Friday, April 18, 2008

"A major debacle" (Landay and Wolcott, McClatchy)

The war in Iraq has become "a major debacle" and the outcome "is in doubt" despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon's premier military educational institute.
The report released by the National Defense University raises fresh doubts about President Bush's projections of a U.S. victory in Iraq just a week after Bush announced that he was suspending U.S. troop reductions.
The report carries considerable weight because it was written by Joseph Collins, a former senior Pentagon official, and was based in part on interviews with other former senior defense and intelligence officials who played roles in prewar preparations.

The above is from Jonathan S. Landay and John Walcott's "Pentagon institute calls Iraq war 'a major debacle' with outcome 'in doubt'" (McClatchy Newspapers). On the subject of McClatchy, Leila Fadel will be on Bill Moyers Journal discussing Sadr City. The program broadcasts tonight in most markets but check your local listings (and online, after it airs tonight, you will find complete text -- not excerpts, audio and streaming video as well as the show's blog that you can comment at). Sadr City, a neighborhood in Baghdad, is an interesting topic at any point (even in 'calm' news cycles); however, it is currently under assault. Slobodan Lekic (AP) reports this morning:

A company of government troops in Sadr City retreated when they came under attack from Shiite militiamen who used the cover of a sandstorm, police said Friday.
The clashes overnight killed two people and injured nine, a police commander said. The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to release the information, said it was unclear whether there were any casualties among the soldiers.
The reports of the latest setback for the Iraqi army come after government officials acknowledged that during fighting last month against Shiite militias in the southern city of Basra, more than 1,300 Iraqi soldiers and police deserted or refused to fight.

Reuters reports:

Iraqi troops cordoned off the Basra office of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's followers on Friday and prevented them holding prayers in a move that seems sure to inflame tensions.
The government and Sadr followers confirmed the operation, which comes nearly a month after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki launched a crackdown on Sadr's Mehdi Army militia in Basra, sparking violent clashes across the south and in Baghdad.
"We have orders from the prime minister to take back all the governmental buildings that are occupied by parties and political movements in Basra within 48 hours," Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul-Karim Khalaf, told Reuters.

And Michael Todd (eFluxMedia) reports that the US is now building "a massive concrete wall which will divide the capital’s Sadr City from the rest of the neighborhood."
So again, McClatchy's Leila Fadel will speak with Moyers about Sadr City on Bill Moyers Journal tonight.

On yesterday's violence, Lloyd notes Sholnn Freeman's "Bombing Kills 55 At Funeral in Iraq" (Washington Post):

A suicide bombing killed 55 people at a funeral service Thursday in a village 90 miles north of Baghdad, police said, the latest in a string of deadly attacks this week attributed to Sunni insurgents.
Witnesses said an assailant wearing traditional Arab robes detonated an explosives vest while mourners were gathering for lunch in the village of Albu Mohammed in Diyala province. Col. Jasim Khalaf al-Ubaidi, in the nearby town of al-Edhaim, said the funeral service was for two members of the local Sunni Awakening council, one of several groups of fighters who have joined with the U.S. military and Iraqi security forces to battle al-Qaeda in Iraq, a mainly homegrown Sunni insurgent organization.

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