7 US troops were wounded along with 5 Iraqi civilians when a female suicide bomber detonated her payload in Baquba. The attack took place on Tuesday but was not announced until Wednesday.
Senator Joe Biden says that the idea that the US troop escalation or ‘surge’ is “working” in Iraq is a “fantasy” because there is no evidence that it has produced political progress or reconciliation.
A lot of the reduction in violence has been produced by artificial measures like forbidding vehicular traffic in certain areas or building big blast walls around neighborhoods, isolating them and destroying their retailers. These steps are good insofar as they prevent attacks. But they would only really be successful in the medium to long term if they contributed to a political settlement. The problem is that such measures are not sustainable. You got the big bombing in the pet market last Friday because the US military started letting people drive there again, creating an opening for a car bomber. So reducing violence is praiseworthy, however it is done. But if people are going to talk about “success,” they have to show a sort of political progress such that when the cars start circulating again or the blast walls come down, you don’t revert to civil war. The “surge” troops are already beginning to come home. Will the violence just return in their wake?
Biden is asking the right question. Even Republicans like Lindsay Graham and Saxby Chambliss seem to agree with his premise. But their apparent confidence that they can just change the Iraqi government at will is probably misplaced. Or at least there is no guarantee they will get something better if they do.
The Americans already helped unseat the elected prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari. Speaking of whom, Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports in Arabic that various splinter groups of the Da’wa Party and offshoots of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq, unhappy that Jaafari was unseated, are attempting to convince him to act as their leader and to challenge al-Maliki as prime minister. Under the Iraqi constitution, 55 members of parliament can call a vote of no confidence against the prime minister. Al-Maliki is certainly vulnerable to such a maneuver.
The US has bribed 6,000 tribesmen to help guard the northern city of Hawija from Salafi Jihadi infiltration into northern Iraq. If I read the report correctly, they are receiving $275 a month for patrolling. That would be $1,650,000 a month or $19,800,000 a year for Hawija. Since the US was spending several billion dollars a month to keep tens of thousands of US soldiers in Iraq to do the same thing, it sounds like a bargain to me.