Sadrists Rejoin Government
Talabani: US Should Talk directly to Syria
Reuters reports on political violence in Iraq on Sunday. Two more US troops were killed, and the death toll in al-Anbar for Saturday was revised up to 5. In Baghdad, “A bomb killed at least six people and wounded 15 when it destroyed a minibus in Karrada, in central Baghdad . . .” McClatchy reports that 29 bodies were found in Baghdad on Sunday. US troops arrested a member of the Salahuddin Provincial Council, a chief of the Dulaim tribe. The Dulaim are a large and important tribe. I don’t think they are going to like this. US troops at the same time raided the house of a member of the Association Of Muslim Scholars.
AP reports that US military intelligence has convinced Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that the Mahdi Army of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr contains groups acting as death squads, and that al-Maliki’s support for it is isolating him in the (largely Sunni) Arab world.
Muqtada and his followers lie low in times when they are under direct military pressure, which is why the Sadrists in parliament and the cabinet have gone back to work and stopped their boycott of the al-Maliki government, and are storing their arms in their closets. But what happens a year from now when they can come back out?
Iraqi President Jalal Talibani is calling on the US to talk to the government of Bashar al-Asad in Syria. Good geopolitical strategy would be to detach al-Asad from Iran. All it would take would be, as a new friend pointed out to me this weekend, a demilitarization of the Golan Heights and its return to Syria. (Well, there’d probably have to be movement on the issue of the Palestinians, too, but Golan is the key). But see Joe Biden’s quote below.
CSM writes on new counter-insurgency efforts by US in Iraq. The article points out that such efforts depend on good intelligence on the enemy. I’m not sure how we are going to get that.
In the US, the Democrats are warning Bush not to ignore their objections to his Iraq policies. Senator Joe Biden rejected VP Richard Bruce Cheney’s allegation that Democratic opposition is emboldening Bin Laden [a McCarthyite smear technique, or maybe it is time to attribute the technique to Goebbels as is only right]. Biden said that Bin Laden is not now the issue, but if Bush goes on like this, he may become an issue, adding,
“The issue is there’s a civil war…That’s what we have. That’s what the president has to deal with. And he’s doing it the exact wrong way. And he’s not listening to his military… To his old secretaries of state… To his old friends. He’s not listening to anybody but Cheney, and Cheney is dead-wrong. . .”
Zaid al-Ali argues for US withdrawal from Iraq.
Steven Silberman of Wired Magazine is reporting that the treatment and evacuation medical facilities for treating US troops injured in Iraq have become infected with an opportunistic bacterium, acinetobacter baumanii, that under intense exposure to antibiotics has evolved to become immune to them. The Pentagon initially suggested that the pathogen was in the soil in Iraq, but an investigation showed that actually they were picking it up in the hospitals to which they were evacuated. While this bacterium largely preys on the already-weak and ailing, it isn’t good news that we’ve evolved it to be untreatable.
A US officer who gave his soldiers in Iraq (they say) the impression that they should not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, leading to the murder of 4 Iraq men (one 70 years old), has been punished with . . . a reprimand.
This Bloomberg wire service report is about how historians will view the Bush administration. The consensus appears to be that he’ll be ranked toward the bottom of presidents. The only contrary views the reporter seems to have been able to elicit are not from historians but rightwing political figures. I think the domestic failures will bulk larger than this article incidents, especially the New Orleans fiasco, the gutting of government science, and the opposition to efforts to reduce global warming. That last one will really, really bother historians in the future. They like their archives dry and above the water line.