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Monday, March 31, 2008

How dumb are they?

Crackdown leads to a return to chaos
For once, George W. Bush's open-faced incomprehension - at Nouri Maliki's decision to set off a civil war inside Iraq's Shiite community - seems entirely appropriate. When the United States President admitted he did not know why the Iraqi Prime Minister had launched an offensive in Basra, saying "I'm not exactly sure what triggered the Prime Minister's response", he was not alone. Bush sought to bolster Maliki by saying his Government faces a "defining moment in the history of a free Iraq" and that the crackdown "is a necessary part of the development of a free society". But the consequences of Maliki's decision to send 15,000 Iraqi troops, and as many policemen, into Basra has been the destruction of a nine-month-old ceasefire from Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi army. In just a few days it has swept back on to the streets in Kut, Hillah, Amara, Karbala, Nasiriyah, and Diwaniya, as well as into Sadr City in Baghdad, where militiamen have been raining rockets and mortars on the Green Zone. Iraqi officials said at least 220 people had been killed in southern Iraq and 550 injured. In Baghdad, the Health Directorate said the number raised to 90 killed and 480 injured in clashes and by US air strikes in Sadr City. The district's two hospitals, serving its 2 million people, are overflowing and understaffed.

It’s the bizarre pointlessness of this offensive that makes no sense, 15 000 troops up against Sadr’s entire army could only ever work out to be a stalemate, and if America steps up its bombing in the densely packed Sadr City, they risk really high civilian loss of life. Apart from what this says about Iraq’s ‘democracy’, it does question Maliki’s leadership, this is a pointless incursion that has evaporated all the minor gains made by the ‘surge’ – their incompetence is astounding.


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