US Soldier Killed in al-Anbar; Sadrist MP Resigns; Army Arrests Police

The killing of a US soldier in al-Anbar province by Iraqi guerrillas was announced on Wednesday morning.

The Scotsman reports:

‘ IRAQI soldiers yesterday detained dozens of policemen and closed down a hospital suspected of treating Shiite militiamen in a Baghdad stronghold of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. ‘

It doesn’t seem to me like a good sign when you have to arrest your police because they are disloyal to the government.

Another contingent of 3500 US troops is being withdrawn from Iraq, drawing back down the 30,000 that had been sent in winter, 2007, as part of Bush’s troop escalation or ‘surge.’ Although from September of last year through February, these extra troops had some impact on reducing (not eliminating) civilian casualties in Baghdad, as they have withdrawn the numbers of Iraqis killed each month as spiked.

AFP also reports:

‘ On the political front, an Iraqi lawmaker whose party is loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, resigned on Tuesday protesting the violence in Baghdad’s Sadr City where street battles claim a daily death toll.

“I announce the suspension of my membership in protest at what is happenning in Sadr city,” Hassan Al-Rubaie said. “The religious and political leaderships in Iraq are responsible for the violations that happen in Sadr City.”

He acted even as President Jalal Talabani made a fresh appeal to the militia to lay down its arms and allow essential supplies to get into the Sadr City, parliamentary officials said.’

I take away from these grafs that Iraqi politics is in danger of collapsing. Not that many members of parliament come to the sessions, and if you start having any number of resignations, even getting a quorum may be difficult. There doesn’t seem to be a mechanism for holding by-elections, so the seat that was resigned will probably remain empty until the next parliamentary elections.

Also, President Talabani’s statement unwittingly reveals that essential supplies are not getting into Sadr City and suggests that al-Maliki and the US are holding the civilian population hostage as a way of putting pressure on the Mahdi Army.

Saddam Hussein was germophobic in the extreme. I personally wonder whether this neurosis did not underlie his various genocides. He probably thought the people he was killing were diseased and making his country dirty. It was also a motivation for building all those presidential palaces, which were intended to be islands of cleanliness in a dirty country. He admitted as much to US troops and gave fear of their being polluted as his reason for not having allowed UN inspectors into them. I.e., his germophobia helped get him overthrown and hanged. In absolute dictatorships, the neuroses of the great leader become the neuroses of the nation.

Nir Rosen on selling war on Iran.

Astore at Tomdispatch on air power.

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