Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Baghdad Plan: New Recipe For Disaster?

In a move that took American commanders by surprise, the Iraqi government has ordered tens of thousands of Baghdad residents to leave homes and offices that they are occupying illegally because of the orgy of sectarian cleansing that has torn apart the capital city.

Lieutenant General Aboud Qanbar, who is leading the new crackdown, also announced the closing of Iraq’s borders with Iran and Syria, an extension of the curfew in Baghdad by an hour, and the establishment of new checkpoints.

Qanbar said the government would break into homes and cars it deemed dangerous, open mail and eavesdrop on phone calls.
No mention was made of the role American forces would play in the crackdown, but it seemed timed to coincide with President Bush’s “surge” strategy to send more troops into Baghdad.

American officers expressed surprise about the plan, while Samantha Power, a public policy professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, described the plan as either a public relations ploy or a prelude to more sectarian cleansing and catastrophe.

Power, who has written widely on genocide, said that:

"To do this in the middle of a war when tempers have been inflamed and militarization is ubiquitous seems to be putting the cart before the horse. You haven’t stopped the willingness to ethnically cleanse, but you’re imposing the moral hazard of ethnic cleansing on the cleansee? Unless you create security first, you are paving the way for a potential massacre of returnees."
More here.

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