Baghdad has been roiled for the past three days with major fighting between Iraqi government/ US forces and the Mahdi Army militia in east and north Baghdad, leaving 45 militiamen dead and an unstated number of Iraqi troops. At one point on Sunday, the a Mahdi Army company nearly took a government checkpoint in the northeast, and the US had to bring in a tank to save the Iraqi army unit.
Guerrillas launched numerous mortar and katyusha rocket attacks on Monday. Reuters reports: “A mortar round landed behind the Rashid Hotel in the Green Zone government compound, wounding five people including a child, police said . . . Five people were wounded in a mortar attack in Abu Nawas street in central Baghdad . . . Three mortar bombs landed on a police station in Jazair district, eastern Baghdad, wounding three policemen . . . A mortar blast wounded one person in the Mansour district, western Baghdad . . .”
Two mass graves have been found in Iraq in the past two days, each with about 50 bodies in them. Sunni Arab guerrilla groups made “collaborators” or rivals disappear this way as an object lesson.
The alleged flow of arms from Iran to south Iraq has not in fact increased in recent months (and my own suspicion is that US authorities mistake some black market arms selling for Iranian-government supplied weaponry). So why does the Bush administration and Pentagon stridency about Iran go up an down without reference to any facts on the ground? Seems to me that they deploy charges against Iran in an Orwellian way, as a tool of diplomatic pressure, when it suits them.
McClatchy profiles Brg. Gen. Qassem Suleimani of the Quds Force within the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. It is a good story, but it reflects the breathlessness of Green Zone conspiracy theories. For instance, some American alleged to the reporters that Suleimani engineered the victory of the Shiite religious parties in January 2005 over Iyad Allawi. Allawi had been appointed by the US, was an ex-Baathist, and a known CIA asset. He was defeated by a coalition list of Shiite parties that had struggled against Saddam Hussein and were endorsed by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Attributing their defeat of Allawi to the Quds Force is just silly. Likewise, the allegations of extensive Iranian spying on Iraq or of bringing in “Hizbullah” from Lebanon (for which there is no good evidence) are unproved and the premise is unnecessary. If the Badr Corps was until recently part of the Iranian military, as the authors concede, then you don’t need to posit a lot of phantom Iranian agents who are providing intelligence on Iraq to Tehran. Badr, Ahmad Chalabi, and other supposed US assets are double agents, guys. If Iraq were crawling with Iranian agents, the US would have more Iranians in custody than it does (last I knew, it was like 5 diplomats).
AFP draws aside the curtain on the micro-economy of the struggle between the Islamic State of Iraq of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and local clans in Iskandariya south of Baghdad, which centered on the region’s fish farms. The article also gives evidence that al-Baghdadi, who the US military maintains is a fictive personality created by foreign fighters to give themselves Iraqi legitimacy, is a real Iraqi person with a history in the Iskandariya area. The US is mostly fighting Iraqis in Iraq, but is reluctant to have this fact become known.
A lot of money was wasted on phantom reconstruction projects in Iraq left incomplete because of poor contractor performance. In other words, US tax payers made an involuntary contribution to Friends of George, which would be a good way of summing up the Iraq occupation in general.
The US Pentagon is suspending a campaign to influence the retired military talking heads who come on television in the US, after the NYT blew the whistle on it. Reuters notes: “Sen. Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, also said some of the analysts appeared to be working for defense contractors, raising a potential conflict of interest.” You always suspected these things about corporate media coverage of Iraq, but seeing it in cold black and white is bracing. I have more than once been put opposite some sunshine peddler on radio or television and wondered whether the person was on the take.
McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Monday:
– Around 11 pm Sunday, 4 mortar shells hit the Green Zone (IZ) in central Baghdad. No casualties reported.
– Around midnight, 3 mortars hit the intelligence headquarters in Baladiyat neighborhood (east Baghdad). No casualties reported.
– Around 3 am, three mortar shells hit Mamil neighborhood. Five people were injured in that incident.
– Around 8 am, a mortar hit the Green Zone (IZ) in central Baghdad. No casualties reported.
– Around 10 am, a mortar hit the area beyond the Sa’aa restaurant at Mansour neighborhood (west Baghdad). Two civilians were injured in that incident.
– Around 1 pm, 3 mortar shells hit Al-Jazaer police station in Sadr city. Three policemen were injured with some damage to the building.
– Around 1:30pm, An American warplane targeted a Hino truck which was carrying Katyusha missiles at Al-Qanat street (east Baghdad). Two people were injured in that incident.
– Around 2 pm, a motor bicycle bomb targeted Sahwa members (also known as Sons of Iraq). One member was killed and three others were injured.
– Around 2 :15 pm, a roadside bomb targeted a civilian car (Toyota Pick up ) which was carrying technicians employees of the power supply service on the high way of Nahdha neighborhood (north Baghdad).Three of the employees were injured in that incident.
– Around 2:30 pm, a roadside bomb targeted the Sahwa members check point at Adhamiyah neighborhood (north Baghdad) near Qasim Abu Al-Ghas restaurant .Three members were injured in that incident.
– Around 4:30 pm, a Katyusha missile hit Al-Sadeer hotel in Karrada neighborhood (central Baghdad).No casualties or damage recorded as it was in the garden of this hotel.
– Around 5 pm, a mortar shell hit an area behind the Rashid hotel in the green zone (IZ) which is a residential compound .Five people were injured in that incident including a child.
– Around 5 :30 pm, a roadside bomb targeted an American patrol in Amil neighborhood (west Baghdad) .No casualties reported on the American side .While we have four civilians injured in that incident including a child and woman.
– Police found 6 dead bodies in Baghdad today: 4 were found in Karkh bank of Baghdad ; 1 in Kadhimiyah, 1 in Hurriyah, 1 in Dora and 1 in Yarmouk. While 2 were found in east Baghdad (Risafa bank); 1 in Ur and 1 in Jisr Diyala.
– Around 4:30 pm, gunmen of the Qaeda attacked Al-Bayjat village (south of Baquba ). The residents of the village who join the Sahwas (Sons of Iraq) councils resisted them and killed five gunmen including a leader.
– Sunday night, gunmen opened fire on an Iraqi army soldier at Tuz Khurmatu (south of Kirkuk).The soldier was killed at once and the gunmen ran away.
– Before noon, gunmen killed a Sadrist leader at Timimiyah neighborhood downtown Basra. Also his wife was injured as she was with him walking home. ‘