Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Palestine model

The Azzaman headline said: "F16s and Apache helicopters plunge into street battle in Karkh, Baghdad"

Al-Mada: "Violent confrontations in Haifa Street...50 armed people killed and 13 arrested, among them 7 with Syrian citizenship"

Al-Mada describes this as very much of a pinpoint operation, with fire from the Apache helicopters wiping out "terrorist nests", and as the headline indicates, arresting foreign fighters.

The Azzaman account differs from the Al-Mada account on the question who the residents had been originally fighting against (Al-Mada says they were fighting "terrorist groups", Azzaman says they were fighting [Shiite] militias). But that isn't the most important difference. What Azzaman conveys, both with the headline and in the body of the story, is something very much more simple: The US-Iraqi operation was an attempt to "storm the districts" (of Haifa Street and two other neighboring districts).
And observers said having planes like the F16s and Apache helicopters participate in street fighting in Baghdad demonstrates the difficulty of the Maliki plan in storming Karkh (meaning west-central Baghdad generally), where the job is going to fall to the Americans first and foremost, and without there being any conclusive result.
What Azzaman raises is an issue that goes beyond the question whether this was triggered by "terrorists" or by "militias". The US-Iraqi forces were there to control the neighborhood, and to fire on anyone who fired on them. The only point Azzaman makes is that this happens to be a predominantly Sunni neighborhood. But there is nothing to suggest that the same thing will not occur in Shiite neighborhoods.

The model for this is Palestine, is it not, where "terrorist" and/or "militia" violence triggers high-tech military reactions via a US client government, which don't have any conclusive result, and merely help to perpetuate the cycle. Reports from the pro-US side will describe these attacks as pinpoint affairs (as Al-Mada does this morning)...

Elaph reports that American planes attacked residential areas in Sadr City between late Tuesday night and today Wednesday, and says witnesses report an initial tally of four killed "including a child, two women and a man, as a result of the targeting of their house which collapsed over them." Elaph adds: "Witnesses said American forces, which have surrounded [Sadr] City for two days, arrested a number of youths thought to belong to the Mahdi Army", and adds that Mahdi Army personnel are under orders not to repond to provocations from the American forces aimed at provoking a fight with the Mahdi Army.


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