Americans bombed Diwaniyah
26 Bodies found in Baghad
On Wednesday morning in Iraq, guerrillas set off a bomb outside a military recruiting center, killing 12 and wounding 38.
Two more US troops were announced dead, one from action in al-Anbar, and one from a humbee accident.
The initial story, conveyed in the press and by US officials and observers about the Diwaniyah clashes of Saturday-Monday is falling apart as new information comes out.
1. The US military represented itself as just a bystander, having sent helicopters to hover above. But Agence France Press reports today from Diwaniyah:
‘ During yesterday’s fighting, an American F-16 jet dropped a 220kg satellite-guided bomb on an “enemy position” while flying in support of Iraqi and coalition troops, the US air force said. ‘
2. Some reports and observers represented the Iraqi army as having acquitted itself well. But AFP reports:
‘ Officials said 81 people died in Diwaniyah in yesterday’s clashes between security forces and militiamen and that . . . a peace deal was reached . . . “We killed 50 gunmen in the clashes and this incident resulted in the deaths of 23 of our soldiers and injuries to 30 of them,” Mr Maliki said. Mr Jaathi said eight civilians were also killed and 61 wounded bystanders were treated after yesterday’s 12-hour gun battle. ‘
My own guess is that it took local Badr Corps (infiltrated into Diwaniyah police and security forces), Badr Corps Special Police Commandos, Iraqi army soldiers, and a US 500 pound bomb to produce an outcome where ragtag militiamen were fought to a standstill.
3. The impression was given of a clear win of the new Iraqi army over the Mahdi Army militia. But AFP reports that the battle was resolved through negotiations, not militarily, and the Iraqi army has been forced to back down on some points:
‘ The army has agreed not to enter residential areas for three days, while the Mahdi Army will withdraw its fighters and a militia commander who was arrested at the weekend will be brought to court within 24 hours, town councillor Sheikh Ghanim Abid said. ‘
4. It was implied in some quarters that Muqtada al-Sadr put the militiamen up to causing this trouble. In fact, the local Sadrist leadership in Diwaniyah has for months been far more militant than Muqtada would have liked, and he tried to rein them in. AFP confirms:
‘ but aides said the battle had been triggered by rogue elements. ‘
In my appearance on the Lehrer News Hour on Tuesday, I challenged the narrative that the brave new Iraqi army single-handedly took on a Shiite militia and put it in its place. I think the army sided with one militia (the Badr Corps a.k.a Diwaniyah police) over another (the Mahdi Army). And I see the faction-fighting in Diwaniyah, which follows similar such clashes in Karbala and Basra, as further sign that even the Shiite south has entered a new phase of profound instability. Instead of celebrating that the Iraqi army did not run away from this fight, we should be worried that such a fight was necessary in sleepy, Shiite Diwaniyah to begin with. Diwaniyah, with a provincial government run by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, should have been a constituency for the Maliki government, not a challenge to it.
Some sort of deal appears to have been struck between the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds about how petroleum revenues will be collected, federally and provincially, and how the federal government will share them back out. If this deal really is firm, it is a big achievement, since this is one of the issues that could blow Iraq apart down the road.
On the other hand, the deal appears intended to pave the way to the letting of some major Iraqi petroleum bids. I worry that with the country such a mess and the politicians so cash-strapped, they will be tempted to give away too much in bad contracts, just for an immediate infusion of money.
You mean they didn’t have control of their own army?
Of course, this “control” that the troops will obey the commands that they are given.
The Kurds are building a refugee camp for 6,000 Iraqis who have been displaced north by the violence and poor security and bad economy in Arab Iraq. They are said not to be able to afford housing in Sulaymaniyah. It is hard to tell from a distance whether this is philanthropy or a social control mechanism.
Reuters reports political violence on Tuesday. Major incidents included the discovery of 26 dead bodies in Baghdad; other violence:
KIRKUK – A policeman was killed and nine people were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in the tense city of Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police and hospital sources said. . .
BAQUBA – Fifteen people were gunned down in several attacks in different areas of Baquba, police said. . .
BAQUBA – Gunmen attacked an office of the radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the religiously mixed city of Baquba on Tuesday, killing two guards and wounding five, police said. . .
NEAR BAQUBA – Four people were found shot dead, handcuffed and blindfolded in a village near Baquba, police said. . .
BAGHDAD – Four mortar rounds landed in two districts in northern Baghdad wounding five people, including two Iraqi soldiers, a source in the Interior Ministry said. . .
BAGHDAD – Clashes between a Sunni tribe and Shi’ite militias wounded 14 people late on Monday in southern Baghdad, the army and an Interior Ministry source said.
Read Leonard Pitts on the Bushies’ mania to control information while it is still available. 🙂
Mother Jones has a timeline of the lies that led to the last war.