Authoritative voices in the bright light:
- WASHINGTON â€” The war in Iraq has become “a major debacle” and the outcome “is in doubt” despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagonâ€™s premier military educational institute.
The report released by the National Defense University raises fresh doubts about President Bush ‘s projections of a U.S. victory in Iraq just a week after Bush announced that he was suspending U.S. troop reductions
The report carries considerable weight because it was written by Joseph Collins , a former senior Pentagon official, and was based in part on interviews with other former senior defense and intelligence officials who played roles in prewar preparations.
It was published by the university’s National Institute for Strategic Studies, a Defense Department research center.
“Measured in blood and treasure, the war in Iraq has achieved the status of a major war and a major debacle,” says the report’s opening line.
— McClatchy Newspapers, (4/17/08)
And as a major debacle, the ferocious Iraq catastrophe continues to amaze:
- BAGHDAD – A suicide bomber struck the funeral of two anti-al-Qaida Sunni tribesmen in a town north of Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 50 people and wounding dozens, police said.
The blast was the latest this week to break a period of relative calm in Sunni areas, raising concerns that Sunni insurgents are reorganizing.
Over the past months, violence has dropped with the increase in U.S. troops and the growth of so-called Awakening Councils, groups of Sunni tribesmen and former insurgents who have joined American forces in fighting al-Qaida-linked militants.
Thursday’s attack took place in the town of Albu Mohammed about 90 miles north of Baghdad, during the funeral of two brothers who belonged to the local Awakening Council and had been killed in an attack a day earlier, police said.
The suicide bomber walked into a tent crowded with mourners in the village and detonated explosives strapped to his body, police in the nearby city of Kirkuk said.
The head of the local Awakening Council, Sheik Omar al-Azawi, was just pulling up at the tent in his car when the blast went off.
“I first heard a thunderous explosion and when I turned my eyes to the tent I saw fire and smoke coming out,” al-Azawi, 51, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
He said the bomber, believed in his late 50s, was dressed in traditional Arab robes and that guards in charge of searching mourners allowed him in without a search.
— Associated Press, (4/17/08)
Arming these Sunni groups last year, these so-called Awakening Councils, to do battle against US enemies, other ‘terrorist’ groups, of which al-Aqaeda is only one, may be another strict, shit-fire miscalculation by Decider George’s army.
Not only is it just al-Qaeda, there’s tribesmen, factions, families and all kinds of assorted wads of insurgents, or maybe just common local cutthroats, who’ve found a full-time job butchering people.
And armed to the munitions-teeth by the US in hopes of making Decider George’s “surge” work. Hence, despite the human carnage at the funeral, the most important, terrible but interesting point in the AP story was the council chief’s observation, that guards in charge of searching mourners allowed him (the bomber) in without a search.
An opening wasÂ created last August to at least possibly bring an US conclusion to Decider George’s horrifying Iraq misadventure, but the offer went by the wayside in a summer’s crowded news cycle.
The seemingly real center of the upswing in violence and turmoil in Iraq this past month is the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Although the Sunni insurgency does haveÂ some bad boys, it does not have the popular appeal of Sadr,Â who has played Decider George and his dipwad lackey Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki like aÂ concertÂ violinist — or maybe like Eddie Van Halen on ‘Eruption.’
Sadr’s Mahdi militia withstood Maliki’s govenment forces in Basra and Baghdad during the coordinated assaults at the end of last month. Only a US GI military bail-out kept the government forces from completely falling apart.
And many government fighters, maybe up to 1,300 soldiers, deserted or swapped sides during the heavy fighting, a trend that continues as earlier this week an entire Iraqi unit left a battle site on the outskirts of Sadr City, creating a gap in street defences, which then put US troops in even-more jeopardy.
The Mahdi army is more disciplined with better equipment:
- “After clashes that continued for hours between us and the Mahdi Army militiamen, I became positive that I could not go on fighting.
“I found out that it was a lost unequal battle. The Mahdi armament was much stronger than the Iraqi army’s. We had no heavy mortars while the Mahdi fighters had mortars of all calibers, not to mention the improvised explosive devices they planted everywhere,” the 35-year-old officer told VOI.
— Voices of Iraq, aswataliraq.info/look/English/article, (4/15/08)
Sadr’s rapidly-growing impact, however, is not in guns, but in bread:
- BAGHDAD â€“ For Um Wissam, a small office packed with food aid in Shiite-dominated Sadr City is a lifeline. With her son killed two years ago, the widow has nowhere else to turn for support.
“They’re really great,” she said. “They give us whatever they possibly can.”
‘They’ are fervent anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army.
— Ned Colt, NBC News, worldblog.MSNBC.com, (4/16/08)
As the price of oil climbs, so does the Iraq national treasury — last reported to be $30 billion in reserves — but because of bickering political alliances, massive corruption and incompetence in the IraqÂ government there is no help for ordinary Iraqis.
A report released Tuesday from Washington, D.C.-based Refugees International, titled ‘Uprooted and Unstable: Meeting Urgent Humanitarian Needs in Iraq,’ reveals the problem in not getting real-life, real-survival help to a good-sized chunk of the population will eventually boil over into a grave security situation.
According to the preamble to the report, the chaos has already formed:
- …a vacuum of humanitarian assistance created by the failure of the Iraqi government and the international community to administer aid to civilians.
During a mission inside Iraq, researchers for Refugees International found that Iraqi militias are creating a Hezbollah-like dynamic by becoming major humanitarian providers of food, clothing, oil and other basic resources.
As a result, militias are recruiting civilians, including displaced Iraqis, at a rapid pace.
Refugees International cautions that failure to address this problem will have dire consequences for the humanitarian and security situation in Iraq.
The report recommends that aid organizations, including the UN, navigate the complex landscape by partnering with local groups inside Iraq, and discourages refugee returns until more effective aid channels are established.
— refugeesinternational.org, (4/15/08)
The UN hasn’t had much of a presence in Iraq since August 2004 when its Baghdad headquarters was blown up, killing 22 people. A skeleton crew of 35 are currently on duty there.
A opening for the UN to return to Iraq was offered last August by Sadr.
In an interview with the UK-based newspaper, The Guardian, in August, 2007, Sadr proved he’s a more-able politician than his counterparts in Baghdad and Washington.
Although he and Maliki were once good buddies, not any longer.
He told the Guardian: “Al-Maliki’s government will not survive because he has proven that he will not work with important elements of the Iraqi people.
“The prime minister is a tool for the Americans, and people see that clearly. It will probably be the Americans who decide to change him when they realize he has failed. We don’t have a democracy here, we have a foreign occupation.”
Most of the news reports highlighted Sadr’s bad mouthing of Maliki, but skipped the most important part: “If the UN comes here to truly help the Iraqi people, they will receive our help in their work. I would ask my followers to support the UN as long as it is here to help us rebuild our country.
(Adding an ominous note): â€œThey must not just be another face of the American occupation.â€
Attitudes such as from Ned Colt’s story above about Sadr being “fervent anti-American” will keep the US from having anything to do with the cleric and not responded to his offer — last August Decider George would have scoffed at Sadr’s proposal (if he had known, most-likely didn’t), but now with his war officially a ‘debacle’ a rational person might think twice.
But then, we have to remember who we’re dealing with here.
Sadr fright will keep Decider George away from the man.
Although Sadr is just being natural — he wants his country for his countrymen.