Democratic Senate Ponders Iraq Massive

Democratic Senate Ponders Iraq
Massive Bombings Shake Shiite districts in Baghdad

Since the Democrats now have a majority in the Senate, Barbara Slavin writes, they are poised to have a major role in Iraq policy. She says some analysts doubt that such a partnership is likely, given that the new Congress intends to investigate Bush Administration crimes.

Sunni Arab guerrillas detonated massive car bombs in two largely Shiite markets on Thursday, killing 16 persons and wounding dozens. Wire services put the death total at 45 yesterday, but of course this is a fraction of the true number.

A wave of other bombings shook the capital and left scores dead and wounded. Guerrilla violence as returned to Tal Afar in a big way, with several police killed by a bombing. People got killed in Baquba, as well.

The Minister of Health said Thursday that the Sunni Arab guerrillas have killed 150,000 Iraqis since the war began in March, 2003. Note that he specified that these were victims of the “insurgents.” The recent Lancet study said that one-third of excess deaths over normal pre-2003 mortality rates were reported by relatives of the deceased as having been caused by the US military. That would put the number of dead at 200,000. Then some number have been killed by Shiite militiamen, which this minister is not counting since he is a follower of young Shiite nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. So he is really leaking a number of dead mounting to well over 200,000. The Lancet study suggested that the most likely lower figure for Iraqis killed in the war is 420,000. Since the Health Ministry cannot easily gather statistics from the most turbulent provinces, e.g. al-Anbar and Diyala, it would not be at all surprising if their figures are half the real number.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned Thursday about executing Saddam Hussein, saying, “Carrying out this verdict will explode violence like waterfalls in Iraq . . . ” adding that his execution “will transform (Iraq) into pools of blood and lead to a deepening of the sectarian and ethnic conflicts.” Mubarak joined the anti-Saddam coalition of George H.W. Bush during the Gulf War in 1990-1991 and his troops were the first to enter liberated Kuwait.

AP did a story on the conference I just attended at Emory on Iraq.

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