Tuesday :: Mar 25, 2008

Quagmire


by Turkana

The headline caught my eye:

Former Corvallis city councilor killed in Iraq

And then the story:

A former Corvallis city councilman has died from injuries sustained when rockets pounded Baghdad's U.S.-protected Green Zone on Easter, according to a story in the Corvallis Gazette Times.

Dick and Leona Converse of Corvallis said they learned Sunday that their son, Paul Converse, had been injured and likely wouldn't survive. On Monday, two officers from the Oregon Army National Guard arrived at their door.

Converse, 56, was a financial analyst who audited contracts in Iraq, said Kristine Belisle, a spokeswoman for the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, part of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Think about that. Fifty-six years old. A financial analyst. Killed in the Green Zone. That's how safe and secure we've made Iraq. Even in the fortress Green Zone, which is so incalculably more safe and secure than the streets where actual Iraqis actually live, a fifty-six year old financial analyst is killed in a rocket attack. And then there's this, from today:

Insurgents on Tuesday slammed at least four rockets into the heavily-fortified Baghdad Green Zone, the seat of the Iraqi government and the US embassy, Iraqi and US officials said.

At least four Katyusha rockets struck the Green Zone, an Iraqi security official said.

The latest assault comes just two days after insurgents fired four waves of rockets and mortars into the area, which once served as Saddam Hussein's presidential compound, injuring six people and damaging buildings.

Yes, things are just getting better and better, in Iraq. Even in the Green Zone. But it's even better than that. Because Shiite factions haven't gotten the memo about the surge working. As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

Tensions between Iraq's major Shiite Muslim factions erupted today as Iraqi security forces launched a major crackdown against militiamen in the southern oil hub of Basra.

Heavy explosions and machine-gun fire rocked the city, where rival political factions, their allied militias and criminal gangs are vying for control of oil exports that generate most of Iraq's government revenue.

The fighting was the most serious sign yet that a cease-fire credited with helping to reduce violence across the country may be unraveling as sections of Iraq's majority Shiite Muslims jockey for position ahead of upcoming provincial elections. Analysts warned that the fighting could spread as factions use their influence within the security forces to weaken rivals.

Representatives of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr, who has led two major uprisings against U.S.-led forces in Iraq, ordered nationwide protests if American and Iraqi forces don't release detainees, apologize for their actions and stop what they say is the targeting of Sadr's followers.

Members of Sadr's Mahdi Army militia took to the streets in parts of Baghdad, sending residents hurrying home. A barrage of rockets or mortar rounds was aimed at the U.S.-protected Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government offices, though it was not immediately clear who fired.

And nothing will do more to further the cause of peace than pissing off the Mahdi Army. McClatchy has this:

On Monday, the Sadrists all but shut down the neighborhoods they control on the west bank of Baghdad. Gunmen went to stores and ordered them to close as militiamen stood in the streets. Mosques used their loudspeakers to urge people to come forward and join the protest.

Fliers were distributed with the Sadrists' three demands of the Iraqi government: to release detainees, stop targeting Sadrist members and apologize to the families and the tribal sheiks of the men.

The Iraqi security forces issued a statement promising to deal with those who terrorized shopkeepers and students.

"It's an open sit-in until the government responds to our demands. If the government doesn't respond, we will have our own procedures," said Hamdallah al Rikabi, the head of the Sadr offices in Karkh, in western Baghdad.

In fact, things are now going so well in Iraq that the New York Times is reporting:

Troop levels in Iraq would remain nearly the same through 2008 as at any time during five years of war, under plans presented to President Bush on Monday by the senior American commander and the top American diplomat in Iraq, senior administration and military officials said.

Mr. Bush announced no final decision on future troop levels after the video briefing by the commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, and the diplomat, Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. The briefing took place on the day when the 4,000th American military death of the war was reported and just after the invasion’s fifth anniversary.

But it now appears likely that any decision on major reductions in American troops from Iraq will be left to the next president. That ensures that the question over what comes next will remain in the center of the presidential campaign through Election Day.

General Petraeus, speaking to Mr. Bush by secure videoconference during a two-hour meeting of the National Security Council, recommended putting off decisions on further troop reductions for a month or two after the departure in July of five extra brigades sent last year to help secure the nation, the officials said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely about internal deliberations.

There would be more frequent reviews after that to see when withdrawals might be allowed to resume, without any predetermined outcome and, given the time required to put troops into motion, little likelihood of big reductions on short timetables.

You didn't really think this war was going to be scaled back, during Bush's presidency, did you? And you didn't really think this war was going to end, even after Bush's presidency, if the Bush Administration can prevent it, did you? Of course, with a McCain presidency, you won't have to worry about it ever ending. Ever.

Turkana :: 11:54 AM :: Comments (11) :: Digg It!