IRAQ ESCALATION

WaPo/AP report what seems to be a rather significant escalation in guerilla activity in Iraq:

Car bombers struck the international Red Cross headquarters and four police stations across Baghdad on Monday, killing about 40 people in a spree of destruction that terrorized the Iraqi capital on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to police and Red Cross reports.

The Red Cross said 12 were killed there, and police said 27 were killed in the police station bombings, most of them Iraqis. The U.S. military confirmed that among the dead was one American soldier killed at a Baghdad police station.

The bombings came hours after clashes in the Baghdad area killed three U.S. soldiers overnight, and a day after insurgents devastated a hotel full of U.S. occupation officials with a rocket barrage, killing a U.S. colonel and wounding 18 other people. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was in the hotel, but was unhurt.

It was two days of violence unprecedented in this city of 5 million people since the end of the U.S.-Iraq war last April, attacks aimed at the American-led occupation and those perceived as working with it.

It’ll be interesting to see whether all these attacks are coordinated or if their temporal proximity is mere coincidence. I’d also like to know more about the security level at the Red Cross headquarters. Often, relief agencies are reluctant to associate themselves too closely with military forces, for rather obvious reasons. But they do make a soft target if they’re not being protected.

What truly surprises me is the attack on Wolfowitz’ hotel. Since his presence in Baghdad was common knowledge and his staying in that particular hotel was apparently quite predictable, one would think that a rather wide security perimeter would have been in place. I can understand a rocket being fired even under that circumstance, but one would think return fire would have been immediate.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. JC says:

    Oh yes, the plan is working perfectly.

  2. Kel Vick says:

    I was intrigued to notice that there were ten traffic deaths in Alabama over this weekend. Tragic, but if the press is only going to focus on the death toll it is still more dangerous to be an American in Alabama than an American in Iraq.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Kel,

    Well, Alabama has 4.3 million residents. . . .

  4. JC says:

    Yea, and no suicide bombers.

    Hey Kel. How many people die in traffic accidents? As that number far outstrips the ~3,000 killed on 9/11, by your logic we should be really getting over it. Right?

    I just love you guys. It’s like a Dali painting.

  5. Oh, come on James, if there’d been return fire we’d be endangering innocent Iraqi civilians. You know better than that…

  6. James Joyner says:

    Chris,

    I haven’t read the Rules of Engagement on this one, but generally speaking you’re allowed to shoot back when they’re shooting missiles at you.

  7. Dave says:

    From what I saw on the news last night, it was a disguised launcher on a timer; those responsible had already fled the scene long ago.

  8. “Allowed” under the rules of engagement isn’t quite the same thing as “allowed” by the CNN crews patrolling Baghdad with their former Iraqi minders in tow.

  9. James Joyner says:

    Chris,

    Certainly true. Still, aside from allowing the aggressor to run out of missiles, I’m not sure what the alternative is?

  10. There is no alternative; damned if we do, damned if we don’t. I was just being a bit flip…

  11. PoliBlog says:

    Coordination of Attacks in Iraq
    The CSM at least partially answers James’ question from this morning:Investigations are just beginning, but the incidents fit a pattern of increasingly organized attacks that hit soft targets to demoralize foreigners and locals working with the coaliti…