US Military Numbers brought into Question
40 Dead in Saturday Violence
Al-Hakim Demans 8-Province Region
The McClatchy News Service has cast doubt on the numbers of killed in Baghdad for August as announced by the US military. The report finds that the “count” of declining “murders” in Baghdad for August had been intended to exclude victims of suicide bombings and mortar attacks!
Some may conclude that since the US miltiary is not making any real progress in stopping the civil war, they have now begun attempting to manipulate the numbers.
If the allegation is true, it is a further detraction from the credibility of the Pentagon in Iraq. Since it would be much better for the US war effort if what the Department of Defense said about things was generally found to be true and credible, this development is actually quite sinister.
The murders the Pentagon did report, for July, were increasingly cold-blooded political executions.
The LA Times gives more bad news about death statistics in Baghdad:
‘ One of the most reliable barometers of the bloodshed here has been the monthly numbers from the Baghdad morgue, where coffins strapped to car roofs arrive hourly, and residents trying to identify loved ones look through gruesome autopsy photos.
Just last week, health officials unveiled a change in morgue policy: All requests for statistics henceforth would be routed through the Health Ministry. Morgue officials who previously provided details have abruptly “retired” or left the country.
Iraqis worry about a sinister turn. Al-Sadr loyalists head the ministry. In effect, then, al-Sadr controls an agency in charge of putting out accurate information on killings reportedly committed by his own gunmen.
Even as information sources have been squeezed, Iraqi authorities have cracked down on the media, threatening to close newspapers and TV stations whose reporting falls afoul of the government line. Last week, the Iraqi government closed the widely watched, U.S.-style satellite network station Al-Arabiya for a month, dispatching police to the network’s Baghdad offices. The Shiite government charged that the station, based in Sunni-dominated United Arab Emirates, had aired “sectarian” reports. ‘
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will visit Iran on Monday. His Islamic Da’wa Party was hosted in Tehran during the Saddam years, when being a member was a capital crime, and some branches of the party have good relations with the clerics that rule Iran. Al-Maliki’s predecessor, Ibrahim Jaafari, received a very warm welcome in Iran during his visit of early summer, 2005, and at that time Tehran pledged $1 bn. in foreign aid and help with refining Iraqi petroleum.
The most pro-Iranian politician in Iraq, Shiite cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, is the titular leader of the United Iraqi Alliance, the largest bloc in parliament. He issued a communique Saturday underlining two main points. First, national reconciliation could not include forgiveness for Baathists. Second, it is illogical to allow the Kurds to have a provincial confederacy but to deny it to other groups. Al-Hakim is seeking a huge 8-province union that would have its own parliament, prime minister, and security forces, but would owe some sort of vague, light loyalty to Baghdad, to which it would cede a few duties such as foreign policy. The Shiite confederacy would also have a special claim on all new oil and gas finds in the south, which is probably rich in such commodities.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports [Ar.] al-Hakim demanded a superprovince stretching from Kut to Basra, encompassing 8 provinces. He said this arrangement constitutes “a guarantee that there will be no return to the dictatorship.”
Adnan Pachachi, an old time Sunni Arab nationalist and member of parliament in the National Iraqi List, condemned the plan as “inappropriate to the present circumstances.” Salih Mutlak, leader of 11 secular Sunni MPs in parliament, warned that “insisting on achieving this confederacy means civil war.” Adnan Dulaimi, a leader of the religious Sunnis in the Iraqi Accord Front (44 seats) said that “there is no justification for it save sectarianism.”
Al-Hakim spoke on the occasion of the birthday of the Twelfth Imam, saying, “Whoever accepts the Kurdistan Region must accept the Region of the Middle Euphrates and the South, and that of Baghdad, and other regions . . . Federalism is a demand of the masses that we strongly support, for it is a guarantee that there will be no return to the dictatorship and everyone will enjoy this right. Federalism leads to stability in Iraq, and is the hope of Iraqis . . . The example of federalism in Kurdistan, which is witnessing a big renaissance, is a proof of the success of this form of government.”
[Iraqis do not mean just “federalism” when they use the word, but rather the erection of provincial confederacies where you take several provinces and make a superprovince with its own parliament and prime minister.]
Al-Hakim continued, “Reconciliation has become necessary, but its signposts must be known. It must not become a bridgehead for the return of killers [i.e. Baathists] to Iraq.”
Pachachi said that unlike the Kurds,w ho had had their own Region for a decade and a half, the Shiites in the south had no experience in administering themselves. He warned that a federal region “like the region of Kurdistan would mean that they would have armed forces and foreign relations and control over petroleum resources, and that means the partition of Iraq into weak statelets that will be threats from large, powerful neighboring states. He said it would be a matter of great regret “if a great and powerful country such as Iraq should become weak statelets when the age of the modern state is about a century. It has lived through a distinguished experience of national unity. We see today how Europe is uniting to become a single entity, while a country such as Iraq is dividing up. It is a shame, and utterly regrettable.”
Al-Hakim is among the more powerful politicians in Iraq. He has become among the more pernicious, as well. You’ll never get social peace as long as the ex-Baathists are discriminated against so badly. And Iraq will not survive as a country if the Shiite super-province is created– it is just too overwhelming to any central government to have a rival prime minister in charge of half of its provinces.
Reuters reports at least 40 dead in civil war violence on Saturday, with 14 bodies found in Mahmudiyah, a mixed Sunni-Shiite area south of Baghdad, and another 16 in Baghdad itself. There were in addition numerous bombings, mortar strikes and shootings all over the country, including Baghdad and Kirkuk, as well as a firefight in Samarra.
The Sunni tribes of Fallujah are saying that a recognition of the Resistance [Ar.] is a prerequisite to their joining any process of national reconciliation.
Rupert Murdoch’s hyping of the imaginary Iraq-al-Qaeda connection: David Cole once caught Bill O’Reilly in the act.
The Independent estimates that “the War on Terror” has cost over 60,000 lives. The bulk of the deaths have been in Iraq.
Joseph Nye argues that a combination of hard and soft power is necessary to win the war on terror, and that Bush erred in resorting to main force as his primary tool.