Moqtada al-Sadr has pulled his faction out of the Iraqi government in protest of the continuing US presence in the country. Said Nassar al-Rubaie, head of the bloc: “Al-Sadr’s ministers will withdraw immediately and give the six cabinet seats to the government.” While relinquishing their cabinet seats, the Sadrists are expected to remain in parliament. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki says he sees no need to set a timetable for a US troop withdrawal, but his government is working to build up Iraq’s security forces as quickly as possible so the US-led forces can leave. (AlJazeera, April 16)
At least 45 people were killed by six bombs, gunfire and artillery blasts in Shi’ite areas of Baghdad April 15, the day after a bombing in the Shi’ite holy city of Karbala killed 47 and wounded 224. The Karbala blast went off in a marketplace, ripping through vendor stands near the Shi’ite shrine where Hussein, the grandson of the prophet Mohammed, is buried.
In a rare gesture of dissent, dozens of Iraqi policemen demonstrated in front of their station in Baghdad’s eastern neighborhood of Mashtal, accusing US troops of treating them like “animals” and “slaves.” US forces killed three Iraqi police officers April 16 in a case of friendly fire during a raid near Ramadi, the military admitted.
Around 3,000 residents in Basra also demonstrated peacefully against poor services in the city. They complained of inadequate electricity, rubbish disposal and water supplies. (The New Standard, Echo Online, April 16)
Is it civil war yet?