38 Dead, including 2 Sadrists Killed by US
US, UK Officials Admit Slide toward Civil War
: Reuters says that 24 persons were killed or reported dead on Thursday. But 2 of the wounded Sadrists later died, and it doesn’t seem to know about the 9 bodies dragged from the Tigris or the shootings in Basra, Amara and Mosul. I’d say that is at least 38. The worst incidents:
‘ BAGHDAD – Ten people were killed and 32 wounded by a bomb hidden in a rubbish pile on the side of the road in the al-Amin district of eastern Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.
* BAGHDAD – U.S. troops opened fire on a convoy carrying supporters of radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr at a checkpoint south of Baghdad, wounding at least 16 people [and killing two Sadrists – JRC], police said. There was no immediate comment from the U.S. military . . .
MUSSAYAB – Three people were killed and 22 wounded on Wednesday night when gunmen attacked a wedding party with hand grenades in Mussayab, 60 km south of Baghdad, police said.
Crowds of Shiites belonging to the Sadr movement were on their way to Baghdad Thursday to stage a demonstration in Baghdad against the Israeli war on Lebanon. Some Sadrists in a mini-van came under fire from US troops near Mahmudiyah, with one or two killed and 16 wounded. The US military says that the Sadrists fired at a US observation tower.
There was an outbreak of candor, deliberate and inadvertent, among UK and US officials on Thursday. In the UK, a dark memo from the outgoing British ambassador in Baghdad to Prime Minister Tony Blair was leaked. William Patey wrote to Whitehall:
‘ The prospect of a low intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq is probably more likely at this stage than a successful and substantial transition to a stable democracy.
“Even the lowered expectation of President Bush for Iraq – a government that can sustain itself, defend itself and govern itself and is an ally in the war on terror – must remain in doubt. ‘
Anyone who just follows the daily news actually coming out of Iraq rather than the London and Washington press conferences knows that this way of putting things is actually overly optimistic.
Patey was also concerned lest the Mahdi Army turn into an armed state within a state on the model of Hizbullah in Lebanon. I was told by an American official who had been in Baghdad that Iraqi provincial elections had been postponed because there are indications that Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement is growing in popularity in the Shiite south and his lists might sweep to power. So Patey’s fear is misplaced. The real prospect is that the Sadrists will be the government of Iraq, not just an armed outsider.
The retired British Foreign Office diplomats generally feel that “Mr Blair has done more damage to British interests in the Middle East than Anthony Eden, who led the UK to disaster in Suez 50 years ago.”
General John Abizaid, in a victory for plain talking, told the Senate on Thursday that Iraq was as bad as he had seen it and could easily slip into full-scale sectarian civil war. Abizaid was also the first general to admit that the country was in a guerrilla war. However, it is worth noting that by social science standards, Iraq has been in a civil war for years. What would you call a country where there is an armed insurgency that kills thousands each month?
Donald Rumsfeld in his testimony just dusted off Ayman al-Zawahiri’s stock speech about a caliphate from Spain to the Philippines (which is ridiculous) and drew the opposite conclusion from that of Zawahiri– the US must stay militarily in the Muslim world, otherwise the extremists win.
Uh, Donald, there were no Islamist extremists to speak of in Iraq before you invaded and occupied it. Leave, and maybe the Iraqis will find it easier to go back to a moderate secularism. Stay, and create a sea of beards.
The domino theory was false with regard to Communism. It is sure as hell false with regard to Bin Ladenism.