Monday, September 19, 2005

JUAN COLE REPORTS, via an observer in Iraq, that security in Baghdad has almost completely broken down.

... Five neighborhoods (hay) in Baghdad are controlled by insurgents, and they are Amiraya, Ghazilya, Shurta, Yarmouk and Doura. It is very bad. My guys there report that cars have come into these neighborhoods and blocked off the streets. Masked gunmen with AKs and other weapons are roaming these areas, announcing that people should stay home. One of my drivers in Amiraya reports that his neighborhood is shut down totally, and even those who need food or provisions are warned not to go out.

The government will respond feebly. It will go into a contested neighborhood, and then just like Fallujah, Ramadi, Tel Afar, the insurgents will flee to take over another area on another day. Bit by bit they are taking over the main parts of Baghdad. The only place we are sure they cannot control is Sadr City, unless of course they want to take on Jaish Mahdy [Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army], and that would be bloody.
More and more of even the most patriotic intelligentsia are departing. The situation is dire, and those with escape valves are using them. [Some organizations are]sending more of [their] staff to Arbil and Sulamaniyah and out of Baghdad. Until about March this year, [some] thought that there was a chance of returning to Baghdad. It is remarkable how incapable this government is. Its only success is that it exists at all.

In the meantime, the embassy people act as if nothing in Baghdad is wrong (except that they cannot walk in the Green Zone without body armor and they have to take precautions against kidnapping). Recently, a group from State and the military parachuted in from Washington [with fatuous advice] . . . It is a fantasy world."

Yep. It's a fantasy world, all right; and I think that's how Bush wants it. Iraq has fallen into lawless, warring factions; Jaafari is completely helpless to do anything about it; and Pres. Bush doesn't care. Or, put more accurately, he is happy with the way things are. This is exactly what the Bush administration wants: a disunited, deeply divided Iraq, on the edge of civil war or even engulfed in civil war, and headed by a weak and compliant (to the U.S.) leader who can be trusted to follow instructions. From where he sits, Sunni/Shiite internecine warfare for control of Baghdad neighborhoods is a beautiful sight to see.

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