Monday, October 09, 2006

On this and that...

This blog was not updated since Thursday and I personally did not write anything since last Monday and this really sucks.

I start to get this weird itchy feeling when I don’t write for some time, so here I am now in my pajamas trying to write mostly for the sake of writing, so unless you are as bored as I am and have 5 minutes to waste I do not recommend you go on and read more of this post. I'm sure you can find something more interesting than this.
Call it the week in review, call it a rambling…to me it's just my fix of blogging.

There were no big news from Iraq in the past few days…well, maybe there were some but they aren't considered big news for us anymore. You know, when today's headlines are almost the same as yesterday's and those of the day before you begin to lose interest in them and you just read them apathetically to stay in the loop.

Anyway, let’s take a look at some of the recent bigger stories. First there were the clashes in Diwaniya which can be seen as relatively good news since the operations led to the arrest of a vicious criminal who ordered the slaughter of a dozen Iraqi soldiers who ran out of ammunition during previous clashes back in August.
The funny thing is that Sadrists say it was not them who clashed with the raiding force and insist it was the residents of Diwaniya who did! Yeah sure, civilian residents organized 10 RPG teams out of the blue to attack that Abrams tank and defend the militia lieutenant! Ironically even the rival Badr leader Hadi al-Amiri insists it wasn't the Mehdi militia.

The IA and US army say it was Sadr's militia, the international media says so too and people in Iraq and especially in Diwanaiya know that too…Do they want us to buy their claims that such organized and heavily armed groups can find a place and act independently against the government and the MNF in provinces where the Sadrists and other politico-religious factions virtually control everything?
So who are they trying to fool? I have no idea!

Before that were the news about the national police brigade that was dismantled or sent for retraining after ties were discovered between the brigade's ranks and death squad activities. Some think this was a good first step but many still think many more similar decisions (and more radical ones) are needed because the defect seems to be systematic.

Today the brother of vice president Tariq al-Hashimi was assassinated (al-Hashimi lost another brother and a sister earlier this year in similar attacks) and I saw news reports indicating that gunmen in uniforms came in 10 official-looking vehicles and assassinated the man in a neighborhood that is supposed to be the jurisdictions of the IA, not the national police.
This raises concerns about the efficiency of the IA in this part of the capital which was the scene of heavy clashes last week, and of course suggests other national police units are likely still carrying out illegal operations.

Then there's the talk about the Iraq study group's possible recommendation to turn Iraq into three autonomous regions.

We talked about this some time ago and said that this would be very unlikely because supporters of federalism make up hardly a half of Iraq's parliament, so they have a rather poor chance at passing a legislation that gives too much power to the regional authorities at the expense of the central government.
I think also tough Sunni opposition for putting federalism into action and the strong rivalries among Shia parties, who are divided over this issue, will slow down if not kill the project.
However, a change in the political map in Iraq can change the equation in a way that allows federalism to be implemented, but that change would have to be dramatic, i.e. federalism in the form of three highly autonomous regions can only see the light under a parliament other than the one we have now.

This leads me to the other ambiguous headline I read yesterday about the American administration setting a deadline for Maliki's government to fix up things in Iraq, particularly in Baghdad.
I must say that I feel there IS some kind of deadline because this is not the first time we hear of this sort of things.
If I'm not mistaken, a few weeks back in September Lee Hamilton from the Iraqi study group did say that Maliki's government has got three months to improve security and restore basic services in Baghdad and now, almost a month after that, ambassador Khalilzad says that the time is down to two months, and this makes me think the clock is already ticking.

But it remains very difficult at this point to predict what the administration in D.C had planned for when the deadline is due; is it just a warning shot for Maliki to motivate him to work harder and make the tough decisions the US wants him to make regarding issues like disbanding militias?
Or if there are plans for "critical action" as Khalilzad said, what kind of action would that be, military or political, or both? And how "critical" would that action be?
We can only speculate at this point, some people here suspect America will start to disengage from Iraq if things remain as bad as they are by the end of the year while others believe the exact opposite is going to happen and think America will push forward with even more power and launch a wide and relentless military campaign that might even target political factions that are part of the current government.

Meanwhile and far away from Baghdad, our old friend from the axis of evil tested his first nuke.
I read on the news that the power of the explosion was little more than half a kiloton which sounds like a very small device compared to the multi-megaton devices owned by the US or Russia but I'm very interested to know the dimensions and mass of the device and I hope experts and intelligence can reveal some information about that because the smaller the device the easier it becomes to transport and deploy it.
I can't believe the world leaders let this happen! Now the world is under the mercy of a crazy man and his oppressive communist regime who wanted the bomb so badly that they let their people starve in this crazy pursuit for power.

What's going to be next? Will the world move to disarm North Korea? Will there be measures to stop it from sharing the bomb with terrorists?
I don't even want to think of it because looking at how our world works today I can see headlines coming two or three years from now telling us that Iran tested a bomb…well I think we'll be lucky if we got to read the news instead of being part of it.

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