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Iraq: OIL over troubled waters
The continuing violence in Iraq shakes its parliament, as it considers a made-in-Washington oil law, reports Nermeen Al-Mufti from Baghdad
Two suicide bombings, one on Al-Sirafiya Bridge and the other in the Iraqi parliament add to Iraq's tragic toll. Al-Sirafiya Bridge is one of the oldest bridges in Baghdad and one of the most splendid in the world. A week ago, a truck driven by a suicide bomber exploded and wrecked that bridge. Arab and Western media, perhaps insensitively, pointed out that the bridge was a link between the Sunni area of Al-Waziria and the Shia neighbourhood of Al-Itifiya. So while the Baghdad inhabitants were doing their best to overcome sectarian tensions, the media seemed to be fuelling those tensions. Now Baghdad has lost one of its most beautiful sites, just as it lost museums, libraries and statues in the past.
Shortly after the bridge was bombed, a man wearing an explosive belt blew himself up in the cafeteria of the Iraqi parliament, killing and wounding dozens, including the deputy for the National Dialogue Front, Mohamed Awad. The incident posed questions over Operation Imposing Law (OIL), now in its third month. How can a man wearing an explosive belt and carrying an explosive briefcase, infiltrate the fortified Green Zone? Anyone going into the Green Zone passes as a matter of routine through several checkpoints and electronic gates. Parliamentarian Mohamed Al-Deini says that mobile phone networks ceased to operate one hour before the suicide bombing. The Iraqi authorities had taken over the security in the parliament only a short while earlier. Now the occupation forces say that they may have to take back control of the parliament's security.
The day following the bombing, the parliament held an extraordinary "Defiance Session". Television screens showed deputies wiping their tears and others putting wreaths on the seat of the slain parliamentarian. The Iraqi public greeted the incident with scepticism. Umm Hussein, a teacher, says that, "Iraq in general, and Baghdad in particular, is witnessing suicide bombings in which dozens of civilians are killed everyday, but the Iraqi parliament didn't hold an extraordinary session over those bombings. We've seen no tears in the eyes of our parliamentarians before."
While the US is planning to retake control of parliament's security, the spokesman for the pro-Sadr parliamentarians, Nasr Al-Rabiyi, says that the six pro-Sadr ministers intend to withdraw from the government in protest against the absence of a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces, though. The 30 pro-Sadr parliamentarians will stay in parliament.