Thursday, October 26, 2006

"Islamic Emirate" extending its presence "under the cover of political darkness" is a Riyadh-London news agency. Probably a good description would be to say that if Asharq al-Awsat is pure Saudi regime, and al-Hayat is somewhat less so, and more news-oriented, then Elaph is even a further step away from the regime and in the news-oriented direction, with the added caution that it doesn't appear to believe in consistent or tight editorial control in any direction, which can be a good thing.

Today Elaph reports on events in Diyala province, which lies just to the northeast of Baghdad, between Baghdad and the Iranian border. Its capital is Baaquba. Elaph said there was a "spread of bloody fighting in the province between police [Iraqi Interior Ministry] and armed groups, which have imposed complete control over parts of the province following announcement [in those areas] of an Islamic Emirate. Police have asked from military reinforcements [from the Iraqi Defence Ministry], following death or injury to 14 of the police personnel, among them [a senior police person], along with death and arrest of dozens of the rebels".

The journalist says residents report that "administrative and economic life in the capital Baaquba has come to a halt, with intermittent armed confrontations within the city, and bloody fighting in surrounding areas, which has escalated since the armed groups announced an Islamic Emirate in some of those areas, together with shows of force in villages and towns [around Baaquba] starting three days ago".

"And they [the residents of Baaquba] noted there are contradictions in statements by the American authorities respecting the Iraqi situation, given the dark (or murky) cover over political and security scenes, to the extent that armed groups are now starting to exploit this [the dark or murky political cover] to extend their armed operations, and this led today to the deaths of five Americans [in Anbar province], which brought the death toll to..."

By "contradictions" the journalist is referring to what he calls Bush's "tough warning" to Maliki about American patience running out, as contrasted with the ongoing military cooperation.

Back on the local Diyala situation, the journalist quotes the provincial police chief who said there have been battles between police and AlQaeda around Muradiya and Bani Saad resulting in five police deaths and nine wounded, and five AlQaeda deaths and dozens of arrests. "And the police chief confirmed that the armed groups have been staging parades and distributing pamphlets urging support for the Islamic Emirate, but [the police chief] said they have been "driven out and finished off."

But the official spokesman for the Interior Ministry said these fights are continuing, and he confirmed that there is a request for help from Defence Ministry (Iraqi Army) help to reinforce the position of the police in the region.

For comparison, here is the entire CNN report on these events:

Iraqi security forces clashed with gunmen Thursday morning in two cities in Diyala province, a Diyala Joint Coordination Center official said.

One firefight erupted in Muradiya, just south of Baquba, and a second began in Kan Bani Saad. Baquba is about 35 miles north of Baghdad.

In Kan Bani Saad, at least four people were wounded in fighting and taken to a hospital in eastern Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, a hospital official said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in Muradiya.


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