The Iraq Quagmire Continued
On Tuesday, it was 73 people killed in a Baghdad car bombing and in an ambush on police in Baquba. The day before it was 16 Iraqis killed in a US warplane attack that was either a successful strike on a terrorist hideout or an attack on an ambulance, depending on which side you believe.
More than two months after Washington returned sovereignty to Iraq, the summer honeymoon of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has already flashed past, and a much harsher climate prevails.
Insurgents fight running battles with Iraqi and US forces in the heart of Baghdad. Whole cities or parts of cities have become no-go zones for US troops. Many highways are now too dangerous to use.
In the first two weeks of September alone, 291 Iraqi civilians have been killed. The number of foreigners taken hostage last month soared to 31. The average number of attacks on US soldiers reached 87 a day.
The standard line from the crowd that gets information solely from the Fox News Channel is that there is much good in Iraq that the liberal media isn’t reporting. Ferrell points out that a lot of bad news doesn’t see the light of day, either because, "Kidnapping, looting, criminal opportunism and xenophobia make it simply too dangerous for Western journalists to visit many areas."
Meanwhile, the US is nowhere near controlling major portions of Iraq. The AP reports that:
The interim Iraqi government has not gained control over key Sunni Muslim cities such as Fallujah, Ramadi and Samarra, U.S. officials say, despite hopes that the formal end of the U.S. occupation June 28 would help stabilize the country.
Indeed, if the AP is correct, Fallujah residents are likely longing for a return of Saddam Hussein:
In Fallujah, where heavy fighting the past few days represented an escalation of tensions in the Sunni-dominated area, power is in the hands of the "Mujahedeen Shura Council," a six-member body led by Sheik Abdullah al-Janabi, the leading Sunni cleric and the undisputed ruler of the city since May.
The mujahedeen run their own courts that try people suspected of spying for the Americans or other offenses. Fallujah resident Abu Rihab said that since May, the mujahedeen have put to death about 30 people convicted of spying. It was impossible to confirm the figure.
Among those put to death by the mujahedeen was Lt. Col. Suleiman Hamad al-Marawi of the Iraqi National Guard. After al-Marawi was killed for allegedly spying for the Americans, the entire National Guard contingent, estimated to number several hundred, fled the city.
To combat the growing Iraqi insurgency, the Pentagon is increasingly turning to air power. On Monday, US forces conducted a strike that either successfully hit remnants of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s forces, or killed a bunch of innocent women and children, depending on who you believe.
The likely result of using air power in heavily populated civilian areas is the death of innocents and the further radicalization of the population.
Meanwhile, Christians in Iraq continue to be killed as the Isalmists we have empowered slowly begin to accumulate power and impose Sharia on the areas they dominate. Much as with American meddling in the Balkans, our intervention has strengthened the hand of extremist Muslims and endangered our Christian brethren in the process. I don’t know what to call it, but "just war" doesn’t slide off the tongue.
Even more depressing is that there is no exit strategy and seemingly no way out of the quagmire. The CIA assessment of the situation is that at best we can maintain the status quo, and if things go badly (??), Iraq’s various factions could slide into civil war.