Baquba Police Kill 20 Pro Saddam

Baquba Police Kill 20 Pro-Saddam Demonstrators;
Khalilzad to Depart

Someone, [presumably, Shiite militiamen] fired mortar rounds into the Sunni Arab Adhamiya district of Baghdad on Monday, wounding 7. Al-Zaman (Arabic) says that this is the fourth day in the row that this quarter has been attacked this way.

Al-Zaman also reports that the death toll of demonstrators killed by Iraqi police in Baquba has risen to 20 dead and 23 wounded. The newspaper says that the protesters were unarmed, and were carrying posters of Saddam. They also raised banners criticizing the al-Maliki government. Al-Zaman is calling this brutal repression a “massacre.”

It also reports street clashes in Haditha between Sunni Arab residents and US marines.

A helicopter crash killed two US GIs on Monday in Saddam’s province of birth, Salahuddin. The US military says that there isn’t evidence of an attack. But me, I don’t believe in coincidences.

US ambassador in Baghdad Zalmay Khalilzad seems set to leave this winter. It is not clear why he is departing. Khalilzad has been the most knowledgeable civilian US official to serve in high office in Iraq, and many of his instincts and projects were promising. He tried to reach out to the Sunni Arabs and involve them in civil politics, e.g. But that he is himself a Sunni from Afghanistan made this move suspicious to the Iraqi Shiites, who bestowed on him the nickname, Abu Omar. (Omar was the second caliph of the Sunnis and not a big favorite of Shiites).

I think Khalilzad also recognized the dangers of the plans for creating ethnic confederacies in Iraq, but in the end was unable to convince enough Iraqi interlocutors of it. My own view is that the State Department inherited from Rumsfeld a SNAFU, and it is not always possible to unfoul a fouled situation.

80 percent of US casualties in Iraq are inflicted by Sunni Arab guerrillas. This is my point about the “four-war” analysis some have put forward. There really is just one big war, of the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement versus each of the other players in turn– the Shiites, the Kurds, the US. The struggles in the south among Shiite militias are a problem. They aren’t The War.

Saddam Hussein’s defense team is preparing his appeal, as the death verdict on him further divides Iraqis. AFP writes:

‘ In Hawijah, a Sunni town in northern Iraq, hundreds of school children and women gathered and linked their arms bearing portraits of Saddam and placards demanding their former leader’s release. Here — as elsewhere in Sunni regions of Iraq — the threat of violence was not far from the surface. ‘The Americans and the Iraqis who are with them will see black days ahead of them in Iraq,’ warned Abdullah Zamar Hassan, a 49-year-old shopkeeper. ‘

But, not to worry. It isn’t as if European terrorist groups are mobilizing against the US on this issue or anything.

Veteran Foreign Affairs correspondent Helena Cobban has substantial experience with post-conflict trials and commissions. Her views of the trial of Saddam Hussein are therefore must reading.

Check out this new Middle East blog.

William S. Lind warns, correctly, that if Cheney expands the war to Iran, we could lose our army in Iraq.