And So It Goes...
Last week found Iraq swimming in blood once again. Attacks last Thursday brought the worst violence Iraq has seen in over a year, with at least 96 Iraqis killed and 157 wounded in two massive suicide bombings. Over 35 bombings have rocked Baghdad this month alone. There appears to be no end in sight for the escalating violence. For an Obama administration that plans to keep at least 50,000 US troops in Iraq indefinitely, look no further for a justification in doing so.
On Friday, further slaughter assaulted Iraq, with 93 killed and another 163 wounded as the attacks continued unabated. Saturday was a light day, with "only" 15 Iraqis killed and 22 wounded, while Iraqi security forces reportedly defused 20 bombs and two booby-trapped cars in Baghdad.
Meanwhile, violence most likely related to the growing battle between government forces and the Sahwa, who are stepping up attacks against government and US forces, continues. In the last three days, clashes erupted at a police checkpoint in Fallujah, three men were killed while planting an improvised explosive device (IED) in Khanaqin, three Sahwa fighters were arrested north of Babel while planting an IED, an IED targeting Sahwa members in Udhaim killed three members and wounded three others, gunmen killed a member of the Sahwa in Mussayab, a car bomb was defused in Fallujah and two Sahwa members were wounded in a blast in Iskandariya. And, by the way, at least five US soldiers have been killed in the last five days.
Sunday found another 12 Iraqis killed and five wounded. A US military raid of a home in Kut brought the deaths of a man and his sister-in-law, who just happened to be the wife of a local clan leader; additionally, four Iraqis, one of them, a police officer, were arrested. Protests erupted as angry Iraqis denounced the raid. During a funeral procession in Kut where the cloth-draped coffins of the dead were carried, protesters called the Americans "criminal occupiers" and demanded the release of the seized men. "We condemn this horrific incident," said Latif al-Tarfa, governor of Wasit province, "It violates the agreements between US forces and the Iraqi government. Innocent people were killed and the city is now very tense. They were poor people. They do not cause any political or security problems."
US forces denied killing the man and claimed the death of the woman was "accidental." They also claimed they had full permission from Iraqi authorities. Contradicting this US military propaganda, Maliki viewed the US military raid as a crime that violated a bilateral security pact, and wants US forces to hand those responsible to the courts, an Iraqi official in the office of Maj. Gen. Qassim Moussawi, the Baghdad security spokesman, told reporters. "The general commander (Maliki) is affirming that the killing of two citizens and detaining others in Kut is considered a violation of the security pact. He asks the commander of the multinational forces to release the detainees and hand over those responsible for this crime to the courts."
Make no mistake about it - there is a war on. The floodgates of hell have once again been opened, largely as the result of US unwillingness to pressure the Maliki government to back off its ongoing attacks against the US-created Sahwa, which have led to the Sahwa walking off their security posts in many areas, which has been a green light for al-Qaeda to resume its operations in Iraq. In addition, many of the Sahwa forces, weary of not being paid promised wages from the government, as well as broken promises by the occupiers of their country, have resumed attacks against US forces. Again, there doesn't appear to be anything in the short term to indicate these trends will stop.
General Patraeus, as part of his ongoing efforts to take responsibility for the hell he helped create in Iraq, laughably blamed the recent attacks in Baghdad on "Tunisians."
Conveniently, during her recent visit to Baghdad, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while perched in the surreal Green Zone which is floating atop a sea of Iraqi blood, had the gall to claim "that Iraq is going in the right direction" and that the recent violence does "not reflect any diversion from the security progress that has been made" in Iraq. The primary reason for her unannounced visit was to reassure Prime Minister Maliki that if the violence continues to worsen, the Obama administration would back off its so-called withdrawal plan. Let us not forget the context of this visit - in addition to the hellish week Iraq has just experienced, overall violence there has been on the rise for the last two months.
Along with leaving up to 50,000 US troops in Iraq indefinitely, the plan to remove many of the other troops by August 2010 is slipping into the background as the justifications for remaining in Iraq are now being placed in the foreground. Iraq is Obama's occupation now, and circumstances there are ripping away the mask of any promised "change."
Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist, is the author of "Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq," (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from occupied Iraq for eight months as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last four years.