Monday, October 16, 2006

Lots of news from Iraq, most of it bad...

The extreme extent of sectarian violence...

The AP:
BAGHDAD (AP) — The death toll in a surge of sectarian killings in Balad swelled to at least 91 on Monday, police and army officials said, while bombings and shootings in Baghdad and other parts of the country killed at least 31 others.

Two Marines and a soldier were killed in fighting Sunday, bringing to ten the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq over the past three days. More than 50 U.S. troops have been killed in the first two weeks of October.

The Marines, assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, were killed in fighting in volatile Anbar province, while the soldier was killed when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb outside Baghdad.

Sectarian fighting exploded over the weekend in Balad and nearby regions, 50 miles north of Baghdad. The bloodshed began with the slayings of 17 Shiite workers on Friday.

Shiites swiftly retaliated by setting up roadblocks, dragging off and killing those Sunnis they caught.

A police officer in the nearby Sunni-dominated town of Duluiyah said members of the Mahdi Army militia loyal to anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr had moved into the area and were killing Sunni men and boys.
The awful term "ethnic cleansing" comes to mind.

Ellen Knickmeyer and Muhanned Saif Aldin of the Washington Post:
BAGHDAD, Oct. 15 -- Militias allied with Iraq's Shiite-led government roamed roads north of Baghdad, seeking out and attacking Sunni Arab targets Sunday, police and hospital officials said. The violence raised to at least 80 the number of people killed in retaliatory strikes between a Shiite city and a Sunni town separated only by the Tigris River.

The wave of killings around the Shiite city of Balad was the bloodiest in a surge of violence that has claimed at least 110 lives in Iraq since Saturday. The victims included 12 people who were killed in coordinated suicide bombings in the strategic northern oil city of Kirkuk.

"This has pushed us to the point that we must stop this sectarian government," Ali Hussein al-Jubouri, a Sunni farmer in Duluiyah, said as he searched for the body of a nephew reportedly killed in the violence around Balad.
Sentiment like that, if broadly based in the Sunni community, will lead to even more violence.

Stand up/Stand down questioned...

The Washington Times:
Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is expressing growing concern about how quickly Iraq's emerging security forces can take over the job of fighting insurgents, say defense sources familiar with his briefings in Washington last week.

Contrasting Gen. Casey's latest assessments with more optimistic ones he gave early this year, the sources described him as "more sober" and "more concerned" about the progress of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). The Bush administration's opportunity to bring home troops and reduce battlefield deaths is tied directly to the ISF's ability to assume the counterinsurgency mission.

Sources did not describe Gen. Casey's mood as pessimistic. They say he still expresses confidence that the coalition eventually will win, but the timing is much more in doubt.
The AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two leading Republican senators called Sunday for a new strategy in Iraq, saying the situation in getting worse and leaving the United States with few options.


Warner said Sunday he stands by that assessment, and even in the week since his trip to Iraq, there has been an "exponential increase in the killings and the savagery that's going on over there."

"You can see some movement forward, but a lot of movement back," Warner said on Face the Nation on CBS. "We have to rethink all the options, except any option which says we precipitously pull out, which would let that country fall into a certain civil war at that time, and all of the neighboring countries would be destabilized."
The Los Angeles Times:
WASHINGTON — A commission backed by President Bush that is exploring U.S. options in Iraq intends to propose significant changes in the administration's strategy by early next year, members say.

Two options under consideration would represent reversals of U.S. policy: withdrawing American troops in phases, and bringing neighboring Iran and Syria into a joint effort to stop the fighting.
It should be noted that in the beginning of the summer General Casey tried one less brigade than anticipated. That was reversed as the sectarian situation grew more violent. However, a public declaration that we do not intend to occupy Iraq and that we will build not permanent bases would be helpful. It would have been much more helpful in 2004 or 2005 though.

General Dannatt...

The Times of London:
THE call by the head of the British Army to pull out of Iraq “some time soon” was backed yesterday by both the police chief and the governor of Basra, writes Hala Jaber.

Supporting General Sir Richard Dannatt’s claim that the presence of UK troops was only “exacerbating” the problem in southern Iraq, both men urged Britain to leave and let the Iraqis take control.
I.D.P. in Iraq

Azzaman Online:
Minister of Displacement and Migration says he intends to set up more temporary camps to house the increasing numbers of Iraqis forced to flee their homes.

“The Higher Committee charged with providing relief to families compelled to abandon their neighborhoods has decided to build three more camps,” Abdulhamad Sultan said.
Iraqi air force

The Washington Times:
Former test pilot Lt. Col. Kelly Latimer and her team of five pilots and maintainers are partnered with 70 Squadron of the reborn Iraqi air force, which three years ago had been grounded by 12 years of attacks and sanctions.

The squadron's 15 Iraqi pilots and 39 other personnel operate four light aircraft donated by coalition countries -- two bulbous Seekers powered by a single pusher propeller and painted bright yellow, as well as two single-prop CH-2000s sporting a more conventional engine-in-front layout and gray paint.

Both types carry infrared and daylight cameras for monitoring power and oil infrastructure and for spotting targets for other branches of the Iraqi military.

This year, the squadron has spent 900 hours in the air, usually flying about five sorties a day. An American pilot rides along on all flights.


Blogger mikevotes said...

Did you see the really wierd statement by Saddam, continue the violence the Americans are about to leave and then stop.

Saddam Hussein has told his countrymen that Iraq's "liberation is at hand" and called on insurgents to be merciful with their enemy, according to an open letter obtained Monday.


3:06 PM  

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