20 May 2008

Iraq News (20 May)

The Good: The Iraqi Army has launched Operation Peace in Sadr City to take control of security and provide services to the residents of the militia-controlled district. Despite the operation's hokey name, it has not met any resistance and the Sadrists support the operation (so far so good). The Chaldean Church is opposing the execution of the thug that kidnapped and killed their Archbishop Rahho, since the church is against the death penalty. USA Today has the story of a courageous Shi'ite cleric, Sada al-Lami, promoting reconciliation in Baghdad by visiting Sunni mosques in the Adhamiya district. He continues to promote peace despite being kidnapped for a brief period and being threatened by militia goons. Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih has announced that the Iraqi economy is about to take off, and with the high price of oil, he's probably onto something. The Al-Qaeda emir of Mosul has been detained by Iraqi security forces as operations continue in northern Iraq. The head of the autonomous Kurdish region, President Barzani, pens a WSJ editorial about progress in Iraq. The Kurdish region is doing very well, and there is only a very small foreign military presence (that's probably why many haven't heard of it).

The Bad: An insurgent group has killed 11 Iraqi policemen near the Syrian border. The LA Times says the mostly Sunni "Sons of Iraq" are more like The Sopranos than freedom fighters. The awakening movement began in Anbar in 2006 as tribes who once despised the U.S. occupation became disillusioned and outraged with Al-Qaeda. The movement has spread to Baghdad, the rural areas south of Baghdad, and much of northern Iraq. The "Sons of Iraq" maintain security checkpoints and keep U.S. and Iraqi forces apprised of terrorist activity in the area, and they also get paid a few hundred bucks a month. They are attributed with much of the decline of violence in former insurgent strongholds. Also, a police chief was assassinated in Nasiriyah.

The Ugly: "We'll be over, we're coming over, and we won't be back till it's over over there" -WWI song "Over There". Pentagon announces 40,000 U.S. troops to head "over there" in the fall to both Iraq and Afghanistan to replace deployed forces. Iraq will remain at about 130,000 troops, while Afghanistan will have about 33,000. I wonder how many of them are on their third or fourth combat tours. There's a NY Times Op-Ed saying that America is playing russian roulette's with the troops lives.

KRG President Barzani asks Americans to give Iraq a chance