Monday, September 17, 2007

Good News / Bad News from Iraq

Bad News First - Apparently the insurgents are stepping up attacks. Fox News is reporting 41 casualties yesterday.

BAGHDAD — Dozens of fighters linked to Al-Qaeda in Iraq streamed into Shiite villages north of Baghdad on Sunday, torching homes and killing at least 15 people before Iraqi police and defiant residents drove them away, police and army officials said.

In all, at least 41 people were killed or found dead nationwide — including nine shot by security contractors in Baghdad, police said, and five who died when a booby-trapped bicycle exploded near a cafe serving tea and food during Ramadan fasting hours.


In the raids on the villages of Jichan and Ghizlayat, the fighters arrived from several different directions and residents fought back until Iraqi security forces arrived and chased the attackers, who fled to nearby farms.

Also, on Saturday Moqtada al-Sadr announced he was withdrawing his support from the government, weakening it. Honestly I am not that sure this is a bad thing. One of the main reasons that there hasn't been a serious crackdown on al-Sadr is the fact that every time one starts it gets called off because he is a supporter of the government. Now that impediment is gone.

Finally, Allan Greenspan released his book and says the Iraq war was about oil. The headlines make it seem that their was some secret meeting laying out how to seize the Iraqi Oil for ourselves and this cabal arranged for the war to take place. What I have read is slightly different, what Greenspan says is Saddam was a threat to the region and because we get so much of our oil from there he made himself a threat to the US (paraphrased of course).

Now the Good News- The Anbar Awakening mya be spreading. the AP is reporting that some Shiite sheiks are seeking an alliance similar to the ones that Sunni sheiks have formed with the US in al-Anbar province.

KUT, Iraq — American commanders in southern Iraq say Shiite sheiks are showing interest in joining forces with the U.S. military against extremists, in much the same way that Sunni clansmen in the western part of the country have worked with American forces against Al Qaeda.

Sheik Majid Tahir al-Magsousi, the leader of the Migasees tribe here in Wasit province, acknowledged tribal leaders have discussed creating a brigade of young men trained by the Americans to bolster local security as well as help patrol the border with Iran.

He also said last week's assassination of Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, who spearheaded the Sunni uprising against Al Qaeda in Anbar province, only made the Shiite tribal leaders more resolute.

"The death of Sheik Abu Risha will not thwart us," he said. "What matters to us is Iraq and its safety."


"It's an anti-militia movement ... Shiite extremists of all stripes," said Wade Weems, head of a Provincial Reconstruction Team leading the dialogue in the Wasit province southeast of Baghdad.

"We see consistently expressed deep frustration or anger with the activities of militia that appear to be untethered to any sort of guiding authority, appear to be really criminal in nature," he added.

But while the military has made inroads with Sunni leaders in some Baghdad neighborhoods and areas surrounding the capital, including Diyala province, officials stressed it's too early to know if efforts to extend the strategy to Shiite leaders will take root.

"This is a very different province and a very different dynamic and we're not going to just adopt lock, stock and barrel another province's model and impose it here," Weems said. "This will take some time for us to understand exactly what it is these tribes want to do."

It took about 6 months to get serious results after the change in strategy in al-Anbar, if we get similar results in the Shia areas then about March when General Petraeus is reporting to congress again we may have another success story (although I am not getting my hopes too high).

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