7 Troops killed in 2 Days
Sunni Arabs warn of Paralysis
Guerrillas used roadside bombs to kill 7 US and coalition troops in the past two days in separate incidents.
Sunni Arab politicians in Iraq are complaining that the US has set up the new political system so as to favor sectarian outcomes and to produce gridlock.
The British military raided Iraqi police offices in Basra and arrested a number of police officers whom they suspected of being double agents for sectarian militias. What the Western press seldom notes is that such police were appointed by the elected governing council of Basra, which is dominated by Shiite religious parties that maintain paramilitaries. Actually, since the elected officials had a right to appoint the police under Iraqi law, whereas there is no legal instrument governing the conduct of British troops in Iraq, it is not clear from where the authority comes for the British to arrest Iraqi police officers.
The problem with Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad threatening the Shiite religious parties with a withdrawal of support for training Iraqi troops is that a) the threat is not plausible and b) the US training effort can easily be replaced — with that of Iran. The US cannot actually afford to let Iraq go down the drain, and is not going to stop training the new Iraqi military, even if the Shiites do insist on retaining the Ministery of the Interior (which they will).
The NYT reports on the massive fraud and misuse by US government personnel of funds supposedly dedicated to rebuilding in Iraq. What with the charges against DeLay and the “Abramoff and his 30 Republicans” scandal, the Republican Party kleptocracy appears to have practiced its graft on both sides of the Atlantic. Alas, when you steal from Americans, they just have less money for their families and they’ll gladly vote you back in. When you steal from Iraqi reconstruction, you get thousands of Iraqis killed.
Iraq’s ministry of labor announced Tuesday that 20 percent of Iraqis live in dire poverty. In addition, some 171,000 families live on $30 a month.
[Ar.] Sources in the Sadr Movement announced Tuesday that US forces had released from their prison Shaikh Abd al-Jawad al-Isawi, a Sadrist leader of Kut, after having held him for more than a year. Muqtada al-Sadr, the young Shiite nationalist leader, heads a substantial bloc in the new parliament. Several other Sadrist leaders of Kut are still in US custody.
Iraqi petroleum production fell to only 1.5 million barrels a day in the last quarter of 2005, only about half what it was in the last years of Saddam Hussein. There is no prospect of earlier improvement, the experts say.
A small demonstration was mounted Tuesday in Samarra to protest the targeting by guerrilla fighters in the city of local young men who sought to be recruited by the police.
Patrick Boylan condemns the wanton destruction of Iraq’s cultural heritage at the hands of the United States in 2003 and after. He points out that during the Gulf War and its aftermath, the US was careful on this issue, but that some sort of deliberate decision appears to have been taken to disregard it this time. Why the difference? Let me just whisper two words to Professor Boylan: “Donald Rumsfeld.” Or just one word: “Philistine.” Oops, now I’ve gone and been redundant.
Current History has a special issue out on Iraq. I have a piece about the Shiite crescent.
Dilip Hiro looks at the victory of Muslim fundamentalist parties in the various elections recently held in the Middle East.