McCain Unit Rolled out; Funeral Bombing Toll Rises to 25; Baghdad Governor’s Convoy Blown Up;

VOA reports that on May 15, ‘Clashes in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad’s Sadr City district have left at least seven people dead, despite a deal aimed at ending the bloodshed. Iraqi officials said Thursday the fighting between Iraqi security forces and Shi’ite militants loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr broke out overnight and in the early morning. Hospital officials say 19 people were wounded, including women and children.’

Remember how Tom Friedman and Bush administration spokesmen kept saying that “the next six months” would be crucial for Iraq? They said it in 2003, 2004, 2005, etc., etc. Atrios finally called them on it, terming it the “Friedman unit”.

Now we have the new, improved, “McCain unit”— which is apparently that the next four years will be crucial in Iraq. Indeed, McCain predicted “victory” by 2013, four years after he hopes to take office as the new president. Of course if victory does not come by 2013, then the next McCain unit would kick in, with the years leading up to 2017 being “crucial” for Iraq.

William Lind explains why McCain’s fantasy of victory is highly unlikely to be fulfilled. Lind calls Iraq a ‘fourth generation war’ in which there is no real state capacity on which the US can build, and in which the enemy is shadowy and slips away before conventional forces (as in Basra, where rightwing commentators have mistaken the Mahdi Army’s ability to melt away and lie low as a victory for the [non-existent] state). The US really only controls the ground on which its soldiers tread, and that reality may well not change during the next 4 years. If Lind is right, McCain is hanging US policy on a set of ideas out of the 1940s that have no application in Iraq today.

The “McCain unit” is already a public relations bust. It sounds like a timetable to Democrats. It is too far off for most people to take seriously. The beauty of the Friedman unit was that it seemed relatively near, but people could be depended to forget about its last use before it was invoked again. The “McCain unit” will tax the public’s patience too much, not to mention their pocket books. His unit probably has a $1 trillion tax bill attached to it all at once. And his unit is too specific, calling for “victory.” The Friedman unit was deliberately vague about what exactly would happen in the next six months that was “crucial” for Iraq.

“Three employees of the Iranian embassy and their Iraqi driver were shot and wounded as they traveled Thursday to the Shiite Kadhemiyah Shrine in northern Baghdad.”

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that the Mosul power elite is increasingly disturbed by the central government’s military campaign in that city. They say that they would be willing to keep on the sidelines if the al-Maliki government just went after “al-Qaeda” (the Salafi Jihadis) in the city. But they say that the al-Maliki forces have arrested dozens of ex-members of the Baath Party, as well as former military officers. They say that if this campaign against the Mosul elite continues, they will be forced to act. The al-Maliki government had given them undertakings that it would only target “al-Qaeda”, but in fact it has arrested over 900 persons, many of them ex-Baathists.

The US is cutting off relations with Iraqi politician and notorious embezzler and liar Ahmad Chalabi for the fourth time. This time the issue is said to be his deteriorating relations with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his closeness to Brig. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, head of the Jerusalem (Quds) Brigades of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Actually my suspicion is that Chalabi is supporting the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr and that is the real reason for the tension with him. Sadr wants the US out on a short timetable and opposes the passage of an oil law that the Bush administration desperately wants.

McClatchy reports political violence for Thursday:

‘ Baghdad

A roadside bomb exploded targeting the motorcade of the Governor of Baghdad in Nasr Square, Sadoun Street, central Baghdad at 8 am Thursday. 1 security personnel was killed and 4 others as well as 2 civilians were injured.

A roadside bomb targeted a joint US military and Iraqi Army patrol in al-Khadhra neighbourhood, west Baghdad at noon Thursday. 1 Iraqi army serviceman was killed and 4 were injured, said Iraqi Police.

A roadside bomb targeted a US military convoy in al-Qanat, near al-Amin neighbourhood at 1 pm. One Hummer vehicle was destroyed, according to Iraqi Police. No comment was available from the US military at time of publication. A roadside bomb targeted a US military convoy in Fdhailiyah, northeast Baghdad at around 6 pm Thursday. No casualties were reported.

3 unidentified bodies were found in Baghdad by Iraqi Police today. 1 in Fdhailiyah; 1 in Iskan and 1 in Bayaa.


3 prominent doctors were kidnapped by gunmen on the way between Tikrit and Baiji, close to al-Hamra village, 20 km to the north of Tikrit. They are Dr. Sabbar Mahrooz Abdullah, administrator of Tikrit Teaching Hospital, his deputy and specialist Dr. Ahmed Salah.


Iranian bombardment hit border villages in Qalaat Daza district. Local governmental sources say that the bombardment started early Thursday and continued intermittently into the afternoon. No casualties were reported.’

Reuters reports political violence on Thursday and Wednesday, including the rising death toll from the bombing of a funeral, which has reached 25:

‘ BAGHDAD – The final death toll from a suicide attack on a funeral west of Baghdad on Wednesday was 25, police said. They said 48 people were wounded.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb targeted the convoy of Baghdad’s Governor Hussein al-Tahan, killing one of his guards and wounding six people near al-Nasser Square in central Baghdad, police said. Al-Tahan was not in the convoy.

BAGHDAD – The bodies of five people were found in Baghdad on Wednesday, police said.

BAGHDAD – The U.S. military said it killed four militants in clashes on Wednesday afternoon in the Kadhimiya district of northwestern Baghdad.

MOSUL – The Iraqi army said it arrested the manager of the Nineveh governor’s office in a raid in southern Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad.

MOSUL – The Iraqi army said it arrested the head of the facilities protection force in Mosul on Wednesday. ‘

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