Thursday, April 8th, 2004
From A View from Baghdad:
I know lots of people at the CPA. 95% of them are well-meaning, and 75% of them are competent and 30% of them are pretty amazing people. Bremer, for instance, is one of the most hard-working, dedicated and smartest public figures I have met. I can say that for many of the top people I have encountered. However, CPA seems to be victim to an organizational inertia that overwhelms brilliance.
Part of it is completely out of the hands of anyone in Baghdad. There is a machine in Washington that spits out money, and nearly as I can tell it is completely arbitrary and sporadic in its functioning. The fabled $18 billion in reconstruction money would be helpful in getting things calmed down here. If people had jobs, if the streets in Sadr City were paved, if the schools were not floating on sewage, then people would be less inclined to follow a young, loud-mouthed upstart… which is what he was last summer.
From Citizen Smash:
. . . Political disagreements about the reasons for going to war aside, Iraq IS the critical battlefield in the War on Terror. We are now seeing indications that these three groups, which in the past have been at odds with one another, may be coordinating their actions against the Coalition. Indeed, it now appears that al Qaeda may be attempting to pull their own forces away from Afghanistan and elsewhere in order to engage Coalition forces directly in Iraq.
. . . .
These groups cannot realistically expect to defeat the Coalition in direct combat. Any gains they make on the battlefield will be temporary, and extremely costly in terms of men and resources. They know this.
The goal of this offensive, therefore, is not to take and hold any particular piece of territory in Iraq; but rather to create and reinforce the impression that the United States is bogged down in an increasingly costly and unwinnable war. The objective is nothing less than to break the American fighting spirit, and force an ignominious withdrawal from the Middle East. Their models are the American experience in Vietnam and the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan.
In this goal, our enemies have found unlikely allies in the West amongst those who believe, for political or ideological reasons, that they stand to benefit from seeing the United States humbled and defeated. . .
From Baghdad Burning:
. . . And now Muqtada Al-Sadr’s people are also fighting it out in parts of Baghdad and the south. If the situation weren’t so frightening, it would almost be amusing to see Al-Hakeem and Bahr Ul Iloom describe Al-Sadr as an ‘extremist’ and a ‘threat’. Muqtada Al-Sadr is no better and no worse than several extremists we have sitting on the Governing Council. He’s just as willing to ingratiate himself to Bremer as Al-Hakeem and Bahr Ul Iloom. The only difference is that he wasn’t given the opportunity, so now he’s a revolutionary. Apparently, someone didn’t give Bremer the memo about how when you pander to one extremist, you have to pander to them all. Hearing Abdul Aziz Al-Hakeem and Bahr Ul Iloom claim that Al-Sadr is a threat to security and stability brings about visions of the teapot and the kettle
Then Bremer makes an appearance on tv and says that armed militias will *not* be a part of the New Iraq where has that declaration been the last 12 months while Badir’s Brigade has been wreaking havoc all over the country? Why not just solve the problem of Al-Sadr’s armed militia by having them join the police force and army, like the Bayshmarga and Badir’s Brigade?! Al-Sadr’s militia is old news. No one was bothering them while they were terrorizing civilians in the south. They wore badges, carried Klashnikovs and roamed the streets freely now that they’ve become a threat to the ‘Coalition’, they suddenly become ‘terrorists’ and ‘agitators’.
Now theres an arrest warrant with his name on it, although the Minister of Justice was on tv claiming he knew nothing about the arrest warrant, etc. He basically said that he was washing his hands of any move against Muqtada Al-Sadr. Dont get me wrong- Id love to see Muqtada behind bars, but it will only cause more chaos and rage. Its much too late for that… he has been cultivating support for too long. Its like a contest now between the prominent Shia clerics. The people are dissatisfied- especially in the south. The clerics who werent given due consideration and a position on the Governing Council, are now looking for influence and support through the people. You can either be a good little cleric and get along with Bremer (but have a lot of dissatisfied people *not* supporting you) or you can be a firebrand cleric and rally the masses…