Sunday, September 24, 2006

So Much For The Iraqis Taking Over After We Leave

So many of the administration's claims about Iraq have been myth. There was the claim that Saddam had WMD's (debunked by David Kay and the Iraq Survey Group), there was the claim that Saddam had ties to Al Qaeda (debunked by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's report), there was the claim that the Iraq war is making the United States more secure in the war on terror (debunked by the National Intelligence Estimate report leaked to the NY Times and Washington Post yesterday.) Now there is another Bush administration myth debunked by the Associated Press tonight - that the Iraqi troops are going to be capable of taking over the security of Baghdad after the Americans leave:

The plan was simple: Iraqi troops would block escape routes while U.S. soldiers searched for weapons house-by-house. But the Iraqi troops didn't show up on time.

When they finally did appear, the Iraqis ignored U.S. orders and let dozens of cars pass through checkpoints in eastern Baghdad — including an ambulance full of armed militiamen, American soldiers said in recent interviews.

It wasn't an isolated incident, they added.

Senior U.S. commanders have hailed the performance of Iraqi troops in the crackdown on militias and insurgents in Baghdad. But some U.S. soldiers say the Iraqis serving alongside them are among the worst they've ever seen — seeming more loyal to militias than the government.

That raises doubts whether the Iraqis can maintain order once the security operation is over and the Americans have left. It also raises broader questions about the training, reliability and loyalty of Iraqi troops — who must be competent, U.S. officials say, before America can begin pulling out of Iraq.

Last week, for example, Sgt. 1st Class Eric Sheehan could barely contain his frustration when he discovered that barriers and concertina wire that were supposed to bolster defensive positions had been dragged away — again — under the noses of nearby Iraqi soldiers.

"(I) suggest we fire these IAs and get them out of the way," Sheehan, of Jennerstown, Pa., reported to senior officers, referring to Iraqi army troops. "There's nothing we can do," came the reply.

U.S. soldiers from the 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment eventually blocked the road again while Iraqi troops watched from a distance.

Some Americans speculated the missing barriers were dragged off to strengthen militia defenses in nearby Sadr City, a sprawling Shiite neighborhood that is a stronghold of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

"They've been doing this all week. They're working against us," said Sheehan, who resorted to waking up the senior Iraqi officer at the checkpoint to complain — futilely.

During another mission, Iraqi soldiers were suspected of looting the house of a wealthy resident, U.S. troops said.

Some Americans said they had seen much better Iraqi troops in the northern cities of Mosul and Tal Afar, which have more Kurdish soldiers. They have been disappointed by the performance of units committed to the Baghdad fight.

What a mess.

Even gung-ho soldiers report that the Iraqi soldiers in and around Baghdad are worthless.
And yet, the right will still bang their drums to the same beat as always, denying the facts and distorting the truth.
prageutwin, thanks for that link. The power of the militias is a real problem and it barely gets mentioned by the U.S. press or the administration. Maybe they're hoping it will go away?

korova, they hit the same simple narrative lines over and over, even when they're obviously false, because the strategy works. I guess we're a country of mostly dumb people who would rather believe spin than our own eyes.
They ignore the militias because it is a problem they can't address.

Oh, I get it now. Sarcasm. I can be dense sometimes.

You are right, it isn't going away.
The scary thing is, I wonder if Bush understands the problem w/ the militias? Or cheney for that matter? They tend to lump everybody into "good guys" and "bad guys" and a complex breakdown of ethnic and religious militias might be a little too difficult for them to comprehend.
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