Bombing at Green Zone;
Exodus of Physicians from Capital
Guerrillas detonated a roadside bomb outside an entrance to the Green Zone in downtown Baghdad, striking at a convoy of 3 vehicles and killing 2 South African security guards. Three other persons were wounded. In Ramadi, a bomb aimed at a US convoy instead killed 5 civilians and wounded 2 others. The US conducted a sweep of Dur, looking for Ibrahim Izzat al-Duri, a top Baathist official who has been among the masterminds of the Iraqi guerrilla war against the Americans and their Iraqi allies. Duri was reported dead by one Baathist internet site recently, but another, based in Jordan, denied the report. If al-Duri were really dead, it would have big implications for the guerrilla movement, but there is no good evidence of it (that is what the US is looking for).
62 percent of Americans believe that Bush is handling Iraq poorly, and 57 percent of Americans say that the Bush administration does not have high ethical standards.
It makes you wonder what it would take to convince the other 37 percent that Iraq was going badly. Some 6 or 7 provinces, including that of the capital, are the scenes of frequent violence, the economy is in shambles, militias have infiltrated the police and army, looting and sabotage have undercut services and oil production, thousands of people have died, and now the violence is spreading to neighboring countries like Jordan. Is it that they do not know what is going on, or that they are waiting for a civil war or genocide before they entertain doubts?
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports a wave of assassinations against prominent physicians in Baghdad. Five of the most well known physicians in the capital have been killed in the past few days. The campaign aims at forcing medical personnel to emigrate. Nearly 3000 physicians have left the country, with 150 killed by unidentified guerrillas. The Iraqi government has been powerless to stop it.
For example, in the al-Salikh al-Jadid district of the capital, 3 young men killed Dr. Haikal al-Musawi with pistols equipped with silencers. They then fled the scene and jumped in a getaway car.
Sabah al-Husaini, an official in the Ministry of Health, said that his ministry has lost is most expert physicians during the past two days, and 5 of the best specialists have been killed, including Mustafa al-Hiti (pediatrician), Haikal al-Musawi (internal), Muhammad al-Jaza’iri (surgeon), and Aamer al-Khazraji, who worked in one of the larger hospitals in Baghdad. Mr. al-Husaini seems to be under the impression that the problem of Baghdad’s new brain drain, provoked by assassinations of scientists and physicians, could be dealt with by legislation.
The situation in the southern port city of Basra, in contrast, is much better, according to Reuters. Despite the worries about corruption and militia rule in the south, apparently there is a modicum of security that has allowed hospitals to restock their stores of medicine. Seasonal diseases such as cholera and hepatitis have declined, suggesting that water treatment plants are working there.
Journalists in Iraq continue also to be in enormous danger.
Lawyers for Saddam and his co-defendents are on strike because of lack of security. An attorney was recently assassinated. An attorney representing one of Saddam’s co-defendants has fled to Qatar after an assassination attempt.
Bulgaria will begin withdrawing its 400 troops after the December 15 parliamentary elections in Iraq. They form part of the Polish command and are at Diwaniyah, a southern Shiite city that seems fairly quiet.
James Fallows critiques Bush’s Veteran’s Day speech, shredding it to pieces.
Michael Massing at the NYRB asks the question of whether we are seeing “the end of news” and a kind of permanent rightwing hegemony over information (it is not that real information isn’t there, it is that it can’t get easily heard).