...Drip, Drip, Drip, Drip...
There were demonstrations in Iraq calling for the release of Muntathar al-Zaidi in Falluja, in the Sunni Triagle, and in the Baghdad Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiya. This is not relegated to a concern of Sadrist Shiites. In Falluja, US troops fired warning shots:
University students rallied for Zaidi in Fallujah on Wednesday, drawing the attention of U.S. forces.
Students raised their shoes and threw rocks at American soldiers, who reportedly opened fire above the crowd. Protesters said that indirect fire wounded one student, Zaid Salih. U.S. forces haven't confirmed the account.
"We demonstrated to express our support for Muntathar al Zaidi, but we were surprised with the entrance of the U.S. military," said Ahmed Ismail, one of the protesters. "Unconsciously, we raised our shoes expressing our support for al Zaidi, but they attacked us."
I'm sure that won't escalate.
The mood in Iraq these days is, well let's call it "tense". Yesterday demonstrators blocked the passage out of the Green Zone and ignored warning shots.
Al-Zaidi has formally apologized to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for his conduct and begged for forgiveness (his brother thinks it was coerced). For geostrategic reasons alone, he should be set free.
...This raid of the Interior Ministry is interesting. Maliki is clearly using a paramilitary group that he calls an "elite counterterrorism force" to muscle out all his competition. The idea that this was a foiled coup attempt doesn't make sense at all. He is just consolidating power. But if he fails to understand the danger of the al-Zaidi case and the popular movement that could erupt, it won't matter.