Monday, October 22, 2007

What the war in Sadr City means reports on the deaths of civilians in the Sunday morning US raid on Sadr City, adding that as usual, the US army denied any civilian casualties. And it puts the military operation, with the implied "rules of engagement", in political perspective, as follows:
It should be remembered that the US began, in the recent period of time, to aim the rockets of its Apache fighter helicopters at its targets without paying any attention to the the killing of civilian victims, as happened in the Al-Siha neighborhood the beginning of this month, and the same thing happened in Al-Khalas a couple of weeks ago, where a large number of civilians were killed, including those who were getting ready for the Ramadan meal... and it was disclosed later that the victims included women and children. The horrible thing is that the government is powerless to even respond to any of this, even via any statement criticising the targeting of civilians. And the other disaster is that there aren't even any members of the Legislature--"asleep...or out cold" as Iraqis call them--who respond to any of these American attacks with criticism or protest.
In other words, Nahrrainnet sees what looks like a recent ratcheting up of US military "rules of engagement" in Shiite areas and ties this in to the complete stripping away of Shiite popular confidence in the Green Zone government. Unfortunately, for all the media and blogosphere blather about COIN best-practices and the rest of it, our militarily-expert pundits--"asleep or out cold", I call them--are paying no attention to this, or to the issue of political and wider-war implications. There is, however, a hint in today's WaPo of the connection. They write:
Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker have concluded that Shiite extremists pose a rising threat to the U.S. effort in Iraq, as the relative influence of Sunni insurgent groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq has diminished drastically because of ongoing U.S. operations.

This judgment forms part of the changes that Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, approved last week to their classified campaign strategy for the country, which covers the period through summer 2009. The updated plan anticipates shifting the U.S. military effort to focus more on countering Shiite militias -- some backed by Iran -- that have generated new violence as they battle for power in the south and elsewhere in Iraq, said senior military and diplomatic officials familiar with the plan.

In other words, escalation against Shiite groups as part of an anti-Iran turn.


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