Qahtan Ali carried an injured friend, searching for safety as the roofs of shops caved in after the third explosion.
“It was like doomsday for me. I can’t believe I’m alive,” he said.… Article
As has been said multiple times, events are ahead of and controlling policy, not the other way around.
In the past year, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army has pushed into Sunni neighborhoods on the west of the Tigris River, driving Sunnis from their homes with death threats and attacks. Meanwhile, Sunni forces, a combination of neighborhood youths, former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party and Islamist groups, are pushing to maintain their hold on Sunni neighborhoods west of the river and defend their sect in the east.
Every home is forcefully asked to help. In Sadr-controlled neighborhoods, militiamen ask for donations and young volunteers. It’s a rare occasion when a man says “no” to Sadr’s Mahdi Army.
In Sunni neighborhoods as well, the call to arms comes with a knock at the door. The men of the house are asked to brandish their weapons and fight. No one is certain whom they’re supposed to fight, but anyone who doesn’t comply is apt to be called a traitor and no longer allowed to live at home.
With sectarian separation well under way, an individual’s fate can be determined by his or her tribal origin. Most Iraqis carry two identification cards - one with a Sunni tribal name for Sunni areas, another for Shiite neighborhoods for insurgent or militia checkpoints. The wrong name is a death sentence in Iraq.
Iraqis do not choose a side. Their sect does the choosing. The moment of decision is signaled by a firm knock at the door. Article
A damned good question.
In the nearly four years since the U.S. invasion, cheap and mad death tread freely in Iraqi cities and towns. There have been car bombs and explosions every day and the death is in the hundreds of thousands.
It is estimated that some 5,000 car bombs have so far been used in these explosions along with hundreds of tons of explosives.
These cars have registration and serial numbers. We have not heard that the authorities have ever been able to identify the owner of a car bomb or where it came from.
Before the fall of Baghdad to U.S. troops, the country had a sophisticated car registration system and the authorities could identify the owner of any vehicle in a matter of minutes from the wreckage.
Iraqis have the right to ask whether the U.S. has any military, intelligence and scientific capability left in Iraq. What is the government doing? Does it have really a plan?
The U.S. and Iraqi government are talking about a new security plan. But if they cannot say who owns which car in Baghdad how will they be able to spread their control over a sprawling city of six million people. Article
Nearly four years on, how’s that security going? (emphasis added)
An Army pilot said Sunday that enemy fire hit at least 17 U.S. helicopters a month in Iraq but that flying time for troops was growing because of the risks of road travel. Article
There’s brinksmanship, and then there’s lip-twanging, off the chart, psychotic propaganda.
Pace is the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Therefore:
1) If the White House’s and yesterday’s assertions are so, then he’s incompetent for not being so informed
2) If the White House’s and yesterday’s assertions are so, and he’s been kept out of the loop, so he’s irrelevant
3) If the White House’s and yesterday’s asssertions are so, and Pace is fully briefed, he’s duplicitous
4) The White House’s and yesterday’s assertions are not so.
General Pace said he was not aware of the Baghdad briefing, and that he could not, from his own knowledge, repeat the assertion made there that the elite Quds brigade of Iran’s Republican Guard force is providing bomb-making kits to Iraqi Shiite insurgents.
“We know that the explosively formed projectiles are manufactured in Iran. What I would not say is that the Iranian government, per se [specifically], knows about this,” he said. “It is clear that Iranians are involved, and it’s clear that materials from Iran are involved, but I would not say by what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit.” Article
Neither the White House nor the Pentagon responded to requests for an explanation of the apparent contradiction between the nation’s highest-ranking military officer and his subordinates in Baghdad. Article
Necessary and cogent deconstruction by Josh Marshall.
It should go without saying, but the use of anonymity, hearsay and the glossing over of substantiation points out the weknesses and injusidicousness of the so-called tribunals to be attempted in Guantánamo.
And, rightfully questioing whether those ultra-competent Farsi-speaking Iranians are so devious as to purposely label and inventory their arms in English, there is this.
And, perspective-wise, this:
The US stance on the military capabilities of Iraqis today is the exact opposite of its position in four years ago. Then President Bush and Tony Blair claimed that Iraqis were technically advanced enough to produce long-range missiles and to be close to producing a nuclear device. Washington is now saying that Iraqis are too backward to produce an effective roadside bomb and must seek Iranian help. Article
Look, it is no secret whatsoever that the entirety of the Middle East has long been party to an open (and a larger clandestine) arms bazaar. Like any market, it deals in what inventory it can get, what inventory its customers seek, and also what inventory it works to push on customers, whether out of ‘business’ imperatives or in anticpation of estimates of future needs of its clients.
Ken Katzman, a Middle East analyst at the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, believes U.S. troops are not the primary target of the smuggled munitions. He says the Iranians are arming Shiite militias. Yet, he points out, most of the attacks on U.S. forces come from Sunni insurgents.
He said, “Most of the I.E.D.s [improvised explosive devices], most of the roadside bombs, that are having the most effect on American troops are from Sunni insurgents.”
“And I have not seen any evidence presented from the military or elsewhere that these Iranian arms are going to Sunni insurgents, which leads me to question what really is the significance,” he continued.
Wayne White, former deputy director of Near East affairs for State Department intelligence, disagrees. He notes that some of the arms displayed by officials in Baghdad are armor-piercing rockets - and only the U.S. and Britain have armored vehicles in Iraq.
“Why would anybody be arming anybody there with this kind of munition? Only to get somebody who has got the kind of vehicle that this munition is needed to open up like a can opener. And we are the only ones who have it. This is an anti-American weapon in Iraq,” he said. Article
Related (simple equation: arms = money; money = sellers):
Italian police say they have broken up a major arms trafficking ring that was planning to supply thousands of weapons to insurgents in Iraq.
They say the group involved had connections in Malta, Russia, Libya and China and some of those arrested were wealthy businessmen working in exports.
So far they have arrested 16 people - 12 on suspicion of drug dealing but four on allegations they were intending to supply arms.
Police from the anti-Mafia unit say they were planning to move 500,000 AK 47 assault rifles and 10 million pieces of ammunition.
The weapons, they said, had been sourced in China during what looked like routine business trips.
The coded emails recovered suggest the weapons were to be moved through Libya and on to Iraq. Article
Scope on Iran: They’re there, they’re not going away and, like it or not, they have a legitimate interest and stake in what happens.
Due to geographical, religious, sectarian and historical reasons Iran has an overwhelming influence on Iraq’s polity, society and economy. Its connections within Iraq are deep-rooted and it is claimed that of all Iraq’s neighbors, Iran is the most influential and could prove the most effective in arriving at any kind of solution to the present crisis. The Shia connection underlines social (cultural, religious and sectarian) and political affiliations. Most Shiite political leaders and clerics in Iraq have either lived in Iran as exiles during the Baathist regime or have been known to be pro-Iran. Therefore, despite differences in their aims and methods they are influenced by Iran in varying degrees. It has also been established that Iran has intelligence operatives deeply embedded within the newly appointed security forces and within the militias. Also, the fact that Iran had made investments in Shia-dominated South Iraq it may be presumed that, to some extent, it also has control over economic resources in Iraq. All these factors make Iran an indispensable player to engage with while working out any solution in Iraq.
…As both Iran and the US have direct stakes in the resolution of the crisis, the two need to shed their adamant attitudes and come to the negotiating table.… Article
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari arrived in Saudi Arabia Monday to formally reopen his country’s embassy in the oil-rich kingdom.
Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Iraq remains closed due to the deteriorating security situation in the war-torn country. Article