THE BLOG

NSN Iraq Daily Update 12/11/07

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION IS TRYING TO ESTABLISH A LONG-TERM PRESENCE IN IRAQ

Iraq will never allow the U.S. to maintain permanent bases on its soil, says national security adviser. According to Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, "permanent forces or bases in Iraq for any foreign forces is a red line that cannot be accepted by any nationalist Iraqi." [Reuters, 12/11/07]

Iraqi Foreign Minister hopes next renewal of UN mandate for U.S. troops in Iraq will be the last. "We left an underline that the Iraqi government hoped that this will be the last extension of the mandate," Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, referring to a one-year extension of the U.N. authorization for the U.S.-led forces in Iraq. However, President Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed a declaration of principles last month to guide their negotiations of a security pact that would take effect once the U.N. mandate ended. The principles did not clarify how long U.S. forces would remain in the country or what mission they would pursue, leaving open the possibility of a long-term U.S. presence without a U.N. mandate. [Washington Post, 12/11/07]

VIOLENCE CONTINUES TO RAGE IN IRAQ

At least 9 killed in separate attacks in Baghdad. Seven of the people killed were prison inmates who died after mortar shell landed on a prison in central Baghdad. Despite the relative calm, the rate of attacks has quickened of late, with at least 50 people being killed nationwide in the past week. [NY Times, 12/11/07]

Suicide car bomber detonates explosives near former PM Ayad Allawi's office. The bombing occurred at a checkpoint protecting the offices of Iraq's former prime minister, Ayad Allawi, and a Sunni lawmaker. Two guards were killed in the attack. Both men were out of the country at the time of the attack. [AP, 12/11/07]

INTERIOR MINISTRY ORDERS IRAQI POLICEWOMEN TO TURN IN THEIR WEAPONS

All policewomen are to hand in their guns for redistribution to men or face having their pay withheld, thwarting a U.S. initiative to bring women into the nation's police force. The order, issued late last month, is a sign of the religious and cultural conservatism that has taken hold since Hussein's ouster. It affects all officers who have earned the title "policewoman" by graduating from the police academy. Without policewomen, there will be no officers to give pat-down searches to female suspects, even though women have joined the ranks of suicide bombers in Iraq. A U.S. advisor noted that forcing out female officers will hamper investigation of crimes such as rape, which stigmatizes women in Iraq, because few victims feel comfortable reporting it to policemen. Policewomen say the decree also will leave them unable to protect themselves at work or off duty. "We are considered policewomen. We face kidnapping. We could be assassinated. If anyone knew where we worked, of course they would try to do something to us," said a 27-year-old officer. Many women said they would not hand in their weapons, and plan to protest if their pay is withheld. [LA Times, 12/11/07]

YAZDI MINORITY SEEKS PROTECTION

Persecuted Yazidis look to Kurdish regional government for protection. The Iraqi Yazidi minority was the target of the worst single terrorist attack since the U.S.-led invasion, when four suicide truck bombings killed more than 500 in August. The Yazidis live along the fault line separating the Kurds from Arabs, whose location will be determined by the constitutionally mandated referendum scheduled for April. "We hope that the land now lived on by the Yazidis will join the Kurdish area," the community's leader, Amir Tahseen Beg, told the Associated Press from his residence in Sheikhan. "This will depend on the referendum, but our areas must return to the original motherland." [AP, 12/11/07]

MILITIA REBUILDS DURING DROP IN VIOLENCE

Sadr uses lull in violence to rebuild Army. The Mahdi Army of Shi'a militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr called for the force to lay down its guns in August. However, according to Sadr's top aids, he is orchestrating a revival among his army of loyalists. They say he is making a better-trained and leaner force free of rogue elements. Sadr's intent seems to be to keep his Army as a "national resistance force." In a statement last week, Sadr said: "I tell the occupiers ... you have your democracy and we have our Islam; get out of our land." [CS Monitor, 12/11/07]