Private Company Shuts Down Baghdad

Private Company Shuts down Baghdad International Airport
More violence in Baghdad

The steady drumbeat of mayhem continued again on Friday. One bomb in Baghdad killed 4 persons, including three policemen, and wounded 9. There were other assassinations and guerrilla violence elsewhere in the country.

Al-Zaman: American forces, both infantry and armor moved further into the northern Turkmen city of Tal Afar. The city was completely surrounded. A local source says that 90 percent of the city’s residents have fled. Those who remain have received commands by pamphlet to leave. Local health officials are alleging that 170 persons have been sickened by poison. Eyewitnesses speak of heavy US aerial bombardment of suspected guerrilla hideouts in the city.

Apparently northern Mosul is also out of control, and the Iraqi government is pledging to bring it back under government authority. Al-Zaman alleges that there is some connection between that task and coordinating with the local authorities about the October 15 referendum. It is expected that the major Iraqi cities [in the center-north?] will reject the constitution in this referendum. [It is hard to tell, but the implication seems to be that the security measures in Mosul and the US attack on Tal Afar are not just security operations but have to do with Iraqi and US government concerns about the way Ninevah Province might vote in the referendum; it is a swing province that could help reject the new constitution. Personally, I am not sure of a connection here.]

A national guard unit from Minnesota in Iraq speaks out about severe sleep deprivation, 60 men doing the work of 120, sand flies, and bitter disillusionment. Most of them seem likely to get out of the National Guard as soon as the Pentagon lifts the “stop-loss” (a.k.a. kidnapping) order that keeps them in past their sign-up period. The level of discontent must be enormous for them to speak to the press despite severe pressure within the military not to do so.

A private company has shut down Baghdad International Airport because it has not been paid for supplying security there. It maintains that the Iraqis cannot provide security to the required standards. As the Iraqis pointed out in response, surely the Iraqi government is sovereign over the airport!

Nathan Brown Analyzes the new Iraqi Constitution [.pdf].

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