Another Rocket Propelled Grenade Attack

*Another rocket propelled grenade attack killed one American soldier and wounded three others on Wednesday, near the Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad. Also, in West Baghdad a guerrilla tossed a grenade into a US military vehicle that was guarding a bank, killing an 8-year-old Iraqi child and wounding the American driver. Yet more assailants sprayed machine gun fire at the car of the pro-American mayor of Haditha (150 mi. northwest of Baghdad), Mohammed Nayil al-Jurayfi, killing him and his son. Another guerrilla fired an anti-aircraft missile at an AC-130 landing at Baghdad airport, but missed. This is an al-Qaeda tactic, used in Mombasa, and I wonder if it was another one of those 1972 Soviet-made SA-7s (they don’t seem to work that well any more). But, let’s say that Baghdad airport won’t be open to civilian airliners for a bit. Gen. John Abizaid, who has an MA in Middle East Studies from Harvard and so is one of Us, has bitten the bullet and admitted that we are faced with a guerrilla war.

*The Germans are really worried about NATO members pulling troops out of Afghanistan under US pressure so that they can be sent to Iraq. Afghanistan is in a fragile state and could easily collapse back into Talibanism and Qaedism. I always said that starting this Iraq business when they did was a bad idea, given that the Bush administration has left the job in Afghanistan half done. (Less).

*According to the Iranian Webzine Baztab on Weds. 7/16, Sadr Movement notable Sheikh Muhammad Ya`qubi of Najaf has finally declared himself an Object of Emulation, making formal the split of his al-Fadilah group from the Muqtada al-Sadr loyalists. His followers demonstrated against threats to him in Najaf, though the Muqtada group maintained that he had no local support and just brought in some armed tribesmen to stage the demonstration. Ayatollah Kazim al-Ha?iri is said to have blessed Ya`qubi?s schism, saying he had the prerequisites for being an Object of Emulation. Al-Ha’iri is pretty obviously now sidelining Muqtada, and wants to become the Ali Khamenei (Supreme Jurisprudent or Wali Faqih) of Iraq. Al-Ha’iri is an awful person, and were he to get that kind of power he would run Iraq right into the ground. Muqtada and Ya`qubi don’t sound very nice, either, to say the least. My guess, though, is that the Sadr Movement, which is dedicated to the memory of Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, Muqtada’s martyred father who was killed by Saddam, will tend to remain loyal to Muqtada in the main. And, even if the movement splits with regard to leadership, it seems that all three potential leaders agree on the need for a rigid, puritanical, exclusivist, and intolerant Iraq. Ugh.

*Employees at the Iran offices of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq are fuming at being told to come back to Iraq with their families immediately for face being cut off without a cent, according to al-Zaman. Those who want to stay have complained that they are in effect being denied a pension, and have protested to Ali Khamenei, whom they are styling “Guardian (Wali) of the Muslims” (i.e. they accept his authority over Iraqi as well as over Iranian Shiites), and to Chief Justice Mahmud al-Hashimi al-Shahrudi, who is an Iraqi and former head of the Supreme Council. Many of these employees fought against Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and have prices on their heads in Baghdad, and apparently they are still afraid to return for fear of Sunni reprisals. When Iraqi Shiites are afraid to be in Iraq, I’d say it is a bad neighborhood for the stationing of US troops.

*A group of former intelligence officers has called for Dick Cheney’s resignation. But it is Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith they should be after. Cheney played a role, but all he had was behind the scenes influence. This distortion of intelligence for political aims was carried out by the top civilians in the Defense Department.

*Julian Borgess deconstructs Douglas Feith’s Office of Strategic Plans inside the Pentagon for the Guardian. His explains of how this “open and largely unfiltered conduit to the White House” allowed Israelis to just walk into the Pentagon without being cleared, on Feith’s say-so, along with the Iraqi opposition, and to funnel “information” to Bush that performed an end-run around the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency. OSP coordinated with its counterpart in Ariel Sharon’s office. ‘”None of the Israelis who came were cleared into the Pentagon through normal channels,” said one source familiar with the visits. Instead, they were waved in on Mr Feith’s authority without having to fill in the usual forms. The exchange of information continued a long-standing relationship Mr Feith and other Washington neo-conservatives had with Israel’s Likud party.’ Meanwhile, our NATO allies who were pointing out that US Iraq intelligence was deeply flawed were being vilified as venal cowards. But, the Likud connection to the Iraq debacle will have no traction in the US, where the media and Congress have been properly subjected to party discipline.

*For an excellent analysis of the limitations of the US in facing a determined Iraqi guerrilla war see Col. Dan Smith in Counterpunch..