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al-Hakim in Tehran seeks Regional Cooperation
by juan cole (reposted)
Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 8:55 AM

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Republican Senators Block Debate on Iraq
al-Hakim in Tehran seeks Regional Cooperation

The Republican Party blocked a debate in the Senate over Iraq War policy. The Republicans not so long ago were trying to get rid of the consensus rules, filibuster and other techniques the minority has at its disposal. They are singing a different tune now that they are the minority. Anyway, I'm sure everyone will remember in the next elections that almost all Republican senators joined to stop any constructive steps from being taken on Iraq.

Bush's new budget is bad for the sick, the elderly, the weak. It expands the Pentagon budget though, just so you can tell what is really important.

This NYT story about the killing of Ali Khazim al-Hamadani by US and Iraqi troops makes no sense. Khazim is said to have worked as an informer for the US last summer, and had striven to reduce the violence of the Mahdi Army. So did he in the meantime turn on the US and is this payback? Or did he start to know things he wasn't supposed to? The accounts of his death are also contradictory, with the US saying Iraqi troops raided his house and shot him when he picked up a gun to resist them. The Sadr Movement spokesman said he was bayoneted to death (suggesting he was unarmed when killed).

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that 1,000 Arab notables and clan leaders gathered in Kirkuk, where they rejected the idea of joining Kirkuk to the Kurdistan Regional Government. A December referendum in the province will decide the issue, probably in favor of the Kurds, since they are now a majority in the province after 3 years of pouring people (many of them originally from there but expelled by Saddam) into it. The Arab and Turkmen populations in Kirkuk generally oppose annexation.

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim met Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei in Tehran on Monday. The Arabic press is saying his agenda is to start talks between the US and Iran.

Syria's al-Asad says that his country can play a key role in calming things in Iraq.

The office of Sadrist splinter leader, Mahmud al-Hasani al-Sarkhi maintains that numerous arrests have recently been made of his followers in the Najaf region, according to the Arabic daily al-Sharq al-Awsat. Al-Sarkhi's followers have repeatedly clashed with British and Iraqi government troops, and are thought responsible for burning the Iranian consulate in Basra.

Police found 25 bodies in the streets of Baghdad on Monday. A series of five car bombs killed at least another 24 and wounded over 100 persons. One bomb went off near a children's hospital. McClatchy has more details.

There was guerrilla fighting in the Sunni district of Adhamiya. In the Janabiyin neighborhood of Amil, Shiite militiamen dressed as police pulled Sunnis out of their apartments and murdered at least 8, then set 5 apartment buildings afire.

There was also fighting in the mixed Sunni-Shiite province of Diyala east of Baghdad. In the southern city of Basra, two British soldiers have been killed in recent days and bases have taken heavy mortar fire. A mosque was bombed, but there were no casualties in that incident.

Police found 6 bodies in Haditha, a Sunni Arab town in al-Anbar province west of Baghdad. This was Sunni on Sunni violence, whatever it was.