WASHINGTON (AFP) -
US Secretary of State Colin Powell warned that the insurgency in Iraq was "getting worse" and could hinder the organization of Iraqi elections planned for January.
Yes, it's getting worse," Powell told ABC television.
"And the reason it's getting worse is that they are determined to disrupt the election. They do not want the Iraqi people to vote for their own leaders in a free, democratic elections." [Neither does Florida.]
"Right now our goal is, and I think it's an achievable goal, is to have full, free and fair elections across the whole country." [Dude, that's some awesome weed!]
The top US military commander in the region, General John Abizaid also cautioned that "we will fight our way through elections" in Iraq, and that he could not predict that the entire country would be able to vote.
Powell told CNN that: "There will be polling stations that are shot at. There will be insurgents who will still be out there who will try to keep people from voting.
"I think what we have to keep shooting for [Literally?], and what is achievable, is to give everybody the opportunity to vote in the upcoming election, to make the election fully credible, and something that will stand the test of the international community's examination," he said.
Attacks over the past two weeks have killed more than 250 Iraqis and 29 U.S. military personnel, according to figures released by Iraq's Health Ministry and the Pentagon.
A sampling of daily reports produced during that period by Kroll Security International for the U.S. Agency for International Development shows that such attacks typically number about 70 each day. In contrast, 40 to 50 hostile incidents occurred daily during the weeks preceding the handover of political authority to an interim Iraqi government on June 28, according to military officials.
Reports covering seven days in a recent 10-day period depict a nation racked by all manner of insurgent violence, from complex ambushes involving 30 guerrillas north of Baghdad on Monday to children tossing molotov cocktails at a U.S. Army patrol in the capital's Sadr City slum on Wednesday.
On maps included in the reports, red circles denoting attacks surround nearly every major city in central, western and northern Iraq, except for Kurdish-controlled areas in the far north. Cities in the Shiite Muslim-dominated south, including several that had undergone a period of relative calm in recent months, also have been hit with near-daily attacks.
In number and scope, the attacks compiled in the Kroll reports suggest a broad and intensifying campaign of insurgent violence that contrasts sharply with assessments by Bush administration officials and Iraq's interim prime minister that the instability is contained to small pockets of the country.
Allawi told Washington Post reporters and editors on Friday that "for now the only place which is not really that safe is Fallujah, downtown Fallujah. The rest, there are varying degrees. Some -- most -- of the provinces are really quite safe."
"People are very naive if they think Baghdad is safe," said Falah Ahmed, 26, a cigarette vendor in center city. A nearby tailor, Hisham Nuaimi, 52, said Allawi "is either deceiving himself or the Americans."
"What do you call a city with a car bomb every day?" he said. "Is this the security they are achieving?"
There also has been an unusual spike in the number of attacks to the north of the capital. More attacks have been reported in the northern cities of Mosul, Samarra and Tikrit over the past two weeks than in Fallujah and Ramadi, two areas of frequent fighting in Anbar.
Military officials contend, however, that does not mean the restive areas west of Baghdad -- the area known as the Sunni Triangle -- are no longer insurgent strongholds. The likely explanation, the officials said, is that U.S. Marines stationed in Anbar have sharply reduced their patrolling, making them less vulnerable to roadside attacks. But that strategy, officials say, has allowed insurgent cells to expand in the province.
"There are fewer attacks here because we're out on the road less," an officer at the Marine headquarters near Fallujah said on condition of anonymity. "But you shouldn't conclude from that that things are any safer."
In his remarks Thursday, Allawi did not specify the three provinces he deemed insecure, nor did he specify what he meant when he contended that violence in those provinces had been limited to "certain pockets."
But since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Baghdad and three of the country's largest and most populous provinces -- Anbar in the west, Salahuddin to the north and Babil to the south -- have been the principal hotbeds of insurgent violence.
And according to the Kroll reports, recent violence appears to have been widespread rather than limited. On Wednesday, for instance, attacks in Salahuddin province occurred in Taji, Balad, Tikrit, Samarra, Baiji, Thuliyah and Dujayl -- the seven largest population centers in the area.
[Don't read this, you're giving aid and comfort to the enemy.]
Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:25 PM EDT