Suicide attacks in Baghdad kill nearly 100 people; Iraqi Army launches an operation against Al Qaeda in Mesopatamia in Mosul; Iraq’s Presidency Council approves the Accountability and Justice Law
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  • Two women suicide bombers killed nearly 100 people in a crowded Baghdad market place on February 1 with the US military blaming the Al Qaeda in Mesopatamia (AIM) for the attacks. Prime Minister Maliki vowed to “crush the terrorists and target their strongholds” while Secretary Rice condemned the “absolute bankruptcy and brutality” of the perpetrators1. This was the deadliest attack in Baghdad since the April 18, 2007 incident which killed over 190 people.

    Iraqi forces meanwhile launched an operation in the northern city of Mosul to drive out the AIM. The outfit was held responsible for a blast in the city on January 23 which claimed over 50 lives. Guerillas also ambushed a convoy with a roadside bomb in Mosul on January 28 claiming 5 American lives. This brought the number of American soldiers killed in the year to 36, and reinforced the ability of insurgents to strike in the north at random.

    In other developments, Iraq’s Presidency Council – made up of President Jalal Talabani (Kurdish), Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, Shiite Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi and Prime Minister Maliki, approved the Accountability and Justice Law on February 3. The Law, which promises to provide ex-Bathists a share in the government jobs, was earlier passed by the Parliament in the previous month.

    Reuters quoted Narmeen Othman, Iraq's acting minister for women's affairs as stating that the number of divorcees and widows in the country could be as high as 2 million out of a total population of 27 million. Parliamentarian Samira al-Moussawi put the figure at close to 1 million, out of a total of 8.5 million women aged between 15 and 80 years. The statistics revealed the difficult socio-economic aspect to the conflict and the lack of proper effort on the part of the government to deal with the situation2.