Jaafari in Washington
Weeping Madman in Sweltering Baghdad
Robin Wright and Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post profile the meeting of Ibrahim Jaafari with George W. Bush.
As reported here yesterday, on Thursday morning back in Baghdad, four bombings left 17 dead and 70 wounded. (-Al-Sharq al-Awsat).
Richard Reeves predicts that the US will be in Iraq for 6 or 7 more years, and that when it withdraws it will be a “tragedy.” He has no idea.
Every time the interim leader of Iraq has a photo op with US officials, he seems to feel a need to say all kinds of unrealistically optimistic things. It used to happen with the rotating presidency of the Interim Governing Council. Izzedin Salim went on saying optimistic things right up until he was killed while waiting on the Marines to let him into the Green Zone. Allawi came and said that the problems were only in four provinces (he didn’t mention that one of them was Baghdad).
Now Jaafari is saying that progress is being made against what he calls “the terrorists,” and that all that is necessary is an acceleration of the training of Iraqi troops (with maybe some other countries than the US helping [NATO already is].)
Most observers I know of who know anything serious about military training don’t expect an effective Iraqi army to be stood up for five to ten years, so if Jaafari thinks there is a quick fix in this regard, he is just wrong.
The Post adds
‘ With just seven weeks until a constitution is due, Jafari also insisted that the Iraqis will make the deadline even though nothing has yet been written. “We know there are challenges and we know there are difficulties, but certainly the difficulties in writing a constitution will be not as severe or as intense as they were during the elections . . . in putting together the government,” he said in the interview with The Post. ‘
I am quoted saying it is very unlikely that they can write a whole constitution by August 15 when it has taken them up to now to form a government and even form a drafting committee. As I reported yesterday from al-Zaman, the drafting committee is not meeting this week because the parliament building had no water or electricity because of sabotage. (Water service returned on Thursday.)
Andy Mosher and Bassam Sebti with Naseer Nouri draw the curtain back on the real Baghdad, a Mad Max scene of unpredictable explosions, scattered body parts, inadequate and undependable electricity, lack of refrigeration, water sabotage, and weeping madmen: ‘ Nearby, a scruffy young man in dirty pants and an unbuttoned shirt stood staring at vegetables scattered on the ground by one of the explosions. Bending over and picking up an onion spattered with blood, he began to cry. “Every one of you in Karrada calls me Crazy Ali,” he said to no one in particular. “But I would never do such a thing. I am better than you sane people. At least I do not hurt you.” ‘
Salon.com reports on how many Iraqi girls have been forced into prostitution abroad. One of the subjects is a victim of the Fallujah campaign.
Looted artwork and antiquities from Iraq are helping fund terrorist activity, rather as blood diamonds in West Africa did.
Somehow the rhetoric about freedom in Iraq seldom extends to the rights of workers and trade unions. They are demanding input into the writing of the permanent constitution. Free trade unions were key to the post-war order in Japan and Germany, but the Bushies are not as wise as the New Deal diplomats of that era were, who had lived through the Great Depression and knew the importance of a living wage.
The good news is that the Grand Mufti of Egypt has condemned the bombings in Iraq that kill innocent civilians. The bad news is that he says that “resistance to Occupation” (i.e. killing US and Coalition troops) is quite all right. The mufti, Egypt’s chief Muslim jurisconsult, serves at the pleasure of the Egyptian government. If he is being allowed to talk this way, it is because the military dictatorship that controls Egypt is peeved at the US for trying to make it open up the electoral system. Allowing this statement to appear in the official newspaper, al-Ahram, is a small act of revenge. It also has the advantage of making it seem to the Egyptian public as though the Mubarak government opposes the US occupation of Iraq (which is highly unpopular in Egypt), while in fact the Egyptian military has offered extensive logistical aid to the US.