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US Papers Sun: Iraqi Soldier Kills 2 GIs
Babylon Opening, Gunfight Breaks Out as SoldiersTry to Arrest Trade Officers
By DANIEL W. SMITH 05/03/2009 01:45 AM ET
Another case of an Iraqi soldier firing on his US counterparts in the vicinity of Mosul is today’s main story, followed by a gunfight which started when Iraqi security forces were attempting to arrest government officials on charges of corruption. The re-opening of the ancient city of Babylon is also covered.

From Baghdad
Ernesto Londoño and Dlovan Bwari of the Washington Post report on an Iraqi army soldier who opened fire on American soldiers Saturday just south of Mosul, killing two and wounding three. It is pretty straightforward article, with related information and not much analysis to speak of, except to say that “the incident raised fresh concerns about extremist infiltration of Iraq's security forces as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw”. US forces returned fire and killed him, according to US sources. About the same time, a different gunman fired upon other GIs on the same compound, but the outcome of that incident hasn’t been released yet.

Ninewa has been the site of two other similar shootings since this past December (though it is mistakenly listed as December 2007), and there has been serious talk for months about US forces staying in the violent province past the June 30 deadline. Deteriorating relations between US forces and the Sahwa are highlighted as well. U.S. and Iraqi forces arrested prominent tribal head and Sahwa leader Nadhim Khalil in Thuluyah, a town north of Baghdad.
The U.S. military in recent weeks stopped paying the 94,000 or so members of the Sunni paramilitary groups, called Awakening Councils and Sons of Iraq. They are now controlled by the Shiite-led Iraqi government, which many accuse of targeting members indiscriminately and not paying them on time.

"This is a conspiracy by the Iraqi government to eliminate all the patriotic Awakening leaders that would have fared well in the upcoming national election," Rabe al-Jaboury, an Awakening leader in Thuluyah, said in a phone interview. Jaboury said local Awakening leaders have given the U.S. military 48 hours to release Khalil.
"If they don't release him, all Awakening fighters will become like a fork in the eye of the government, even if we have to cooperate with al-Qaeda to fight the government," he said.

The New York Times’ Sam Dagher writes about another shooting, this one by officials in the Trade Ministry, which started as Iraqi security forces sent by a government anti-corruption commission attempted to arrest nine ministry officials. The incident happened on Wednesday, and has been covered by Iraqi media, but this is the first major western paper to pick it up, and credit should be given for doing so.

High-ranking officials at the Trade Ministry are charged with massive corruption by the Commission on Public Integrity, and eight of the nine employees which were named on arrest warrants reportedly escaped. The fact that they include two current director generals, four previous directors, the ministry spokesman and the minister’s two brothers, could serve to strengthen claims by the commission that corruption within the ministry is organized and institutional – using up to ten percent of the ministry’s finds. The charges have not been made public, though.
The trade minister, Falah al-Sudani, has not been accused, but on Saturday the Iraqi Parliament called on him to answer for corruption charges against several senior directors at the ministry and two of his brothers, who also work as his bodyguards. “The Trade Ministry has become one of the most significant arteries for corruption and squandering of public funds in Iraq,” Sabah al-Saedi, head of Parliament’s integrity committee, told reporters.
An unnamed source is quoted as saying that al-Sudani has been asked to resign.

Babylon
Also in the New York Times, Steven Lee Myers writes that “after decades of dictatorship and disrepair, Iraq is celebrating its renewed sovereignty over the Babylon archaeological site — by fighting over the place, over its past and future and, of course, over its spoils.” What is left from what colonial archeologists didn’t cart off to Europe is dwindling, and the recent history of this quintessentially historical site is surprisingly damning of most involved.

Myers doesn’t stand on the sidelines, and sharply spells out how much blame there is to go around, from Saddam Hussein’s self-themed “reconstruction,” to US and Polish soldiers who caused incalculable and irreversible damage by using it as a base. Now, tourism officials are the ones who are seemingly doing their best to further erode what thousands of years have left standing.
The fight over ancient Babylon is about more than the competing interests of preservation and tourism. It reflects problems that hinder Iraq’s new government, including an uncertain division between local and federal authority and political rivalries that consume government ministries.
Myers draws the apt parallel to the “opening” of the Baghdad Museum, also against the strong wishes of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage. In the case of the museum, though, the opening was at least a deceivingly temporary one, limiting the danger its treasures are exposed to. The biblical site of Babylon is set to be open without apparently taking proper precautions which might keep it from becoming crumbled dust, tracked out on the bottom of tourist’s shoes. A great story with many disconcerting details.

Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, no Saturday Editions.

Comments on the US Papers roundup are welcome at ds@iraqslogger.com


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