Good riddance to these Iraqi “insurgents, militants and extremists”

(8 am – promoted by ek hornbeck)

For those of you who aren’t following the “goings on” in Iraq, well, things have been pretty messed up.  The whole “go git al Sadr” thing didn’t work out too well, as over 1,000 of the Iraqi forces just gave up that fight.  The Green Zone is being pelted on a regular basis now, and each week brings more death and destruction than the prior one.

Even with this, one of the major unreported items is that there has been a tremendous increase in air strikes in Iraq over the years, and 2007 saw an increase in air strikes from four per week to around four per day.

Yet, we either hear nothing about this at all, and even less about the massive number of casualties that these attacks cause.  Hell, we barely hear about the IEDs or the suicide bombings that happen in all areas of Iraq on a nearly daily basis, and those kill our troops and Iraqi forces – so why would we hear about bombings that “only” kill Iraqis – let alone innocent Iraqis, including women, children, judges, policemen and the elderly.

A must-read post at TomDispatch hits on this very issue as well, further supporting the fact that nobody making any decisions has any clue whatsoever as to what is the end game in Iraq other than more of the same crap.

While we see headlines like Fighting in Baghdad as Sadr aide killed, if you look right below the surface, you will see:

Heavy gunfire erupted at around 11:00 p.m. (10 p.m. British time) in several parts of the slum, an east Baghdad stronghold of Sadr’s followers and home to 2 million people.

A Reuters correspondent said U.S. helicopters and jets were swooping overhead and several of the aircraft fired missiles. The number of casualties was not immediately known.

Does it really matter how many casualties there are in an area where 2 million people live?  Are all of these 2 million people insurgents or “Sadr aides”?   Enough to justify this:

At the same time International Medical Corps is responding to frequent emergencies in the country, most recently, to people in Baghdad’s Sadr City who have been caught in fierce fighting between local militias and U.S.-supported Iraqi troops.

Since last week, International Medical Corps staff has been assisting the most vulnerable families in Sadr City. IMC is distributing one month’s worth of food to poor families – including rice, cooking oil, sugar, beans, and flour – as well as potable water and essential medical supplies. With food supplies initially located within the midst of fierce fighting around Jamila Market and access restricted for all civilian vehicles, International Medical Corps staff improvised a network of wheelbarrows to transport the goods from the stores.

In anticipation of increasing scarcity of essential supplies, International Medical Corps has strategically pre-positioned 1,500 food packages and has two additional emergency medical supply distributions planned for hospitals in Sadr City.

But we killed a whole lot of insurgents, right?  Just like always….

Like This incident, reported recently in the LA Times:

Saad Mohammed was among those being buried Monday. A friend, Wisam Kadhim, said Mohammed was mortally wounded in a U.S. airstrike Sunday and had left behind a wife and two children.

“His family couldn’t make a funeral for him, so we, his friends, made a small funeral,” Kadhim said. Few people showed up, he said, because they feared being caught in crossfire.

But don’t worry about that, because:

A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Steven Stover, rejected Iraqi allegations that U.S. airstrikes and gunfire have killed mainly civilians.

“There might be some civilians that are getting caught, but for the most part, we’re killing the bad guys.

Or this incident from last month, where I can hear Bush smirking and saying, “well, let’s just say that justice was served”:

A U.S. airstrike killed five Iraqi civilians including a judge in the northern town of Tikrit on Wednesday, Iraqi police said.

—snip—

Iraqi police said five civilians were killed and 10 wounded in the air strike. The dead included Munaf Mehdi, a judge in the town.

I bet he was an activist judge.

And after a while, there’s just a blending of one:

a US military air strike on insurgent targets in a southern Iraqi city killed ten civilians

—snip—

A hospital source said the dead included six children under the age of 12. He put the number of wounded at 30.

Into another:

the attack killed three civilians, including a woman, and wounded six others, all from one family.

Into yet another (from today):

The US military has killed 15…Iraqis in air raids and attacks in eastern neighborhoods of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

The casualties included three policemen and three civilians that were killed in clashes in Sadr City.

—snip—

While the US claims that the attacks target militiamen holed up in Sadr City and other neighborhoods of Baghdad, witnesses told Press TV that US troops have been lunching heavy attacks on the densely populated slum city and “indiscriminately killing” civilians.

The numbers obscure the lives ruined and ended – and for what reason?  To kill “insurgents”?  What the hell should we care if they want us out of their own country (rhetorical question)?  What is the goal?  What happens if we stop al Sadr’s militia?  And what is it our place to be doing that anyway, especially considering BOTH Saddam and al Qaeda are Sunni, and al Sadr is Shiite?

If an airstrike ever hit somebody of real “high value”, you can bet it would be trumpeted by the war mongers and Keyboard Kommandos (hell, they do that anyway).  Yet, with a fivefold increase in the tonnage of ordinance dropped from 2006 through 2007, we only are “treated” to precision attacks like this one:

“In a raid in May 2007 on Sadr City, in eastern Baghdad,” the report notes, “American forces called in an air strike on nine cars that were seen positioning themselves to ambush the American and Iraqi troops on the raid . . . and five people suspected of being ‘terrorists’ . . . were killed in the attack. But an Interior Ministry official and residents of Sadr City said the cars were parked in a line of vehicles waiting at a gas station.”

Because, you know, once those cars fill up their gas tanks, the drivers can use them as a weapon of mass destruction, so we can’t take any chances.

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  1. from Patrick Cockburn on the surge, the recent U.S. air strikes, Maliki’s defeat by Sadr’s forces, and U.S. denial:

    Why did the Iraqi army fail? Training a new army has been at the centre of British and American policy for the last four years. At checkpoints in Baghdad these days, Iraqi soldiers now look better armed; they use modern communications equipment and wear bullet-proof vests. A few years ago Iraqi soldiers were driving around Baghdad in ageing white pick-up trucks that were previously used to carry cabbages and cauliflowers to market; now they have second-hand American Humvees. Well-paid by Iraqi standards, and backed up by US air power, the army was expected to give a better account of itself. Yet, in gun battles in towns and cities across southern Iraq, the army either failed to fight or was driven back by the militiamen. Four days into Maliki’s offensive, the Mehdi Army controlled three-quarters of Basra and half of Baghdad. To prevent a complete rout, American helicopters and attack aircraft started to take an increasing part in the fighting. The isolated British soldiers at Basra airport — 4,100 were stationed there — fired their artillery in support of beleaguered Iraqi army units. A curfew in Baghdad caused resentment because people had been taken by surprise by the outbreak and had not, as they usually do when they see a crisis coming, stocked up on food and supplies.

    As the Iraqi army began to fail the Americans moved quickly to prop it up. Air controllers to marshal air strikes were sent to Iraqi army units. A team of senior American advisers was sent to Basra. This may explain why Muqtada agreed to a ceasefire. The Mehdi Army had already shown it could fight off the Iraqi army and police, but the Americans might be a different matter. Even so, the short war between Muqtada and the government was revealing as to who really holds power in Iraq. A delegation of Shia leaders went to Iran. They talked to Muqtada in the holy city of Qom, and to General Qassem Sulaymani, the head of the Quds Brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who oversees Iranian involvement in Iraq. He has long been an American bête noir and last year US special forces tried to kidnap him during an official visit to the Kurdish president. Maliki seems to have been told of the agreement only after it was reached, but its terms were that the Mehdi Army would not give up its arms, the government offensive would stop and militia members would no longer be arrested without warrants. The Americans, who normally react furiously to any sign of Iranian interference in Iraq, said nothing about the fact that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were negotiating peace terms between the government and its enemies.

    The Americans said nothing because the abortive attack on Basra was, for them, a nightmare. The claim that the surge was the first step in restoring peace to Iraq was exposed as a myth. American military casualties might be down — but some two thousand Iraqis were killed in March. American politicians ran for cover. While I was in Baghdad in March, Senator John McCain visited, at the same time as Vice-President Dick Cheney. Both expressed confidence that security was improving. McCain happily told CNN that Muqtada’s ‘influence has been on the wane for a long time’. Three weeks later, McCain was denying he had ever said such a thing; what he had said, he insisted, was that ‘he was still a major player and his influence is going to have to be reduced and gradually eliminated.’ Given that Muqtada is the most powerful Shia leader, and that his militiamen had just shown they could defeat the Iraqi army, this would mean that McCain, if elected president, would fight a war with Iraq’s 17 million Shia.

    By this time, American generals and politicians were saying that they had known nothing about Maliki’s disastrous offensive until the last minute — conveniently forgetting that the Americans had been urging Iraqi prime ministers to attack the Mehdi Army since 2004. It was the failure of Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the previous Iraqi prime minister, to initiate such an attack that turned the Americans against him. Four years ago, Paul Bremer, the US viceroy in Iraq, was demanding that Iraqi ministers refer to the Mehdi Army as ‘Muqtada’s militia’. Bremer called him an Iraqi Hitler in the making and made a disastrous attempt to eliminate him in April 2004, an attempt that was similar in many ways to Maliki’s offensive on Basra last month. Bremer too grossly underestimated Muqtada: his supporters took over most of southern Iraq in a few days.

    The Iraqi government, ISCI, the Kurds and the Americans all felt threatened by Muqtada’s men. The Green Zone was coming under daily fire from Sadr City. ISCI in particular wants to defeat the Sadrists before the provincial elections in October, in which it is expected to do badly and the Sadrists well. The government dismissed soldiers who had refused to fight in the March campaign and is reported to have recruited 25,000 tribal levies. The Americans have long been hoping to repeat their triumph in Anbar province in 2007, when Sunni tribal leaders allied themselves with the US against al-Qaida in Iraq. Maliki’s advisers felt that if the Iranians had not interfered then the army might have given a better account of itself. But from the Sadrist point of view the humiliation of the government was almost too complete. The Sadrists admitted that they were becoming isolated. ‘A decision has been taken,’ Maliki said in early April. The Sadrists will ‘no longer have a right to participate in the political process, or take part in the upcoming election, unless they end the Mehdi Army’.

    The statement was hypocritical: the Kurdish peshmerga and ISCI’s Badr Organisation are both militias that have been effectively incorporated into the Iraqi army and police. But the Sadrists were in a difficult position. Shia solidarity was breaking down. Muqtada has always been good tactician. He called a million person demonstration for 9 April, the fifth anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein, to demand an end to the occupation. ‘He needs,’ an Iraqi observer said, ‘to show that his movement’s popularity is still as great as its military strength.’

  2. Meanwhile Gates wants more video game consoles near Vegas & more predators in the air over Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistani border or tribal territories.

    And he wants them now.

    Expect the “force multiplier” factor to multiply the number  of those who will never forget & who will swear revenge.

    Here`s another link to peruse, that I`ve been sending around.

    BTW;, I received an email from a friend the other day linking to another of your great essays. Thanks

    http://www.antiwar.com/engelha

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