Friday, March 28, 2008

Biggest attack yet in America's air war against the Sadrists (updated)

AlHayat says an attack by US planes in Hilla probably killed around 60 people, described as armed, quoting Iraqi security people who said that is what the Americans told them. The attack was called in by Iraqi forces, following Sadrist attacks on Supreme Council, Badr, and Dawa offices in that city, but the attacks were apparently in other areas, and a Sadrist official said the victims were retreating. The Iraqis said they couldn't confirm the numbers because Mahdi Army people had evacuated dead and wounded. (Note: This occurred Wednesday. Here is the initial sketchy report in VOI. And here is what the multi-national forces press office had to say about what happened Wednesday in Hilla, referring to only five people killed in a US airstrike).
The city of Hilla witnessed an unprecedented escalation of violence, with continuation for the second day of armed clashes between Mahdi Army people and the Iraqi security forces...and American planes intervened to support the Iraqi forces. There are conflicting reports on the number of victims in the air attack launched by the American planes against armed people in the Thaura district in eastern Hilla, but an Iraqi security source...said "the multinational forces told Iraqi police that the attack killed 60 armed people", but he said Iraqi police couldn't verify the actual result because the Mahdi Army evacuates its dead and wounded...
Moreover, it is clear from his information that this American air attack was directly related to the Iraqi political situation. The journalist puts it this way:
[The Iraqi security source] added that this fighting began after the fall of the Kafal (sp?) district in northern Hilla at the hands of armed people, and their overrunning offices of the Supreme Council and the Badr Organization, and of the Dawa Party, in that district, and their destruction, following by blowing up of a police vehicle, leacing to two killed and 12 wounded... The source said the fighting continued for five hours, which led the Iraqi forces to call for air support from the multinational forces, which bombed the districts of Nadr Atthalath and Thaura and Muhayzam, which are centers for Sadr followers in Hilla.
The journalist then quotes the director of the Sadr office in Hilla who said:
"The killling of more than 60 people and wounding of dozens more was the result of an attack on a group of Sadr followers seeking refuge in Al-Thaura", indicating that "this air attack targeted defenceless people during their withdrawal, who were not confronting the security forces, or fighting with them".
This should at least put to rest any idea that this is not an American war against the Sadrists, and will become more and more of an American war as the Iraqi forces fail. The WaPo account of US armored vehicles being involved in fighting in Sadr City tells us the same thing.

Today (Friday) there are reports of US air strikes in Basra, and one in Sadr City. On the "multi-national forces" website, there is a report that appears to be at least partly about the above-reported Hilla incident, referring to only five people being killed in a US air attack, not 60, and appears to have been written by a war-crimes lawyer, because it contains phrases like "maneuvering back to [US and Iraqi ground forces] and due to the hostile intent of the act, were engaged from the air..."]


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I’d like your opinion of my back-of-the-envelope analysis of the current fighting.

It seems to me that the current offensive against the Mahdi Army should be viewed from the perspective of Bush’s long-term plans for Iraq. Taking note of Cheney’s recent trip to Iraq and Bush’s statements today in support of the offensive, I conclude that what we’re seeing is the beginning of a period where Maliki assumes a dictatorship role. Maliki will dispense with parliamentary pretences as civil war develops and becomes a permanent feature. The model will be the current stalemate in Palestine between Fatah and Hamas.

Cheney and Bush know that the Democrats may evacuate the military bases in Iraq and won’t have the stomach to arm-twist the Iraqi government into a new oil law, so their policy now it to create a fait accompli where the Democrat nominee (probably Obama) will find it imposable to implement a withdrawal.

Bush and Cheney understand that civil war and parliamentary dysfunction are necessary if everything they have worked for is not to be undone by the next Administration. Therefore they will ratchet up the level of violence as we approach the US presidential election in order to create as much chaos as possible.

Of course, Bush knows that the “main front in the war on terror” is also a great stage on which John McCain can perform, so Bush’s policy of ratcheting up the level of violence in Iraq serves Plan A (a McCain presidency) and a Plan B (a Democrat Administration that finds withdrawal impossible ).

What do you think?

1:00 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Just off the top of my head,

The part about the logic of this leading to a (would-be) dictatorship makes sense to me, but given Maliki's lack of a real military, doesn't this imply the US would have to be his army, and wouldn't that be exactly what would hurt the whole Bush-McCain facade and strengthen the case for withdrawal?

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the analysis of the situation is in terms the US.

However, none of this could happen if the Iraqis did not hate each other to the point of dehumanized brutality. The real social scientific question is why do the Iraqis hate each other? What are the material conditions that have lead to this hatred?

Without the Iraqi willingness align themselves with the Americans and to kill each other, the Americans would be helpless.

7:01 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Everyone please ignore this.
I'll leave this one up just so people can see what's still out there, but if there are more I'll just delete them.

8:01 PM  
Blogger badger said...

(referring to the second anonymous, not the first, obviously)...

8:22 PM  

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