3 GIs Killed
55 Dead in Killings, Bombings
US Plans Ramadi Assault
The LA Times reports that the deaths of 3 US GIs were announced on Wednesday:
‘ U.S. military officials announced the deaths of two troops a day earlier in Al Anbar province in western Iraq, raising to at least 105 the number of American fatalities in October . . . Early today, the military announced the first death in November. It said a soldier was killed Wednesday when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb west of Baghdad.’
Al-Zaman reports that [Ar.] guerrillas fired mortar shells at the house of Shiite cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, wounding 3 of his bodyguards on Wednesday evening. Al-Hakim is head of the United Iraqi Alliance, the largest bloc in parliament, and leads the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which controls a number of ministries and is pushing for a Shiite super-province in the south.
US military forces, al-Zaman says, raided an office of the Iraqi National List, headed by former prime minister Iyad Allawi. They arrested 8 of his bodyguards on unspecified charges.
Baghdad residents fought off an invasion of gunmen from the east, engaging in a 2-hour gun battle before they withdrew.
WaPo reports on violence in Baghdad on Wednesday:
‘ The crackle of gunfire and the boom of bombs and mortars punctuated life in the capital for most of the day. In the deadliest incidents, six people were killed by a roadside bomb in the Shurjah market of central Baghdad, five were killed and seven wounded by a car bomb at Aqaba bin Nafi intersection in eastern Baghdad, and three people were killed in a car bombing Wednesday morning in the southwest Bayaa neighborhood. ‘
The LA Times says, “In addition, 35 bodies were recovered throughout Baghdad, all bearing signs of having been slain execution-style.”
The LA Times also reports on what we are getting for the money we spent on encouraging political development in Iraq:
‘ For the second consecutive day, parliament was unable to convene because too few Iraqi lawmakers had showed up . . . The parliament speaker, Mahmoud Mashadani, engaged in a bitter exchange with a fellow Sunni Arab lawmaker during a news conference at which Mashadani chided his colleagues for absenteeism. When the lawmaker, Abdul-Kareem Samaraie, spoke up, Mashadani lashed out and accused him of corruption. The state-run television station abruptly ended its broadcast of the news conference.’
Al-Zaman adds that only 76 out of 275 parliamentarians showed up, and that Samaraie had said that there were enough MPs to hold the session. Mashhadani called him and his colleagues “dogs.”
NYT says that the Iraqi politicians want a better deal in the next UN Security Council resolution, especially more control over their own military. But, can they muster a quorum to pass the resolution in parliament?
Al-Zaman says that one of the issues here is that the MPs are annoyed with [Deputy Prime Minister] Barham Salih for appearing to want to deal with the UNSC resolution all by himself. They insist that it must come to parliament first for discussion before Salih can announce it.
Reuters reports further incidents, including:
‘BAGHDAD – Gunmen wounded Hazim al-Hemedawi, head of the little-known Iraqi National Party, after ambushing his convoy . . .’
Al-Hayat says that [Ar.] US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and US generals in Baghdad met with tribal leaders from al-Anbar province on Wednesday in preparation for an American attack on Ramadi with the intent of chasing out of it Salafi radicals who have begun styling themselves ‘al-Qaeda.’
61 percent of Americans in this poll want a timetable to be set for US withdrawal from Iraq. Only 32 percent are opposed (i.e. the percentage that still listens to Bush).
Meanwhile, 58% want a new policy in Iraq, while 29% want to stay the course. Even Bush has now moved off the ‘stay the course’ language.
The entire Third Infantry Division, some 20,000 soldiers, seems set to return to Iraq for a third tour in 2007.
The comments in this article by Gen. Rick Lynch alleging that the guerrillas in Iraq are trying to influence the US elections strike me as inappropriate for a serving officer, insofar as they are themselves a form of intervention in the election. 90% of the US officer corps identifies in polls as Republicans, up from 40% in the 1950s.
If you wanted to inject politics into it, it would be possible to argue that Operation Forward Together or the Battle for Baghdad was launched in late July precise in hopes of making the capital quiet for the midterm elections in the United States. On this theory, what really happened is that the US military was given an impossible task, and the violence increased, and so the political scheme failed. Thus, sour grapes from Lynch.
Moreover, if the Bush administration cannot, after three and a half years of brutal military occupation, quieten things down in Baghdad for a US election, then it would not be surprising if the public punished them at the polls. They promised us garlands and democracy, and have given us burning hulks and militiamen.
A leaked classified briefing from the US Central Command in Iraq includes a chart showing Iraq steadily moving toward “chaos” since the February, 2006 bombing of the Askariyah Shrine at Samarra. Although White House spokesman Tony Snow tried to maintain that there has been a 23% improvement in the situation since the chart was produced, I fear this astonishing and wholly unbelievable assertion only proves that he is now a diplomat (defined as someone who lies for his country) as opposed to a former employee of Faux News owner Rupert Murdoch (someone who lies for Rupert).
This article argues that southern Iraq is at a tipping point. Call me a pessimist, but the likelihood that 7200 British troops, mainly in Basra, are going to establish even medium-term secure conditions by March, 2007, strikes me as vanishingly low.
Al-Hayat reports that the Turkmen Front in Kirkuk is rejecting the idea that Turkmen will accept Kurdish rule if the Kurds succeed in annexing Kirkuk to the Kurdistan Regional Government. He claimed that the Kurds are flooding their people into Kirkuk deliberately to change its demographic composition, maintaining that historically it was a Turkmen city.
On the Lebanon front, see this interview of Dick Norton, the foremost expert on the Lebanese Shiites.