Khamenei calls for US to Depart Iraq
US Troop Levels Rise to 147,000
US troop levels in Iraq have jumped to 147,000. You have to wonder whether this big runup of troop commitments is related to an attempt to calm the country in the run-up to midterm elections in the US.
2 more US soldiers were announced killed on Wednesday. Over 30 Iraqis were killed in bombings in Baghdad or assassinations there and in other cities on Wednesday.
Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei of Iran told visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki Wednesday that Iraq’s suffering derives from elements of the old Baathist regime and from the presence of US troops in the country. AP reports,
‘ Khamenei told al-Maliki that Iran “considers it an obligation to support the Iraqi government in practical ways,” Iran’s state news agency said.
But Khamenei – who holds the final word in all political matters in Iran – made clear Iran wants to see the withdrawal of U.S. troops, which he blamed in part for the turmoil plaguing Iraq.
“Part of (Iraq’s) sufferings have been due to the actions of the former regime and part is due to the presence of occupiers in Iraq,” Khamenei told al-Maliki, according to the Iranian state news agency and state television.
“We hope a day will come when the Iraqi people reach the stage they deserve and that, by cutting the hands of the foreigners, its wealth will come to serve the Iraqi people,” Khamenei said. ‘
In addition to joint oil operations, Iran and Iraq have announced cooperation in agricultural projects.
Martin Sieff points out that the US has decapitated “al-Qaeda in Iraq,”, having killed Zarqawi and then captured his number 2 (a capture not announced for months after it happened). Sieff then points out that the capture of scores of Zarqawi’s lieutenants has made no dent in the level of violence in Iraq.
I conclude that Zarqawi and his organization (which was never ‘al-Qaeda” in any technical sense of the word) were a relatively small part of the Iraqi guerrilla movement, and most of the violence is being planned out by Iraqis.
Oliver Poole has more on the discovery of 65 bodies in Baghdad and environs on Wednesday morning.. Here is about the saddest passage I’ve read in a while:
‘ The United Nations has estimated that around 100 people a day are being killed in this sectarian dirty war. Many of these, however, are never found and disappear into the Tigris or Baghdad’s sewage pipes. Last month, the 4th Infantry Division, the US force responsible for the capital, started repairing exposed holes in the city’s antiquated sewage system. Officers admitted that this would not cut the number of murders but might help families locate missing relatives. ‘
Liz Sly of the Chicago Tribune reveals that most of the bodies recovered in the past 48 hours have been Sunni Arabs in Sunni districts of West Baghdad, who presumably were killed by Shiite death squads attempting to ethnically cleanse those neighborhoods.
Sly also reports that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has declined to support Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq in their attempt to introduce legislation in parliament allowing the formation of an 8-province super-region in the Shiite south. The plan is opposed by Sunni Arabs and some Shiites. Sistani said it was better to concentrate at this time on providing services to the people.
Al-Hayat reports that SCIRI agreed Wednesday [Ar.] to postpone the consideration of the issue of regional confederacies.
If you want to know what leaders who actually live in the Middle East think of the Bush administration’s Iraq War, they are happy to tell you. It is a “real disaster” that has “destabilized the region.” The only think they can’t agree on is whether it would be a greater catastrophe for the US to pull out abruptly or for it to stay.
War is bad for children and other living things. But is is very good for the profits of the weapons manufacturers. If we could follow the money flows from that industry to the Washington pundits that keep demanding more wars, it would be very illuminating.