Bloody Wednesday: Guerrillas, Violence kill Nearly 300 Iraqis
Well I guess those Baghdad markets aren’t as safe as Senator John McCain thought. And, they look remarkably unlike small town Indiana this morning, contrary to what Congressman Mike Pence alleged a couple of weeks ago.
The thing about reality and politics is that sooner or later, reality outstrips rhetoric, and then the politics is revealed for the lie it is. The silly allegation that the guerrillas are only artificially making it look like the surge is falling is another piece of fluffy illogic. Define “success” for the surge, and then measure reality against it. You could say that it is still early to make a judgment. You can’t say that there is no evidence after 6 weeks for whether progress is being made. In that regard, the answer is clearly a resounding “No.”
Nearly 300 persons were killed or found dead in Iraq on Wednesday and hundreds were wounded. Al-Hayat writes in Arabic that the smell of blood and gunpowder wafted through Baghdad on Wednesday In the capital alone, Sunni Arab guerrillas carried out five horrific bombings in Shiite neighborhoods that, with some mortar attacks and shootings, killed around 200 persons and wounded many more.
The morning began with a guerrilla bombing of a police checkpoint at the gate to the Shiite slum of Sadr City, which killed 41.
Then the terrorists opened the gates of hell, carefully placing high explosives in a Shiite market and detonating them as workers gathered to take minibuses home after a hard day’s work. The blast incinerated or tore apart some 140 persons and injured 150 more, according to Reuters.
Al-Hayat says: “Eyewitnesses said that furious citizens, who busied themselves with collecting bodies charred by the horrific explosion and gathering body parts spread over an area of fifty years, threw stones and the rubble produced by the explosion at a joint American/ Iraqi force that came to the market, forcing it to withdraw before this demonstration of popular rage.”
Peddlers in the market put their wooden trolleys to work as ambulances for the wounded.
There were reports of children being pulled alive from beneath the charred corpses of their relatives.
Later on, the guerrillas set off two smaller bombs, killing even more Iraqis.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the arrest of the colonel in charge of security for the Sadriya Market. (That may make him feel good, but surely is bad for morale in the officer corps of the new army. Reprimanding or demoting him would make sense, but arresting him? Who would want to serve under such circumstances?)
Police also found 25 corpses in the streets of Baghdad, victims of death squads and torture. In Ramadi, authorities found 25 more decomposing bodies on Wednesday (they had found 17 the day before). In Mosul, police found 9 bodies.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports in Arabic that the Baghdad coroner’s office is reporting a significant uptick in the number of unidentified corpses coming into the Baghdad morgue, especially from the (Sunni) Karkh area. This trend is a reversal of the lower numbers of corpses being found daily in February and March.
A big nitric acid cache was also found in Baghdad, probably intended for use in bomb making by the guerrillas.
The British turned over security in Maysan Province to local authorities on Wednesday. The southern, Shiite province, with its capital at Amara, is largely in the hands of the Sadrists. It is bizarre that the US is fighting them in Diwaniya but the British are handing over control to them in Maysan. Go figure. The British have now withdrawn from Muthanna, Dhi Qar and Maysan, three of the four provinces where they initially had security duties. They are now at a few bases in Basra.
The US more or less turned security in Najaf Province over to Iraqis (i.e. the Badr Corps paramilitary of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is infiltrated into the police). The al-Maliki government hopes to see security in Karbala turned over next.
Parliament will soon take up the draft oil law passed by the Iraqi cabinet. The Kurds are insisting on virtual autonomy in awarding petroleum contracts in their areas. Other parties are concerned that the law potentially gives away too much to foreign oil companies. On the other hand, the law was drafted by Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani, a nuclear engineer who is close to Grand Ayatollah Sistani, and it is hard to imagine either that he can’t count or that he wants to detract from Iraq’s sovereignty over its most valuable commodity.
Iraq may have twice as much petroleum as anyone thought, a new study says. But, none of it will get developed under the current circumstances.
Saudi Arabia has forgiven $15 billion in debt owed it by Iraq from the days of the Iran-Iraq War. Unencumbering Iraq of its massive debts, racked up by Saddam Hussein’s wars, is key to any hope of eventually (10 or 15 years down the road?) nursing the country back to economic health. This step is the first major favor the Saudis have done the al-Maliki government, which Riyadh tends to view with suspicion as a sectarian, Shiite, pro-Iranian affair. It is further evidence that of all the major regional powers, Saudi Arabia is best placed to play a major role in resolving the Iraq crisis, if only the Americans would step aside and let it.
Scott Harrop on the ridiculous claims in the NYT and the Pentagon of Shiite Iranian arms going to the hard line Sunni Taliban. Iran is allied to the Hazara Shiite party in Afghanistan, the Hizb-i Vahdat, members of which the Taliban massacred and are still trying to kill. Yeah, it makes a lot of sense for Iran to arm the Taliban.
Officers I’ve talked to in the US military are absolutely convinced that Pakistan is behind the neo-Taliban. For Peter Pace to bring up Iran is just another piece of indirection. It is one thing to be amused by a magician’s tricks, it is another to believe they are real. The second belongs to a category: that of a sucker born every minute. You let the American Enter-Lies Institute and Michael Rubin lie you into a war with Iran, America, and you will be very, very, very sorry.