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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


Yeah, this will work

Mohammed Ameen/Reuters
A woman walked past the scene of a car bomb
attack in Baghdad. The police said that the attack
killed two people and wounded six.

Iraq Leader and Sunni Officials in Sectarian Clash on Security

Published: January 26, 2007

BAGHDAD, Jan. 25 — Iraq’s Shiite prime minister and Sunni lawmakers hurled insults at one another during a raucous session of Parliament on Thursday, with the prime minister threatening a Sunni lawmaker with arrest and the Sunni speaker of Parliament threatening to quit.

The uproar revolved around the new Baghdad security plan, but it came as the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, is under increasing pressure to demonstrate even-handedness. President Bush’s new strategy for Iraq hinges in large measure on the Iraqi government’s ability to rein in both Shiite and Sunni militants.

In Parliament on Thursday, Mr. Maliki focused his anger on Sunni lawmakers, accusing one of being involved in sectarian kidnappings. The confrontation erupted after Mr. Maliki described the outlines of the new Baghdad security plan and pledged there would be no “safe haven” for militants.

The leader of a powerful Sunni bloc, Abdul Nasir al-Janabi, provoked Mr. Maliki, saying over jeers from Shiite politicians, “We cannot trust the office of the prime minister.”

His microphone was quickly shut off, and Mr. Maliki lashed into him, essentially accusing him of being one of the outlaws he had just said would not be granted sanctuary.

“I will show you,” Mr. Maliki said, waving his finger in the air. “I will turn over the documents we have,” implying that the legislator was guilty of crimes.

While the politicians battled in Parliament, the sectarian battle on the streets went on unabated, with 25 people killed by a suicide car bomb in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad.

It was the latest in a series of attacks directed at Shiites, claiming more than 200 lives in little more than a week and increasing pressure on Mr. Maliki to restrain his supporters from exacting revenge. Sunni leaders and critics of the administration’s strategy remain deeply skeptical about Mr. Maliki’s ability or desire to confront the Shiite militias, particularly the Mahdi Army of Moktada al-Sadr, one of his most important political backers.

American military officers say they have seen evidence in the past of the Maliki government using its influence with Iraq’s security forces to further a sectarian agenda, turning a blind eye to Shiite militia death squads while cracking down on Sunni insurgents.

Mr. Maliki spent much of his speech before Parliament trying to counter that image, going further than he has before by promising to stop sectarian militias from driving rivals out of their neighborhoods and to return houses to their rightful owners. It is a daunting challenge given that the map of Baghdad has been almost completely redrawn along sectarian lines over the past year, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

“Let it be known today or tomorrow, we will start arresting anybody who took by force the house of a displaced family,” he said.

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