Iraq Report: The search, Kurds attacked, SCIRI, Sunni moves
The search is on for the 3 missing soldiers who are believed to have been captured after a complex assualt on a U.S. Army patrol on the outskirts of Mahmudiyah Saturday morning. Over 4,000 troops, along with aerial and satellite surveillance, and elements of the Anbar Salvation Council, are involved. Al Qaeda in Iraq's political front the Islamic State of Iraq has claimed it has captured the 3 soldiers, but has not offered any evidence.
Al Qaeda has hit the Kurds for the second time in five days. A suicide bomber struck the local offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Makhmur, killing at least 50 and wounding over 70. "Colonel Abdul Qadir al Harky, the head of police in Makhmour, said there were many bodies under the rubble and he expected the death toll to rise," reported Al Jazeera. In Baghdad, a car bomb exploded near the Shia Sadriyah market, killing 7 and wounding over 40.
On the political front, the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the largest Shia political party, has changed its name and shifted its center of political and religious support from the Qom school of thought, led by the Iranian Ayatollah in Iran, to the Najaf school of thought, led by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. This would "mark a shift from SCIRI's current platform, which says the group gets its guidance from the religious establishment of Welayat al Faqih, led by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran," Reuters reported on Friday.
SCIRI has renamed itself the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, dropping the "Revolution" from the name. While the source stated the name change was due to Saddam's overthrow, the change is far more significant. The term revolution is closely associated with Ayatollah Khomeini's rise to power in 1979 and the radical change Khomeini introduced in Shia politics.
Also, on the Sunni side of the political equation, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi has backed down from a threat to withdrawal from the Iraqi government. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has offered to give a greater role to Sunnis in securing their regions. "One Sunni Arab politician, Omar Abdul-Sattar, said 11,000 volunteers from Sunni areas west of the capital have been waiting for months to hear news about their applications to join the army," The Associated Press reported. This comes as Prime Minister Maliki stated that an unspecified amount of additional Iraqi troops would be sent into Diyala.
On the security front, Iraqi and Coalition forces press the hunt for Sunni and Shia insurgents nationwide. On Saturday, the Iraqi Army led a joint operation in Muqdadiya in Diyala province, and captured 21 suspected insurgents. On Sunday, Task Force 145 captured 35 during raids against al Qaeda leaders and operatives in Tarmiyah, Baghdad and Fallujah. Also, Task Force 145 conducted a raid in Sadr City against yet another Mahdi Army cell. "Three suspected members of a secret cell terrorist network known for its use of explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, as well as facilitating the transport of weapons and EFPs from Iran to Iraq, and bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training," according to the Multinational Forces Iraq press release.