Completing his sixth visit to Iraq as defense secretary, Mr. Gates met Wednesday and Thursday with commanders in Mosul and in Baghdad, as well as with senior Iraqi officials. He said he left Iraq "encouraged."
"I came away from all of it feeling very good about the direction of things in the security arena, about what is going on at the local and provincial level in terms of people reaching out to each other, crossing tribal, sectarian and provincial boundaries to work together," Mr. Gates said.
Well as long as he's happy. The above is from Thom Shanker's "Gates Leaves Iraq Encouraged" (New York Times) and Gates is, of course, Bobbo Gates, the US Secretary of Defense, seen most recently on the local Chamber of Commerce and campus lecture circuit and those he hyped are reading today's comments and thinking, "Even with that awful press, the one Bobbo warned us about, he still got to escape the 'negativity' he told us was the hallmark of the press. Bless Bobbo, bless him! He said if we stood together against that 'negative' media, the war would be won and he's doing his part!" Those who didn't attend one of Gates' by route speeches in the lead up to Big Photo Op will just be scratching their heads and wondering how a Defense Secretary can make such questionable claims?
His laughable claims hit porches and drive ways across America as Camilla Hall (Bloomberg News) reports on a bomber who blew herself and a number of others up today to the northeast of Baghdad. Number of others? The toll has been rising throughout the morning. Alaa Shahine (Reuters) places it currently at 16 civilians dead with twenty-seven more injured from the Muqdadiya bombing and offers:
Witnesses said a woman walked up to the building, in a street full of shops, and began asking questions. She detonated the vest she was wearing when people who were out shopping before Friday prayers began gathering around her.
"We saw several bodies. It is Friday and the area was crowded," witness Ammar Fadhel told Reuters.
But remember, Gates is "encouraged" and he feels "very good." And isn't that all that really matters? What some flunky for the White House says in public as opposed to the ugly realities of this illegal war?
The BBC lied to sell the myth of the 'great return' on Monday. They ran with the puppet government's figures and attempted to pass those figures off as the United Nation's total. They have still not corrected their lie (although their most recent article on the topic does note they use the Iraqi puppet government's figures -- and people should note that's all the BBC uses, only those 'numbers'). From the UNHCR:
Between August and end November, our staff in Syria have received reports from the Iraqi border authorities that 97,000 Iraqis had entered Syria from Iraq, while at the same a total of 128,000 left Syria to Iraq through the main Al Waleed border point. This includes all categories of Iraqis – including bus and taxi drivers and not only refugees who returned.
UNHCR does not have a 24-hours presence at the border and relies on various sources to estimate numbers.
According to the Iraqi Red Crescent Society an estimated 25,000-28,000 Iraqis have returned home between mid September and end November, with the majority -- some 20,000 -- returning to Baghdad. In addition, the Ministry of Displacement states that some 10,000 internally displaced Iraqi families have returned to their homes-- mainly in Baghdad. UNHCR staff have spoken to a wide range of refugees before they left Syria, and some said they were returning because they believed that the security had indeed improved, while others said they had run out of resources and feared the winter period when the cost of living jumps. Others are leaving because they have outstayed their visas. Some also wanted to arrive before the end of the year to enable their children to enroll in school. There is, however a real concern among the returnees about longer term security with many saying they are only returning to areas where they feel secure because of the local security arrangements in place.
It needs to be noted that some of those crossing the border were doing so for visa reasons. See Riverbend's October post explaining why that was taking place.
In news of other realities, Reuters also notes: "Gunmen killed four leaders of neighbourhood police units and wounded two others in a drive-by shooting on Thursday in the village of Rabia in Iraq's remote northwest near the Syrian border, police said."
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