8 US Troops Killed
100 Casualties in Karrada Bombing
KRG MP: US oil Interests driving Iraqi Legislation
It was announced Thursday that Iraqi guerrillas had killed 7 US soldiers. The Daily Times say 8 died from Tuesday to Thursday. Among other violence against Iraqis, guerrillas detonated a massive car bomb in Central Baghdad that killed 25, wounded 75, and left rows of shops destroyed. Some 20 bodies were found in the streets of Baghdad on Thursday. South of Baghdad in Babil, a guerrillas used a roadside bomb to kill 5 policemen and wound two civilians. Al-Hayat writing in Arabic put the Iraqi death toll from direct civil war violence for Thursday at 65.
Sawt al-Iraq reports that member of the Kurdistan parliament, Nuri Talabani, insists that US economic interests are driving its heavy-handed push to make sure the Iraqi parliament signs a petroleum law in short order. He said that the US government wants special deals for US petroleum corporations in developing, producing and distributing Iraqi petroleum, and that is why it is in such a hurry. Since the US and its Iraqi allies have been involved in heavy negotiations with the Kurdistan Regional Government over the exact provisions of a petroleum law, it is plausible that Talabani has special knowledge of US goals.
Allegations are being made that the foreign workers building the massive US embassy in Baghdad have in some cases been Shanghaied (told they were going to Dubai but then taken to Baghdad instead) and, once in Iraq, have been abused. The charges are against the Kuwaiti contractor supplying the workers to the US government. It has been alleged before that forms of corporate slavery have underpinned some of the private contract work done in Iraq.
The Sunni Arab party, the National Accord Front carried through Thursday with its threat to suspend membership in the al-Maliki government again. The party leaders gave Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki one week to meet their demands, or they said the six cabinet members from the party would resign, and that Front would pull out of the so-called national unity government for good. (The National Accord Front has made these threats before and then withdrawn them, so it is hard to know how seriously to take them this time.) Sheikh Khalaf al-Ulyan of the Front explained its demands:
‘ Al-Elyan said the front’s demands included a pardon for security detainees not charged with specific crimes, a firm commitment by the government to human rights, the disbanding of militias and the inclusion of all parties as the government deals with Iraq’s chaotic security environment. ‘
As the AP article points out, one likely outcome of the NAI’s suspension of governmental activities is that the al-Maliki government will be able to make no further progress on passing the petroleum bill, the bill specifying how revenues are to be shared, the bill on revsion of debaathification measures, or on the process of Sunni-Shiite national reconciliation (Bush’s 4 benchmarks of last January, which were due in June. None has been met).
The LA Times reports that Baghdadis are down to one or two hours of electricity a day, but that the Bush administration will no longer be measuring or reporting on that sort of local data. It will give Congress only the general statistic for the entire country. But obviously whether the capital has electricity would help you know whether the current policies are working.
We had just learned from Reuters last week that the number of guerrilla attacks in Iraq in June reached an all-time high, suggesting that the surge isn’t actually going very well. CNN appears to have been one of the few news organizations, then, to pay much attention to Gen. Odierno’s allegation that the surge is obviously working because US combat deaths have fallen so far in July. I know it is the general’s job to spin things this way, but it is my job to call a spade a spade. In fact the secular trend of US combat deaths for April, May and June was significantly up:
‘ The previous three months were the deadliest three-month stretch in the war, with 104 deaths in April, 126 in May and 101 in June. ‘
This is up from 81 in February and March. So the quarterly average is still higher than in winter. Three weeks tells you nothing. (It is 130 degrees in Baghdad; what guerrilla in his right mind rolls out a big offensive in July or August?) Second, what kind of improvement is that, where over-all attacks rise but fewer US combat troops are affected by them? That sounds like US troops are having less contact with the enemy, which is hitting out more frequently than ever before at Iraqi security and civilian targets. That outcome does not point to “success” for the “surge”!
Al-Hayat reports that many Iraqis simply do not believe that the US congress is serious when it votes against permanent bases in Iraq. Members of parliament say that they see these enormous hardened bases being built, which is practical proof to the contrary. They think the Democratic Congress is just posturing because of its struggle with the Bush White House. Shiite MP Qasim Da’ud said that, however, even in future US troops would not be accepted in Iraq, in part because the country’s neighbors are afraid of Washington’s intentions. (He is referring to Iran.)