Thursday, February 23, 2006

Iraq miscellany


Shiite Muslim women and children rally condemning the previous day's attack on Shiite shrine in Samarra, in Baghdad, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

As Iraqis protest, seethe and hunker down hoping to ride out the storm in the aftermath of the mosque bombing, several recent developments in that unhappy region are in danger of passing unmarked.

Did you know that that U.S. forces have been bombing Baghdad? Neither did I. But reporter Christopher Allbritton, recently returned to Iraq, reports that last week, they did. He's more than a little surprised:

I’m not sure, but I don’t recall air strikes in or near Iraq’s capital city for a long time. In fact, I can’t remember any since I got here in May 2004, although these things tend to blend together after a while. But if the war’s going so well, and the Iraqis are taking the fight to the terrorists, blah blah, why are the Americans resorting to air strikes here? That’s, like, so 2003.

We've been hearing plans for U.S. forces to get off the streets and into their secure (permanent?) bases for awhile. Guess this is what a U.S. pullback looks like -- just bomb those hajis.

Did you know "the West" is drifting toward negotiations with "terrorists"? Salem Adil at Asterism reproduces a British Foreign Office letter urging such talks because "engaging with movements such as the [Egyptian] Muslim Brotherhood will help increase our understanding of 'political Islam' generally, as well as in the specific Egyptian context" and "we should be trying to influence these groups." It goes on to suggest the Foreign Office should try to get the U.S. and the rest of Europe to join such conversations.

Adil observes:

Here is Britain telling the Americans to face up to some reality. What we see here is the start of the pathetic end to the 'War on Terror'. As any politician will tell you, the first step to peace is negotiation with the enemy. What could have happened to cause this change of heart? Well, simply put, Iran happened.

Bush's whole policy towards the Arabs has been to villainise Sunni Islam because of their opposition to direct American occupation of Arabia and, gee, because America needs an enemy in this world. So America turned a blind eye to Israel's humiliation of the Palestinians, ousted the Taliban in Afghanistan and forced the Sunnis out of power in Iraq by disbanding the army and 'de-Baathification'. America has also fought a three-year bloody war with politicised Sunnis in Iraq.

Now, the West is slowly waking up to the realisation after all these years that the Sunnis were their best allies. They were keeping a lid on popular independence movements, diverting Arab attention away from Israel and, most important, they were the real barrier against Iranian influence.

Iran is now emerging as the single biggest threat to Western domination of the region and America is powerless to stop it.

Well, maybe. And maybe we're just reading a particular Sunni Iraqi point of view here. But fixed realities are shifting in and around Iraq -- and then some force decided to blow the situation sky high.

The same blogger provides a round up of Iraqi blog opinion about the mosque bombing at Global Voices. The one point of agreement seems to be that no indigenous Iraqi placed those explosives: it must have been one of the foreigners swarming around, whether U.S. operatives, Al Qaeda jihadis, or even Iranians.

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