3 GIs Slain, 27 Iraqis
Slavery Revived by Contractors on US Military Bases
A car bomb aimed at a police patrol in Baghdad killed three and wounded at least 25 persons Monday morning near the Ministry of Health.
Guerrillas killed another three GIs on Sunday, and 27 Iraqis died in guerrilla violence. Four Iraqis were killed in the northern city of Mosul. April has been a deadly month for US troops in Iraq.
Al-Zaman says that 22 bodies were discovered in al-Adhamiyah and al-Sink in Baghdad, and in Fallujah (2 in the latter city). They had been killed execution-style.
A huge fire has broken out at a northern Iraqi petroleum installation. Although the report says that it is unknown whether this conflagration is the result of guerrilla sabotage or an accident, let’s just say I find the former more plausible.
PM-designate Jawad al-Maliki’s call for an end to militias in Iraq appears to have alarmed President Jalal Talabani, who insisted that the Kurdish peshmerga is not a militia but rather a “regulated force.” He said that they will never be dissolved. Al-Maliki wants all militias disbanded or absorbed by state security and military forces. The Kurds say that federal forces will never set foot on Kurdistan soil, and that the peshmerga is the army of the Kurdistan regional confederacy.
Al-Zaman / AFP report [Ar.] that a political solution has been proposed to the ethnic fighting in the Sunni Arab district of al-Adhamiyah in the capital. Ahmad al-Kubaisi announced that the National Iraqi Guards concluded an agreement with the people of the quarter that guarantees that Ministry of Interior police commandos will be kept out of the district. On the other hand, attacks on army outposts will cease. The people of Adhamiyah will protect their district. Despite the discovery of 6 bodies there Sunday, each killed by a bullet behind the ear, a curfew has dampened down the violence that broke out last week when Shiite police commandos came in. Most shops remain closed and the city streets are deserted most of the time.
Sami Moubayad can’t see the difference between incoming Iraqi PM Jawad al-Maliki and outgoing PM Ibrahim Jaafari.
After all the shootings of innocent Iraqis out for a drive, after the torture and illegal detentions at Abu Ghraib, after the indiscriminate bombing of Iraqi cities, there were few blots remaining as imaginable on the American escutcheon in Iraq. But, well, we just weren’t thinking big enough. There was after all the possibility of the revival of slavery! Some of the civilian firms supplying “military support services” at US military bases in Iraq have been using slave labor. This report confines itself to speaking of “human trafficking” and “confiscated passports,” but it is obviously talking about slavery pure and simple. I have long been against all the boondoggles of corporate socialism in the defense industries, whereby jobs that could be done efficiently and inexpensively by GIs are farmed out as pork barrel patronage to private firms, who do them inefficiently and very expensively. And, it turns out that the corruption in Iraq among American “contractors” has been mind-boggling. But even I could not have imagined slavery.
The US military is planning to be in Iraq for at least a decade.
Kurdish journalist Ayub Nuri visits Baghdad from Sulaymaniyah and finds it terror-haunted . Nuri was a suppporter of the war and had high hopes for a new Iraq, which have been dashed. His descriptions are so vivid that they are worth excerpting:
‘ What I found was a virtual ghost town, where residents are afraid to leave their homes after dark and heavily armed militias roam the streets . . .
He was the only guest at the once-bustling Palestine Hotel, where a legion of foreign journalists and businessmen once crowded together:
‘ To get into the building, I had to maneuver around concrete barriers, barbed-wire fences and pass through two checkpoints. . . ‘
I went back to my old neighborhood, Karada — a predominantly Christian area where Shiites and Sunnis also lived in peace — late one afternoon to see how things had changed over the last three years. Although shops in the area once stayed open until midnight, many were already preparing to close . . . A car bombing, apparently aimed at a Shiite mosque across the street, had heavily damaged the neighborhood stores where I used to buy fruit and vegetables. The streets I remember as being filled with children and families doing their late-night shopping were now empty, dark and sad . . .
[Shiite taxi drivers] told me that while they worked as taxi drivers during they day, they patrolled the streets at night as members of the feared Mahdi army . . .
. . . ironic are the posters praising the bravery of the Iraqi army. “No one must worry about Iraq. We are here to protect it,’’ they promise. It’s largely an empty promise.
Many residents still do not have access to drinking water or electricity. Pregnant women afraid to venture out after curfew are often forced to give birth at home. Garbage piles up everywhere in the city. And so do the bodies of victims of the various militias that own the night . . . ‘
As for Bush, he gave us more imaginary solutions to pressing problems on Sunday. His solution to the Iraq crisis is to depend on an Iraqi army that does not exist and would be deeply divided on ethnic grounds if it was ever deployed in a large scale battle. His solution to the energy crisis is to talk up hydrogen, which is years away. It is like a child with ADD. There are real emergencies, including the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans. And we just get banjo playing from this president, not action.