Iraqi Lawmakers Meet a Benchmark

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Iraqi leaders have met the first of 18 benchmarks laid out by Congress to measure progress in Iraq. The Iraqi Parliament passed a law allowing former low-level members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to hold government jobs. Many of the countries top administrators were forced out in the so-called de-Baathification process. The U.S. initially supported that effort, but later said the commission in charge of it had gone to far. The new law does not allow those who held senior positions in the party to work, but it does allow them to claim their pensions.

Violence plagued Iraq's Diyala province this week. A female suicide bomber killed at least nine people who were preparing for Shiite Islam's holiest festival, Ashoura. Thursday, another suicide bomber denoted a bomb in a Shiite Mosque also in the Diyala province, killing 10 men as they observed the holiday.

"The surge has in some ways contributed to more violence in Diyala and more problems there," said Amit Paley, a reporter for the Washington Post reporter, who was embedded there last week. "The surge, the build up of troops in Baghdad, and also the success of what is known as the Sunni awakening and Sunni groups joining the United States to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq in western Anbar province. The success of those two efforts has pushed a lot of the insurgents out of those areas and caused them to flee to parts of northern Iraq like Mosul and in particular Diyala province."

Also this week, Iraq's minister of defense said that the country would be unable to protect itself from an external threat until 2012.

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