Of course, if taken absolutely word-by-word literally, existing violence and chaos “beyond greater Baghdad” which experiences an uptick in frequency and/or brutality would not be a “spread.” Spare us the obfuscation and eternal dance of denial of those tasked with mucking in the quagmire.
[Gen. George W. Casey] said he considers it “unlikely” that violence would spread much beyond greater Baghdad because the battle for the city is “the central struggle” for control of Iraq. Article
When yin and yang (or if you prefer, Frick and Frack) agree…
Former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright urged President Bush on Wednesday to go beyond a planned buildup of U.S. forces in Iraq to develop a comprehensive strategy for the area.
They called for wide-ranging talks with Iraq’s neighbors, including Iran and Syria, and increased autonomy for clashing Iraqi groups. The administration has brushed aside the proposal to engage Syria and Iran. Article
Contours of chaos.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has released a report saying more than 1.5 million people have been displaced inside Iraq, surviving without some of the most basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter. Article
Related, from Sweden:
The Migration Board has in recent weeks reported a rise in the number of Iraqi nationals seeking asylum, and estimated some 3,000 people had applied for asylum last December. Article
So how’s that training going? “Inside” a barracks?
And not far away from Baghdad, a suicide bomber blew himself up inside an Iraqi army barrack in al-Muqdadiyah district, 80 km northeast of Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding ten others. Article
Take careful note of some of the contents listed.
Iraqi troops and U.S. soldiers from Multinational Division Baghdad found a large military-equipment cache near an eastern Baghdad warehouse Jan. 29. Troops with the 2nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, and the U.S. Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, discovered the cache, which included 200 pairs of military boots, 150 helmets, 150 flak vests, 75 armor plates, an improvised explosive device initiator, U.S. military field rations, and a variety of uniforms, including U.S. uniforms.
“There was enough gear in there to outfit a battalion,” said Army Capt. James Ojeda, a fire support trainer with the brigade’s Military Transition Team.
A few of the items were already being sold on the open market, Ojeda said, but most were still in the warehouse. The items in the market were discovered by chance when a brigade senior noncommissioned officer spotted them while returning from a combat logistics patrol. The items in the market were seized on the spot, and this led to the cordon-and-search mission, which uncovered the cache. Article
The data from the hostilities outside of Najaf remain in flux and daily become murkier.
The messianic Shi’a cult that battled US and Iraqi forces last weekend had been known to authorities for two years and was believed to have no links to other Shi’a groups, an interior ministry official said on Wednesday.
But so much conflicting information has been released that significant details - including the identity of the leader and the group’s intentions - remain murky. Official accounts have raised numerous questions. Article
A convoy of thirteen journalists was based at a hotel in Najaf. Among them was the American journalist, Hoffman Smith, and the Iraqi journalist, Aws al Khafaji, who said, “We had an agreement with the American troops to head to the field where the fighting was taking place, but then we were locked in the hotel by the Iraqi forces who forbode any journalist to head to the place.” Article
Tracking the spiral: Another reporter wraps up a doleful assignment.
For Reuters journalists, this week’s high points were the safe return of two colleagues seized by a death squad which shot two other hostages and the survival of the teenage nephew of another employee who was kidnapped and tortured in Baghdad.
The lows, as I complete nearly two years running the news agency’s operations in Iraq, were sending condolences to the family of our former driver Ismail Ibrahim, who was gunned down in Mosul this month, and trying to find out from U.S. forces why they seem intent on detaining our reporter in Ramadi for a third time.
I have watched colleagues go pale and weep in the newsroom as word came in of relatives slaughtered, heard their tales of midnight flight from family homes in fear of their lives and took dazed reports from those caught up in suicide bombings.
These are the everyday stories of Iraqis today, and their ebb and flow through our office has been a vital part of gauging the state of Iraq.
Journalists face particular dangers, too. A policeman pistol whipped our Najaf correspondent this week, a commonplace occurrence. Article
Shorter version: It (that being the woebegone G. Walker administration’s neocon-fueled illegal invasion and occupation) would be a snap, but for such ‘obstacles’ as – er, um – the people, the culture, the society, the politicians. etc., etc., etc.
It’s amazing, frankly, that even as the Scooter Libby trial reveals the machinations of an Administration determined to prevent any jabs of reality from puncturing the “Iraq threat” scarecrow it had built to stampede Americans into war, the same crowd are getting a free hand to build an “Iran threat” scarecrow.
From the very outset, this democratically elected government was an obstacle to the realization of U.S. goals in Iraq, because it didn’t necessarily share them. Not in terms of the desired domestic political arrangements for a post-Saddam Iraq; not in terms of U.S. policy in the Middle East more widely; and certainly not on Iran. And with Iran now identified as the premier strategic threat, the U.S. objectives in the region had to be recallibrated, and suddenly the old Arab autocracies that were to be swept away in the “creative chaos” of the U.S. democratic revolution in the Middle East were now, instead, to be rehabilitated as the key “moderates” holding the line against the “extremism” represented by Iran and other Islamist elements.…
Some of those regimes have urged the U.S. to do more to combat Iranian influence in Iraq, which the U.S. has lately shown a great eagerness to do. But, in case anybody failed to notice, Iraq’s government is not complaining about “Iranian meddling” in Iraq, but they are complaining about U.S. efforts to hound Iranian operatives there. Key Shiite and Kurdish leaders have bluntly criticized the U.S. for arresting Iranian diplomats in Erbil last week, and have warned it against doing so again. The Shiites, of course, have a long history of intimate ties with Tehran, but even the key Kurdish parties have a long history of close cooperation with Iran.[…] So, to the extent that the U.S. moves to confront Iran in Iraq, it quite simply parts ways with the Iraqi government. And then the question becomes what exactly the U.S. is doing in the country. Article
The process may seem painfully slow and plodding, but getting names on the record in a roll call vote is crucial; doing so drives a wedge into cracks in the shell of bluster that masks the deep-seated insecurity of the woebegone G. Walker administration as well as metaphorically reaching out a hand to turn on a fan against the house of cards the administration has constructed unimpeded (previously) by such quaint niceties as a robust examination of their flawed and deadly policies, methods and motives.
With the Senate preparing to confront Bush over his Iraq policy, it has been unclear whether any of the proposals circulating could gather the super-majority of 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles in the 100-vote chamber, which has 51 Democrats and 49 Republicans.
Warner, the former Armed Services Committee chairman, unveiled changes in his proposal aimed at getting over this vote hurdle, although supporters would not predict whether the plan had sufficient backing. Article
Noted FYI, but one must also voice suspicion as to whether this might represent a pressuring of the Romanian government vis-à-vis the role speculated for them in yesterday’s Persia Potpourri.
Two Romanian workers have been detained by coalition forces in Iraq, officials said Wednesday.
The two, a carpenter and an electrician identified as Adrian Gancean, 39 and Nelu Ilie, 41 were detained on Oct. 31 after they allegedly took pictures and filmed without permission in a U.S. military base in Iraq, state news agency Rompres reported.
They had been working at the base for a U.S. contractor since May 2006, maintaining installations for bottling water. In Brussels, President Traian Basescu said Wednesday that the two were held on suspicion of “illegal activities,” but that he was confident the situation would be resolved according to law. Article