NSN Iraq Daily Update 11/15/07

NSN Iraq Daily Update 11/15/07
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THE BOTTOM UP STRATEGY IS NOT WORKING

Military officials have begun to acknowledge that reconciliation between the central government and the Anbar tribes is not happening. "In more than a dozen interviews, U.S. military officials expressed growing concern over the Iraqi government's failure to capitalize on sharp declines in attacks against U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. A window of opportunity has opened for the government to reach out to its former foes, said Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the commander of day-to-day U.S. military operations in Iraq, but 'it's unclear how long that window is going to be open...' The year-long progress in fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq could carry a downside. Maj. Mark Brady, who works on reconciliation issues, noted that a Sunni leader told him: 'As soon as we finish with al-Qaeda, we start with the Shiite extremists.'" [Washington Post, 11/15/07]

The oil law, which many American officials consider to be central to bottom up reconciliation, is stalled and the Kurdish response may mean that a relevant oil law may likely never be signed. The Kurdish government government in Northern Iraq has begun signing contracts with foreign oil companies, instead of waiting for an agreement with the central government. According to Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani, "Any company that has signed contracts without the approval of the federal authority of Iraq will not have any chance of working with the government of Iraq," The Kurdish authorities signed seven production-sharing contracts with a number of foreign oil companies last week in defiance of the Iraqi central government. These contracts bring the total number of deals finalized by the Kurdish government to 15 since it passed its own oil law in August. The national Iraqi hydrocarbons law is still stalled before parliament. [AFP, 11/15/07]

SECTARIAN VIOLENCE CONTINUES TO RAGE

Suicide car bombing kills 6 in Kirkuk. A suicide bomber rammed his car into a police patrol Thursday in northern Iraq, killing six people and wounding more than 20 -- many of them children walking to school, police said. The explosion happened around 8 a.m. in Kirkuk, an ethnically mixed city 180 miles north of Baghdad, said police Brig. Sarhad Qadir. The city has seen a rise in violence in recent months, ahead of a planned census and referendum to determine the future of the city -- whether it will join the semi-autonomous Kurdish region on its border, or remain under Baghdad's control. The bomber's apparent target was the six-car convoy of a senior Kurdish police officer, Brig. Gen. Khattab Omar, who heads the city police department's quick response force, Qadir said. Three of Omar's officers were killed, along with three civilians, but the commander survived with serious injuries to his chest and head. [AP, 11/15/07]

Iraqi officials say that the U.S. may have mistakenly attacked anti-Islamist fighters. Iraqi officials said they are investigating whether American troops had mistakenly killed some two dozen anti-al-Qaida fighters earlier this week north of Baghdad. Late Wednesday, a leader of one of the so-called awakening councils -- Sunni tribesmen fighting to oust al-Qaida from their hometowns -- said that U.S. soldiers killed dozens of his fighters during a 12-hour battle near Taji. "The raids continued for more than 12 hours ... despite the fact that, right from the first attack last night, we have continuously been contacting American commanders that they are hitting us, their friends," said Mansour Abid Salim of the Taji Awakening Council. [AP, 11/15/07]

SITUATION ON IRAQ-TURK BORDER STILL COMPLEX

Iraqi Kurds show cracks in support for PKK rebels. Iraqi Kurds are growing ambivalent about supporting their rebel cousins holed up in the mountains. Kurdish officials- and regular people on the street- fear that a Turkish incursion into northern Iraq could threaten the relatively peaceful and prosperous enclave that Kurds have carved out since 1991 after generations of poverty and oppression. Even a small shift in sentiment is meaningful since the Kurdish separatists in Turkey have counted on deep Kurdish nationalism for decades to protect their supply lines and hideouts in the northern Iraq. "It's making a lot of people nervous," Ismail Zayer, an Arab newspaper editor with long-standing ties to the Kurds, speaking of the escalating PKK-Turkey tensions. "A lot of nationalistic Kurds have become less nationalistic," he said. "The Kurds understand that independence is not necessarily a state and a flag. Rather it is having stability and a good economy." [AP, 11/14/07]

BUDGET AGREEMENT REACHED

Iraq will spend $19 billion on projects in 2008. The government reached an agreement on Tuesday for a $40 billion budget in 2008, with an unprecedented $19 billion on capital projects across the country. The plan includes $900 million to be spent in Baghdad, even as officials warned that the fight against insurgencies, gangs and militias was far from over. "People need to feel the value of peace," said Mr. Hashemi, a Sunni Arab, describing the government's intention to increase capital spending. "There needs to be quick improvement in electricity, in water, in health care." [NY Times, 11/15/07]

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