Black Wednesday’s Death Toll rises to 150
The death toll in Wednesday’s eight bombings in Baghdad rose to 150, with one bomb in Kadhimiyah accounting for about 114. I can only imagine that hundreds were wounded. It is the second biggest one-day toll in guerrilla violence since the fall of Saddam (only March 2, 2004, was worse). Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Monotheism and Holy War, announced a “war” on Iraq’s Shiites by radical Sunni Salafis. The operation was apparently in part revenge for the US/Iraqi government attack on the largely Sunni Turkmen city of Tal Afar in the north.
Although Iraqi government officials tried to put the best face on the disaster, saying that it demonstrated that the Tal Afar operation had in fact deeply threatened the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement, I fear I would draw the opposite conclusion. The guerrillas in Tal Afar cleverly slipped away, and the US troops never even fought a major battle with them. The use of Kurdish troops and Shiite informers leant an ethnic cast to the campaign. Most people in Tal Afar just left the city, for all the world like New Orleans refugees in Texas and Mississippi. So as an operation, it did not amount to much, though it displaced a lot of innocent civilians. And while the US and Kurdish troops were chasing down empty streets in Tal Afar, the guerrillas blew up Baghdad.
If you don’t control your capital, you control nothing. If the events of Black Wednesday were not so very tragic (those poor Shiite laborers! and their families), the situation would be absurd in a surrealist sense. The US military off in a small desert town with nothing to do but play fight club amongst themselves, while hundreds of innocent Iraqi Shiites in Kadhimiyah are massacred at will.
And the guerrillas’ ability at this late date to mount such a shatteringly effective operation in the capital itself is why the pitiful and arrogant Project for a New American Century fantasy of just crushing the Sunni Arabs of Iraq is a K Street wet dream generated by intellectual adolescents, not a realistic policy. (And of course the same thing could be said of virtually everything the PNAC has ever said).