90 Killed in Wave of Bombings, Violence
Two US troops were announced killed on Saturday.
AP reporter Kim Gamel details a wave of bombings and mayhem across Iraq on Saturday. The deadliest attack was a suicide truck bombing at a police station in Baghad, which killed 20 and wounded 28, many of them police. Guerrillas bombed a pastry shop in the northern Turkmen city of Tal Afar, killing 10 and wounded 3. A truck bomber killed 11 and wounded 45 in Haswah, south of Baghdad. Suicide car bombers killed 20 and wounded 30 in attacks on police at Qaim near the Syrian border.
Reuters gives other incidents and estimates that 25 bodies were found in Baghdad on Friday, 8 in Fallujah, and another 4 in Mosul. The found-body count, of nearly 40, is much higher than in the AP story. Al-Hayat estimated the day’s death toll from political violence at 90.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports in Arabic that the British made a security sweep in the southern, largely Shiite port city of Basra on Friday, killing one Iraqi and arresting 28. The fighting was with Shiite militiamen, presumably.
As’ad Abu Khalil points out that the graffiti on a wall in a photo published by the New York Times is not by a native Arabic speaker, since it is full of spelling and vocabulary errors (in just four words!) The word “dam,” blood, which has a short “a” or fathah, is spelled with an alif, making it long. And the word for infidels is spelled incorrectly. Some of his readers pointed out that there are non-Arab guerrillas in Iraq. Others seemed convinced that the graffiti had an American origin. I don’t think the latter is likely, since most American troops in Iraq don’t know Arabic at all, and the ones who do know it know it better than this.
Veteran AP journalist and long time bureau chief in Baghdad, Steven R. Hurst, reviews the tenure of outgoing US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad. It is a keen examination of the issues, though I’d have added Khalilzad’s roll in the crafting of the constitution, in pulling the Sunni Arabs into the electoral system with unfulfilled promises they could then tinker with the constitution, and in unseated Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafar in favor of Nuri al-Maliki (both of them from the Shiite fundamentalist Da’wa Party). Khalilzad to his credit tried to reach out to the Sunni Arabs, but seemed ultimately unable to convince the Shiites and Kurds to make significant concessions to them. What he did not realize was that American military and diplomatic might, having been put largely at the service of the Shiites and Kurds, made it unnecessary for the latter ever to compromise with the Sunni Arabs. He was interfering with his own efforts just by being there.
Even the intrepid Patrick Cockburn of the Independent can’t go most places in center-north Iraq. Where he can go, he finds the notion that things are just fine outside Baghdad and al-Anbar Province to be a tragic myth.
Kanaan Makiya, an intellectual architect of the Iraq War, admits it is a disaster but insists he has nothing to apologize for. Makiya is still peddling the Neoconservative myth (as an ex-Trotskyite, he is a genuine Neoconservative) that everything would have been all right if the US hadn’t occupied Iraq after conquering it. How likely was that? Makiya, after having tried to convince us all that Ahmad Chalabi is a really great guy and not a fraud, now wants to convince us of other things. Why should we agree to be convinced by someone so wrong about so much? Couldn’t he please work out his intellectual theories in ways that don’t get more US troops killed?