Monday, September 11, 2006

NYT's on divisions in Iraq (Oppel & al-Saiedi), Wash Post on bleak assessment (Thomas E. Ricks)

An agreement struck 11 months ago by Shiite and Kurdish leaders to win Sunni Arab support for a new constitution is fraying, causing concern among some political leaders that it could jeopardize Iraq's fragile governing coalition.
The dispute peaked Sunday as a large Shiite faction continued to fight for quick approval of legislation giving provinces the authority to create autonomous states, which some powerful Shiites are seeking for southern Iraq. Sunni lawmakers and others who oppose the proposal refused to attend Parliament on Sunday, and warned that the plan could severely undermine the country's unity government.
Shiite lawmakers said earlier on Sunday that they had reached an agreement with Sunnis and other political coalitions to delay the debate on the proposal until Sept. 19. But hours later legislators said that agreement had fallen apart, and it remained unclear whether Shiites would adhere to the delay.

The above is from Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Abdul Razzaq al-Saiedi's "Proposal for Autonomous States in Iraq Creates Tension" in this morning's New York Times. Eleven months later and? Maybe it's time to dye fingers again for another photo-op that can be praised as 'freedom'? As we noted last night, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki has delayed his trip to Iran. Probably not a good idea to be traveling here and there when your own country is falling apart.
(But good to do when your vanity has led to embarrassment -- see Tony Blair.)

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has an assessment that's not covered in the Times. (Would it be? Read Ruth's Report). Paige, Martha and Lyle were the first to note it. This is from Thomas E. Ricks' "Situation Called Dire in West Iraq: Anbar Is Lost Politically, Marine Analyst Says:"

The chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq recently filed an unusual secret report concluding that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents.
The officials described Col. Pete Devlin's classified assessment of the dire state of Anbar as the first time that a senior U.S. military officer has filed so negative a report from Iraq.

One Army officer summarized it as arguing that in Anbar province, "We haven't been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically -- and that's where wars are won and lost."
The "very pessimistic" statement, as one Marine officer called it, was dated Aug. 16 and sent to Washington shortly after that, and has been discussed across the Pentagon and elsewhere in national security circles. "I don't know if it is a shock wave, but it's made people uncomfortable," said a Defense Department official who has read the report. Like others interviewed about the report, he spoke on the condition that he not be identified by name because of the document's sensitivity.

Last Wednesday, on KPFA's Flashpoints, Dahr Jamail spoke to Nora Barrows Friedman about the al-Anbar province:

"Overall the situation in Iraq is worse than ever . . . but particularly in al-Anbar province the US military really doesn't have much control of anything there, outside of the areas around their immediate, or inside, I should say, their immediate bases. . . . It's important the people remember that Ramadi is the capital of al-Anbar province. So what the US has done there to try to get control of that city is there's an area right in the middle where the government offices are centrally located in Ramadi and the US has been unable to keep people, resistance fighters, from attacking the government offices. So, as a result, what they're doing is literally demolishing, making a no-man's-land between, all of the buildings, between the government offices in the middle of the city and then the rest of the city. So they're literally leveling at least eight city blocks, an area of at least eight city blocks, around those government offices to try to prevent them from being attacked so regularly. Of course what this is doing is infurating people of Ramadi who are saying, 'Look, you've already destroyed so much of our city, you've already launched massive operations in here . . .' Recently snipers, US snipers have killed at least four people there, mostly women and children. Just one travesty after another has been occurring inside Ramadi. The people are angry and now this takes it to a whole nother level where the people are outraged, they don't really know what to expect next. And, of course, the end result of these brutal, heavy-handed military tactics, just like we saw in Falluja, it doesn't actually stop the resistance. It maybe pauses it for a few days, or a few weeks. But then in the end it generates more people. It really causes more people to join the resistance or become sympathetic towards them if they're not already."

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