50 Dead, 90 Wounded in Iraq Bombings on Wednesday Morning
Qaim Campaign Continues
On Wednesday morning, a suicide bomber in a car detonated his payload near a market in Tikrit, killing 27 persons and wounding 70. Reuters adds that guerrillas struck two further times early on Wednesday: “In the town of Hawija, southwest of the strategic oil city of Kirkuk, a man strapped with explosives walked into an army recruitment center and blew himself up, killing 19 people and wounding 25, police said. A suicide car bomb also exploded outside a police station in the southern Baghdad suburb of Dora, killing at least four people and wounding dozens, police said.”
In Baghdad on Tuesday, two suicide bombers killed 8 and wounded 20. Three US soldiers were among the wounded.
The Scotsman also notes that “Governor Raja Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi was seized [by guerrillas] as he drove from Qaim to the provincial capital of Ramadi yesterday morning, his brother, Hammad, said.” The continued US inability to protect members of the new governing elite has been an important roadblock to stability in the country.
Some US military commanders believe that there are too few American troops in Anbar province to deal effectively with the guerrillas there, who simply flow around the US and establish pockets in areas the US is not able to patrol. This article says there are now 145,000 US troops in Iraq. When did that happen? But it also says that only half of those, or 72,500, are combat troops that might encounter the enemy. And there are only 10,000 US troops in Anbar Province (presumably only 5,000 of them actually fighting troops). If the US is attempting to clean out Anbar with only 5,000 troops, no wonder not much progress is being made. Presumably, however, it needs the other 67,500 fighting troops elsewhere, especially in Baghdad itself, and in the other trouble spots such as Babil, Diyala, Salahuddin, etc. The article says Rumsfeld is tired of hearing about the argument of Gen. Shinseki that several hundred thousand US troops would be needed to secure Iraq. He may be tired of it, but we’re not forgetting that his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz said that he “couldn’t imagine” that it would take more troops to secure the country than to defeat Saddam’s army. He either did not know much about colonial history or he did not have a good imagination. Oh, and Donald? Just one word for you: Shinseki.
The US commanders expressed their happiness that the guerrillas at Ubaydi are standing and fighting, on the grounds that if they do that, they will be finished faster. I wouldn’t be so happy if I were them. The jihadis are making themselves martyrs in order to give other young men a reason to fight. It is a recruitment drive. Since guerrillas have managed to kill about 14 US troops in recent days, moreover, it is a way of signalling that the US is not 10 feet tall, but is rather vulnerable. If the US has this much trouble with about 2500 foreign fighters in Iraq (and over 20,000 Iraqi ones), imagine the problems if the jihadi recruitment drive succeeds, and the foreign contingent doubles or triples.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that French authorities have apprehended an Algerian in France who was in charge of making false papers for European Muslim jihadis who wanted to go fight the Americans in Iraq.
A propos of my caution yesterday against the figures of enemy dead being given out by the US military in Baghdad, James Janega of the Chicago Tribune, embedded at the front, writes, “Though military commanders in Baghdad announced that 100 insurgent fighters were killed in the early fighting, along with three Marines, [Col.] Davis’ figures were lower. He said “a couple of dozen” insurgents had been killed in Ubaydi, about 10 at another river crossing near Al Qaim, and several who were killed by air strikes north of the river. Other commanders said they had recovered few bodies but had seen blood trails that suggested insurgents were dragging away wounded or dead fighters.” In other words, the claim of 100 guerrillas dead may or may not be true, but probably wasn’t at the time it was given out.
Saboteurs hit the northern oil pipeline again on Tuesday.
Reuters tells us about the scourge of child labor in Iraq.