Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas in Iraq

Not too much peace on earth these days in Iraq thanks to Preznut Bush's brilliant Iraq war strategy:

First, the Brits had to take on a "renegade police force" in Basra and blow up their headquarters:
BAGHDAD, Dec. 25 – Hundreds of British soldiers laid siege to a police station in the southern city of Basra today, killing seven gunmen, rescuing 127 prisoners from almost certain execution and ultimately reducing the building to rubble.

The focus of the attack was an arm of the local police called the Special Crimes Unit, which British officials said had been thoroughly infiltrated by criminals and militia members who had used it to terrorize local residents and violently settle scores with political or tribal rivals.
Then the U.S. said it captured 4 Iranians the administration claims who were "meddling" in Iraqi affairs:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration said on Monday the arrest in Iraq of alleged Iranian provocateurs, including two diplomats, underscored U.S. concerns about "meddling" amid rising U.S.-Iranian strains.

U.S.-led forces detained the Iranians during operations "against those planning and plotting attacks against multinational forces, Iraqi forces and Iraqi citizens," the State Department said.

"In the course of those operations, multinational forces recently picked up groups of individuals involved in these kinds of activities, including Iranians operating inside Iraq," it said.

Via Mike at Crest, we learn from the Australian Sun that Iraq's Interior Minister has blamed "a regional power" for the recent mass kidnappings of Shiites in Baghdad:

Jawad al-Bolani said an investigation into the hostage-takings, in which large squads of gunmen in camouflage uniforms and police jeeps grabbed dozens of Iraqis from central Baghdad, would soon lead to charges.

"The mass kidnappings were messages addressed to the Iraqi political process and the government,'' Mr Bolani said.

"We have uncovered information and we will soon bring those behind these kidnappings to justice. There is a regional actor behind these kidnappings and we will soon place the results of our inquiry before the public.''

Commanders of the US force deployed in Iraq, in support of the Government, regularly accuse both Iran and Syria of fomenting unrest, but Mr Bolani would not be drawn on the identity of the country or countries fingered by his inquiry.

Bolani is undoubtedly talking about Syria. So now we have the U.S. accusing Iran of fomenting and/or financing violence and murder in Iraq against coalition and Iraqi forces and a Shia minister in the Maliki government accusing the Syrians of backing the Sunni insurgency.

The regional war between Sunni and Shia becomes more and more open by the day.

In the meantime, Preznut Bush is getting ready to tell the American people he's going to send another 20,000-30,000 additional troops to Iraq to handle the deteriorating security conditions in Baghdad while the civil war rages unabated:

*BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb exploded near a U.S. patrol in southern Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding two, the U.S. military said in a statement.

*ANBAR - Two U.S. soldiers were killed in action in Iraq's western Anbar province on Sunday, the U.S. military said in a statement.

BAGHDAD - A car bomb killed at least 10 people and wounded 15 when it exploded on a busy commercial street in the mainly Shi'ite New Baghdad district of the Iraqi capital, police said.

BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber killed three people and wounded 20 others when he blew himself up aboard a crowded bus in the Shi'ite Talibiya district in northeastern Baghdad, Interior Ministry sources said.

RAMADI - A suicide bomber targeting a police checkpoint near the main entrance of Anbar University killed three policemen and wounded two students in the city of Ramadi, 110 km (70 miles) west of Baghdad, police Lieutenant Kareem al-Rishawi said.

The U.S. military said one student and one police man were killed, and five police wounded. The bomber was also killed. A U.S. statement said the reports of three policemen dead were a deliberate inflation of the casualties in an effort to intimidate the police and dissuade people from enlisting.

MAHAWEEL - Gunmen killed a police lieutenant colonel and wounded three other policemen in a drive-by shooting in the town of Mahaweel, 75 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad, police said. An Interior Ministry source said two of the policemen with the officer also died in the attack.

MUSSAYAB - Gunmen killed one civilian after they stormed his house on Sunday night in Mussayab, 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

JURF AL-SAKHAR - Gunmen wounded three policemen when they attacked a police checkpoint on Sunday in Jurf al-Sakhar, about 85 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

HAWIJA - Gunmen killed two Shi'ite brothers on Sunday in the town of Hawija, 190 km (120 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD - A total of 29 bodies were found shot dead, with most showing signs of torture, in different districts of Baghdad on Sunday, an Interior Ministry source said.

RUMAITHA - Clashes between security forces and militiamen loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr killed six people and seriously wounded one on Sunday in the southern Iraqi town of Rumaitha, 25 km (16 miles) north of Samawa, police said. Three days of clashes have killed at least eight people in Samawa.

MOSUL - A total of seven bodies, including three policemen, were found in different districts of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, a hospital source said.

8 Americans were killed in Iraq over the weekend and U.S. casualties in Iraq now stand at 2,972.

That toll is guaranteed to increase as the preznut doubles down and surges troops levels in Iraq from 140,000 to 160,000+.

And don't expect the additional troops to come home any time soon. Neocon Bill Kristol said yesterday on FOX News that the troop surge cannot be temporary because the bad guys will just wait us out for whatever time allotment is given for the surge:

"There's no point having a short term surge," Kristol said on Fox News Channel. "Especially, if it's proclaimed ahead of time that it's just short term. Then [the enemy] goes into hiding for 3 or 6 months."

"We pull back and we're in the same situation," the Weekly Standard editor said. "Bush will commit -- I believe, when he speaks in a couple of weeks -- to doing this. That this is a strategy for victory and that he's willing to do this for the remaining 2 years of his presidency."

Forcasting the president's plan for Iraq, Kristol adds, "I think [Bush] will say 'We can win. We have to win. We're going to increase troop levels as part of a new strategy for the sake of victory.' And, so, it will not be a short term surge."

There you have it - the preznut's "strategy for victory" in Iraq is to send 20,000-30,000 additional troops into the middle of an expanding regional conflict between Sunni and Shia and hope to hell they can lessen the violence.

Given that the last "Baghdad Troop Surge" in August-October resulted in higher sectarian violence and insurgent attacks than before, I have serious reservations that Bush's "New Way Forward" strategy will accomplish much. Still, the troop surge should take us right to the end of 2008, which is ultimately what Bush is looking to have happen. This way he can wash his hands of the whole business and hand it off to the next guy or girl.

Let's see how Congressional Republicans, GOP strategists and the '08 presidential candidates other than McCain feel about Bush doubling down on the Iraq war for the next two years after the Grand Old Party got trounced at the ballot box in 2006 on that very issue. I bet a more than few Repubs are going to follow Indiana Congressman Mike Souder and publicly criticize the preznut's plan:

I think it’s intriguing that the president is looking at trying to put more troops on the ground like Sen. McCain has suggested all the way along. But my impression – and I haven’t been there since spring – is that we’ve passed that point. Even doubling the number of troops on the ground won’t do it. Instead of just having potentially a few thousand people that you’re trying to stabilize who are picking at random where to hit, or even 20,000, basically at this point the whole country’s engaged. Which means an increase in troop power isn’t going to stabilize it.

I give it three months from the beginning of the surge before Bush faces a full-scale revolt in his own party over his Iraq war policy. Let's say by April or May. If Bush can't point to some improvements in the security situation and sectarian violence in Baghdad by then (and I mean REAL improvements, not phony Rovian/Rumsfeldian spin masking as improvement), he's going to have watch his back at the GOP Memorial Day Prayer Breakfast. Listening to Joe Scarborough and some other former war supporters/Bush supporters/Republicans who've turned against the preznut and his war of choice, I wouldn't be surprised if they try and take him down before he takes the Grand Old Party down in the '08 elections.

Here is the thing: when Congress comes back in session they very well may withold funding for the surge and then it will be all the Democrats fault.

Do you think the Dems would go that far, or will they continue to give Bush the rope he needs to hang himself?
pt, the Dem leadership has said repeatedly that they will not withhold money from the funding of the war. They say that Americans are in harm's way and they will not put them in further danger by not giving them the funds they need. Plus, Dems learned from Vietnam when they cut off Nixon's funds for an unpopular war and got tarred as the "defeatists" by the Nixon/Kissinger camp.

So no, I don't think the Dem Congress will cut off funds. The troop surge is going to go ahead if the Decider decides that's what he wants (and all indications are he has already "decided".)

That said, with only 11%-12% supporting a troop surge in the latest CNN and La Times/Bloomberg polls, it is those lawmakers and politicians who support the troop surge who are most at risk politically.

That's why you are seeing some Repubs like Mike Souder of Indiana going on record saying "I think the time for escalation is long past." Same goes for General Powell who seems to be very publicly undercutting the administration at a crucial moment in their "policy re-evaluation" stage.

If the troop surge produces some positive results, then perhaps the Decider and those who backed him on the surge will get something positive out of the surge for themselves. But given the reality on the ground and the fact that most of the military commanders think the time for surge is over, I don't anything positive will come from the surge. 20,000-30,000 additional sent to Iraq for the next 2 years (as Bill Kristol says the time period will be) will do little for the civil war and conditions in Iraq other than increase American casualties. Because the sense by most sane observers is that this thing is too far gone for Americans to have any positive impact anymore (especially since Sistani is opposed to the Hadley plan to isolate Sadr and the Mahdi Army from power.)

Sorry for the long comment!
It's too bad the media never discusses any of the good things that are happening in Iraq.
Steve, I think the media took that criticism to heart two years ago and stopped reporting every car bomb that went off and tried to send reporters out to cover opening schools, energy plants and so forth.

But the truth of the matter is, it is too dangerous for western reporters to venture far out of the Green Zone w/out military escort (and even then, as we saw with Kimberly Dozier, Bob Woodruff, and others that's not enough to keep press people safe.) That fact alone says mountains about the conditions in Iraq. How much good stuff can be going on when reporters can't leave the Green Zone w/out threat of kidnapping, beheading, roadside bombs attacks, insurgent attacks, etc.?

Also, most stories that deal with education, the electricity, etc. have shown how the insurgency and the sectarian violence have made things worse, not better, despite the efforts of the Americans. The LA Times had a story about schools in Iraq that said most parents don't send their kids anymore because they're afraid they'll be killed either en route or during an attack on the school. Not so good. And Baghdad still only has electricity a few hours a day. Again, not so good. Conditions for women have worsened as the crazy Islamists run things throughout the south. Again, not so good. So I'm not sure what "good news" you can get out of Iraq when most of what is happening is either horrific or bad.
Thanks for the long comment RBE,

I really appreciate it. You have been doing your homework which makes it easier for me.

So the short answer is they will give all the rope he needs to hang himself. It is pretty cynical, but what choice do they have?


What good news are you refering to?
pt, that seems to be it.
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