Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Where's the context?

Militants assassinated two key leaders of American-backed neighborhood militias in northern Baghdad over the past two days, highlighting the militants' strategy of eliminating militia commanders who have embraced partnerships with American forces but who themselves remain vulnerable to attack.

The above is from Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Mudhafer al-Husaini's "Suicide Bomber Kills Key Sunni Leader" in this morning's New York Times and if you're thinking, "Hold on, there's a third," they get to that much later in the story. (See yesterday's snapshot.) Then they try some fancy footwork (they are no Fred and Ginger) and start trying to tie it into things outside of Iraq -- while admitting "no concrete evidence" -- which requires that they also confess how little they've paid attention to this topic because the targeting has been going on for months now and the paper really hasn't been interested in it.

Alissa J. Rubin did cover the targeting of officials. There is the targeting of officials, the targeting of educators -- which has been going on even longer, the targeting of the US collaborators which really became obvious with a Baghdad hotel bombing -- but don't say that too loudly, you'd shock Oppel and al-Husaini -- and the targeting of women. The latter has been ongoing since the start of the illegal war and has been the least reported by the mainstream media.

Since that bombing doesn't fit today's narrative, it gets dropped out. From the AP:

A stealthy suicide bomber slipped into a busy Baghdad hotel Monday and blew himself up in the midst of a gathering of U.S.-allied tribal sheiks, killing at least four, police said, in a blow to efforts to forge a front against the extremists of al-Qaida in Iraq.
The noontime explosion, devastating the ground-floor lobby of the high-rise Mansour Hotel, also killed at least nine other people and wounded 27, police said. Iraq's prime minister quickly vowed renewed support to Anbar province's tribal leaders.
"We are sure that this crime will not weaken the will of Anbar sheiks," Nouri al-Maliki said in a statement.

From the June 25th "Iraq snapshot:"

This includes the incident getting the most attention today, the bombing of the al-Mansour Melia hotel in Baghdad -- which housed many journalists as well as the Chinese embassy. ITV reports that "Sunni Arab tribal leaders from western Anbar province had gathered there for a meeting." Ammar Karim (The Australian and AFP) reports the meeting was confirmed and that a bomber entered "the crowded lobby," detonated the bomb, killing himself and many others. AFP describes "charred bodies of the victims and many of the wounded were lying near the reception desk in the rubble-strewn lobby, and that the ceiling had collapsed, leaving clusters of white tiles hanging from wires. The blast damaged the stairway, the elevators, and the ceiling of the first floor of the hotel, which lies on the west bank of the Tigris river and houses diplomats and some foreign media organisations. Patches of blood stained the marble floor and scraps of human flesh were left stuck to the concrete pillars."Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports that "sheiks and political figures, Sunni Arab Muslims as well as Shiite Muslims, were gathered in the lobby of the Mansour Melia hotel drinking tea and chatting when the explosion gutted a large section of the lobby and shattered windows on the high-rise's first and second levels, hotel workers said." Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) explains that, despite "tight security," the bomber apparently walked into the hotel from the street without raising any suspicion among the "armed guards" or at the car checkpoints -- both of which were on alert as the hotel was "sealed off" . . . after the bombing. CNN notes that among the at least a dozen people dead is Rahim al-Maliki who was an anchor "with Iraqiya state television". AP notes that al-Maliki (no relation to the puppet) was also a poet. CBS and AP raise the dozen dead to 13 (and remember that toll may rise as some who are wounded do not pull through and as some corpses may still be undiscovered) and note that CBS News' Lara Logan was at the hotel during the blast and reports "that al-Guooud was meeting in the lobby with other members of the Anbar Salvation Council when the blast occured". Fassal al-Guood had been the "former Anbar governor" and is among the dead. Ned Parker notes that Sheik Abdul-Aziz Fahdawi, Sheik Tariq Saleh Dulaimi and Aziz al-Yasiri were among the dead. [Video] CBS News spoke with al-Yasiri last week when he shared his belief that the puppet, Nouri al-Maliki, had established "multi-party dictatorship."

It's always interesting what is rememberd and what gets forgotten. The attacks were ongoing before that hotel bombing but that bombing was when the press finally gave it serious attention. Seven months later and it's forgotten, stripped from the narrative.

Britain last month signed over responsibility for security in Basra, the last of the four provinces under British control to be handed over to Iraqis. The U.S. military has begun pulling out the five extra combat brigades it deployed in Iraq last year, which will bring the American troop level to about 134,000 by the middle of the year, down from more than 160,000.
Yet relying on Iraqi security forces has proved risky. In February, when Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. handed off command of U.S. troops in Iraq to Gen. David H. Petraeus, he predicted that Iraqi forces would be in charge of security nationwide by fall.Casey's time in Iraq was marked by a push to bring down the U.S. troop level and speed the transfer of responsibilities to the Iraqi government. But insurgents took advantage of the less experienced Iraqi forces to ramp up violence, which led President Bush to deploy the additional brigades.

The Times lacks context today. Yesterday it was even worse. See the next entry.
The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.