22 June 2008

Iraq News (21 June)

The Good: Did you know that Baghdad was one of the most multicultural, cosmopolitan cities in the world until those thugs on horseback, The Mongols, destroyed it in the 13th century? You didn't! Well, now Iraqis are becoming more free to embrace their liberal outlook on the world as reported by Newsweek with liquor stores, barbers free to operate without intimidation from the militia, and a guy who likes Snoop Dogg. A "sticky" IED factory (bombs that gets attached to unsuspecting civilian cars) has been seized in Maysan. Stars and Stripes talks about the COIN efforts having huge dividends in small Iraqi villages. Oil production in Iraq has stabilized at 2.5M barrels a day, which is a post-invasion record. The Iraqi Oil Ministry wants exports to go all the way to 4M barrels a day. U.S. forces have detained 25 suspected Al-Qaeda in Iraq members during weekend operations throughout the country. Live Leak has footage of a JDAM drop on a Mahdi Army hideout in Sadr City (go to ~1:30 for the boom).

The Bad: One of our troops has been killed by an IED in Diyala province. The article also has information on anti-U.S. protests after Friday prayers because of the Status of Forces Agreement, which is still in discussion. Dr. Rubaie says the Iraqi government knows the location of the 5 kidnapped British hostages, who were abducted at the Ministry of Finance in May 2007. Hmm... I dunno, this dude is a bit of a shady character. Is it right to lead these people's families on? Also, I thought those kidnapped were in Iran. A Sadrist lawmaker has criticized Iraqi operations in Maysan province against militia elements (this comes as no surprise).

The Ugly: Iraq's reservoirs and the Tigris and Euphrates are at record-low levels according to Azzaman. This is definitely poor for agriculture, and considering Mosul Dam provides a good chunk of the electricity in Iraq (which is already in terrible shape), that's going to make things worse as temperatures climb to 120F for the inferno-like Iraqi summer. NY Times has a montage of photos after recent operations in Basra, Sadr City, and Mosul, which highlights security improvements, but still shows overwhelming poverty. Whistleblower from KBR talks about how the mega-contractor ignored cancer-causing chemicals at a water treatment plant in Basra.

Baghdad Liquor Sto' (photo from Newsweek)