3 US Troops Killed
At Least 11 Iraqis Killed, 16 Wounded
“The Government is Not Even Close to being Formed”
A Rand report done for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld lets him have it over the poor planning at the Pentagon for the aftermath of the war in Iraq, and for poor US military performance on counter-insurgency. The report is so thorough that it even critiques problems I hadn’t know we had, such as ineffective deployment of Blackhawk helicopters. I had thought them effective early in the war.
It should be noted that it is impossible to complain so rigorously about lack of planning without suggesting that Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith did not do their jobs (didn’t Feith’s title have something about “planning” in it?) But those three are going all to be held harmless in this life from messing up an entire country, probably for a decade, and thereby endangering US security. It is the sort of thing that drives people to believe in a life after death where just deserts are meted out; it sure doesn’t happen here. Wolfowitz was confirmed Thursday as head of the World Bank. If he does to the economy of the global South what he did to Iraq, we’re all in big trouble.
The US government rejected on Thursday charges by a former UN official that malnutrition among Iraqi children has increased significantly since the Americans conquered the country. The US reply strikes me as awfully thin-skinned. Officials pointed out that lots more children have been innoculated (not relevant). Or they complained that the official making the charges hadn’t been in Iraq (not relevant). Or they dismissed the studies on which he depended without giving any specifics as to why they should be considered unreliable. The only valid point I saw made was that the baseline for nutrition among Iraqi children in the second half of the 1990s is itself imprecise and several different estimates were put forward. When the baseline is not certain, it is hard to measure how different the situation is now. But I don’t know enough about the public health statistics to know whether this objection actually holds water.
Guerrillas killed 11 and wounded over 16 on Thursday. Other attacks killed 3 US troops.
The guerrilla fighters on the Sunni Arab side continued to target Shiites on Thursday, hoping to provoke widespread sectarian turmoil during the ritual processions of mourning for the martyrdom of Imam Husain, the Prophet Muhammad’s slain grandson. The Scotsman reports:
A suicide car bomber blew himself up yesterday near an Islamic shrine, killing five Iraqis in the latest attack on Shiite Muslim pilgrims marking a major religious holiday. The blast in Tuz Khormato, 55 miles south of Kirkuk, killed three civilians, including a child, and two soldiers helping guard the shrine Thursday, police reported. Sixteen people were wounded, hospital officials said . . . Late on Wednesday, gunmen ambushed a truck carrying pilgrims near Hillah, 60 miles south of Baghdad, and killed one person, and an attack earlier in the day killed a pilgrim in southern Iraq . . .
There was also a car bombing in Samarra, killing 7, and an attack on a police station there.
AFP reports, “The government is not even close to being formed,” a member of the so-far upbeat Shiite bloc” said.
This obscure wire service alleges that Ibrahim Jaafari,the prospective prime minister of Iraq, is using his British contacts to try to put pressure on the Kurds to compromise and help form a government. Jaafari lived in London 1989-2003 and was involved in anti-Saddam meetings sponsored in part by the British government, so it is plausible that he has those contacts. The Kurdish leaders do, as well. But what leverage would the British have now with the Kurds?
Catherine Philp of the London Times is alarmed about the condition of women in Iraq. The Bush administration has posed as a “liberator” of Iraqi women, but women’s rights if anything have been dealt a series of setbacks in the past two years, and more are probably coming if the United Iraqi Alliance has its way.
Excerpts from BBC World Press Monitor, Mar. 29:
Al-Adalah publishes on page 1 a 50-word report saying the Unified Iraqi Alliance proposed Finance Minister Adil Abd-al-Mahdi for the Vice-President post and Husayn al-Shahristani for the National Assembly Deputy-speaker post.
Al-Mu’tamar publishes on page 1 a 1,000-word report citing “Iraqi sources” as saying that the US Administration informed Vice-President Ibrahim al-Ja’fari, Unified Iraqi Alliance nominee for the Prime Minister post, that he is “not free to nominate his ministers,” and that the Administration “opposes proposing any religious figure to take a ministerial post.” The report also refers to the security procedures in the Karbala Governorate on the pilgrimage to Imam al-Husayn shrine . . .
Al-Zawra publishes on the front page a 300-word report citing Muqtada al-Sadr on Monday, 28 March, criticizing the Kurds for demanding annexing Kirkuk to the Kurdistan region . . .
Al-Zawra publishes on the front page a 250-word report citing United Iraqi Alliance member Shaykh Fawwaz al-Jarbah asserting that the US has not intervened in the formation of the new government but it expressed reservations regarding some candidates for the Interior and Defence Ministries . . .
Al-Manarah dated 27 March carries on page 3 a 75-word report stating that the oil sector employees held a peaceful demonstration rejecting the partitioning of Iraq . . .
Al-Mada publishes on the front page a 50-word report stating that the Al-Hillah Sport Club chairman was seriously wounded by US soldiers while on his way to the airport yesterday 27 March.