show some 30 female suicide bombings this year, compared with eight in 2007.


Associated Press writer Hamid Ahmed contributed to this report.