Merced Sun-Star executive editor Mike Tharp is in Iraq, covering the U.S. occupation for McClatchy Newspapers' Baghdad Bureau. He also covered the War in Iraq during Summer 2008. His stories appear below.
Just as Americans and Iraqis began to congratulate themselves on a relatively quiet week since U.S. combat troops withdrew from Iraq's major cities, insurgents Wednesday set off six bombs in Mosul, the biggest city in northern Iraq, killing 14 and wounding 44. Still, top U.S. officials said trends were positive, and Iraqi officials sounded almost cocky.
Mike Tharp: Most Iraqis regard the U.S. troops as occupiers, some Americans talk about staying longer (Video by The Real News Network)
Shamal — Accented on the second syllable, that means the ill wind that blows in summer across Iraq, and other countries in the region, stirring sandstorms in its wake.
Vice President Joe Biden's surprise two-day visit this weekend to Iraq was meant to "re-establish contact" with leaders here, but some Iraqis bristled at the messenger more than the message. Protestors burned an American flag in Sadr City, a crowded Baghdad slum, and chanted, "No, no for occupation! No, no for America!"
The U.S. military offered no details of how the Americans died on a historic day for Americans and Iraqis alike — a rare if not unprecedented handoff of military sovereignty in an active war zone. Violence also struck Iraqis, with at least 28 killed in a bombing in Kirkuk.
Khalida Waleed of Baghdad, Iraq, wants to thank Oprah Winfrey for keeping her fit. The 34-year-old office manager at an oil company doggedly does her 30-minute treadmill workout several times a week while watching.
The last American patrol in Baghdad? The 75-minute hike was walked Saturday night in the northwest sector of the capital. It may well have been the last patrol before the deadline for U.S. combat forces to withdraw from major Iraqi cities. Or maybe not.
The guys with the guns and bombs and best-laid plans may think the U.S. withdrawal of combat troops from major Iraqi cities will work. But some ordinary Iraqis harbor another idea.
Six days before U.S. combat forces are due to withdraw from major Iraqi cities, a bomb hidden under vegetables on a three-wheeled motorcycle killed at least 60 people and wounded 135 more in Sadr City, a densely populated Shiite Muslim slum in the Iraqi capital.
Five of the explosions were in Baghdad, where at least 11 people were killed and another 65 wounded. U.S. troops have until June 30 to withdraw from Iraq's cities, and the bombings leave many worried Iraqi security forces aren't ready to take control.