House rebuffs Bush on Iraq
Iraq Minorities in Extreme Peril
The House of Representatives again rebuffed Bush on Iraq, voting by a comfortable majority to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq but to keep some there to fight ‘al-Qaeda terrorists’ in Iraq.
This plan of keeping troops in Iraq to fight “al-Qaeda” seems to me naive. Who is al-Qaeda? If you mean Iraqi Sunnis who have become Salafi Jihadis, then it seems unlikely that the US military can fight them successfully with a smaller force. It is just wishful thinking. If 160,000 US troops cannot do it, a smaller force cannot do it. And, the smaller you make the force, the more the US military becomes a sitting duck for militias and others. Likewise it is no good saying you’ll keep troops in Kurdistan. Kurdistan is landlocked, and depends heavily for investment, trade and a route to the rest of the world on Turkey. No way to provision a US base unless the Turks give in and say they will permit its provisioning.
If you leave small expeditionary forces inside Iraq to fight “al-Qaeda,” they will likely get massacred at some point, and then you’ll be pulled right back into the maelstrom.
Make as many prudent political and military arrangements for Iraq as you still have the ability to make, and then . . . get out.
If you’re going to get out, get out.
Patrick Cockburn points out that only 6 of the 18 benchmarks set by Congress are really important to Iraq’s security and political development, and that it is on those 6 that absolutely no progress has been made. The ‘progress’ has been on trivial things.
The al-Maliki government is in as much denial as Bush, bristling and suggestions it hasn’t accomplished anything (it hasn’t) and pledging to pass pending legislation addressing some of the benchmarks. We’ll believe it when we see it.
Kurdish officials are rejecting the new draft petroleum bill, one of the key benchmarks.
(The CIA had already concluded that nothing was likely to be accomplished politically in Iraq any time soon last fall when it briefed the Iraq Study Group.
The BBC reports that Iraq’s minorities are facing extreme difficulties, and some a close to extinction.
Reuters reports political violence in Iraq on Thursday. Police found 28 bodies in the streets of Baghdad. The reports include this touching sentence: “SAMAWA – Two children were killed and six wounded by a roadside bomb near a bus station in the southern city of Samawa, police said. . .”
Children. No wonder McClatchy reports that even babies in Iraq are learning to dodge bullets.
Reuters’ list of other major incidents:
‘ BAGHDAD – U.S. soldiers killed at least six Iraqi policemen and seven suspected militants during a dawn raid in east Baghdad on Friday to arrest an Iraqi police lieutenant accused of militant links, the U.S. military said. . .
BAGHDAD – Gunmen killed five Iraqi guards near a gate to the ministry of the interior in central Baghdad, police said.
BAGHDAD – An Iraqi soldier was killed and two others wounded by a roadside bomb targeting their patrol in the east Baghdad neighbourhood of Dora, police said. . .
DOUR – Four Iraqi policemen and two soldiers were killed when gunmen attacked their checkpoint in Dour, a small town near the northern city of Tikrit, police said. . .
MOSUL – One policeman was killed and eight other officers plus a civilian were wounded by a roadside bomb in the restive northern city of Mosul, police said. . .
SAWAYRA – Three bodies bearing signs of torture were recovered from a river near Sawayra. ‘
McClatchy provides further details, including this one: “From 10 am in the morning till the time of having this report ( 4 pm ) , clashes are taking place at Al-Ameen neighborhood ( east Baghdad) after raids done by the American troops to the area . Eight people killed ( including two local cameramen from Reuters) and 22 others injured .”