Empty Days

Thursday, April 08, 2004



Iraq-n

Woke up late, turned on tv to catch the last few minutes of C.Rice testimony on tv - whatever you say, madam. The next thing I know the news show a tape from Iraq where Islamists militia, hooded and waving knives and guns, terrorize three Japanese civilians they've just kidnapped. That's not Al-Sadr - that's those "Holy Jihad" fringe elements that are only too happy to join in the fray and exert their Hezbollah-like tactics. Other reports of kidnappings across Iraq. It appears that a lot of different extremist groups are at play on top of the general Sunni + Shia mayhem.

In other reports country-side people are confluating to Fallujah and Ramadi en mass to reinforce insurgency.

My best compass for events in Iraq right now is Coll Lounsbury, the Financial Guy in Iraq. He's got personal ME expertise and enough internal contacts with the CPA to voice an educated opinion on what's unfolding. Beats a lot of the fantasies we hear all over the big media and big blogs. Judge for yourself:
First, it seems very clear that the uprising has become general although not in a truly coordinated manner. Based on the news and my conversation last night with my friend, it seems fairly clear that the US was both blindsided by poor intelligence (or if my friend's characterization is right, poor intelligence triage) and by the degree to which there is serioius anger among Iraqis about the incompetence of the CPA.

Second, I am not sure what can be done. My convo last night was so fundamentally depressing. My man indicated he was thinking of resigning, said something like "Clarke, you want Clarke, I'll give you fucking Clarke times two." Not an exact quote but close enough to his words.

Third, I am not sure I can actually write a note on the conversation. I have to think about it. It was bad. We differed about whether the US should have "gone medieval" or not, my Boy is not a gentle sort, but on the current...Well, what can we say?

Otherwise, the AM news from the Arab Sats is as one would expect. One item I heard last night, we should watch for the Kurds beginning to make a move.
And his quote of the day:
"The result is that the United States is facing two broad-based insurgencies that are now on parallel tracks." [NYT]

And saddest of all, it did not and should not have to have ended up like this. This is not an inevitable result. It comes directly from the incompetence and navel-gazing that I have document in the past months in re CPA.
....
"Although anti-Americanism is hardly universal among Shiites, an anti-American mood has been building for months. At the Grand Mosque in Kufa, where Mr. Sadr took refuge as his militiamen were seizing control of the city on Sunday, this deep vein of anti-Americanism feeds off every rumor. At night, as they torch gasoline-soaked tires to light checkpoints guarding the approaches to the mosque, the militiamen speak of America's planning to uproot Islam in Iraq, to steal its oil, to deny Shiites a voice in the country's future governance, even to bring back Saddam Hussein." [NYT]

The deadly aspect of Arab societies, the one which no one in the American administration seems to understand is the degree to which information and knowledge passes through informal oral routes.
Meanwhile the digest service for latest discussions on politico-blogs, memeorandum, is down. Perhaps overwhelmed by too much frantic discussion of too much frantic news.

Is there anything to add? Not at the moment, it would seem.

***

Under Fire, Security Firms Form An Alliance:

There are about 20,000 private security contractors in Iraq now, including Americans, Iraqis and other foreigners. That number is expected to grow to 30,000 in the near future when the U.S. troop presence is drawn down after the June 30 handover to Iraqi authorities.
...
A week ago, four Blackwater commandos -- all former members of U.S. Special Forces working on a contract to protect a private food company in Iraq -- were killed and mutilated in Fallujah. U.S. government and industry sources believe a member of the Iraqi police helped set up the ambush of the two unarmored cars the men were using.


Interesting. That what Kos meant all along, I suppose.

***

Well, it seems the pro-war triumphalists are now getting a bit jittery. Not that it implies their seeing some sense any time soon, but at least it's a start when FOXchannel idiots are suddenly losing their poise (via The Agonist):

"I'm not buying this 'Iraqis are on the American side' right now," Fox News' Bill O'Reilly said on the Tuesday night broadcast of "The O'Reilly Factor." The leading conservative commentator repeatedly called the current conflict a "second war in Iraq."

O'Reilly added, "I think Rumsfeld has got a lot of explaining to do here. There's a lot of mistakes that are now killing American soldiers."


Whatever. Never mind it's as much your fault as Rummy's.

***

Resignations of some officials from CPA (on Bremer's behest - finally some long overdue reshuffling) and ongoing negotiations between IGC and al-Sadr. See details at Back-to-Iraq. Very telling leaflet there from Sadr militia warning followers that fringe groups are trying to infiltrate the uprising. (via The Agonist)

Etc etc etc.





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