Saturday, April 30, 2005

One Year Ago in Iraq

It's been reported this week that the rate of violence in Iraq is now down to what it was in April, 2004, by no less an authority than General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. I thought I'd look up the Ranter for that month and check what was going on.

First we had this "The Black Weekend and the New War", dealing with the tactics of the Shia uprising and especially its seizure of the symbols of authority. I pointed out that the rising meant the loss of effective authority in a large area of Iraq, and that much of the effort to raise police and paramilitary forces there would benefit the enemy. I suggested that the British army would be called on to for reinforcement, which eventually happened in October. More detail on the 1st Shia Rising was here.

And, of course, there was the lynching of four security guards and the first battle of Fallujah, in which forty people died when a mosque was bombed. At the same time, the shrine city of Najaf was a battlefield and we drove tanks across the sacred cemeteries of Shiism, while helicopters were shot down in droves and the US Marines had to disarm the police in Kut because they were all rebels.
"Although al-Sadr's militia have apparently permitted Iraqi police in Najaf to return to their police stations, one has to wonder how far that development just represents a legitimisation of Shia street muscle - if the cops are the rebels, it makes sense to put them back in charge"
Well, we certainly did that: the SCIRI now holds the Ministry of the Interior.

For the first time in Iraq, there were hostage-takings. Coalition security control collapsed, with the roads too dangerous to use, bridges were being blown ahead and behind of convoys by men in police uniform,until most troop movement anywhere had to go through Baghdad, and anyone on the roads would be considered anti-coalition forces. Despite PsyOps teams broadcasting taunts into Najaf ("You shoot like a goat herder!"), we still needed to ship in more tanks urgently.

The slick staffers of the Green Zone were reduced to half rations and had to eat compo rations because the MSRs were shut. Ahmed Chalabi was raided by the CIA in an effort to recover the secret police files, and Lord Browne of BP said "Thank" to the prospect of prospecting for oil in Iraq.

To cap the lot, we were caught indulging in torture and rape. And the CPA spokesman Dan Senor told the world we were "listening to the silent majority".

Against this background of brutal, criminal scuzz, it ought to be no surprise that convicted fraudster, triple agent, thief and liar Ahmed Chalabi has just been named "Temporary" Minister of Oil. Famously, there's nothing as permanent as the temporary. It should also amuse that Iraq's new government includes temporary ministers of Defence, Oil, Electricity, Industry and Human Rights. To put it another way, all the ministries that have any meaning remain temporary.

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