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- A suicide car bomb killed the head of Iraq's Governing Council and at least eight other Iraqis in Baghdad. Abdel-Zahraa Othman, also known as Izzadine Saleem, was the second member of the Governing Council to be assassinated. The council selected Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, a civil engineer from the northern city of Mosul, to replace Saleem. Although this may be a difficult blow to U.S.attempts to stabilize Iraq, the Governing Council was slated to turn whatever power it had over to the interim government July 1. If this attack doesn't derail the transition, the new government should be able to move on from this attack without great difficulty.
- There are reports that an roadside bomb containing Sarin nerve gas has been discovered. This Command Post link is tracking the story as it evolves.
- Ryan Boots of Sound & Fury offers "The Carnival of the Liberated," a set of highlights from Iraqi bloggers last week.
- Meanwhile, former M.P. and ACLU executive Bob Harmon analyzes the legal and military dimensions of the Abu Ghraib scandal, with reference to the Yamashita command responsibility precedent.
Other Topics Today Include: the U.S. puts down an uprising in Baghdad; Coalition command structure revised; Fallujah townspeople and al-Sadr discuss cooperation; al-Sadr's political success; Saddam told he could be given back to 'his' people.
REPORTS FROM THE FIELD
- Fighting in Baghdad appears to have stopped for the time being in the wake of what Brigadier General Mark Kimmit called "a minor uprising" that saw some 38 Iraqis killed.
- The United States is revamping the command structure of American forces in Iraq. Wretchard takes a look at what this may mean for the occupation and the Defense/State Dept. conflict.
- Representatives from Fallujah reportedly met with Motaqda al-Sadr Sunday to discuss taking up common cause against the Coalition. If true, this could be a disastrous turn of events for the Coalition. But at the same time, one of the former Iraqi generals in charge of the security force in Fallujah called on its leaders to support American efforts to stablize Iraq. So the question remains, which side will come out on top? (Hat tip: The Agonist.)
- al-Sadr may not be having great success in driving Coalition forces from Iraq, but he may be garnering public support for himself through his high-profile fighting in Najaf, Kufa and Karbala. With the push for early elections in Iraq growing, al-Sadr may end up becoming a successful political player in Iraq regardless of his success on the battlefield. Scott Wilson at the Washington Post examines other problems Sadr's revolt has raised for Coaltion forces, and why a Fallujah-style solution may not work with the Shi'ites.
- As the June 30 deadline for handover of power to an interim Iraqi government looms close, the United States is hard at work on the new American embassy in Baghdad. The embassy will be responsible for helping the new Iraqi government keep the peace while a final government is put in place, meaning that a great deal of responsibility will rest on controversial ambassador John Negroponte after 30 June. And a lot of questions remain over the precise role the embassy will play, the authority it will hold, and the goals it will try to achieve.
THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE
- If the interim Iraqi government asks the Coalition to leave Iraq, America will do so. So says Secretary of State Colin Powell, settling a minor controversy that arose when Thursday's Congressional testimony offered two different answers to the question. Powell also said the U.S. would accept a theocratic government in Iraq, if that was the result of the elections.
- A report claiming that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld approved the use of tougher interrogation techniques is drawing a strong backlash from the Pentagon. Phil Carter takes a look at the report and the Pentagon reaction to it.
- Phil Carter examines the expected guilty plea from the first of the MPs to be prosecuted for Abu Ghraib. Phil hits the nail on the head when he points out that "The fact that [their superiors] didn't know about these events isn't enough. If they should have known about them, by doing proper nighttime inspections and spot-checks, and they didn't know, then they're still legally culpable." I'll go one further and say that leaders at the prison should have known what was going on, and they were either negligent for not knowing or knew what was going on and didn't say anything.
- National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice says the U.S. and Russia are "on the same page" regarding a pending U.N. Security Council resolution endorsing the interim government of Iraq that will take power on 30 June. That may be true, but it does raise the question of what Rice had to promise Russia in exchange for their vote.
- Colin Powell was in Jordan Sunday trying to repair U.S.-Arab relations in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal. Unsurprisingly, King Abdullah II of Jordan used this meeting as an opportunity to try and gain U.S. support for the Palestinians against Israel once again, suggesting that reported Arab anger over Abu Ghraib may well be a front by Arab governments (not known to be overly concerned about public opinion in their own dealings) to put pressure on the Bush administration to undertake some favored positions.
- CIA operatives questioning Saddam Hussein are now threatening to turn him over to the provisional Iraqi government if he doesn't start talking. While this will probably play well on Hussein's admitted fears of being given back to his people, the timing of the announcement has got to be considered poor, at best. (Hat tip: Rantburg.)
- If you haven't done so already, you need to read Dan Darling's rationale for the war in Iraq and what to do next. (Part II is here.) You may disagree with it, but Dan raises points that deserve to be argued on the merits.
- Abu Ghraib has claimed its first Western casualties, as an editor from Britain's The Mirror was canned over his decision to run faked photos of British troops abusing Iraqis. The Boston Globe didn't fire anyone over its own decision to post pictures from an internet porn site while claiming they were pictures of U.S. troops, but certainly their credibility has taken a solid hit over the decision. (Hat tip: The Command Post.)
- The troops are still there. So is the Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops: American, Australian, British, Canadian & Polish. Anyone out there with more information, contact us!
- Don't forget Chief Wiggles' Toys for Iraq drive!
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