Monday, October 29, 2007

Cold Hard Facts

By Carl

One recent trope of right wingers and Republicans recently is that we've seen a decline in the violence in Iraq, that things are getting better, that Sunni and Shi'ite are meeting and might be reaching agreements to cool things out.

It's possible that exhaustion has set in, and that Iraqis have had enough.

Possible. And
possibly not:

A suicide car bomb has exploded at a bus terminus in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 20. [...]

In Baghdad, gunmen abducted nine tribal leaders who recently formed a mixed Shia and Sunni group to fight al-Qaeda.

Or then there's this:

[A]t least 27 people died in a suicide bomb attack on a police headquarters in Baquba, north of Baghdad, according to police.

At least 20 people were hurt. Most victims were police recruits.

Correspondents say the attack bears the hallmarks of the al-Qaeda in Iraq militants, who often target recruits.

What most right wingers forget in their crowing about reductions in civilian deaths and civil violence is, Ramadan this year was about two weeks earlier than last year. Yes, it's true: Sunnis and Shi'ites have reached out across the table to try to get a handle on what to do with this mess, but as Joe Klein points out:

[T]here is a missing player in all this hugging and goat eating (ed. note: think of it as a barbecue). He is Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army militia and, quite possibly, the most popular Shi'ite political figure in the country. Al-Sadr is less accessible, a fuzzier figure than al-Hakim. The U.S. intelligence community has only a vague sense of how much control he has over his disparate movement, which includes everything from Iranian-trained guerrillas, referred to as "special groups," to ragtag teenage criminal street gangs who claim the Mahdi mantle. He has been spending a lot of time in Iran lately, where he is said to be receiving advanced religious training. The future of Iraq is likely to be decided by the struggle for power between the Hakim and Sadr families. That struggle could easily turn very lethal. Indeed, in recent days there have been battles between the Sadr and Hakim forces in Karbala and Basra.

So we have Sadr forces and Hakim forces tearing the Shi'ites apart, a renewed front opened up by Al Qaeda, and now Turkey is crossing over into Kurdish Iraq to rout out Kurdish rebels, triggering suicide bombings.

Much like the recent forest fires in Southern California, this civil war is not going to go away easily, and is not easily contained. Clearly, the surge has some small effect in pushing the violence out of the Baghdad region (particularly the Green Zone, but hey! Who cares if Iraqis end up dead, right? *snark*) and other places where the troops were deployed, but in truth, it may only have been a lull.

The real nitty gritty is yet to come.

(Cross-posted at
Simply Left Behind.)

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