3/4s of Baghdad out of Control
Sad Graduation for Iraqi College Students
A bleak internal US military assessment of the progress of the Bush/Kagan “surge” in Baghdad, revealed by the NYT on Monday, has been followed up on by CNN.. Here is what the Pentagon correspondent is saying:
‘ A top U.S. commander tells CNN that three quarters of Baghdad simply is not under the control of U.S. or Iraqi security forces. Brigadier General Vincent Brooks says just one quarter of Baghdad is in a controlled state. Brooks said control means U.S. and Iraqi forces are able to maintain physical influence over a specific area, preventing its use by the enemy.
It’s been three months since the security crackdown began. More than 20,000 U.S. troops have poured into the city. But Brooks says there is still a crucial problem — the lack of qualified Iraqi police.
In some areas, they are still loyal to death squads and militias. In other areas, there just aren’t enough police. In neighborhoods such as Amiriyia and West Rashid, U.S. troops are still having to go back into those areas that they had cleared.
Attacks against U.S. troops in Baghdad are on the rise. Military intelligence officials are analyzing this video from the Islamic State of Iraq claiming to show Russian grenades being thrown at U.S. troops. Analysts say these grenades may be designed to burst into high temperature fires on impact. One official calls it a new threat. ‘
Funny how Iran agrees to meet with the US about Iraq, and then Russian President Vladimir Putin shoots his mouth off about missiles, and all of a sudden the deadly weaponry in Iraq is coming from Russia, not Iran.
Both reports underlined that US troops are just not present on a continual basis in the vast majority of neighborhoods. Among the bars to progress is that the Iraqi authorities have not
1. provided enough troops and policemen to man checkpoints and patrol neighborhoods, just as a matter of sheer numbers
2. provided enough security forces willing to take risks
3. provided even-handed security forces that won’t protect other Shiites from the militias.
And, remember that quieting down Baghdad was supposed to give the al-Maliki government breathing space to make the deep political compromises that might end the insurgency by negotiation. None of that political work appears to have been done, and not only because just one-fourth of the capital has even begun to be pacified.
See Ambassador Helman’s op-ed below.
The fringe group calling itself ‘the Islamic State of Iraq’ claimed in a video on Monday to have killed 3 captured US soldiers. Although the US military says that the group presents no real proof, they did show the men’s i.d. cards.
Suspected radical Salafis killed a priest and 3 deacons in the northern city of Mosul on Monday. The vast majority of American Catholics are unaware that Pope John Paul II opposed the Iraq War.
The enterprising Damien Cave of the NYT went out and interviewed Iraqi college students just graduating. This is the Bush class, in a way. He found disintegrating universities, looted equipment, assassinated professors, cancelled classes, and a graduating class that mostly intended immediately to flee the country. (See below; 3 university students on their way home from Baghdad to Sulaymaniya in the north were kidnapped for ransom on Monday.)
Reuters reports civil war violence in Iraq on Monday. Police found 28 bodies in Baghdad. Other major incidents:
‘ BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb killed three people and wounded eight in Zaafaraniya district of southern Baghdad, police said.
MOSUL – A suicide truck bomber wounded two guards at the house of a local police brigadier near Mosul, police said.
MOSUL – Gunmen killed a Chaldean Catholic priest and three of his assistants in Mosul on Sunday, police said on Monday.
TAJI – A suicide car bomber killed three Iraqi soldiers and wounded three at a checkpoint near Taji, 20 km (9 miles) north of Baghdad, on Sunday, an Iraqi military source said. . .
McClatchy has more, including the kidnapping for ransom of 3 university students from Sulaymaniya who were studying in Baghdad.
Sawt al-Iraq reports in Arabic that the “National Tendency” (leftist) is saying that Basra is afflicted by a rash of militia clashes, assassinations, and criminal acts, with what it calls a “collapse of security” in the city. The small leftist party called for immediate elections in the province of Basra, given the governing council’s inability to resolve its current political crisis. The council voted to unseat the governor, Muhammad Misbah al-Wa’ili, but has not been able to install a successor. The council has 41 members and is fairly evenly divided between members from the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and from the Islamic Virtue Party (Fadhila) and its allies.