Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Rumsfeld, Rice and Iraq

The secretary of defense sees "impressive progress" in Iraq, CNN.

Here are some interesting excerpts about the rare visit of two senior cabinet members to a war zone.

The Washington Post:
It is highly unusual for the two most senior Cabinet officers to make a joint visit to a country. President Bush -- whose approval ratings have sunk to new lows because of the war -- last week secretly directed Rice and Rumsfeld to make the trip as soon as the four-month political impasse over the selection of Iraq's prime minister was broken, officials said. The mission is an intended to be "an important message to the American people," Rice said, in part because it will demonstrate the Pentagon and State Department are working together to assist the new government.
The New York Times:
Nevertheless, an air of tension persists between the two departments and, despite denials, between the two secretaries. It was manifested last month when Ms. Rice commented that the United States had made "thousands of tactical errors" in Iraq and Mr. Rumsfeld said he did not know what she was talking about.
Bloomberg News:
``There is no question but that as the new government is formed and the ministers are in place, that it's appropriate for us to begin discussions with the new government about the conditions on the ground and the pace at which we'll be able to turn over responsibility in the provinces,'' Rumsfeld was cited as saying by AP.
The A.P.:
"We just want to make sure there are no seams between what we're doing politically and what we're doing militarily," Rice told reporters on her plane en route to Iraq. "Secretary Rumsfeld and I are going to be there together because a lot of the work that has to be done is at that juncture between political and military."
The actual state of affairs in Iraq is far from what Don Rumsfeld appears to perceive.

Spreading conflict throughout the Middle East

The Los Angeles Times:
QATIF, Saudi Arabia — The conflict in Iraq has begun to spill over onto this hardscrabble, sunburned swath of coast, breathing new life into the ancient rivalry between the country's powerful Sunni Muslim majority and the long-oppressed Shiite minority in one of the most oil-rich areas of the world.

"Saudi Sunnis are defending Iraqi Sunnis, and Saudi Shiites are defending Iraqi Shiites," said Hassan Saffar, Saudi Arabia's most influential Shiite cleric. "There's a fear that it will cause a struggle here."
The A.P.:
ANKARA, Turkey - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pledged only modest U.S. help yesterday as Turkey tries to counter a threat from Kurdish rebels using bases across its border with Iraq. She asked for patience with the new Iraqi government.

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) had free run of a swath of northern Iraq and had set up training camps and bases. Turkey fears that civil unrest in Iraq could lead to the fragmentation of the country and often has called on the United States to stop PKK fighters from using Iraq as a base to stage attacks inside Turkey.
The Christian Science Monitor:
The Kurdish desire for independence, however, still runs deep. And with parts of Iraq increasingly unstable and growing more Islamic, experts say the Kurds, who are relatively secular, are working quietly to consolidate and extend the autonomy they have enjoyed since 1991.

The Kurdish Regional Government, which has run the Kurd's autonomous zone in northern Iraq since the early 1990s, recently has signed contracts with foreign oil companies to explore for new oil fields in Kurdish-ruled areas of Iraq. Experts say they hope the revenue generated from these deals could provide greater economic, and thus political, independence from Baghdad.

"The Kurds are offering attractive terms to companies that are willing to take a gamble on the legal situation," says Rafiq Latta, a Middle East editor of the Argus Oil and Gas report in London. "And some small oil companies are prepared to take the bait."
Recall yesterday's Washington Post: "Shiite Militias Move Into Oil-Rich Kirkuk, Even as Kurds Dig In"

One should also pour over every detail of Borzou Daraghai's near daily offereings. The Los Angeles Times:
Government workers in Ramadi have gone on strike to protest the alleged killings of five Iraqis by U.S. forces, said Abdul-Sattar Arrawi, a professor at the local university. "The strike will continue until U.S. forces leave the city and confess to their crime," said Mohammed Ahmed Dulaimi, a member of the City Council.
Impressive progress indeed.


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