Updated at 8:15 p.m. EST, Jan. 28, 2009
U.S. President Obama is
meeting with defense officials at the White House today to discuss drawdown
plans just as early polling begins in Iraq. Meanwhile, at least seven Iraqis
were killed and another 10 were wounded in light violence.
today for security officials, prisoners and others who will not be able to
vote on Saturday when the general public takes part in provincial elects. Political
observers are closely watching how the election may change the power structure
in the west, Shi'ites
in the south, and Kurds in
the north. As hopeless as it may seem for them, even the Communists
are vying to get their voice heard in Saturday's election. Meanwhile, security
concern that al-Qaeda may try to disrupt elections or that violence may break
out after results are posted. Also, seven people were arrested
in connection with suspected voter fraud.
The White House is
the scene of a strategy meeting today. Defense officials are expected to show
the president a 16-month withdrawal plan that will allow President Obama to keep
one of his campaign promises. They are also expected to make an appeal to the
president to break that promise and instead make what they think are more reasonable
drawdown plans. Some believe a 16-month withdrawal will threaten the hard-earned
but fragile stability.
In other political news, Iraq sent
Syria its first ambassador in about three decades. Japan's ex-prime minister,
Shinzo Abe, made
a rare trip to Iraq to sign a partnership accord that will allow the two countries
work together on energy and economic issues.
The British are
hoping that Basra remains relatively peaceful during the elections. A crackdown
lead by the Iraqis and supported by the U.S. last year supposedly rid the city
of militia violence, but at least 133 women were reported
killed in religious violence during this period of "peace." In 2007, the body
count was estimated
to be 15 per month, which is only slightly higher than last year.
Iraqi army soldiers were killed and six more were wounded when an I.E.D. blasted
them in Saidiya.
Iraqi policemen were killed during an attack on a polling station Tuz Khormato.
A civilian was killed in a
roadside bomb attack.
In Baghdad, a member
of the Islamic Party was assassinated.
In Mosul, a roadside
bomb killed a policeman and
injured a second one.
A bomb planted at a dressmaker's store wounded
Najaf police arrested
three men accused of planting bombs on a highway leading towards Karbala.
Many pilgrims are expected to visit Karbala as part of the Arbaeen observance.
suspects were arrested and
in a separate incident a bomb at an oil well was defused in separate parts of
Compiled by Margaret Griffis