Saturday, February 25, 2006

Iraq: T72 Watch

Well, this is going to be a serious post about serious military issues, but first, some light relief. Danielle "Arik Sharon in Stockings" Pletka editorialises against the CIA's liberal agenda. Apparently they hate freedom so much they issued "inaccurate warnings of civil war in Iraq". This appeared the day before whoever-it-was blew up the mosque.

I suppose she might have meant warnings that were inaccurate in the sense that they didn't suggest that Ali al-Sistani would be turning into the most bellicose Shia leader, that Moqtada al-Sadr would have given his army a nationwide mission to "protect mosques throughout Iraq" (yeah, right - like that's not an excuse to deploy outside "Sumer"), that the Sunnis would have walked out of the government formation process and started killing "police commandos" in droves. But I doubt it. In other schadenfreude-related news today, a Pentagon report reassures us that "Terrorist attacks have failed ot create and spread sectarian conflict." Well, that's all right, then...until you look at the Reuters Alertnet Iraq wire. Seriously, I don't know why Reuters don't just rename it Reuters DeathWatch.
25 Feb 2006 12:59:01 GMT
Iraqi minister ready to put tanks on streets to impose order
BAGHDAD, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Iraq will not hesitate to dispatch tanks to the streets to end violence and impose security, the country's defence minister said on Saturday. "We are ready to fill ...

25 Feb 2006 12:35:23 GMT
Bombs, clashes as Iraq govt warns of "civil war"
(Adds Dulaimi, police killed, Sunni bloc, details, edits) By Michael Georgy and Lin Noueihed BAGHDAD, Feb 25 (Reuters) - A car bomb in a Shi'ite holy city and bloody battles around Sunni mosques ...

25 Feb 2006 12:33:33 GMT
FACTBOX-Developments in Iraq, Feb 25
Feb 25 (Reuters) - The following are security incidents and political developments in Iraq reported Saturday Feb. 25 as of 1145 GMT. U.S. and Iraqi forces are battling a largely Sunni Arab ...

Several killed in Baghdad funeral attack
25 Feb 2006 11:35:39 GMT
Source: Reuters
(Clarifies death toll, adds details) DUBAI, Feb 25 (Reuters) - At least three members of Iraq's security forces were killed on Saturday in an attack on the funeral procession of an Al Arabiya ... Full Article...

Car bomb kills eight in market in Iraq's Kerbala
25 Feb 2006 10:36:07 GMT
Source: Reuters
(Adds Kerbala police chief comment) KERBALA, Iraq, Feb 25 (Reuters) - A car bomb exploded in a crowded market in Iraq's southern Shi'ite Muslim city of Kerbala on Saturday, killing at least eight ... Full Article...

Several killed in Baghdad funeral attack
25 Feb 2006 10:19:58 GMT
Source: Reuters

Several security men killed at Iraq funeral attack
25 Feb 2006 09:50:56 GMT
Source: Reuters

25 Feb 2006 09:30:04 GMT
Source: Reuters

Car bomb kills eight in market in Iraq's Kerbala
25 Feb 2006 09:29:17 GMT
Source: Reuters

Gunmen attack house of Sunni cleric in Iraq
25 Feb 2006 08:51:49 GMT..
It's just a pity it doesn't rattle off a machine with a satisfying clattter, really - when will someone devise a direct RSS printer? Anyway, let's get to the point.

Those tanks the Iraqi minister of defence is threatening to bring onto the streets. The only armour he has is the brigade's worth of T-72s provided by Hungary, which we've mentioned before as a very serious factor in a coup scenario. (There are also, I think, a few reconditioned T-54/55s.) Where these tanks are, and who controls them, is about to become a burning issue, because they will be in a position to force everyone else's hand. It's also especially interesting that the biggest owner of tanks in Iraq, the US Army, doesn't seem to be interested.

Have the Americans intimated to the Iraqi government that their forces are not available for crowd-crushing duty? And is anyone else horribly reminded of the 1953 East Berlin rising? That time, the Russians were trying to keep out of it until the SED realised that their own forces could not be relied on and begged the Red Army to do their dirty work, which they did with their usual gusto. In 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev decided to warn Egon Krenz that no Soviet troops would be available for internal repression, effectively pulling the plug.

If the Defence Minister decides to use his own tanks, and they follow him, this will be as good as a SCIRI coup. If they don't, or he doesn't, it's going to be a question of whether we support the SCIRI in suppressing (and here's the rub) both Sadrists and the New-Old Iraqi Army in the face of Sistani, or whether we cave and let the Shia/Shia battles begin.

Update, the tanks are now on the streets - there's a picture of one. Someone called General Abdul-Aziz Mohamed apparently says his men will arrest all armed civilians irrespective of party or religion. Rather him than me.

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