Security Situation in Baghdad Sinking like the Titanic
An observer in Iraq writes to me:
“The situation has deteriorated in Baghdad dramatically today. Five neighborhoods (hay) in Baghdad are controlled by insurgents, and they are Amiraya, Ghazilya, Shurta, Yarmouk and Doura. It is very bad. My guys there report that cars have come into these neighborhoods and blocked off the streets. Masked gunmen with AKs and other weapons are roaming these areas, announcing that people should stay home. One of my drivers in Amiraya reports that his neighborhood is shut down totally, and even those who need food or provisions are warned not to go out.
The government will respond feebly. It will go into a contested neighborhood, and then just like Fallujah, Ramadi, Tel Afar, the insurgents will flee to take over another area on another day. Bit by bit they are taking over the main parts of Baghdad. The only place we are sure they cannot control is Sadr City, unless of course they want to take on Jaish Mahdy [Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army], and that would be bloody.
A few minutes ago Jaafari came on television to tell everyone in Baghdad to stay home. Can’t wait for his next bold move.
There are flyers in public areas of Baghdad warning people not to gather in large numbers because they will thereby become targets. I am trying to get a copy of the flyer.
Notwithstanding Al-Hayat’s claim that Zarqawi and the Sunni resistance are not together, my street listeners claim otherwise. My folks are convinced that the two groups, broadly defined, are together, “100 percent” is the claim of certainty. It is hard to get a handle on this because people in Baghdad tend to lump all resistance groups, except for Zarqawi, into one large category.
More and more of even the most patriotic intelligentsia are departing. The situation is dire, and those with escape valves are using them. [Some organizations are]sending more of [their] staff to Arbil and Sulamaniyah and out of Baghdad. Until about March this year, [some] thought that there was a chance of returning to Baghdad. It is remarkable how incapable this government is. Its only success is that it exists at all.
In the meantime, the embassy people act as if nothing in Baghdad is wrong (except that they cannot walk in the Green Zone without body armor and they have to take precautions against kidnapping). Recently, a group from State and the military parachuted in from Washington [with fatuous advice] . . . It is a fantasy world.”