5 Coalition Troops Killed, 20 Iraqis Executed
Gates Warns Clock Ticking
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned the Iraqi leadership in a visit to Baghdad on Thursday that the US commitment to that country is not open-ended. Gates indicated earlier that he wanted to see the Shiite and Kurdish government move with greater speed toward reconciliation with the Sunni Arab population. Like all Bush administration officials, he was obliged by the Karl Rove spin machine to say he thought “progress” was being made in Iraq. I’d hate to see what deterioration would look like if that is true. It isn’t progress when nearly 300 Iraqis get blown up or shot in a single day, as happened on Wednesday.
Guerrillas conducted two major attacks in the capital on Thursday. At Jadiriya in Baghdad they killed 13 and wounded 26. They fired mortar shells at another neighborhood, killing 3 and wounding 1. Police found 20 bodies in Baghdad on Thursday. Salafi Jihadis executed 20 Iraqi security agents and posted the video to the Web.
Sadrist leaders are saying that Mahdi Army militiamen will not attack US troops, according to Reuters. Shiites in beleaguered Baghdad neighborhoods are demanding that the militia return to the streets to provide security. This step might, however, bring them into conflict with the US military, and they would prefer to see the US weaken the Sunni Arab guerrillas. The Shiite demands for security may ultimately, however, be overwhelming for the movement and it might have to give into them or risk being seen as ineffectual.