Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The good, the bad and the ugly

I believe no one can argue, with any authenticity or sanity, that the situation in Iraq has improved over the past few months, even as a new government has made tentative progress. Unfortunately, there is an indication that our counterinsurgency efforts are improving, while the government of Iraq weakens. Had the counterinsurgency efforts improved in 2004 or 2005, and across the country, we may have seen a different Middle East than that which seems to be developing. Just another administration failure and a reason for Rumsfeld to go.

Asia Times has a positive story on some counterinsurgency efforts:
In al-Qaim, marines under Lieutenant-Colonel Julian Alford instead consolidated their position by spreading out on to more than a dozen small bases inside towns and along major roads. That constant presence among the civilian population has helped the Americans keep insurgents from re-establishing a large-scale presence in the area.

"You can't give these guys sanctuary, and that's what the big battalion [base] does," said Alford's successor, Lieutenant-Colonel Nick Marano. "Wherever you're not, that's where they are."
But, there is a great deal of bad news. Reuters:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's new Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has vowed to crush insurgents and sectarian gangs but a power struggle in his Shi'ite Alliance threatens the government's survival.

Maliki failed to push through parliament nominees for the crucial Interior and Defence Ministry posts on Sunday after leaders of the SCIRI party in his Shi'ite Alliance blocked him.


Officials in the Alliance and other blocs question whether his government can survive the pressure of internal rivalries and bloodshed.

"Maliki's government may only last for another six months. That is what many think. There is too much pressure and too many players," said an Alliance source outside Maliki's Dawa party.
BBC News on the trouble in Basra:
The relative calm British forces enjoyed when they first took control here three years ago has gone. The past month has been the deadliest since the 2003 invasion - nine soldiers have been killed.

But it is Iraqis who have paid the heaviest price. Hundreds have been kidnapped and murdered over the past few months.

The situation is still a long way from that in Baghdad, but concern is growing. The kind of bombings and sectarian killings the capital experiences daily are becoming more common here. Last weekend, at least 30 people were killed in one attack.

In response, Iraq's new Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has declared a one-month state of emergency.


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