30 US contractors Wounded, 26 More Corpses Found
Guerrillas detonated another bomb near the al-Sadeer Hotel in downtown Baghdad on Wednesday, wounding 30 American contractors. Most of the wounds were reported to be relatively slight, but that the guerrillas can strike at will this way, twice in as many days, underscores how out of control the situation is.
Speaking of striking at will, guerrillas strafed the convoy of Minister of Planning Mahdi al-Hafidh with gunfire on Wednesday. He survived the attack unscathed.
Some 26 more corpses were discovered in Iraq Wednesday near the Syria border in the northwest of the country, in addition to the bodies uncovered at Latifiyah in Babil province south of Baghdad. AP writes, “Twenty-six of the dead were discovered in a field near Rumana, a village 12 miles east of the western city of Qaim, near the Syrian border. Each body was riddled with bullets. The dead were found wearing civilian clothes and one was a woman, police Captain Muzahim al-Karbouli said.” The bodies found near Qaim were probably Iraqi national guardsmen.
Guerrillas killed a US soldier at Habbaniyah.
Al-Zaman says that the Shiite-Kurdish negotiations on forming a new government will continue past the March 16 seating of parliament. The two sides have come a little closer but still have substantial disagreements. The Kurds want a written guarantee that they will get at least two major cabinet ministries, along with the presidency. The Shiites are unwilling to put the pledges in writing. On the other hand, the Shiites appear to have convinced the Kurds that since they are so enthusiastic about the Transitional Administrative Law or interim constitution, they should about by its provisions for settling certain issues. In particular, the Shiites hold that a decision on the disposition of Kirkuk should be postponed until after there is a constitution and there can be a proper referendum.
Rick Schenkman at the History News Network draws attention to a sequence in a recent Frontline documentary, concerning shootings at US military checkpoints in Iraq. The subtext is that the rules of engagement are stacked against innocent civilians, which helps explain what happened to Nicola Calipari and Giuliana Sgrena.
Those quaint British are still arguing over whether the Iraq war was legal in international law, and whether Lord Goldsmith misled the British cabinet and parliament over its legality. We know he actually entertained the severest doubts himself.
In Washington, Bush just says that the important thing is to make a decision and carry it through no matter what, then present the rest of the world with a fait accompli with which they will have to cooperate. Why, there is no talk in Washington at all of the Hague Regulations of 1907 or the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, governing the treatment of the inhabitants of militarily occupied territories, or of the United Nations Charter and that pesky prohibition on unilateral aggressive war. Occupiers are not supposed to make major alterations in the character of the occupied society, but Paul Bremer undertook major social engineering experiments, with the poor Iraqis as the guinea pigs. An illegal war? An illegal Occupation? Imagine asking either of the last two attorneys general about such an issue, and what sort of answer you would get.
AFP argues that corruption is holding up Iraqi reconstruction. The thing wrong with their article is that they focus only on Iraqi corruption, whereas from all accounts, the civilian Westerners in Iraq have often been carpetbaggers. AFP writes:
Die-hard old habits hamper reconstruction in Iraq
AFP (KHALIS, Iraq) March 10
‘Insurgent attacks on infrastructure are hampering reconstruction, but corrupt contractors and local officials unused to Western transparency are also slowing efforts to get Iraq back on its feet, US civil affairs officers say.
Major Sean Hood, a reservist who in civilian life is a corrections officer in a maximum security prison on Long Island, New York, works on reconstruction projects in Diyala province, which takes in part of the restive Sunni triangle.
“Dealing with inmates prepared me for talking to contractors. Inmates lie to you 24 hours a day, its sort of what the contractors are doing. Theyre trying to blow sunshine up my ass,” he told AFP after a meeting with an Iraqi contractor in the town of Khalis. Hoods area of responsibility has a population of just about 250,000 people, so he has just a small role in the wider reconstruction drive for which the United States has budgeted some 20 billion dollars. But the challenges he faces are typical of what is going on across Iraq, a country where electricity and water supplies are still erratic two years after the US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. Hood on Tuesday drove north in a heavily-armed six-vehicle convoy, from his base at the provincial capital Baquba, to Khalis to see how various projects were advancing. ‘