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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Friday | June 27, 2003

Things are getting worse

As Baghdad boils, blackouts shut down air conditioning and anger Iraqis

By Sameer N. Yacoub, Associated Press, 6/27/2003 16:15

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP).....The electric outages are also fueling anti-U.S. sentiment at a time occupation forces are seeking to quell a worsening insurgency that has seen a sharp rise in attacks on American troops.

With temperatures reaching 117 degrees, life has been almost unbearable

''We have been living without electricity completely for the past three days,'' said Siham Ibrahim, a 48-year-old woman who has been sleeping with her family on the roof of their two-story house in Baghdad. ''When the Americans removed Saddam, we expected that we would have a better life, but things are getting worse.''

But not according to Paul Wolfowitz

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz said the trend in Iraq is still good and should not be seen through the lens of one day's events. "The direction is pretty clear," he said in a telephone interview. "It is toward a more secure Iraq," in which the Baathist position is weakening and basic services are being restored.

Wolfowitz did not foresee any major changes in the U.S. military posture in response to the attacks. "I think that the basic approach that the military is using is a sound approach," Wolfowitz said.

Many days it seems like the Bush version of the Middle East is closer to Middle Earth than reality.

Let me put it simply: IT"S NOT ONLY THE BAATH PARTY.

If you were sweltering in 117 degree heat with no relief, you'd be angry. Maybe angry enough to kill.

U.S. Soldier Is Shot in Head in a Baghdad Suburb

BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 27 An American serviceman was shot in the head in a suburb of Baghdad this morning as he was looking through items for sale at a sidewalk stand. His condition was not immediately known.

The soldier was part of a unit patrolling in the Kadhimiya neighborhood of northwest Baghdad and had apparently stopped to browse at the stand.


The Kadhimiya area is not known for anti-American sentiment and has been fairly peaceful up to now. It is largely populated by Shiites and has not been regarded as a hotbed of hostility to coalition forces. Indeed, some people there said today that they were glad to have the soldiers patrolling the streets

A crowd of Shia watched this and said nothing, did nothing but run away fearing a gun battle. Did they approve? No. But they weren't going to risk anything for the occupiers.

One might also note the following:

A soldier attached to the U.S. 1st Marine Expeditionary Force was killed Thursday in an ambush in Najaf south of Baghdad, U.S. military officials said. No other details were available.

A member of a U.S. commando unit hunting for Saddam Hussein was killed Thursday and eight Special Operations troops were wounded in an ambush by urban guerrillas, the U.S. military said.

The commando died when a vehicle he and others were traveling in passed by another vehicle with explosives that detonated, a military official said. He was an Army Ranger on Task Force 20, the Special Operations unit spearheading the hunt for Saddam and other fugitive leaders.

Najaf is home to Ayatollah Sistani and the Shia movement. Any Baathist stupid enough to go there would die quickly.

The idea that Task Force 20 was shot up accidentally is ridiculous. In a country filled with foreign jehadis, Saddam's boys might have pulled it off, but people forget about the five Syrians we now hold after we shot them up last week. How would you know if the Syrians friends in Iraq didn't try to even the score. Although given the Special Ops penchant for heavy weapons and civilian clothes, it's not like they're anonymous. You see a convoy of Americans with M-4's, you may take them out. But it's more likely the Syrians or their friends wanted to send a message that war can go both ways. Or for once. Saddam's boys did something proactive. Either way, luck and accident seem to be distant causes here.

No, things are getting worse and the Iraq resistance is pulling together. There is an overall high level of military competence and a silent public growing angrier by the day. This is the Outlaw Josey Wales come to life. Instead of the Missouri-Kansas border wars of the 1860's, you have the Iraqi ethos in play. Every time the US arrests someone in Iraq, his kin may get the idea to "get some" and light up a few Americans. Two cases where people walk up, shoot Americans and run away. A hundred attacks in a day. Two soldiers snatched on duty.

To say that the resistance is only being done by irridentist baathists is silly. In Najaf? Amara? In a Shia neighbohood in Baghdad?

Saddam didn't have that many fans, but Americans may have that many enemies.

The US wants to use arrests and raids when the enemy is playing for keeps. The White House acts as if those actions don't breed more enemies. Iranians and Syrians clearly want the US to fail, but our actions, our indifference is making this situation spiral out of control. Iraqis are telling us, turn on the water, stop the sweeps and the US ignored them as if they are children. They pretend things are improving. 60 dead in two months. Even the media is saying this war is not over. And for once, they're right.

Steve Gilliard

Posted June 27, 2003 03:53 PM | Comments (92)


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