Thursday, February 08, 2007

One bugbear at a time

Along with the report of the downing of a Chinook helicopter yesterday in Anbar province, northwest of Baghdad, the fifth US helicopter hit in a month, Al-Hayat adds this:
Military specialists said armed [groups] that control the outskirts of Baghdad have been able to acquire a new generation of ground-to-air rockets of the "Strela" type. ...[T]he AlQaeda organization in Iraq (actually the "Islamic State of Iraq", an AlQaeda offshoot) claimed [reponsibility for] the operation in an internet announcement... and sources close to the armed groups said they had obtained a new generation of shoulder-held Strela ground-air rockets, and one result of that is a change the nature of their operations against the American helicopters. The sources said various armed groups in Iraq have been able to buy these new-type rockets, and they have been used in four of the five helicopter hits this year....

And an expert in the former military-manufacturing program said new generations of weapons have come into the possession of armed persons regardless of their group-affiliation, including new high-power explosive devices that exceed [in sophistication] the remote-control explosive devices of the type that the Americans go after. And he said some of the new weapons, like a long-range version of the Katyusha rocket have been developed domestically in Iraq.

According to this Al-Hayat report: The new-type weapons including the new shoulder-held Strelas are in the hands of a wide variety of armed groups; the new weapons have led to new methods of attack against helicopters; and just in passing, the reporter refers to "armed groups...which control the outskirts of Baghdad," all without singling out any one group as against another. The NYT reports a US military official in Iraq as having no information about any new types of weapons, but the paper does say US officials are seeing a new coordination. The paper says: "American officials emphasize that a new sense of coordinated aggressiveness on the part of insurgents toward attacking aircraft, or even luck, may be playing as large a role in the high pace of crashes as improved skill and tactics among insurgents." (aka Mufkarat al-Islam) and are two websites that regularly report on attacks against the US military without making any particular distinction between the Islamic State of Iraq (the AlQaeda creation) and domestic groups like Islamic Army of Iraq. For instance Islammemo reported, and Albasrah repeated in English (at that link under "Baghdad") the gist of an allegedly all-group meeting supposedly held recently to plan the response to the new Baghdad security plan, including divisions of Sunni Baghdad into military districts, assignment of infrastructure and supply tasks, and so on, and the reporter said each group, including the Islamic State of Iraq, the IAI and others, promised surprises on the military level. The "reporter" said the overall plan was proposed by the Islamic State of Iraq and was approved by acclamation. Naturally there is propaganda and morale-building in all of this, just as there is on the other side. However, the suggestion of some kind of integration of the AlQaeda offshoot with some of the other resistance groups is a feature common to this and also to the above-noted Al-Hayat news about broad proliferation of the new types of weapons.

What is just as noteworthy is the demise of AlQaeda as the frightening bugbear in US corporate media, (having been replaced by Iran in that role). The NYT and the WaPo today bury the Islamic State of Iraq claim to having shot down the helicopter deep inside their stories, and they ostentatiously avoid mentioning the AlQaeda provenance of this group. One bugbear at a time, seems to be the idea.


Anonymous Yohan said...

It's pretty pathetic that the US military still does not know where the insurgents are getting these weapons from, much less how to stop them from acquiring them. Oh well, it MUST be Iran, the big bugbear that it is...

As for the NYT and WaPo not mentioning the genealogy of the Islamic State of Iraq, I wouldn't be surprised if this were a case of "never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence."

11:25 PM  
Blogger badger said...

maybe in those particular cases, but you would agree with me in general that the wurlitzer only plays one tune at a time, so if it's "Iran" it can't also be "AlQaeda", just saying...

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Yohan said...

Oh I would absolutely agree with you in that. First it was al-Qaeda, then Iraq, then al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and now it's Iran.

One just cannot know at any one moment whether WaPo/NYT reporters are being stupidly evil or evilly stupid.

1:18 AM  
Blogger badger said...

well said

6:24 AM  

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