Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Surge's Lull May Be Over

It's still early days, but there are signs that the body count in Baghdad may be rising again. Reuters reports:

Twenty unidentified bodies were found in Baghdad on Monday, Iraqi police said on Tuesday, a spike in the daily death toll after a marked reduction since the start of a major security crackdown.

Most such bodies are victims of sectarian death squads and many are found tortured, bound and shot dead. The figure from the morgue does not include victims of bomb attacks or others who are taken to hospitals and identified there.

The U.S.-led offensive against militants had sharply reduced the number of death squad killings in Baghdad since the operation formally began a week ago.Before the crackdown, police had been finding 40 to 50 bodies a day. On Sunday, they found just three bodies and in previous days around five each day.

U.S. generals, mindful of the failure of similar crackdowns last year, have warned that militants are likely to adapt their tactics and perhaps lie low initially.
In other breaking news today, a tanker explosion near Taji, about 12 miles northwest of Baghdad, led to the hospitalization of more than 100 people including dozens of children. At least one Iraqi died in the blast but the cause is as yet unkown.

This on top of yesterday's attack on a US compound that left two soldiers dead and at least 17 injured, other attacks that killed 99 Iraqis and injured 157, and questions about the dedication of Iraqi army personnel.

On Saturday, one reporter nearly got an up-close and personal answer on how bad the violence is in Samarra. When he got out of his US Army vehicle to talk to some locals about it, machinegun and sniper fire exploded around him.

I've the feeling that the much-vaunted surge will turn out very quickly to be just another variation on whack-a-mole.


Related stuff worth reading:
  • Stirling Newberry has a post up at The Agonist explaining why, in his view, Iraq will not be a new Vietnam but instead an American version of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

  • The Guardian has an extract from Rajiv Chandrasekaran's new book " Imperial Life in the Emerald City" about his experiences in Baghdad's Green Zone during the period of CPA management. "While Iraqis struggled in the chaos of Baghdad after the invasion, the Americans sent to rebuild the nation led a cocooned existence in the centre of the capital - complete with booze, hot dogs and luxury villas." This account of the lavish bubble the CPA surrounded itself with, complete with bars, chinese takeaways, 100% imported food and a faux-bazaar where "you could get a picture of yourself in Arab robes and a headdress" is at once compelling and horrific in the "Twilight Zone" sense.

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