OK, so things aren't going as well as we might have expected in Iraq after this latest 'turning point' in Iraqi politics. The new PM, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, promises he'll have his government up and running before the 30-day deadline, but I don't know...where have we all heard that before? While the various factions continue to squabble over the democratic spoils, the violence keeps getting worse.
We lost another 2 soldiers yesterday bringing the number of U.S deaths to 2,409: 43 more corpses were found in the streets of Baghdad, that's on top of the 50 or so the day before and the 34 before that: The police in Ramadi said U.S. aircraft bombed two houses killing 13 Iraqis and wounding four: and a suicide bomber blew himself up on Palestine Street in Baghdad killing 10 and wounding 50. [AP]
In another sign of progress and not of an impending civil war: the Red Crescent reported this week that more than 100,000 Iraqis has been displaced since the Feb 22 Shia shrine bombing in Samarra. The FT reports that the RC claims:
"11,391 families totaling 20,240 men, 27,765 women and 55,199 children had fled their homes by April 26. It said the number was increasing and might soon total 180,000 people." These refugees that have been moving have "fled from mixed Sunni-Shia areas, with both Shia militias and Sunni insurgents telling members of the other group to leave or be killed." [BBC]
It appears that Iraq's demographics are being realigned for a future splitting up of the country into solid ethnic enclaves. That can't be good, right? But let’s not talk about the Shia militias being the most dangerous threat to peace in Iraq: Let’s talk about Abu al-Zarqawi. He's the real danger, isn't he?
U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch showed out-takes of the latest Zarqawi video where he's shown to be decked out in New Balance tennis shoes and fumbling with his machine gun. Good stuff! Too bad they can't actually capture him, instead of his video making equipment. Not that it would make a difference anyway. And besides, he's such a good bogeyman they may not want to capture him. It’s hard to figure out that message the pentagon is trying to send here.
On the one hand, Zarqawi is the biggest threat to the U.S. since OBL, but on the other he's making videos out of "desperation," according to Gen. Lynch, and he can't even fire a gun. And how much of a threat can "al-Qaeda in Iraq" be if, as Gen Lynch claims, they have killed or captured 161 "al-Qaeda leaders?" According to AP, these military successes are "seriously undercutting the group's capabilities."
I don't mean to be a kill-joy here, but they can't all be "leaders," can they? We've been hearing a lot about Zaqawi's #2's being captured or killed for a pretty long time now and the suicide bombings and car bombings just keep coming. Remember before Zarqawi was the main problem; it was Udey and Qusey who were behind the violence, which was defiantly not an insurgency ----but rather a small group of "rejectionists" and "dead-enders." After they got killed it was Saddam who running the show and after he got caught, Zarqawi suddenly became the big man in Iraq. I swear this Zarqawi is almost super human, if unable to fire a machine gun.
They've really got Zarqawi on the brain at the pentagon as well. Just yesterday Rummy was trying to convince an audience in Atlanta that he didn't lie about Iraq's WMD and the first thing he came up with was Zarqawi. [Inquirer] An ex-CIA analyst, Ray McGovern, had challenged Rummy in a question and answer session ---which Rummy is usually so good at --- asking him:
"Why did you lie to get us into a war that caused these kinds of casualties and was not necessary?"
Rummy motioned off the security guards who were about to escort McGovern out ---negative guest ions not allowed! --- and said:
"I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were."
(At that point Rummy's pants burst into flames.)
McGovern answered that ridiculous statement by saying, "You said you knew where they were ---Tikrit, Baghdad, northeast, south, west of there. Those were your words....we're talking about lies and your allegation there was bulletproof evidence of ties between al-Qaeda and Iraq."
[Note: Rummy on March 30, 2003: "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat."]
Rummy: "Zarqawi was in Baghdad during the pre-war period. That is a fact."
McGovern: "Zarqawi? He was in the north of Iraq in a place where Saddam had no rule"
Rummy: "He was also in Baghdad.
McGovern: "Yes, when he needed to go to the hospital. Come on, these people aren't idiots. They know the story."
Rummy went on to say that the soldiers actually did believe that Saddam had chemical weapons; why else would they wear protective suits? "Because they liked the style?" he asked.
McGovern: "That is what is called a non sequitur. It doesn't matter what the troops believe; it matters what you believe."
Oh no, Rummy isn't taking credit for anything these days; it was Colin Powell, he knew. "Colin Powell didn't lie," he said. "I'm not in the intelligence business. [Clearly] They gave the world their honest opinion. It appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there." It appears? Is there still some question about this?