British Withdrawal May bring Militia, Iranian Influence
Najaf Bomb Kills 18
Rick Jervis of USA Today–reporting from Baghdad– suggests that the British drawdown from Basra could allow greater Iranian and militia influence in the Shiite deep south of Iraq.
LA Times says that the British are drawing down in Iraq because they cannot fight both there and in Afghanistan without overtaxing their army and facing “operational failure.”
A Marine was killed by guerrillas in al-Anbar; guerrillas shot down a US helicopter but the crew and passengers were rescued; a car bomb killed 16 and wounded 40 at the Shiite holy city of Najaf. Sunni Arab guerrillas are attempting to provoke Shiite militiamen to come out for revenge, knowing that they would likely then be curbed or shot by the US military.
Reuters reports on other political violence on Wednesday, of which there was a lot. The number of bodies found in the capital appears to have gone back up after a lull.
Guerrillas also struck at a second chlorine truck, causing Baghdad residents to sicken and go to the hospital with problems breathing. The guerrillas are deliberately attempting to use gases of various sorts to spread chaos.
Underestimating Vice President Dick Cheney’s influence with Bush would be a big mistake. I don’t think Condi Rice is on the same level at all.
David Ignatius reports on the growing anger toward the US in the Arab world. We are down to a 12 percent favorability rating. Ignatius rightly points to the security threats engendered by Bush’s failures in policy and in public diplomacy.