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Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

NOTHING TO SEE HERE

Victory!

A roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi Army patrol killed five Iraqi soldiers Friday in the northern town of Baiji, 180 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

It was the second lethal attack on an army convoy in northern Iraq in two days. At around midnight Wednesday, two roadside bombs hit a patrol in a village in Iraq’s volatile Diyala province, north of Baghdad, killing five and wounding eight.

And a sign that the Iraqi Victory! doesn’t exist in a vacuum:

Angry followers of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr torched US and Israeli flags in a mass rally in Baghdad on Friday in protest at the two-week-old conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Even Dick Cheney sounds more cautious about the “success” than tim.

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NOTHING TO SEE HERE

Victory!

Gunmen have killed a member of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s political party in a drive-by shooting in the northern city of Kirkuk, Iraqi police officials said Tuesday.

Subhi Hassan, who handles political relations for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and a bodyguard were killed Monday after unidentified gunmen chased down their car after it passed through a checkpoint, said Police Brigadier Ahmed Hawandi.

A third person in the car was wounded, Hawandi said, adding Iraqi police were investigating the shooting.

Victory!

A suicide car bomb Tuesday hit a police patrol in the city of Mosul, the capital city of Nineveh province, wounding five policemen and five civilians, a provincial police source said.

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NOTHING TO SEE HERE

Victory!

A female suicide bomber killed at least 35 people, many of them Iranian pilgrims, and wounded scores more when she blew herself up amid a crowd of Shia worshippers outside a shrine in Baghdad today.

The attack was the second major bombing since US forces came under Iraqi Government authority on January 1. It also occurred as Iraqi leaders expressed confidence in their ability to defend Iraq at a ceremony to mark Army Day.

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NOTHING TO SEE HERE

tim says, “the war is over and coalition forces have won.”

Victory!

No war should be forgotten.

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Stay a little longer

Although the recently-signed Status of Forces Agreement authorises US troops to remain in Iraq for a while, it did not address what remains of the “coalition of the willing”. Australia now has permission to retain troops until the end of June 2009. The account of this agreement’s passage through the Iraqi parliament is intriguing – “passed by an overwhelming majority” and “the Speaker’s resignation overnight” don’t seem to go together terribly well. I think it’s about time they started broadcasting Iraqi parliament on TV.

I find it a shame that both the US SoFA and Australia’s agreement do not need to pass through their respective legislatures – not necessarily because the agreements are bad, but simply because we haven’t seen much scrutiny of them. Most of the reporting has focused on the process at the Iraqi end – does the agreement saying anything substantial about what role the Australian military will play during the first half of next year?

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Operation Iraqi Freedom

It is pleasing that the 1,000th post on this blog is about political progress in Iraq (although it’s a dreadful shame that the news is overshadowed by events in India). While today’s achievement is not quite a match for this fictional New York Times headline, it’s still a step in the right direction:

With a substantial majority, the Iraqi Parliament on Thursday ratified a sweeping security agreement that sets the course for an end to the United States’ role in the war and marks the beginning of a new relationship between the countries.

The pact, which still must be approved by Iraq’s three-person presidency council, a move expected in the next few days, sets the end of 2011 as the date by which the last American troops must leave the country.

Apart from anything else, the passage of the agreement demonstrates that achieving political agreement across the sectarian groups in Iraq’s parliament is possible; of course, it remains to be seen whether the spirit of cooperation will apply for issues less unifying than the desire to see the American occupation end.

The New York Times has the full text of the agreement. FP Passport notes that the agreement provides for a referendum to be held by next July, which might see the Iraqi people overrule parliament and reject the agreement if they want American troops gone sooner. In addition to the upcoming referendum, the agreement eliminates immunity for American troops and gives Iraqi courts some jurisdiction over them, so this is a big step forward in terms of granting Iraq autonomy and imposing accountability on the United States for their actions.

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Shhh, don’t tell Andrew

… he’s a simple sort of bloke, and he’s just back from a long holiday. Don’t go saying too much about this notion that Teh Surge != Victory!

Next thing you know, people will be suggesting that it’s unfair to call anyone who opposed the occupation of Iraq a staunch supporter of Saddam Hussein.

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Over at Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Dan Froomkin has written a good analysis of what is missing from the “the surge has worked” perspective on Iraq. Froomkin discusses the argument about the surge made by Peter Galbraith. Some of the key points in Froomkin’s piece:

Certainly the surge has been accompanied by a dramatic and welcome reduction in violence. But Galbraith argues that it wasn’t the surge as much as other factors that led to the reduction in violence; that the main factor was the Sunni Awakening; and that the U.S.’s de facto creation of a Sunni army — led in some cases by the same Baathists the U.S. invaded Iraq to overthrow – has in fact contributed to Iraq’s breakup and set the stage for an intensified civil war between Sunnis and Shiites once the U.S gets out of the way. Whenever that is.

Galbraith thinks journalists are under-reporting certain key aspects of the current Iraqi political situation. Among them:

  • The character of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s  government, which Galbraith says is profoundly anti-Sunni and not likely to make accommodations, regardless of the occasional PR blitz to the contrary. Reporters should also talk to Sunnis and Kurds in the government and ask them how much influence they feel they have. Reporters in Washington should be asking their sources: Do you really see Maliki as someone who is committed to secular democracy?
  • The character of the Sunni Awakening. A hundred thousand Sunni fighters – used to getting paid $300 a month by the United States – are in fact not going to be easily accommodated by the Shiite government. And who knows what they’ll do when the U.S. stops paying them?

The linking of reduced fatalities to the coalition’s prospects for withdrawal is flawed. At least some of the proponents of the surge seem to know that – the Bush administration has committed itself to maintaining troop levels pretty much constant to the end of its term.

What is most important is attempting to ensure conditions that will foster lasting peace – which requires political, social and economic stability. That still hasn’t happened. For four years it seemed like there was little in the way of a coalition strategy toward peace in and withdrawal from Iraq. The surge then became the strategy, when it could only ever serve as one plank in a larger platform.

The debate itself still hasn’t moved. Many of the mouthpieces of the surge talk about Victory! without defining it. What everyone needs to be talking about is how to leave a stable Iraq.

UPDATE: And then there is the argument that the surge is not even responsible for the reduction in violence – such as this analysis, which suggests sectarian violence cleared out the hotspots for conflict.

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Victory!

Name one person who has defined it. Just one.

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