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Slogger's Highlights and Lowlights Dec 10-16
12/16/2007 09:08 AM ET
BASRA, IRAQ - JULY 29: The sun rises over Quarmat Ali Canal in Basra, Iraq.
Daniel Berehulak/AFP/Getty
BASRA, IRAQ - JULY 29: The sun rises over Quarmat Ali Canal in Basra, Iraq.

IraqSlogger sources in Baghdad reported a deadly firefight over last weekend between a neighborhood faction of a powerful militia and a local tribal group. Despite the orders of Muqtada al-Sadr in August to "freeze" all Mahdi Army "without exception" for up to six months, locals in Risala report that the militia continues foot patrols of the area, and routinely intervene with force to target affairs which, in the view of the militiamen, threaten community morality.

IraqSlogger sources in the southwestern Baghdad area of Muwasalat report a local factional conflict within the Mahdi Army over the "freeze" of the powerful militia's activities ordered by Muqtada al-Sadr in August.

As the Iraqi ministries of Defense and Interior become more involved in the recruitment of Iraqi fighters to fight in locally-based armed groups known as Sahwa ("awakening") councils, IraqSlogger sources in Baghdad report that members of one important political and religious trend express discontent with the Iraqi government's closer involvement with the pro-US largely Sunni forces.

New posters featuring the likeness of a government minister who skipped out on an arrest warrant have mysteriously appeared in many Baghdad areas, Slogger sources report.

IraqSlogger sources report that threatening graffiti has appeared once again in a working-class area of the Iraqi capital where tensions are high between the local branch of a powerful Shi'a militia and US forces.

The Iraqi courts have ordered assets frozen of individuals at the head of one of Iraq's wealthiest monied families, IraqSlogger learned this week.

IraqSlogger sources report a recent deterioration in the quality of tap water over the last week in populous areas of northeastern Baghdad, while residents around the capital report the spread of tactics and tools for dealing with the new realities of Baghdad's electricity supply.

While the details of the successful plot to kill Babil Province's police chief are still shrouded in mystery, tension and fear beset officials and residents of the governorate, who are concerned that Gen. Qais al-Ma'muri's replacement could depart from his assassinated predecessor's policies.

As the people of Maysan bury their dead in the aftermath of a deadly multiple car bombing in the provincial capital, Iraqi security forces have quickly instituted new security measures in Amara and in the capital of a neighboring province, both places where intensive security crackdowns were relatively uncommon, at least by comparison to the rest of the country.

Kurdish President Massoud Barzani surprised many with his public statement this week indicating that he does not wish for an independent Kurdistan, though the regional government is clearly continuing efforts to make Arbil its own locus of power. Baghdad's simmering angst over Kurdish unilateralism may get a shot of anger when the central government learns Arbil has been pressing the US for a cooperative strategic agreement separately from the one already signed by President Maliki.

Gen. David Petraeus gave a rare nod of credit to Syria in November, citing its "more robust" interdiction efforts as reducing the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq, but Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari got more specific about the numbers of average infiltrators in his commendation of Syria's renewed efforts this week.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sparked a firestorm of debate over the prospect of amnesty for PKK fighters, after a series of unclear comments cited in the media over the weekend provoked intense speculation about what his government may be planning.

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