McCain Republicans’ anti-War Candidate; Sunnis Fear Return of Baghdad Violence;

In the US, here is an irony. John McCain, “Mr. Surge,” who dreams of a century-long US occupation of Iraq, was the anti-war candidate for Republicans in Iowa. Yes:

‘ Exit polls found 64 percent of Tuesday’s Republican voters still support the conflict — and Romney, whose criticism of President Bush’s management of the war has been muted, outpolled McCain in that category.

But among the 34 percent who said they disapproved of the war, McCain had a wide advantage over the GOP field — even over Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the sole advocate of a U.S. withdrawal in the Republican field. ‘

Likewise, nearly half of New Hampshire Republicans are anti-Bush, and they went for McCain big time. How long-serving Senator McCain who supports the Iraq War became the ‘ non-Washington’ candidate, I’ll never know.

CNN also found that something like 93 percent of those who voted in the Democratic primary were opposed or strongly opposed to Bush. The Dems have a shot at repeating the landslide of 1964.

Back in the real world, in Iraq:

Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports in Arabic that the Iraqi Accord Front [Sunni fundamentalist] has expressed severe anxiety about the return of violence to Baghdad neighborhoods, the targeting of members of the Awakening Councils, and the failure of the Nuri al-Maliki government to provide the latter with sufficient security.

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees is seeking over $200 million to alleviate the suffering of displaced Iraq. The US Congress should fund this initiative. The Democrats in Congress could at least point to that as a victory in their Iraq policy– i.e. if they couldn’t de-fund the war, at least they could fund the effort to help the people the war has kicked out of their homes. The US is spending $15 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan at least . . . $200 million is chump change in comparison. Please contact your senators and your congressional representatives and urge them to fund the UNHCR to help the Iraqis. The US is responsible for displacing some of them, after all.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports in Arabic that the Iraqi minister of agriculture is saying that a drought threatens the area around Mosul in the north, endangering food supplies.

Turkey has arrested 7 persons in connection with a bombing in Diyarbakir several days ago. The alleged ringleader is said to have received training in a camp of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. Bush is trying to pull off a disappearing act in making the US complicity in a renewed Kurdish separatism vanish. Although visiting Turkish president Abdullah Gul appeared happy with Bush’s words, it is unlikely he is actually happy with Washington policy, which involves coddling Kurdish militants in northern Iraq. As for Bush’s method of dealing with the PKK? It appears to be to keep his hands off the problem and to let the Turks try to resolve it by bombing Iraqi villages. I.e. Bush is encouraging yet another war to be fought in Iraq!

Seumas Milne of the Guardian is unimpressed with the US troop escalation or ‘surge’ as long as it does not yield political progress.

Shell and Total are competing for rights to develop the Akkas natural gas field in al-Anbar Province near the Syrian border. But without a law on the sharing of oil and gas revenues, this foreign involvement is going to look like bank robbery.

A poll of over 4,000 serving US diplomats (out of over 11,000 altogether) found that nearly half of those who said they did not want to go to Iraq deeply disagreed with the policies toward that country of George W. Bush. These were not political employees, just the rank and file. Nearly half also felt that Secretary of State Condi Rice is doing a poor job in securing for them the resources they need.

McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Tuesday:

‘ Baghdad

– Around 7 a.m., gunmen assassinated an officer of the ministry of interior “ Mohammad Aziz Al-Gatia in his car in Zafrania neighborhood ( east Baghdad) .

– Around 7 30 a.m., gunmen assassinated the deputy of Mansour taxes department in Diragh district in Mansour neighborhood ( west Baghdad).

– Around 11 a.m., an IED was planted inside the car of the head of Yarmouk council ( Dr.Falah Mansour Hussein ) who was killed in the incident with two other people who were injured .

– Around 3 p.m., a suicide bomber wearing a vest filled with explosives targeted a police check point at Al-Medain district ( south of Baghdad) killing one policeman and injuring three ( one policeman and two civilians).

– Around 3 p.m., two mortars hit Medain district ( south of Baghdad ) injuring 2 people.

– Around 3 .30 p.m., a roadside bomb targeted an American patrol at Rashid camp neighborhood ( south east Baghdad) . No casualties reported.

– Police found 5 unidentified dead bodies in the following neighborhood in Baghdad: ( 3 ) dead bodies were found in west Baghdad ( Karkh bank ) ; 1 in Doura , 1 in Bayaa and Amil . While ( 2 ) were found in east Baghdad ( Risafa bank) ; 1 in Ubaidi and 1 in Fudhailiyah.

Diyala

– Tuesday morning, a roadside bomb exploded at a house in Jalwla ( east of Baquba) killing a woman who was the owner of the house. . .

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