Iraq’s leaders have just months to mend their differences or see their country collapse, the speaker of parliament told wrangling deputies on Wednesday after a car bomb caused dozens of casualties at the morning rush hour.
Silencing one angry dissenter, Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani told the assembly: “Let’s start talking the same language.
“We have three to four months to reconcile with each other,” Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab, said of a national reconciliation aimed at averting ethnic and sectarian civil war.
“If the country doesn’t survive this, it will go under.”
The arrest of al-Qaida in Iraq’s second in command took place in June, and not a few days ago as the Iraqi government had initially announced, a U.S. military spokesman said today.
Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi, also known as Abu Humam or Abu Rana, was captured on June 19. Other suspects were in custody, he said, but their names have not yet been made public.
National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie announced al-Saeedi’s arrest Sunday, saying it had occurred a few days earlier.
Iraq and the US military will sign a delayed accord under which coalition forces will hand command of Iraqi armed forces to the government, according to a spokesman for Iraq’s prime minister.
The agreement was initially to be signed on Saturday, but the handover ceremony was abruptly cancelled after disagreements on the Iraqi side over who should sign the handover on the government’s behalf.
Dabaqh said Maliki will name a senior official to sign the agreement, but did not reveal who this would be.
The U.S. Army brigade whose yearlong tour of duty in Iraq was extended by the Pentagon last month just as the Soldiers were beginning to return home has suffered its first death since taking on the extra duty.
The Defense Department announced on Tuesday the death of Staff Sgt. Eugene H.E. Alex, 32, from Michigan. He was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade, from Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
Britain will deploy 360 extra troops to Iraq later this year to reinforce its 7,200-strong force in the restive southern city of Basra, a military spokesman said Wednesday.
The reinforcements will beef up the British presence at a time when their main unit is being replaced with another under a planned six-month rotation, Major Charlie Burbridge told AFP by telephone from Basra.
Two British troops were killed Monday when a roadside bomb ripped open their lightly-armoured vehicle as it escorted a reconstruction team north of Basra, bringing the total losses since the March 2003 invasion to 117.
But Burbridge insisted that the reinforcements were not being sent in response to the dangerous security situation, which has seen increasing conflict between coalition forces and Shiite militias.