Thursday, April 03, 2008

Iraq's "Tet" Moment?

The Pentagon and the White House are working so furiously to conceal what actually happened in Basra and Baghdad that it's entirely conceivable that last week witnessed Iraq's "Tet" moment, that seminal event that marked the end of Washington's grand adventure in Mesopotamia.

Last week George w. Bush was positively giddy, calling the Iraqi army's assault on Basra a "defining moment." And it seems it was, only just not at all the sort Bush had in mind. News organizations such as Inter Press Service are beginning to winkle out what actually happened:

"Mehdi army militias controlled all Shia and mixed parts of Baghdad in no time," a Baghdad police colonel, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. "Iraqi army and police forces as well as Badr and Dawa militias suddenly disappeared from the streets, leaving their armoured vehicles for Mehdi militiamen to drive around in joyful convoys that toured many parts of Baghdad before taking them to their stronghold of Sadr City in the east of Baghdad."

The police colonel was speaking of the recent clashes between members of the Shia Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army, the largest militia in the country, and members of the Iraqi government forces, that are widely known to comprise members of a rival Shia militia, the Badr Organisation.

"I wonder what lies General David Petraeus (the U.S. forces commander in Iraq) will fabricate this time," Malek Shakir, a journalist in Baghdad told IPS. "The 25th March events revealed the true failure of the U.S. occupation project in Iraq. More complications are expected in the coming days."

"This failure takes Iraq to point zero and even worse," Brigadier-General Kathum Alwan of the Iraqi army told IPS in Baghdad. "We must admit that the formation of our forces was wrong, as we saw how our officers deserted their posts, leaving their vehicles for militias."

Alwan added, "Not a single unit of our army and police stood for their duty in Baghdad, leaving us wondering what to do. Most of the officers who left their posts were members of Badr brigades and the Dawa Party, who should have been most faithful to Maliki's government."

The Green Zone of Baghdad where the U.S. embassy and the Iraqi government and parliament buildings are located, was hit by missiles. General Petraeus appeared at a press conference to accuse Iran of being behind the shelling of the zone that is supposed to be the safest area in Iraq. At least one U.S. citizen was killed in the attacks, and two others were injured.

"The Green Zone looked deserted as most U.S. and Iraqi personnel were ordered to take shelter deep underground," an engineer who works for a foreign company in the zone told IPS. "It seemed that this area too was under curfew. No place in Iraq is safe any more."

Further complicating matters for the occupiers of Iraq, the U.S.-backed Awakening groups, largely comprised of former resistance fighters, are now going on strike to demand overdue payment from the U.S. military."

Speaking of "Awakening" groups, a term so far used to describe Sunni resistance fighters who have been given arms and money to turn (for the moment) on al-Qaeda forces, American ambassador Ryan Crocker volunteered this insight:

We strongly encouraged him to use his most substantial weapon, which is money, to announce major jobs programs, Basra cleanup, whatnot,” Mr. Crocker said. “And to do what he decided to do on his own: pay tribal figures to effectively finance an awakening for Basra.”

So, far from promoting peace between the Shia militias, the US endorses setting up an Awakening group in Basra to fight Sadr's Mahdi Army. Well, if the US wants a civil war among the Shiites, it's got it. Now it'll have to live with the result. How's that "surge" going, anyway?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I said on the day of the UN presentation that Colin Powell was dying inside, in so much moral pain that it showed, as he lied for "his president".
When he was finished I said, here goes Viet Nam all over again.
Canada had every right to drive right out of Afghanisnam on that fateful day.