With a few key Ministries missing, Iraq's parliament has approved
the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and his cabinet. Those missing ministries? Interior and defense, the departments responsible for security in the country. In addition to the inability of the parliament to decide on those posts, the session was disrupted by the walkout of some Sunni Arab members who protested they had been left out of negotiations for cabinet posts.
With the two critical security posts unfilled (al-Maliki says he'll run the interior, and one of his deputies the defense ministry in the interim), the insurgency rages and the Myth of the Purple Finger seems even more hollow.
Maliki's choices for those jobs are critical to stopping the country's rampant violence, which continued apace on Saturday. Bombs and other attacks killed more than 30 people, while the police found the bodies of 15 Iraqis a few hours before legislators cast a series of quick, raised-hands votes approving the cabinet nominees.
In the worst incident, which killed 25 people and wounded 74, a pickup truck loaded with explosives detonated in the predominantly Shiite slum of Sadr City in Baghdad, in a square where day laborers gather to look for jobs, police Maj. Muhammad Abdul Hassan said.
In the town of Qaim, 200 miles west of Baghdad near the Syrian border, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest inside a police station, killing six policemen and wounding 19, said Hamdi al-Aloosi, the director of the Qaim hospital....
In Mussaiyib, 40 miles south of Baghdad, police found the bodies of 15 Iraqis in civilian clothes who apparently had been kidnapped and tortured, Abdul Hassan said. And in Najaf, a Shiite holy city south of Baghdad, armed men attacked a convoy of Ammar al-Hakim, the son of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution, the largest Shiite political party. One of his bodyguards was killed and two wounded; Ammar Hakim was not in the convoy, Abdul Hassan said.
Juan Cole has a complete rundown with analysis of today's developments. He notes this particularly sad and discouraging story about how the violence in the civil war is preventing people from giving their loved ones proper funerals.
Iraq's insurgents have found no ceremony too sacred to attack, striking at mosques and shrines, wakes and funerals, and weddings with mortar shells, roadside explosives and suicide bombs despite criticism from religious leaders.
Any gathering is a target for sectarian insurgent attacks, and BushCo's touted "new" permanent government in Iraq can do nothing about it. Hope for a U.S. withdrawal of troops, at least as long as this administration and Congress is in place, rests entirely upon the ability of the Iraqi government to maintain security, and that goal is nowhere in sight.