Bombings in Tal Afar, Baghdad, Najaf
Iraq is not World War II
Someone detonated a bomb outside the house of Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf around 7 pm Wednesday Iraq time. The blast killed six, including a security guard.
Among the bombings and shootings on Wednesday was a bombing in Dora, a district of Baghdad, that killed 2. Dora from all accounts appears to be virtually guerrilla-held territory. Sweeps of Sunni Arab districts, called Operation Lightning, were attempted in June, but to little long-term effect.
” TAL AFAR – At least seven people were killed and 37 wounded when a female suicide bomber attacked a large crowd of people outside an army recruiting centre in the town of Tal Afar west of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
TAJI – Seven bodies of people who had been shot dead were found in Taji, 20 km north of Baghdad. Police said they were bound and blindfolded.
*SAFWAN – A U.S. soldier and an airman were killed and another soldier wounded when their convoy was struck by a roadside bomb near Safwan, in southeast Iraq near the Kuwait border.”
There were other attacks in Baghdad, including the kidnapping and murder of six person in the Huriyah District.
The US military withdrew from the city of Karbala on Wednesday. This is the second city from which Coaltion troops have withdrawn in favor of local police and militia. The US left Najaf in August. Both are holy cities, with substantial numbers of pilgrims and local seminaries.
Al-Hayat reports that a major set of military campaigns is being jointly planned by the US military and Iraqi Minister of Defense Saadoun al-Dulaimi against guerrilla strongholds in Anbar Province.
Al-Zaman reports that large numbers of rockets were discovered Wednesday in Nasiriyah. It is believed that guerrillas planned to use them to disrupt the referendum on the constitution now scheduled for October 15.
Nancy Youssef of Knight Ridder is on the ground in Baghdad and gets the scoop that Muqtada al-Sadr has probably decided to remain neutral toward the new constitution. If al-Sadr had called on his followers to reject it, he might have helped the Sunni opposition defeat it. He is said to fear opposing the religious establishment in Najaf, which generally favors the constitution, lest he lose the contest and end up looking weak. As reported here, Grand Ayatollah Ishaq Fayyad, the number 2 Shiite cleric in the country, has issued a fatwa urging adoption the the constitution. Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the chief clerical authority for the Shiites, is variously said to support the constitution or to want to avoid ordering Shiites to vote for it lest he impose his views on them at a time when they should be exercising individual choice and popular sovereignty.
Al-Zaman says that professional drivers of trucks and other vehicles, large and small, in Kirkuk went on strike on Wednesday to protest the lack of gasoline. Iraq is one of the world’s major petroleum producers under ordinary circumstances. But it seems wherever George W. Bush goes, the gas gets expensive or even hard to get hold of.
Marine Sgt. Alisha Harding gives an eyewitness account of the June 23 attack on her convoy by a suicide bomber near Fallujah, in which five marines and a sailor were killed.
Reuters news agency has formally complained that the behavior of US troops toward independent journalists has become a serious impediment to getting out the story of what is happening there. (It is worse. Reuters typically lists 5 or 6 deadline “security incidents” in its daily roundup, but we know that there are more like 60 or 70, about which the US military knows but of which the rest of us are kept in the dark).
Heritage Petroleum of Canada has signed a memorandum of agreement with the Iraqi Kurds to do exploration and development. Hey, I thought the Canadians sat this one out. You mean, they get the contracts anyway? Quick, someone alert Wolfowitz (didn’t he promise to punish all French-speaking countries?) Ooops, I guess he isn’t in the Pentagon any more.
Gen. Richard Myers, outgoing chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, warned Wednesday that winning in Iraq was as important to the US as winning WW II had been, and that a withdrawal would lead to another 9/11- style attack.
With all due respect, Gen. Myers is wrong on both counts. For the US to stay massively in Iraq, occupying a major Arab Muslim country, for very much longer is what will provoke another attack on the US mainland. Gen. John Abizaid, who actually knows the Middle East, warned against a large, long-term occupation of Iraq in spring of 2003 and he was right. As for the WW II analogy, puh-lease. National Socialist Germany and its allies had large, well-equipped armies and occupied all of continental Europe, West and North Africa save Egypt, and (via Japan) Korea, much of China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Burma, and Indonesia among other territories. The German military was 20 million strong, the Japanese nearly 10 million. Italy’s military was 3 million.
The guerrilla movement in Iraq is typically estimated at around 30,000 strong, though I suspect it is twice that. The total number of persons in the jihadi movement outside Iraq who could and would commit violence such as bombings against the mainland United States is probably in the hundreds, and is at most a couple thousand. They can’t even seem to muster more than a couple thousand volunteers to fight the biggest Western incursion into the Muslim world since the Soviet invasion of Aghanistan, which is pretty pitiful if you think about it. I teach World War II in the Middle East, Gen. Myers. This is no World War II.
Jim Lobe covers the debate on a US exit strategy for Iraq. Kudos to Jim for getting my position exactly right and stating it succinctly and clearly.
Ron Kampeas explores the dilemmas of American Zionists who oppose the Iraq war, given an atmosphere in the antiwar movement that tends to see the Israeli occupation of the West Bank as just as objectionable as the US occupation of Iraq. The article is good in recognizing the antiwar attitudes of a majority in the general American Jewish community, which contrasts with the generally hawkish views of the major Jewish lobbies and organizations influential in Washington. Kampeas does not, however, make any distinction between Jews and Zionists, or between those who support Israel and those who support the colonization and annexation of the West Bank.