Updated at 5:50 p.m. EST, Nov. 18, 2008
At least 23 Iraqis
were killed and 35 more were wounded in the latest reports of violence. In
political news, elections have been set for Jan. 31 in most of Iraq's 18 provinces.
The top Iraqi cleric gave tacit support to a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement now
being debated in parliament. Meanwhile, Corruption watchdog group, Transparency
International, has called
Iraq the third most corrupt country in the world, and demonstrators are moving
their vigil for an Iranian dissident group living in Iraq from New York to Washington.
Provincial elections will take place on Jan. 31 in most of Iraq except
the Kurdish Autonomous Region and At Tamim province. It was At Tamim province,
also known as Kirkuk, which stalled the elections earlier this year. At issue
is a power sharing plane for the multi-ethnic province. Iraqi Kurdistan would
like to incorporate the province within its borders as well, so more discussions
will have to take place before an election can be scheduled. Kurdistan operates
separately from the rest of Iraq and does not have to schedule elections at the
Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has
left it up to Parliament to decide whether the U.S-Iraqi security agreement
they are currently debating will be successful for Iraq. As top cleric in the
country, his opinion could sway many followers into supporting the pact. He however
reiterated that the pact needs significant backing from political groups as well
as restoring Iraqi sovereignty. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki publicly
defended the pact despite
admitting he also has reservations about it.
called Iraq the third most
corrupt country in the world. The non-governmental agency, which is based in Germany,
said that Iraq has charged over 300 officials with corruption and 86 of them were
found guilty. Rahim al-Ugaili, the head of the Iraqi Integrity Commission, added
that many of the convicted were low-level officials caught selling fake passports.
At the same time, PM Maliki has secretly fired
a number of fraud inspectors, leading critics to wonder if the firings were politically
Ugaili also said that an amnesty law prevented his office from
prosecuting 1,721 Sunni Arabs suspected of graft; however, the amnesty law itself
was passed to prevent corrupt officials from abusing their powers and keeping
innocent people in jail. Many Iraqis have been arrested and kept in jail without
being charged with crimes. Some wait months and years to see trial, even in U.S.
custody. Sunni Arabs fear that the Shi'ite majority government will target them
for this type of abuse.
Iranian demonstrators ended
a 65-day vigil at the United Nations building in New York City and have
plans to move it to a park across the street from the White House in Washington.
The protestors are concerned about the fate of apporximately 3,000 Iranians who
live at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. This dissident group was allowed to move to
Iraq during the Saddam era, and the new Iraqi government would like them to leave
the country now. Iran wants them back, but the group could suffer if they are
forcibly sent home, making them a politcial hotcake for the Iraqi government.
U.S. forces handed
over responsibility for the group to Iraqi authorities in September.
bodies were discovered in a mass grave in Ur. Two
people were wounded in a bombing in the Nahda district. In Qadisiyah,
a roadside bomb wounded the
wife and son of a ministry official. A bomb in Kasra wounded
another person. A pair of successive bombs in Doura injured
two policemen. Also, four Iraqi
security personnel were wounded during operation in which one
gunman was killed.
person was killed and 16 were wounded during a blast in Sinjar.
A gun battle between suspected al-Qaeda and an Awakening Council (Sahwa) near
Samarra left five suspects
dead and three more wounded.
was killed as he was planting a bomb in Baiji. Two
others were wounded.
women were wounded during a roadside bombing in Katoun.
in Mosul left no
Near Karbala, 21 cluster bombs were seized.
suspects were captured in Tarmiyah.
Iran reportedly killed
a number of Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) members in Iran. The
men were of Turkish origin. The PJAK is an offshoot of the Kurdistan
Worker's Party (PKK) which is a separatist group that wants to create an autonomous
Kurdistan in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria and Armenia. The PJAK specifically targets
Iran and uses northern Iraq from which to launch attacks against Iran.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis