The Turkish ambassador to the United States, Nabi Sensoy, said Wednesday that the US military provided real time intelligence to Turkey and was ‘very helpful’ in allowing Turkey to launch attacks on alleged Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) sites inside Iraq. He denied that the Turks had given the US military too little notice of its planned Sunday air raids, saying that the two militaries were in close contact. (Obviously, there is no point in the US providing ‘real time’ intelligence unless Turkey strikes immediately, so Sensoy’s point seems well taken). The Nuri al-Maliki government in Baghdad condemned the Turkish military’s incursion into northern Iraq on Tuesday, after the air strikes, as having “added insult to injury.”
The Turkish actions deeply embarrassed US Secretary of State Condi Rice, who was on trip to Iraq to reinforce reconciliation among ethnic and religious groups when Turkey struck, twice. The leader of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Authority, Massoud Barzani, cancelled his meeting with her and complained of the Turkish attacks as war crimes. The LA Times reports that Condi on Wednesday warned Turkey against actions that would have the effect of destabilizing northern Iraq. That is the only part of Iraq that is relatively calm (excepting Kirkuk Province).
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that according to the lunar, Muslim calendar, the Eid al-Adha or Feast of Sacrifice in memory of God’s sparing of Abraham’s son, which Muslims are now commemorating, also marks the anniversary of the execution of Saddam Hussein. In Tikrit, dozens of Iraqis, including local tribal chiefs (presumably of the Al-Bu-Nasr), visited the tomb of Saddam at al-Awjah. The Iraqi Baath Party called for international commemorations of Saddam Hussein’s ‘martyrdom.’
Al-Hayat also says that the so-called “Army of Islam” guerrilla group in Iraq released a video showing how one of its leading snipers shoots down US troops.
The United States military in Iraq has arrested and imprisoned 30,000 or so Iraqis, the majority of them Sunni Arabs. That is 0.1% of the entire Iraqi population! Marine Maj. Gen. Doug Stone says he fears that many of those detained are moderates or simply fought because they were paid to, and that holding so many of them together for very long may actually create more hardened terrorists.
Some 23 Iraqis were killed by bombings and sniping on Tuesday, including more than one attack in Diyala province and four killed and wounded 7 in a bombing in Baghdad itself. Reuters has more on recent violence in Iraq.
The guerrilla movement in Iraq is generating a steady 600 attacks a week using bombs, small-arms, mortars and sniping. This number has not changed during the past six weeks, and although it is lower than the rate in September, it is a very significant number of attacks. Roadside bomb attacks in specific are down, but there is no change in the number of over-all attacks. The Iraqi government statistics show 600 civilian deaths a month (the US military’s statistics are lower).
The US troop escalation that began last February seems to be implicated in the displacement of nearly one million Iraqis to Syria between January and October of this year, adding to the nearly 450,000 that fled there in 2006. This is according to projections from a United Nations weighted survey of nearly 800 refugees. Some 78% of those interviewed in Syria said that they came from Baghdad.
Many of the refugees are from the white collar middle class, and are the people Iraq can least afford to lose. Most of them are only 3 months or less from exhausting all their saving and being thrown into complete destitution. Children are not being educated, and literacy is falling dramatically in the next generation. Many girls are forced into ‘survival sex,’ i.e. prostitution.
How the US ‘surge’ drove almost one million Iraqis to Syria last spring and summer is a great mystery, and casts severe doubt on its political success. A significant proportion of these one million Surge Victims appear to have been Baghdad Sunnis, since from January of 2007 through July 2007 the US military admits that Baghdad went from being 65% Shiite to being 75% Shiite. Since another 500,000 left between July and October, depending on what proportion of those were Sunnis, Baghdad could now be even more than 3/4s Shiite. The Sunnis are not going to take this lying down, and the ‘surge’ seems to me to have set the stage for 1) a violent return of hundreds of thousands of Sunni Arabs to their usurped homes in Baghdad and 2) therefore a second Battle for Baghdad as soon as the US forces in Iraq are too weak to prevent it.
The UN report preliminary data are here (.pdf).
Finally, McClatchy pointed out this week that the relative reduction of violence, especially in some districts of the capital of Baghdad, has brought no tangible political and ethnic reconciliation.