Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On Iraq

I haven't posted much on Iraq lately, mostly because it's too depressing. That, and I'm more confused than ever about what is going on. The political process seems on the verge of collapse.

Al-'Arabiya reported that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has called for a summit “that could be held in the next few days,” and would join the main Iraqi parties and leaders, “in order to discuss the main issues concerning the political process.”

As is well-known, al-Maliki’s call comes after his cabinet was inflicted several major blows, causing a state of paralysis in the government; with 17 of its ministers – belonging to three major parties – deciding to resign or boycott the government sessions.

The planned summit – which came as no surprise, since the idea of a broad political conference has been floated for weeks – seeks to prepare the ground for a political solution that would return the IAF (the main Sunni constituent of the cabinet) and perhaps the Sadrist Current and Iyad 'Allawi’s bloc to the fold, in exchange for certain political and constitutional concessions on the part of the four dominant parties in the parliament: Maliki’s Da'wa party, al-Hakeem’s SIIC, Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party.

However, Maliki’s call for a conciliatory summit comes in the midst of a host of initiatives, on the part of the government and the opposition, which are not all conciliatory in nature.

According to al-Sharq al-Awsat, Da'wa party leaders are threatening (in tandem with Maliki’s initiative) to form a “majority government” in case the parties of the opposition refuse to cooperate and rejoin the “national unity government.”

The paper quoted Waleed al-Hilli, who said on al-'Iraqiya channel (funded by the government and supportive of Maliki), that “the withdrawal of the Iraqi List ('Allawi’s bloc) and the IAF ... will force the government to form a cabinet of parliamentary majority.” In other terms, a cabinet controlled by the aforementioned four parties, and excluding the opposition. Hilli is reminding
Maliki’s opponents of the fact that, while the detractors of the current government may be numerous, they do not form a cohesive coalition capable of toppling the cabinet, while the four major parties can rely on a slim –but guaranteed – majority in the Iraqi parliament.

The threat to form a government made-up of the four pro-Maliki parties had been advertised under the term “the coalition of the moderates,” Talabani and Maliki had announced, several times, that such a mega-bloc could be formed “soon” to take up the helm of governance in Iraq.

In case Maliki gives up on luring the Sunni IAF back into the cabinet, he would have to find Sunni candidates for the ministerial positions outside the parliament. Hilli said that “independent” personalities could be sought to fill the empty seats.


The bombing of the Thiraa Dijla bridge in Taji is, at the very least, a transportation disaster. While I'm sure that the administration will blame "al-Qaeda", the Iraqi papers seem to think that it was a Shia attack designed to cordon off Sunni's in Baghdad from aid from Mosul (I've given up on trying to post arabic articles. Blogger scrambles Arabic in ways that make it almost impossible to read).

Insurgents hit a bridge north of Baghdad on Tuesday, using a suicide bomber at the wheel of an oil tanker truck to destroy the span, plunging cars and people into the canal waters below. Ten people are reported dead and six more missing.

The Thiraa Dijla bridge in Taji links Baghdad to Mosul, and was reportedly a strategic asset to the US, which relied on it for supply transport.

The bridge was damaged by a previous attack in May and was only operating with one of its lanes when Tuesday's suicide bomber attacked.

The attacker detonated his payload after going through an Iraqi army checkpoint about 40 yards away from the span, according to the AP.

"The blast, that took place in the middle of the bridge, caused a part of the bridge to collapse," a police source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).

"The explosion set a number of nearby vehicles ablaze," he also said.

The area was cordoned off by Iraqi and US security forces as rescue operations began. The New York Times reports US troops and divers were recovering bodies from the water soon after the explosion.

A senior oil ministry official is kidnapped:

And in Baghdad, dozens of uniformed gunmen in 17 official vehicles stormed an Oil Ministry compound and abducted a deputy oil minister and three other officials, a ministry spokesman and police said.


There should be more than enough guns in Iraq by now:

Does anyone seriously believe General Saint Petraeus' story about 190,000 guns - weighing in excess of 475 tons and worth over $50 million - being "misplaced" because they were kicked out of helicopters?

Especially when there are tales of crooked arms dealers and back-door deals with the mafia?

Nor is this about mere graft, as The Fifth Estate points out. It's about either graft or weapons being used to kill US troops or both. Fifth Estate has also been counting reports and figures the number of missing weapons is far higher than admitted so far. Perhaps as much as 300,000 missing guns, plus ammunition, worth around $100 million all told. Although it pales by comparison with the 363 tons ($9 billion) in cash that the US occupation managed to lose in Iraq, it's still not chump change.


Another helicopter down, more soldiers dead:

BAGHDAD - Three suicide truck bombers targeted members of an ancient religious sect in northwestern Iraq on Tuesday, killing at least 20 people and setting apartment buildings and stores ablaze, while the crash of an American transport helicopter near an air base in Anbar killed five U.S. servicemembers.

Four more U.S. soldiers were reported killed in separate attacks — three in an explosion near their vehicle Monday in the northwestern Ninevah province and another who was died of wounds from combat in western Baghdad.


So what the hell are we doing in Iraq? We're spending $10 billion a month, and for what? We've armed insurgents and militias, supported the least popular politicians, done nothing to actually fix the infrastructure all in the name of fighting some mythical "al-Qaeda in Iraq" that didn't exist before we invaded. Somehow, we're supposed to believe that this is "progress"?

That's why I don't post on Iraq very often.

1 comment:

whig said...

I'm having trouble writing about anything about Iraq lately too. What more is there to say that we haven't said a thousand times? More human sacrifices to the vanity of this administration every day.

And we hardly mention that other little war in Afghanistan, where I understand opium production hit another record high this year.