US Soldier Killed; British Base Rocketed; Bombings in Baghdad

People keep asking in puzzlement what Bush expected to get out of his Iraq misadventure. It is the oil, habibi, the oil.

Akhbar al-Khalij newspaper is charging that US oil interests offered each Iraqi parliamentarian $5 million to pass the oil and gas law (hat tip to Digby.

Steven R. Hurst of AP writes that Shiite militiamen in Basra sent 20 rockets on the British base out at the airport, wounding 3 UK servicemen. The British responded with artillery fire at the positions from which the rockets were launched. Some 10 Iraqis were killed or wounded in the exchange.

AP reports Baghdad violence, including the killing of another US soldier by a roadside bomb and the bombing that killed 5 in the Shiite sacred district of Kazimiya.

Hurst observes: “The two attacks — in areas considered relatively stable — were troubling reminders that recent improvements in Iraqi security were fragile and far from deeply rooted. The Basra battle also exposed potential security gaps around Iraq’s second-largest city less than two months after a scaled-down British force handed over control to Iraqi police and military. Rival Shiite factions are locked in fierce struggles for dominance in Basra and the rest of the oil-rich south.”

Explosions in Kazimiya are always very dangerous because the Shiite shrine to the 7th Imam is there, and we have seen how upset Shiites are when their holy shrines are blown up.

As for Basra, I assume that the Shiite militias attacked to influence British public opinion further in the direction of a quick withdrawal from the city.

McClatchy reports a string of bombings and attacks in Iraq on Thursday, and adds: “2 women, ages 50 and 55, cousins to the governor of Diyala, Raad al-Mulla were abducted by gunmen who had put up a false checkpoint between al-Abbara area and Baquba city last night. Their fate remains unknown.”

I don’t think security is very good there.

McClatchy reports on US soldiers’ security challenge in Mosul. He adds:

‘ Terrorists aren’t Mosul’s only problem. The city’s Sunni and Shiite Muslim Arabs detest each other, and the Arabs distrust the city’s Kurdish, Christian and Turkmen minorities. Although 60 percent of Mosul’s population of 1.8 million is Sunni, three-quarters of the provincial government is Kurdish, and the Arabs suspect the Kurds of wanting to take over the city.

“We live in chaos,” said Sheik Fawwaz al Jarba, a former member of the Shiite alliance in Iraq’s central government. He spoke from Baghdad because Sunni insurgents blew up his house in Mosul.’