Tips, questions, and suggestions
Sign up for emails
Daily Column
US Papers Tue: 7 Blasts in Baghdad Kill 24
Some US Soldiers Likely to Stay Behind in Mosul, "What Iraq Can Teach Iran"
By DANIEL W. SMITH 06/23/2009 01:56 AM ET
The story continues to be more bombings as the June 30th deadline for US troops to withdraw from Iraq’s cities and towns – Actually, the terminology now being used in newspapers seems to be along the lines of a withdrawal of “most troops” from “urban areas”. The Christian Science Monitor is the only one to come out and say it, reporting that Mosul should retain more GIs than has been spoken of in recent weeks.

From Iraq
Baghdad was the scene of seven explosions on Monday, the worst being to the west of the city in Abu Ghraib, where a suicide bomber blew up a car near a local council meeting, killing seven Iraqis, wounding seven, and also wounding three US soldiers. Seven (a day of sevens) more were killed by gunfire in Mosul. At least 83 were wounded. Marc Santora of the New York Times sums up the day most succinctly.
The spate of violence renewed concerns that extremists would step up their attacks as the June 30 deadline approached for American troops to withdraw from Iraqi cities. There was no discernible pattern to the attacks on Monday, which were likely intended to undermine a general feeling of security that had grown here as violence had receded.

Some of the blasts were aimed at Iraqi security forces and others singled out civilians. In one attack, a bomb exploded on a minibus carrying high school students to their final exams, killing three of the students, according to witnesses and security officials.
Iraqi viewpoints are given more time in Ernesto Londoño and Nada Bakri’s report in the Washington Post (although someone didn’t realize that lawmaker Shatha al-Ouboussi is a female).
Wael Abdel Latif, an independent Shiite Muslim lawmaker, said three factors are driving the recent violence: the imminent withdrawal of American soldiers from urban areas; growing tension between the parliament and Maliki's cabinet as the legislative body demands more oversight; and the regrouping of Sunni Muslim extremist groups who want to undermine the government.

...Shatha al-Ouboussi, a Sunni lawmaker, said extremists are likely stepping up attacks to make a statement on the eve of the June 30 deadline. "This is a message to everybody that the security situation can deteriorate as soon as the U.S. forces withdraw," he said. "They want to say that we are here and we are capable of carrying out attacks."
Another Sunni lawmaker said, "The situation is very worrisome and there is nothing reassuring," he said. "The withdrawal from cities does not and should not mean that U.S. troops no longer have a responsibility over security. They still have obligations toward Iraq and its people."

The Christian Science Monitor’s Jane Arraf reports from Mosul, mentioning the violence, but focusing on the extent to which US forces are to withdraw on the 30th. The security agreement always left room for the Iraqi government to “request” the continued presence of US troops, and it appears they are doing that, though as far under the radar as possible.

Arraf gives some specifics on how this might work, and what some of the issues in Mosul are.
Under new rules which take effect on July 1, apart from cases of self-defense, US troops will likely have to clear the movement of military vehicles in advance with Iraqi authorities. The provincial governor says he has asked for a sign or other markings on US vehicles after July 1 to show residents that they are not on combat missions and decreed that movement of armored vehicles and equipment adhere to strict guidelines.

"I believe that June 30 should be the date in which the relationship between Iraq and the US is redrawn," Atheel Al Nujaifi, the governor of Ninevah province, says in an interview. "This relationship has to be built on respect between the United States and our citizens and that no force is used against our citizens."
He continued, "If they want to rebuild the Iraqis' trust, they have to treat them with respect," says Nujaifi, adding that heavy-handed treatment of the local population by US soldiers has tarnished the Americans' image here.

The Christian Science Monitor also has piece by its editorial board, entitled “What Iraq Can Teach Iran”. “The weakest reed in Iran's complex system of government has been the claim of a supreme leader with absolute political authority based on his Islamic credentials,” says the editorial, and it explains some of Iran’s internal debate over this issue, and the possibility of this one man rule changing.
That concept of a committee of clerics ruling Iran instead of a supreme leader may not be much of a step toward fuller democracy with a separation of religion and state. And it won't resolve the theological dispute over a supreme political leader among Shiites. But at the least, it is a small step toward the common Shiite notion of a small number of grand ayatollahs in the faith sticking to their role as simply givers of religious rulings and as models of good behavior.
Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is held up as a highly influential Shi’a leader who has been supportive of Iraqi democracy, and brings the American leadership into the mix.
If he wants to send a subtle signal to Iranian dissidents, Mr. Obama could simply praise Sistani's calming, background role as the top ayatollah in helping Iraq's secular democracy. ...Obama has a chance to side with them now by siding with Sistani and the mainstream in Shiite Islam.
Wall Street Journal, USA Today, no original Iraq coverage.

Comments on the US Papers roundup are welcome at


Wounded Warrior Project