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.

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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.


  1. SFC Ski says:

    THis may be wishful thinking, but it could be that the insurgents are starting to step up attacks as an act of desparation; knowing that the noose is tightening , they choose to act now with less effectiveness, knowing that there is no ‘later’ in which to coordinate a larger planned attack.

  2. DC Loser says:

    I’m not seeing much sign of desperation in the organized attacks against the Iraqi Police and the asssassinations of senior Iraqi military and security personnel, which was discussed last night on ABC News by Martha Radditz. Their goal is to decimate the Iraqi security forces and render them totally ineffective, and then the US would have no choice but to assume all security duties, therefore playing into the insurgents’ claims this is an occupation.

  3. McGehee says:

    Even assuming the ABC discussion was accurate (and it being ABC, well…), desperation doesn’t necessarily express itself in disorganization. It can also express itself in the injudicious commitment of resources to an effort that, viewed objectively, cannot succeed.

    And that is what the insurgents are doing.

  4. Todd says:

    Remember Tet? That broke the Viet Cong as a fighting force. After that, the war was run by North Vietnamese Regulars. (and Walter Cronkite)

    The terrorists in Iraq don’t have a regular army backup. (and Cronkite is too old)

  5. Anjin-San says:

    How many times has the administration told us we have turned the corner in Iraq so far? And around every corner, why there are more corners. The insurgency seems to be self-sustaining, and the administraion does not seem to get that.

  6. Bithead says:

    Look,I think you guys are missing one basic point;
    Ever see a cornered racoon? They fight like the world was ending.

    I suggest the same thing is true here.
    A certain level of desperation has ented their style of fighting. So, really, the level of fighting going up is completely in line with having broken their back.

  7. Attila Girl says:

    I’d love to think that the insurgency is starting its death throes. I’m not positive that this is the case, but I think it will be within a year or two.

  8. DC Loser says:

    It’s desperation if the attacks increase, even if they’re quite organized and effective against the Iraqi security apparatus. I suppose if the attacks were decreasing it’d be held up as an example of success too.

  9. ken says:

    Let’s just declare it a victory and get out. After all we’ve broken the back of the insurgency.

  10. Rick DeMent says:

    This is a good trick, insurgency increasing means that that sucess is just around the corner, insurgency decreasing means that that sucess is just around the corner.

    What, pray tell, would be a sign that things are not working?