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Daily Column
Iraq Papers Sat: Volatile Mosul
Recently Released Detainees to be Re-Arrested, Sadrist Demo. Demands Withdrawal
By AMER MOHSEN 04/10/2009 6:47 PM ET
Five US soldiers, two Iraqi policemen and one Iraqi soldier were killed on Friday when a suicide bomber attacked a police station in Mosul with a bomb-laden truck. Al-Jazeera quoted Iraqi officials who said that the death tally is likely to increase once all the dead and injured are counted.

Az-Zaman, on the other hand, quoted an Army officer in Mosul who described the attack. The suicide bomber, he said, approached the building at a high speed and was able to detonate his truck inside the position, which led to the large number of casualties. Over 60 people were injured in the attack, official sources told the paper.

Mosul, Iraq’s third largest city, is one of the few remaining strongholds of al-Qa'ida, and is one of the few locations in Iraq where the US Army is still involved in intense combat operations. Earlier reports had alluded that the situation in Mosul and Ba'quba could force the US Army to remain in these cities for months to come, in contravention with the SOFA agreement that mandates the evacuation of US troops from all urban centers by the end of June.

Today, Az-Zaman interpreted recent statements by Gen. Odierno as a confirmation of that delay. In a press interview, Odierno stated – according to Az-Zaman - that the level of US forces in Mosul and Ba'quba will not decrease in the coming twelve months, and may actually be increased if so needed. The General confirmed that talks are being conducted with US officials to “assess the situation” in these hotspots.

Also in Az-Zaman , rumors claiming that Maliki's visit to Russia will be crowned with important oil deals were confirmed by the Russian Minister of Energy. The daily headlined with words attributed to Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko: “Maliki is asking us to revive Saddam’s contracts.” The contract signed between Iraq and Russian company Lukoil in 1997 was worth $ 3.4 billion and involved the development of the West Qurna giant oilfield over 23 years.

According to al-Mada, the oil contract is part of a larger deal between Maliki and the Russian government, whereby Russia commits to support the emancipation of Iraq from the UN mandate in the Security Council in exchange for the signing of Russian arms deals and commercial contracts with Russian companies.

In other news, pan-Arab al-Hayat reports that “tens of thousands” of Iraqis answered the call of Muqtada al-Sadr to demonstrate in Baghdad in the sixth anniversary of the fall of the Iraqi capital. Sunni delegations from Anbar’s tribal Sahwa were present, the paper added, and demonstrators made calls against the US occupation, demanding a quick withdrawal and the release of Iraqi detainees from US prisons.

On a different front, the paper says that a campaign has been launched by US security forces to “re-arrest” thousands of Iraqis who were recently released from US prisons “in order to examine their dossiers.” Security sources claim that the decision was made because “some of (the detainees) have resumed their previous terrorist activities and participated in the attacks in Baghdad this week.”


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