Police Massacre at Dour Near Tikrit, 30 Dead
Iraqi Government distances Itself from US charges against Iran
Sunni Arab guerrillas deployed a truck bomb against Iraqi police in Dour near Tikrit (a Sunni city of over 100,000 north of Baghdad), killing 30 persons (many of them police) and wounding 50. Tikrit is in the province of Salahuddin, i.e., neither in Baghdad nor in al-Anbar Province, where the “surge” plan is being implemented. We may expect to see major violence in Salahuddin, Diyala, Ninevah and Babil provinces during the current “surge,” since they are not included in the plans for increased security.
(On the surge, see Michael Schwartz at Tomdispatch.com)
Speaking of Diyala, US forces have been fighting at close quarters against Sunni Arab guerrillas who had taken over, and booby-trapped, the small town of Buhriz. It took 8 hours to clear a half-mile corridor. One US and one Iraqi soldier have been killed in the fighting, and one of each has been wounded. Several guerrillas were also killed, though some of the dead may have been townspeople caught in the crossfire.
The police chief of Baladruz, also in Diyala, was almost killed by a roadside bomb as his convoy was entering the provincial capital of Baquba.
All of which is not to say that all is well in Baghdad. There were two bombings and a machine gun attack in the capital, and police found 30 bodies in the streets.
In Mosul, police found 5 bodies. There was also a guerrilla attack north of Mosul, which left 8 security guards dead.
Note that Dour, Tikrit, Mosul and Buhriz are all largely Sunni Arab areas.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports in Arabic that the Iraqi government distanced itself on Sunday from US charges against Iran. Maryam al-Rayyis, National Affairs Adviser to PM Nuri al-Maliki, said that Iraq has deep respect for Iran and other neighbors. She said that the Iraqi constitution prohibits Iraq from being an arena of contestation between other countries.
The same report says that Nassar al-Rubaie, a parliamentarian of the Sadr Movement led by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, insisted in an interview that his bloc has never received any support from Iran and he is sanguine that it is not included in the American allegations. (In fact, Pentagon briefers specifically mentioned the Mahdi Army, though they appeared to allow that it was splinter groups from it that set these roadside bombs that killed US troops.)
Almost all roadside bombs in Iraq are set by Sunni Arab guerrillas who deeply dislike Shiites and hate Iran.
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates tried to convince NATO that it has a stake in success in Iraq.
French foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy replied that the primary issue is Iraqi sovereignty (i.e. the US should get out of Iraq and let it be an independent country.) Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin had called last week for the US to be out of Iraq by the end of 2008.
Amit Kumar Singh argues that engagement with Iran is crucial to US success in Iraq.
Lauren Frayer of AP reports on the unfinished, non-functioning Youssefiya power plant, now a US military base. I fear I don’t see anything hopeful in the facts presented by the article.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is not equipped to help Iraq vets with post traumatic stress disorder, a widespread problem with returnees.
On the Iran weapons story, Al McKee writes:
“Here is my take on the US Killed In Action (KIA) statistics for 4th quarter 06:
Total US KIAs (hostile action) were 265.
Of those, Anbar 112,
Salah al-Din 18,
Tamim [Kirkuk] 10,
Ninawa [Mosul] 3.
As you say, one can leave Anbar and the other four provinces to the north out of the equation as they are predominantly Sunni, at least in most areas where US troops are operating.
Of the Baghdad total of 107,
KIAs reported at Taji were 17,
so subtracting that from Baghdad Province yields 90 for the City itself.
The US statement was that less than a quarter of the total US casualties were as a result of these Iranian EFPs.
That equates to roughly 60 of the 265 total. Therefore 2/3 of the Baghdad city US KIAs (60/90) were caused by these Iran-produced EFPs, the implication being that they are all attacks by Shia militia.
But, we don’t hear anything like 2/3rds of attacks in Baghdad are by Shia militia. Indeed, this issue continues to be very strange.
How about this as a hypothetical partial explanation. They are produced in Iran, shipped to the Badr Brigade in Iraq who stockpile them for later use. Lots of them then end up on the ubiquitous Iraqi arms black market, and most of them then end up with Sunni insurgents in Baghdad. For some reason (maybe less financial means or a result of competing factions) they don’t get to Sunnis in Anbar (The Marines have reported no sign of EFPs in Anbar). I don’t konw if this makes any sense, but very little does in this matter.”
Patrick Cockburn pokes holes in the US Department of Defense’s Sunday briefing blaming Iran for all the US troops killed in Iraq by sophisticated shaped charges.
My own take on the issue: isn’t it much more likely that most shaped charges are smuggled in or made by Sunni Arab guerrillas, and that the DoD is leaping to the conclusion from a handful of Iranian ones that all are Iranian supplied? It isn’t plausible that something could be made in Tehran but not in a workshop in Baghdad; Iraq is an advanced society. And, how much is left from one of those charges afterwards, that you could tell where it came from? This is the same US military that mistakenly attacked a Shiite Husayniya (mourning hall for the martyred grandson of the Prophet) as a death squad safe house, and then announced that they did not know if it was a Sunni or Shiite edifice. They also apparently don’t necessarily know whether they are in Sunni or Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, or how to judge the likelihood that a shaped charge was set by a Sunni Arab guerrilla as opposed to the Shiite militias. I.e. it isn’t necessary to deny that some Iranian weapons are getting in to conclude that they are a tiny proportion of the problem.
And, of course, if US troops weren’t in Iraq, they wouldn’t be being killed by anyone’s shaped charges.