Iraq: Stalled measures, killing of Maliki relative strain relations with US
Three US “benchmark” proposals — on opening the Iraqi petroleum industry to foreign investment and participation, holding provincial elections in Iraq, and a continued US military presence in the country — remain stalled in Iraq’s parliament.
Meanwhile, according to Iraqi area official Raed Shakir Jowdet, “faulty intelligence” was the cause of a Friday raid by US special operations troops which resulted in the death of a relative of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The raid, on Maliki tribal village Janaja, was allegedly aimed at capture of a “high-value target.”
Saturday’s casualties included 41 Iraqis killed and two wounded, as well as the first death, cause undisclosed but near the Sunni insurgency hotbed city of Haditha, in Azerbaijan’s 150-man “coalition” contingent. Iraqi police also discovered a mass grave, containing as many as 30 bodies, near Lake Tharhar northwest of Baghdad.
Central Asia: Pakistan launches anti-Taliban raids; British soldier dies in Afghanistan
Pakistani forces launched an anti-Taliban offensive in the Khyber region on Saturday, citing pressure from militants on Peshawar, the region’s main city. Seven hundred “Frontier Corps” troops are involved in the operation. In response, Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud announced a suspension of peace negotiations with the government. The Khyber region borders Afghanistan and is a primary supply route for US troops in that country.
In Afghanistan, one British soldier died and two were wounded in an automobile accident on Friday. The US-led occupation force claimed 32 Taliban killed in Uruzgan Province by airstrikes called in after a Taliban ambush.
The US Department of Defense issued a bleak assessment of affairs in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province, admitting that the Taliban is “likely to maintain or even increase the scope” of its operations in that area. As is typical of such assessments, DoD assigned Iran a share of the blame for allegedly arming the Taliban insurgency.