20 Rockets Mortar Shells Hit Green Zone

20 Rockets, Mortar Shells, Hit Green Zone; Kill 3
Petraeus Meets with Presidency Council

On Tuesday, guerrillas launched some 20 katyusha rockets and mortar shells into the Green Zone in downtown Baghdad, killing 3 persons, including a US soldier, and wounding 25 persons.

The Green Zone was originally supposed to be the safe place in Iraq, with the area outside it (everything else) called the “Red Zone.” The US Embassy in Baghdad appears to have forgotten what the phrase “Green Zone” means, since a spokesman there told the LAT, “There’s fire into the Green Zone virtually every day, so I can’t draw any conclusions about the security situation based on that . . .”

Let me draw the conclusion. If you’ve got fire into the friggin’ Green Zone every day, then we can draw the conclusion that the security situation in Baghdad sucks big time. When you’ve got people killed and a large number of people wounded in the one place in Iraq that was supposed to have a “permissive” security environment, then security in general is the pits.

Now you might say that we can’t draw many conclusions from the events of a single day. And, being able to lob mortar shells over a wall doesn’t speak to that much organization. But then what about these two nuggets in the LAT story?

1) “There were about 39 attacks [on the Green Zone] in May, compared with 17 in March, according to a U.N. report.”

2) “Tuesday’s attack came the same day gunmen kidnapped Iraqi Police Col. Mahmoud Muhyi Hussein, who directs security inside the Green Zone . . .

In other words, the security situation in the Green Zone is spiralling down at an alarming pace, and the guerrillas have such good inside knowledge that they can kidnap the very person responsible for security in it, as he drives in Jadiriya. That, my friends, is an inside job. And such an inside job doesn’t bode well for future security in the Green Zone. For one thing, presumably they are “debriefing” Col. Hussein as we speak, looking for weak points.

People I know and respect are in the Green Zone, so I’m pretty distressed by this situation, and not amused by the embassy spokesman’s attempt to blow smoke up our posteriors. This looks bad.

I.F. Stone was right, all you have to do is read the newspapers carefully and you’d be surprised what you can find out.

Al-Zaman gives inflated casualty figures for wounded in Tuesday’s Green Zone attack, and attributes it to the Mahdi Army (how could they know it wasn’t Sunni Arab guerrillas?) Al-Zaman says that one of the mortar shells landed not far from the residence of PM al-Maliki!

Al-Zaman also reports that President Jalal Talabani and his two vice presidents (Adil Abdul Mahdi, a Shiite, and Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni) met Tuesday with Gen. David Petraeus on ways out of the political impasse. It is widely felt that PM al-Maliki is just incapable of making progress on Washington’s benchmarks, including national reconciliation. Al-Zaman alleges that the American commanders on the ground are increasingly favoring giving greater power to the ‘presidency council’ comprising the president and 2 vice presidents.

This move, if truly being pursued, strikes me as a “Mahmoud Abbas” strategy for Iraq, involving essentially sidestepping the prime minister in favor of the presidency council. I doubt it can work.

In Diyala Province, Sunni fundamentalist guerrillas took over the town of Shirween a mixed Sunni-Shiite area. Sunni Arab guerrillas who had controlled 40% of the Diyala capital, Baquba, had melted away before the US advance. But now they have popped up in control of a nearby town. This move strikes me as a sort of taunting of US commanders. They must know they cannot keep control of Shirween if the US comes after them. They are making the point that their movement is hydra-headed and therefore invulnerable.

Sawt al-Iraq reports in Arabic that MP Husain al-Falluji is calling for the draft petroleum bill to be submitted to a popular referendum, instead of having parliament vote on it. Many parliamentarians feel that the current draft of the bill gives away too much national sovereignty.

Reuters reports political violence in the country on Tuesday. There is too much of it.

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