Friday, September 01, 2006

This is an extremely offensive operation

There was a major coordinated attack in Baghdad last night. By early morning the toll as reported by the Al-Kandi, Ibn Al-Nafis, and Imam Ali hospitals was 69 killed, 160 injured. Seventeen hours later that toll is still going up.

The baby in this photograph was wounded in yesterday's rocket attacks on al-Amin This baby was wounded during Thursday night's rocket attacks on al-Amin. The photograph was taken in the emergency room today. Because of the shortage of fuel in Baghdad there are fewer ambulances. Making it difficult for parents to bring their injured child to hospital. Particularly while an attack is in progress. Mother carrying her injured son. The boy was wounded in the overnight rocket attacks in Baghdad August 31st 2006 A mother carries her injured son, the child was injured by a bomb blast inside their apartment building in al-Amin Baghdad.

A few of the attacks last night were

  • A car bomb targetting a market in al-Amin killed 14 people and wounded 40.
  • Rocket attacks on al-Amin killed a minimum of 10 and wounded a minimum of 20.
  • A bomb in Al-Baladeyat killed 2 people and wounded 3.
  • 4 people were killed and 19 injured by a car bomb in Al-Jadidah. That bombing was targetting a a queue outside a bakery.
  • The bombing of the bakery was immediately followed by second bombing about a 100 metres away. That bombing was a "follow-up bombing" aimed at killing people as they fled the bakery bombing. There are 2 confirmed deaths from that second bombing and 16 confirmed injuries.
  • In Cairo an explosion killed 5 people were five and injured 7.
  • A bomb in Al-Habibeyah killed 3 people and injured 10.

According to this AFP report the US military believe that last night was a response to "Together Forward"

"WASHINGTON (AFP) - A recent upturn in violence in
Iraq is due to an offensive operation by security forces moving in the face of insurgents bent on increasing anarchy, the US military said.

"This is an extremely offensive operation," said Colonel Thomas Vail, a US brigade commander working closely with about 15,000 Iraqi security forces in and around Baghdad."

Well, yes … … … most Iraqis find that being starved, bombed, invaded, looted, raped, poisoned, impoverished, and so on very offensive. Baghdadis are no exception what with people from Baghdad being Iraqi and all. The good Colonel goes on:

"I think it is primarily because of Operation Together Forward. I think applying this much combat power of additional Iraqi security forces, concentrated in particular areas, is having a detrimental effect on the insurgents," he said.

"I mean, they understand a big stick. And they understand when you have presence in the street and disciplined soldiers that are working side by side with Iraqi security forces,"

The Colonel doesn't seem to understand that what happens when he and his men use their "big stick" is that fighters on all sides take a break until the Americans go away - which they invariably do after a day or so. Can there really be such ignorance of even the basics of guerilla warfare in the US officer corps? Yes it seems there can.

Colonel Vail's superiors seem to be somewhat less optimistic:

"In a notably gloomy report to Congress, the Pentagon said illegal militias have become more entrenched, especially in Baghdad neighborhoods where they are seen as providers of both security and basic social services."

"Death squads and terrorists are locked in mutually reinforcing cycles of sectarian strife," the report said, adding that the Sunni-led insurgency "remains potent and viable" even as it is overshadowed by the sect-on-sect killing.

"Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq, specifically in and around Baghdad, and concern about civil war within the Iraqi civilian population has increased in recent months,"

I haven't had a chance to read the report yet so perhaps its unfair to comment but based on the tenor of the AP story I don't see any evidence that there's a realisation either amongst American politicians or their military that the violence in Iraq is caused by the American presence. I don't see any awareness that the "Battle for Baghdad" is well-nigh lost and there still blaming the Syrians and the Iranians.

I wonder what excuse the good colonel's superiors will come up with for the inevitable backlash. Who will they blame this time?

markfromireland

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