100 Dead in Iraq on Thursday;
Including 60 Bodies found in Baghdad
Reuters reports almost 40 persons killed in political violence as a result of Iraq’s civil war on Thursday. Guerrillas set off several bomb attacks and fired mortars inside Baghdad, accounting for a number of the deaths.
In addition, Police found 60 bodies in various parts of Baghdad, showing signs of torture. They were victims of Sunni-Shiite sectarian reprisal killings. The inability of the current “Forward Together” campaign by the US and Iraqi militaries in Baghdad to deter this widespread murder and lawlessness suggests that the problem is long-term and intractable now.
The US military is complaining that the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is impeding their efforts to take on the Shiite militias that are behind many of these death squad attacks. Al-Maliki came to power with the support of the Sadr Movement and the Mahdi Army, which are prime suspects in the deaths of Sunni Arabs. The US is convinced that the Mahdi Army and the Badr Corps, both Shiite militias are behind a lot of the “war of the corpses” in Baghdad.
Two thirds of Americans say that Iraq is in civil war. Nearly 40 percent of the public said that they did not have a clear idea why the US was in Iraq in the first place.
A new University of Maryland poll found that 71 percent of Iraqis want US troops out by September, 2007. Some 60 percent of Iraqis support attacks on US troops. Since the Sunni Arabs are about 20 percent of the populations, and since the Kurds are very positive toward the US, I figure that this poll result means that the other 40% of Iraqis who support attacks on US troops are Shiites. Shiites make up around 60 percent of the Iraqi population, which means that two-thirds of Shiites support attacks on Americans!
Another recent poll found that 90 percent of Iraqis say that they would not want an American for a neighbor.
If counter-insurgency is about winning hearts and minds, then the US has lost Iraq pretty definitively, if these polling results are at all accurate.
Bob Woodward points out that Iraqis attack US troops on an average once every 15 minutes. There are 900 attacks a week, and it is expected to get worse in 2007. Woodward says that the Bush administration routinely hides from the US public the severity of the problems in Iraq.
Bush accused the Democrats of being the party of “cut and run,” on Thursday. But when you are losing a guerrilla war, you should begin considering an orderly retreat. Otherwise you will be stuck in an ever worsening quagmire.
Look at when the British withdrew from Kenya. The Mau Mau revolt and other political violence sudddenly went away. Likewise in the 60s when the French withdrew from Algeria. The longer the US is the military occupier in Iraq, the more likely it is that American lives will be endangered.
Guerrilla sabotage of petroleum facilities has cost Iraq $16 billion in the past two years. Iraq has only been able to pump 1.7 million barrels per day in September, suggesting that the Kirkuk pipeline is closed again and that even down south at Basra something is impeding exports. In August, they did 2.2 million barrels a day, but that apparently could not be sustained. Under the old Baath government, Iraq used to pum 2.8 to 3 mn. barrels per day.
Senior British military officers have been arguing for a British withdrawal from southern Iraq in favor of concentrating on the mission in Afghanistan. It is rare for senior officers to challenge an entire mission. In my view, British impatience to leave southern Iraq reflects a realization that the Shiite south is likely to go on being dominated by Shiite religious parties and militias, and nothing they do is likely to change that outcome. Moreover, since those parties dominate the central government, they are allies on paper, at least, and it is difficult to take them on even if they misbehave (as the Mahdi Army often does).
China says it is interested in resuming oil cooperation with Iraq. You betcha. China has been growing at 10 percent a year and is extremely oil and gas hungry. Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani has signalled that Iraq will honor the deal the Baath government struck with China for development of the small al-Ahdab field.
The news that the Iraqi government seems willing to forge ahead with oil deals, even if they are with China, was said to give heart to the US oil majors, suggesting that they might not be far froms striking some new deals themselves.
The civilian contracting companies that were supposed to do reconstruction in Iraq often did not do it very well, even though they were very well paid for it.