NSN Iraq Daily Update 12/06/07

NSN Iraq Daily Update 12/06/07
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Insurgents move north as they are pushed out of Baghdad. Sunni insurgents pushed out of Baghdad and Anbar provinces have migrated to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and have been trying to turn it into a major hub for their operations. A growing number of insurgents have relocated in the north as additional forces have flooded the Iraqi capital and American commanders have allied with Sunni tribes in the western part of the country. American and Iraqi units have been able to hold off the insurgents and disrupt their planning. However, they have not been able to decrease the steady rate of attacks in Mosul, even as attacks have fallen in Baghdad and Anbar Province. According to Colonel Twitty, the commander of the Fourth Brigade Combat Team, First Cavalry Division, long-term reductions in violence in the region require political measures, especially provincial elections, which would allow Sunnis to attain better representation in a government that is dominated by a Kurdish minority. But American and Iraqi commanders also say that more Iraqi forces are ultimately needed to deal with a resilient insurgent threat. [NY Times, 12/6/07]


Car bombs kill 22. Car bombs in Baghdad and three northern Iraqi cities killed at least 22 people and wounded more than 60 others on Wednesday. Taken together, the killings accounted for the highest daily death toll in several weeks. The violence served as a reminder that the months-long decline in violence was not a sure sign of any lasting peace. [NY Times, 12/6/07]


New agreement on contractors in Iraq will give the military notice of all operations. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, agreed to a new memorandum of understanding on private security contractors. The agreement requires "full coordination" between military and diplomatic officials on the ground but leaves the State Department in control of its own contractors. The agreement, for the first time, places a military official in the tactical operations center of the embassy's security office. The military will receive "prior notification" of all diplomatic convoy movements and will give commanders the option of stopping them. [Washington Post, 12/6/07]


Volunteer militias to expand. According to an Iraqi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, the number of volunteer militiamen helping to patrol the Baghdad area should grow nearly fourfold, from its current level of 12,000 to 45,000, next year and will assume roles under Iraqi military command. The Shi'a-led government has been suspicious of the tribal militias, which include former Sunni insurgents. Only six percent of the current 60,000 volunteer militiamen around the country have been approved in to the Iraqi security forces. Presently, most are on the U.S. payroll. However, the comments made by al-Moussawi are the clearest signal yet that Iraq's Shi'a leadership might now be willing to work with the mostly Sunni factions. [AP, 12/5/07]


Iraqi food ration system may be cut. According to Iraqi trade minister Abed Falah al-Sudani, food rations that are provided as part of a Saddam Hussein-era program, may have to be cut due to lack of budget funds. The system, under which all Iraqis are issued ration cards allowing them to buy 10 items for a nominal fee, has long been a subject of debate in Iraq. According to al-Sudani, two-thirds of Iraqis rely on the rations. He said his ministry had requested $7 billion for the program in next year's budget but only received $3 billion, which would cut the number of items distributed from ten to five. There have been calls to eliminate or limit the scope of the system after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion freed Iraq from economic restrictions. However, according to al-Sudani, "the exceptional circumstances the Iraqis are undergoing require us to keep the ration card because it is the only fair thing that can reach all Iraqi families." [AP, 12/6/07]

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