(Updated) Iraq: It’s All Perfectly Clear Now
Now that the fog around the battle for Basra and upturn in violence elsewhere in Iraq is lifting a bit, we can conclude that:
* The Pentagon’s spin that the bloodshed is a consequence of the “success” of the Surge would seem to be silly on its face, but it isn’t.
* This is because the violence is the result of a carefully planned Al-Maliki government offensive to destroy the prime minister’s Shiite opponents in the advance of provincial elections in October.
This is especially important in Basra, the major city in oil-rich southeastern Iraq where government-militia clashes (photo) are in their third day, because it has been controlled by loyalists of radical anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr since the British cut and run.
Since Tuesday, clashes in Basra and throughout Iraq’s Shiite heartland have left more than 100 dead and many wounded in Basra, Baghdad, Hilla, Kut, Karbala and Diwaniya.
This state of affairs yet again puts the Bush administration in the position of backing the wrong horse, as Eric Martin puts it, but I don’t think there are any “right” horses because political fault lines, even within sectarian interest groups, run so deep.
And while the militiamen are lightly armed, they are highly motivated. There would be no amount of Pentagon spin to explain away an end to Al-Sadr’s seven-month-old ceasefire against U.S. troops since the Surge was supposed to give Al-Maliki the breathing room to bring warring parties together, not an opportunity to crush his opponents with U.S. troops and air support.
Then there is a biggest reason why there will be a major American presence in Iraq indefinitely: Oil.
Saboteurs blew up one of Iraq’s two main oil pipelines near Basra today, severely reducing exports and pushing the price of crude up by more than a dollar a barrel.
In another by-product of the success of the Surge, the Iraqi government spokesman for the Baghdad security plan has been kidnapped and his three bodyguards killed.
There are an especially pernicious pair of bloggers who delight at bashing The Moderate Voice who shall remain nameless.
One of them accused me of “joyfully claiming vindiction” in my post yesterday on the upsurge in violence.
This is a libel on two counts:
First, there was nothing joyful in my noting I had predicted weeks ago that Iraq was a hiccup away from sliding back into cyclical violence because Al-Maliki has had no interest in using the military success of the Surge as intended.
Second, I am a Vietnam War veteran who bleeds for the men and women fighting their hearts out in this never ending war. Yes, it is possible to support the troops and not the war, something that this blogger is unable to comprehend because he is so determinedly small minded.
I invite skeptics to read my 18-installment series on the Triangle of Death abductions as well as many other deeply personal and joy-free posts on U.S. troops.