September 24, 2013

Don't Take Your Eyes Off Of Iraq

East Baghdad in May 2013. Photo Source: Hadi Mizban/Associated Press.

"The idea of keeping Syria “out of Iraq” currently looks like an illusion that doesn’t differ much from the previous one of distancing Syria from Iraq. The two countries offer a new model for a region in which the state is decomposing, and where inter-state solidarities are flourishing. The destinies of the two countries are connected today more than ever." - Iraqi scholar Harith Hasan, based in Washington, from his article, "Tracing Syrian Conflict Back to Iraq’s Civil War" Al-Monitor, September 24, 2013. 

"Already, Shiite militias, some of which were responsible for abuses during the civil war, are remobilizing, and militants say they are prepared to protect their sect. Some Shiite civilians, too, say they are ready to protect themselves. 

“If they are not going to protect us, then let them step aside and we can do it,” said Ali al-Husaini, 38, who was wounded in the leg on Tuesday night in a bombing in Sadr City. “There have been more than a thousand car bombs in Sadr City. But the security forces are doing the same thing they always have — they are busy using their cellphones and making fun of people. They are unqualified.”" - Tim Arango, "Car Bombings in Baghdad Follow a Familiar Pattern" The New York Crimes, September 3, 2013.

"Many Baghdad residents were shaken by the bombings and the political discord.

"We still have a dream that one day all of us could see Baghdad without an explosion. It seems that day will never come," said grocery shop owner Aamer Abdullah, 55. "The citizens of Baghdad prefer to stay in their homes instead of going out and getting killed. We blame the politicians and the security forces equally for what happened.

"Iraqi now is heading to the abyss," he added." - Aziz Alwan and Ned Parker, "Iraq car bombings leave dozens dead" Los Angeles Crimes, May 20, 2013.

"Even active-duty U.S. military officers who fought there have growing doubts. “During the American occupation in Iraq between 2003 and 2011, as many as 250,000 Iraqis died and 1.4 million were displaced. Nearly 5,000 members of the American military were killed, with many thousands more suffering life-altering wounds, both physical and mental,” Army Colonel Gian Gentile wrote on Tuesday in the Los Angeles Times. “By most estimates, the United States has spent about $3 trillion on its nation-building efforts. What has this huge investment of blood and treasure achieved? Iraq is still mired in low-grade civil war, with worrisome indications that it is escalating.”

The U.S. has been down this path, in this country, before. The U.S. used Saddam for its own ends — largely to counter Iran — until Washington believed his megalomania threatened U.S. interests beyond his state.

That was the green light for U.S. involvement. When the U.S. pulled out of Iraq after nearly nine years of occupation, it declared al-Qaeda in Iraq on the run. “Al-Qaeda in Iraq is still operating, although at a much lower level,” President Obama said in December 2011 as the last U.S. troops headed home from Iraq.

Which makes the lead story in Tuesday’s Washington Post — “Al-Qaeda’s Iraq Affiliate Expands Presence in Syria” — all the more chilling." - Mark Thompson, "U.S. Sidelined as Iraq Becomes Bloodier" Crime Magazine, August 14, 2013.
"The red flag of revenge flies over a house in Baghdad's Shi'ite stronghold of Sadr City, where residents are mourning the victims of a triple bombing that killed 85 people at a funeral in the same place at the weekend.

Young men with pistols tucked into their belts or rifles slung over their shoulders patrol the streets of the sprawling, impoverished swathe of the Iraqi capital, no longer trusting official security forces to keep Sadr City's three million people safe." - Suadad al-Salhy and Kareem Raheem, "In Baghdad bastion, grieving Shi'ites call for revenge" Reuters, September 24, 2013.