Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dire Straits - Part 2

Green zone government prime minister Nouri al-Maliki said today that forces loyal to the the green zone government would take over security throughout most of Iraq within months.

"The build-up of Iraqi armed forces will continue despite the fact that we now have a capable army and that our forces have taking the initiative," Al-Maliki said during a visit to the Iraqi Defense Ministry. If you read the KUNA report I linked to in the previous sentence you'll see that al-Maliki is making all the right noises and is well aware of what the basic problem is - the overlap between the security and economic crises.

Boy injured by bombing in Dora targetting Iraqi interior minister photographed in hospital being comforted by his motherThe explosion targetting al-Bolani's convoy killed two civilians, including a 12-year-old boy, and injured five traffic policemen, and several civilians including the child seen here being comforted by his mother in hospital.

The problem he faces is that he's not in control of events. If you read the Reuters report I linked to in the first paragraph you'll see a photograph of him speaking at press conference with his interior minister Jawad al-Bolani standing to his right. Al-Bolani who was a compromise candidate for the post after SCIRI vetoed Fuad Al-'Araji , the Americans vetoed Nasir Al-'Ameri, and the Sadrists vetoed Mowaffaq Al-Rubai'i, escaped a car bombing today. The bombing was in Dora, the same Dora that's just been "cleared."

This Reuters report explains what happens when an area is cleared:

"The militias are within the people. They blend in with the people. It is very difficult to identify them when they lay down their arms," Colonel Michael Shields told reporters in Baghdad.


The possibility that the operation, which has focused on the most volatile districts of Baghdad, had simply displaced death squads to other areas was also "a concern", he said.

Maliki is doing his best but he heads an increasingly shaky and fractious coalition. He doesn't control the operations going on in Baghdad, and the Americans vetoed his Amnesty proposals. That veto guaranteed that the forces fighting the green zone government will not lay down their arms, why should they? From their point of view they're winning. Not only are they winning but there's increasing links between al-Sadr and the Sunni community who recognise that:

  1. He's an Iraqi nationalist determined to hold Iraq together.
  2. Unlike the blatantly sectarian SCIRI his movement isn't determined to hold them down.

The number of US forces in Iraq has now climbed to 138,000 - in another context this would be called "throwing good money after bad" in this context it's called giving more "hostages to fortune."


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