According to the NYT, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s office on Sunday accused the Blackwater security company of deliberately murdering civilians. Spokesman Ali Dabbagh said that the private guards should be tried for the crime.
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has taken the lead in criticizing Blackwater and other private security firms in Iraq. He points out that their fighters are extremely expensive and that their tendency to play cowboy ends up harming US troops, since Iraqis do not make a distinction between them and regular US troops.
Turkish troops killed a PKK [Kurdish Workers Party] guerrilla in eastern Anatolia early on Sunday, then ran into an ambush in which PKK fighters killed 13 Turkish troops. The PKK is being given safe harbor in Iraqi Kurdistan by authorities there, much to Ankara’s frustration. This major firefight, the most serious in years between PKK and the Turkish military in years, will put pressure on the Turkish government to engage in hot pursuit of the Kurdish guerrillas into Iraq where they are hiding out. The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, but the US military has done nothing to stop it from attacking a NATO ally (Turkey). The US also coddles the Mojahedin-e Khalq [MEK] terrorist group in Diyala province, which Saddam used against Iran, and which is probably the source for some of the wilder charges the US military makes against Iran.
It is one of the great ironies that in the wake of September 11 and the illegal war on Iraq, the Bush administration has ended up de facto giving safe harbor to two major terrorist groups in the Middle East.
The ranks of the Coalition of the Unwilling is growing, with the Czech Republic announcing that it will withdraw its small contingent of 100 troops from Basra at some point in the not too distant future. You have to wonder whether Bush won’t be alone in keeping troops there by summer of 2008.
Leila Fadel of McClatchy took a drive through al-Anbar province and found a palpable difference in the level of security for the better. The US military estimated that attacks in the province have fallen from 400 a week to 100 a week.
At the Global Affairs blog, a link to Daniel Levy’s important comments on Gaza and on Mearsheimer and Walt.
At the Napoleon’s Egypt blog, contemporary letters from the French commenting on their difficult situation after the British defeated the French fleet off Alexandria. One letter shows that Bonaparte was already positioning a man in Ottoman Palestine, which he later attacked.