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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

If you scroll down the page, you'll see I posted some time ago in big, bold letters the text "Iraqis will not be in control of Iraq after June 30. The June 30th handoff is nothing but a meaningless charade".

To wit, Robert Fisk ('A better and safer place'):

'. . .the US-appointed Iraqi government controls little of the land south of the capital. Only in the Sunni Muslim town of Mahmoudiya - where a car bomb exploded outside an Iraqi military recruiting centre last week - did I see Iraqi policemen.'

'They were in a convoy of 11 battered white pick-ups, pointing Kalashnikovs at the crowds around them, driving on to the wrong side of the road when they became tangled in a traffic jam, screaming at motorists to clear their path at rifle point. This was not a frightened American column - this was Iraq's own new blue-uniformed police force, rifles also directed at the windows of homes and shops and at the crowd of Iraqis which surged around them. In Iskanderia, I saw two gunmen near the road. I don't know why they bothered to stand there. The police had already left their post a few metres away.'

. . .

'"The Americans gave us a map and asked us which roads they could patrol," Sadr's right-hand man, the turbaned Sheikh Ali Smaisin, told me in the Najaf shrine yesterday. "I sat with the other members of the 'Beit Shia' (the Shia House, which combines a numberf local political groups, including the Dawa party) and we set out the roads on which the Americans would be permitted to make their patrols. This map was then returned to the American side and they accepted our choices for roads they could control."'

'I was not surprised. US forces are under so many daily guerrilla attacks that they cannot move by daylight along Highway 8 or, indeed, west of Baghdad through Falujah or Ramadi. Across Iraq, their helicopters can fly no higher than 100 metres for fear of rocket attack. Save for a solitary A1M1 Abrams tank on a motorway bridge in the Baghdad suburbs, I saw only one other US vehicle on the road yesterday: a solitary Humvee driving along a patrol road in Najaf agreed by the Mehdi Army. Three faraway Apache helicopters were hedge-hopping their way towards the Euphrates.'

'That the "muqawama" - the resistance - controls so many hundreds of square miles around Baghdad should be no great surprise. The new US-appointed government has neither the police nor the soldiers to retake the land. They announce martial laws and telephone tapping and bans on demonstrations and a new intelligence service -- but have neither the manpower nor the ability to turn these institutions into anything more than propaganda dreams for foreign journalists and a population that desperately craves security.'

. . .

'So much, then, for the Allawi government, even if the Shia insurrection is a shadow of the Sunni version. But the evidence of my journey yesterday - through the southern Sunni cities which long ago rejected American rule, to the holiest Shia city where its own militia controls the shrines and the square miles around them - suggested that Mr Allawi controls a capital without a country.'

As the battle over intelligence, Niger, federal crimes, and crass politics plays out in the U.S., it is worth noting that Iraq has become a divided land, or as Fisk calls it "Afghanistan MK2". The central govenrment controls the capital (sort of) while the outliers are a no-mans-land owned by whomever has the most weight. These sorts of environments (read Somalia, Afghanistan) are the perfect place for terrorism to fester. We note, for instance, that the only terrorist organization in Iraq operating before the war was located in the Kurdish-controlled region in the North. Saddam's Iraq didn't have this (the state mechanisms of terror were quite enough), and we're hearing reports from Iraq that some Iraqis don't seem to mind Allawi's murderous ways. With the number of lawless, uncontrollable states increasing under the Bush administration we have to ask if America is actually safer as a result of their wars.

Andrew 12:32 PM : |


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