Violence Breaks Out All Over Baghdad
Violence Breaks Out All Over Baghdad (NYT-AP)
Baghdad exploded in violence Saturday, as insurgents attacked a U.S. patrol and a police station, assassinated four government employees and detonated several bombs. One American soldier was killed and nine were wounded during clashes that also left three Iraqi troops and a police officer dead. Some of the heaviest violence came in Azamiyah, a largely Sunni Arab district of Baghdad where a day earlier U.S. troops raided the capital’s main Sunni mosque. Shops were in flames, and a U.S. Humvee burned, with the body of what appeared to be its driver inside. U.S. forces and insurgents also battled in the Sunni Triangle city of Ramadi, where clashes have been seen almost daily. Nine Iraqis were killed and five wounded in Saturday’s fighting, hospital officials said. In northern Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi forces uncovered four decapitated bodies as they continued a campaign to crush militants who rose up last week. American and Iraqi forces detained 30 suspected guerrillas overnight in Mosul, the U.S. military said Saturday.
Quite messy indeed and, as Matt Yglesias observes, renders rather silly the assertions earlier in the week that the back of the insurgency was broken by the Fallujah campaign. That doesn’t, of course, mean that taking Fallujah back was in vain. Clearly, allowing the insurgents and terrorists to have a comfortable base of operations ensured that stability and a handoff to a democratically elected government could never happen.
David Adesnik, who’s currently writing a dissertation on counterinsurgency, notes that the history of such operations is, to say the least, bleak. Of course, this effort is rather dissimilar to most of those he lists, since the U.S. is not attempting to maintain colonial rule over the indigenous population but rather to establish democracy and allow the Iraqi majority to govern itself.
Meanwhile, there is a bit of good news in the AP report:
Meanwhile, Germany and the United States reached a deal for forgiving 80 percent of Iraq’s foreign debt, capping a months-long U.S. push to lift the country’s debt burden as a boost to its economy as it seeks to rebuild and establish a democractic government. The deal will be discussed by the Paris Club of creditor nations, which is owed about $42 billion by Iraq. “Our expectation is that it will be accepted,” said Joerg Mueller, a spokesman for the German finance minister. The United States has been pushing for a generous write-off, as much as 95 percent of Iraq’s debt. However, other governments, including Germany, have questioned whether a country rich in oil should benefit from huge debt reduction.
This won’t have any short term impact on defeating the rebels but will help in the longer term if elections are successfully held and Iraq becomes truly sovereign. Requiring the Iraqi people to pay back money borrowed by a tryrant from those uncaring about their fate would seriously undermine their efforts to recover.