(Updated) New Baghdad Plan: A Recipe For Disaster?
In a move that took American commanders by surprise, the Iraqi government has ordered tens of thousands of Baghdad residents to leave homes and offices that they are occupying illegally because of the orgy of sectarian cleansing that has torn apart the capital city.
Lieutenant General Aboud Qanbar, who is leading the crackdown, also announced the closing of Iraqâ€™s borders with Iran and Syria, an extension of the curfew in Baghdad by an hour, and the establishment of new checkpoints.
Qanbar said the government would break into homes and cars it deemed dangerous, open mail and eavesdrop on phone calls.
No mention was made of the role American forces would play in the crackdown, but it obviously was timed to coincide with President Bushâ€™s â€œsurgeâ€? strategy. Indeed, thousands of American troops in armored Stryker vehicles swarmed through three mostly Shiite neighborhoods of northeastern Baghdad later in the day.
The New York Times reported that:
The operation met with little resistance, but considerable skepticism from some Iraqis, who worried that the American presence would soon melt away again, leaving ruthless violence in its place.
American officers expressed surprise about the Iraqi crackdown, while Samantha Power, a public policy professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, described it as either a public relations ploy or a prelude to more sectarian cleansing and catastrophe.
Power, who has written widely on genocide, said that:
To do this in the middle of a war when tempers have been inflamed and militarization is ubiquitous seems to be putting the cart before the horse. You havenâ€™t stopped the willingness to ethnically cleanse, but youâ€™re imposing the moral hazard of ethnic cleansing on the cleansee? Unless you create security first, you are paving the way for a potential massacre of returnees.
VIDEO OF KIDNAPPED SOLDIER RELEASED
Meanwhile, it appears that kidnapped U.S. Army Sergeant Ahmed K. Altaie is being held by a previously unknown Shiite group.
The uncle of the Iraqi-American translator abducted last October in Baghdad identified his missing nephew today in a video posted on the Web site of the Ahel al-Beit Brigades.
Acting like they were the last to find out, the Pentagon has confirmed that a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter that crashed last week near Baghdad was shot down. All seven crew members and passengers were killed.
TMV was well ahead of the story here, including a link to a video that clearly showed a shoot down and not mechanical failure as the Pentagon had insisted.
More on the story here.