Irbil toll Rises to 60 dead, 100 Wounded
The death toll in Wednesday morning’s Irbil bombing has risen to 60, with 150 wounded, according to the New York Times. The Ansar al-Sunna, an offshoot of the old Ansar al-Islam terrorist group, claimed responsibility. But I am suspicious that all the major incidents in Iraq are claimed by shadowy Muslim fundamentalist groups. I continue to believe that Baath military intelligence is behind most of them. It turns out that the perpetrator was wearing a bomb jacket or belt, but the type of explosive used must have been very powerful. This BBC backgrounder points out that Irbil is the political base of Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
Al-Zaman reports a car bombing in Mosul on Wednesday against an American military position in Hayy al-Hadba’, which left two Iraqis dead. Likewise, a car bomb in Dura, Baghdad, killed 9 national guardsmen and wounded 20. Two US troops were killed Tuesday evening. The US military conducted a raid against the Ramadi hospital for the second time in a week. One of Saddam Hussein’s wanted nephews was arrested on Wednesday.
A new RAND report is highly critical of US military missteps in Iraq, many of them the result of policies pushed by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
AP reports suspicions of fraud in the American civilian administration of reconstruction in south-central Iraq. Of some $100 million, $7 million may have just gone missing, and the rest of the nearly $100 million can’t be accounted for either, because of non-existent book keeping. Actually, I thought I read that $9 billion couldn’t be accounted for from Coalition Provisional Authority days, so $100 million seems small change. Indeed, if the subject was wasted money as opposed to unaccounted-for money, the sum might be edging toward $300 billion.
Reuters maintains that the US military in Iraq has no accountability with regard to civilian deaths, and that the procedures for family members to claim compensation are “Kafkaesque.” Quote: ‘ “There is no reason to think that when a nameless Iraqi without international connections is the victim, the U.S. military would take it even remotely seriously,” said Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies . . .’
Japanese Self Defense Forces, who have been helping with water purification and reconstruction in Samawah in southern Iraq, are going home in December. The UN Security Council resolution authorizing the multi-national forces in Iraq expires in December, and many Bush administration allies are taking advantage of that expiry to announce they will pull troops out then. Hmm. Maybe, contrary to what John Bolton says, the United Nations does exist after all. Maybe a lot of countries even pay more attention to it than they do to Washington.
One of the few good things about the Iraq War, I used to think, was that the sanctions regime would end and medicine shortages for children would cease. Wrong again. Reuters says that medicine for some conditions, such as epilepsy, is difficult to get still.
David Ignatius’s comparison of post-War Iraq to the American South in the decades after the Civil War seems to me positively inspired.