Thursday, January 11, 2007

New rules of engagement?

Aswat al-Iraq (Voices of Iraq):
Witnesses in Sadr City said on Thursday that American planes bombed areas of Sadr City, while joint US-Iraqi forces raided houses in some districts starting at midnight. One of the witnesses said they were supported by helicopters that circled over Sadr City until around 3 am Thursday, adding that the helicopters bombed areas in sectors 7 and 8 of the Al-Awla district of Sadr City. The sources couldn't say if there were any arrests, but said the bombing was accompanied by heavy weapons fire. The Americans have issued no statement explaining the results of this operation of last night. These types of joint raids normally occur during these hours, [the journalist explains], and normally the explanation is that they are looking for armed persons who target the coalition forces.
Sadr City has a population of between 2 and 3 million persons. There was a bombing there Wednesday morning as well, that killed a family of four. Bush was clearly referring to Sadr City when he said in his speech on Wednesday that US forces now have a commitment from the Iraqi government that they will be able to "enter these neighborhoods...home to those fueling the sectarian violence." He didn't say anything specifically about bombing them, but I guess it is possible that bombing densely populated urban areas is part of the new "permissive rules of engagement." This is referred to in the next-to-last page of the point-form "strategy review" document that was released in connection with Bush's speech. It says in the column headed "Previous": "Restrictive Rules of Engagement hindered execution of Baghdad security plan"; and in the column headed "Way Ahead": "Iraqi leaders committed to permissive Rules of Engagement and non-sectarian, non-political command and control arrangements."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Under "Restrictive Rules of Engagement", US managed to slaughter, maim and displace millions of Iraqis. Imagine what will happen when the restrictions become nonexistent. At this rate of killings and displacements, soon there will be no one left in Iraq except Americans and their minions. This must be the Bush-Cheney-Rice strategy.

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there is a strange sort of game going on vis-a-vis Sadr. I think Bush probably did finally extract the ability to operate more freely in Sadr city, but in the last 48 hours, Maliki has said he "expects Sadr will comply with the latest plan" and have his people off the street. See this Reuters story.

So, in other words, the US goes into Sadr city for a while, they do some raids, have some firefights. They fight some "militiamen," kill them. Six months from now, the operation ends, the Iraqi army takes control. And the actual - the core of Sadr's movement is the same, if not stronger (politically, if not also militarily).

In the process, Maliki pleases both his patrons.

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Anonymous. Muqtada has always shown an acute sense of maximising his political/military/ ethnic cleansing of Baghdad Sunnis gains, then adroitly backing out of firing line until conditions allow him to to push the envelop again. Has been doing this ever since April 2004. The execution of Saddam at the hands of the Sadrists was Muqtada at his political finest, imo.

1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happens if the US assassinates Muqtada? Obviously he would be a "martyr," and some retaliation would be inevitable, but what about the medium and long term outcomes?

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good question. An assassination might suit Sistani ("who will rid me of this troublesome priest?") also the Badrists and also Dawa as the Sadrists are a long term threat to them all.

However another Muqtada would only rise in his place and the Sadrists would become even more radical than they already are.

Better they continue to treat Muqtada as a long term management problem, imo. He's only young, after all, and might adapt eventually to parliamentary politics, which he would clearly be very good at.

9:48 PM  

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