4 GIs Killed; at least 64 Iraqis Killed
Massive Bomb Near Mosul
Ed Wong of the New York Times reports on increasing American and Iraqi dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, given that he has not reversed the slide into worse and worse security.
We historians don’t approve of great man theories of history, and I don’t think the main problem is Maliki. He very decisively sent the 10th Army Division down to Basra to impose security when the city was slipping into faction fighting late last spring. What I heard was that the army manned checkpoints for a while, but took fire and eventually wasn’t so visible. Is that Maliki’s fault?
(There was a firefight between British forces and the Mahdi Army on Tuesday in Basra, in which Habib Jasim al-`Ibadi, a Sadrist leader, was killed, and a British soldier was wounded. Thereafter, guerrillas launched mortar attacks on the Iranian and British consulates. On Tuesday, DPA reports, Iraqi police began implementing a new security program in Basra, beginning by arresting 130 persons. )
And, how come Iraq only has one armored division, and how come its army only has 78 old Hungarian tanks? How can you control Iraq with lightly armed and poorly trained infantry? Saddam had 8,000 tanks at his height.
And, nobody can get elected prime minister in today’s Iraq except by getting the support of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Sadr Movement, both of which have militias. So then how can the PM crack down on the paramilitaries that brought him to power, with an army that doesn’t seem willing or able to take them on? (The Wong article depicts the Iraqi army and police as eager to take on the militias and just waiting for the order, but I fear that on the basis of what happened in Basra, I don’t buy it.)
The bipartisan Iraq Study Group also said that the Iraqi government must act quickly and decisively to prevent the crisis from deteriorating.
So, I fear I think that the American officials in Baghdad are trying to make Maliki a scapegoat and take the spotlight off their own failures. They are the ones with the tanks and helicopter gunships and trained troops, and they haven’t been able to restore security. How can Maliki?
Speaking of the Mahdi Army militia, AP says that it is now using children against US troops in Sadr City.
Upset members of parliament demanded Tuesday that the ministers of defense and the interior explain what practical steps were being taken to stem the tide of faith-based killings. Over two hundred bodies have been found in Iraq in the past week by my count.
Reuters reports 65 killed or announced dead in civil war violence in Iraq on Tuesday, including 4 US troops. AP reports another 3 bodies found in Baghdad, for a total of at least 68.
AFP reports that 4 US soldiers were announced killed by Iraqi guerrillas on Tuesday:
‘A soldier with the 89th Military Police brigade was killed and two others wounded when their vehicle was struck on Tuesday by a suicide car bomb in the northern city of Mosul.
In Baghdad, a soldier died when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb in northeast Baghdad while shortly afterwards another was killed by small arms in north-central Baghdad, both on Sunday. ‘
Reuters reports 61 other deaths in Iraq on Tuesday. In addition, AP reported that 3 bodies were found in Baghdad, for a total of at least 64 Iraqis and 4 Americans dead. The biggest attacks were these:
MOSUL – A car bomb followed by a suicide blast killed 18 people and wounded 11 in Sherqat, a town near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Tuesday, police said.
BAGHDAD – Mortars slammed into residential homes in southern Baghdad, killing 10 people and wounding 20, an Interior Ministry source said. A police source gave an initial toll of two people killed and 19 wounded, adding the numbers could change.
BAQUBA – Gunmen killed 11 people across Baquba, north of Baghdad, including a former army officer and his wife, police said.
MAHMUDIYA – A total of 11 bodies, with bullet holes and signs of torture, were found in different areas in the town of Mahmudiya, 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad, police said. ‘
Former Israeli special ops personnel had contracts in 2004 to train Kurdish peshmerga to guard the airport at Irbil. The way the report is worded, this sounds like a private company contract where some personnel happened to be Israel.
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said that the Middle East could not bear the problems that would ensue from a break-up of Iraq. He said that if the country did move further toward a breakdown in security, Turkey would protect the Iraqi Kurds.
I can’t figure out whether that is an overture or a threat.