Deadliest July Yet for US Troops;
23% Rise in Iraqi Deaths in July;
Maliki Government Teeters–Sunni, Da’wa Discontent
2007 saw the deadliest July for US troops since the Iraq War began. It also saw a 23% rise in Iraqi deaths over June. July is like a blast furnace in Iraq, with temperatures approaching 120 degrees F. in the shade. Guerrillas typically lie low in this unfavorable environment, compared to other seasons, and so the casualty rates go down. Instead, this year the killing season has gone on as if it were spring.
AP adds: “Iraqi deaths rose, with at least 2,024 civilians, government officials and security forces killed in July, about 23 percent more than the 1,640 who died violently in June, according to Associated Press figures compiled from police reports nationwide.”
Pentagon spokesmen are attempting to portray this near doubling of July troop deaths as a sign of improvement on the security side, counting from June rather than looking at past July figures– and I fear some corporate media are falling for it.
[Congrats to Blake Hounshell of Foreign Policy for being willing to look into this Pentagon black psy-ops operation– after having been caught up in the spin himself–and for concluding that Gen. Ray Odierno is in fact misrepresenting the case.]
I saw Michael O’Hanlon of Brookings on CNN Sunday saying he thought that the violence was less now. (O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack also gave us that uh, optimistic, op-ed about ‘a war we could win’ in the NYT.) I’d be interested in knowing how he is measuring this supposed fall in violence. If it is the deadliest July ever for US troops in Iraq; if there is a 23% increase in Iraqi deaths over June; if there were more attacks in June than any time since April 2003– how is that a decrease in violence? Somebody explain that to me.
Iraq’s Kurdish President, Jalal Talabani, threw a tantrum on Tuesday, warning that there would be “a real civil war” if the Iraqi government dragged its feet on holding the scheduled referendum on whether oil-rich, multi-ethnic Kirkuk Province should join the Kurdistan Regional Government (which has subsumed and replaced the provincial governments of Dohuk, Irbil, and Sulaymaniyah).
Talabani also warned the Sunni Arab Iraq Accord Front that if it followed through on its threat to withdraw from al-Maliki’s national unity government, it risked detracting from the legitimacy of the Iraqi government. The IAF had set Tuesday as a deadline for al-Maliki to guarantee them they would stop being ignored, or they would withdraw their 6 ministers from his government.
Talabani just lost the moral authority to lecture the Sunni Arabs about supporting a government of national unity by threatening a civil war if his Kurds don’t get their way on Kirkuk. You wonder if there are any Iraqis left.
Iraq’s first elected prime minister after the fall of Saddam, Ibrahim Jaafari, has been trying to bring down the government of his rival Nuri al-Maliki, according to the AP. Jaafari had been the head of the expatriate branch of the Islamic Call Party (al-Da`wa], but two months ago at a party conference al-Maliki defeated him and became the leader of al-Da`wa. Al-Maliki had also succeeded Jaafari when the latter was deposed by an alliance of the Kurds, the Americans, the Sunni Arabs and some Shiites in spring of 2006. Jaafari is said to have been frustrated by al-Maliki’s refusal to reach out to Sunni Arab Iraqis. Jaafari may have been better at that, but he alienated the Kurds by intriguing with Ankara to forestall a Kurdish takeover of Kirkuk Province. Now he is holding out a quick referendum on Kirkuk’s admission to the Kurdistan Regional Government as a quid pro quo for the Kurdistan Alliance to throw its weight behind replacing al-Maliki with Jaafari. So not only hasn’t there been any real political progress since the surge began, al-Maliki’s ‘national unity’ government is weaker than at any time since he was inaugurated. The Sadrists pulled out, Fadhila pulled out, and the Sunni Arabs may be pulling out. And now a rival within Da`wa is trying to bring the prime minister down!
Sawt al-Iraq reports in Arabic that Iraq’s Sunni vice-premier for security affairs, Salam al-Zawbai, is accusing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of denying him his prerogatives of office. Al-Zawbai released a statement on the web page of his political party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, saying that al-Maliki does not accept that his vice premier has a role in security affairs, and has issued orders to the police and army to ignore al-Zawbai!
The Danish are leaving Basra. Last one to go, turn off the lights.
Reuters reports that on Tuesday , “Police retrieved the bodies of six people, shot and tortured, from the Tigris River in the city of Kut, 170 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, and in the town of Suwayra, 40 km (25 miles) south of the capital, police said.” Other incidents:
‘ NEAR SAMARRA – Two policemen were killed and one wounded when a roadside bomb exploded close to their patrol near the city of Samarra, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
BASRA – Pharmacists in the southern city of Basra went on strike after gunmen kidnapped the head of their syndicate on Monday, the Basra health directorate said. ‘
The oil workers union in Basra is also threatening to strike, according to the Arabic press.
McClatchy reports other civil war violence in Iraq for Tuesday. Police found 19 corpses in the streets of Baghdad, victims of sectarian death squads. Other major incidents:
‘ – Around 8.30 am, a roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi army patrol at Mansour neighborhood (west Baghdad) near Al-Sa’a restaurant killing one soldier and injuring five people . . .
– Around 9 am, a roadside bomb targeted an American convoy at New Baghdad (east Baghdad) near Al-Baida’a movie house injuring three people .
– Around 9.20 am, a roadside bomb exploded at Palestine street targeting an joint troops (American and Iraqi) injuring two Iraqi policemen. . .
– Around 3 p.m. an IED targeted Iraqi army vehicle in Al Mansour injuring 5 soldiers.
– Gunmen attacked a police patrol in Al Bayaa using machine guns. 1 policeman was killed and injured 2 policemen.
– A road side bomb targeted an Iraqi army vehicle in Al Yarmouk. 4 soldiers were injured.’
Oops. Occasionally a software glitch throws up an old article in my searches. Sorry about that, and glad that the crackpot idea seems safely dead.
Some in the Pentagon and in Israel have not given up on the hope of a Kirkuk-Haifa pipeline to bring Iraqi petroleum to Israel. Oh, yeah, like that is going to happen. First of all, the Iraqi government’s position is that it is bound by Arab League strictures on trade with Israel. Second, Sunni Arab guerrillas would fill such a pipeline full of holes every hour of every day. Third, it almost certainly would not make economic sense even if it were possible politically. Talk about a pipe dream :-). You just worry that this crackpot idea was one of the motives for the Neoconservatives for the Iraq War. What a waste.