07 December 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly News of Iraq (7 Dec)

The Good: Secretary of Defense Gates swung by Iraq to get a sense of the security improvements and what still needed to get done to fix this chaotic country. He didn't have time to ask me how to fix the problem though, presumably because he was talking to more important people than some disheveled junior officer. Fortunately, he had time for a press conference where he talked about turning over security responsibilities to the Iraqis in 10 of the 18 provinces and cautiously suggested the Iraqi government get off their duffs and pass key legislation. Bodycounts aren't the only way to assess security progress, as the Iraqi Red Crescent put out a report that the number of internally displaced people has declined for the first time, ever.

The Bad: A Shiite militia aired a video showing the British hostages kidnapped at the Ministry of Finance in May. This harks back to the bad old days of Zarqawi getting obscene press time by showing Jihadi videos of Western hostages. The Dubai-based Al-Arabiya got a hold of the footage and they didn't release it to British officials. Maybe they're trying to be more like Al-Jazeera. A terrible situation all around and the Brits have kept hush-hush about it as is their policy in dealing with hostage negotiations. Another car bomb went off in the (relatively) safe neighborhood of Karradah, just across the Tigris river from my neck of the woods, but a million miles away. Sadly, that's the run of the mill in Baghdad, as you can see in this article here where Iraqis went shopping the next day.

The Ugly: Despite the fact that Iraq, the Kurdish region in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, EU, UK, and the US urged Turkey not to go across the border in northern Iraq to schwack the PKK, Turkey crossed the border. It's no secret that the Turks despise the PKK, but a massive incursion by the Turks could lead to destabilization of Iraq's big success story, Kurdistan. The Iraqis seem to be awkwardly quiet about it though. It's kind of like when the pit bull from next door comes into your yard to chase around a squirrel, it's best to just stay inside. Oh yeah and according to General Petraeus no one should be doing the "Victory Dance" just yet, since there's a long hard slog ahead in this country. I don't think anyone here was planning on it and he was probably addressing the rah-rah Bush crowd back stateside. Unfortunately, state-run Iranian TV picked it up, d'oh!

Turkey moves into northern Iraq to pummel the PKK