In a solution that should send the Duke of Wellington spinning in his grave, the British have promised to stay out of the city in return for assurances that its forces won't be attacked by Shiite militias.Telegraph correspondent Gethin Chamberlain says that:
"Since withdrawing, the British have not set foot in the city and even have to ask for permission if they want to skirt the edges to get to the Iranian border on the other side. . . .
"The British appear to base their new strategy on an almost total faith in one man, Gen Mohan al-Furayji, who came down from
to take over responsibility for security, promising to sort out the city. The general, a Shia in his early fifties who spent time in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad after falling out with Saddam Hussein in the 1990s, is answerable only to Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister." Baghdad
The Brits have had a rough year with 44 troopers killed to date, and at this point are pretty much confined to base. They long have said that they would hand over control of
Chamberlain reports that those Iraqi forces are unwilling to take on Shiite militias, let alone the death squads that roam Basra that often are indistinguishable from the militias
But a larger question looms:
Is Basra a template for what will happen when American forces are eventually withdrawn from other hot spots?
Will the transitory military progress in
, which has been undermined because there has not been a concomitant political progress, be replicated elsewhere? Basra
Does this spell doom for the much-vaunted Surge?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
In the run-up to the March 2003 invasion, Chalabi provided
Not bothering to find out for themselves, it was pretty much because of the say-so of this discredited Iraqi pol that the Bush administration declared that everyday Iraqis would greet American troops as liberators and those troops would be home by Christmas.
Despite Chalabi having made a mess of pretty much everything he has gotten his clammy hands on, his deep White House and Pentagon ties have landed him yet another assignment.McClatchy Newspapers reports that his latest job is:
"To pressPrime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has named the resilient Chalabi as head of the Services Committee, a consortium of eight service ministries and two
's central government to use early security gains from the surge to deliver better electricity, health, education and local security services to Iraq neighborhoods. That's the next phase of the surge plan. Until now, the Baghdad military, various militias, insurgents and some U.S. backed groups have provided those services without great success." U.S.
Chalabi "is an important part of the process," said Colonel Steven Boylan, a spokesman for General David Petraeus. "He has a lot of energy."(Yes, that Steven Boylan.)
In yet another example of this perverse dynamic, State Department investigators looking into the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqis in
The New York Times reports that the investigators did not have the authority to offer such grants, which represent a potentially serious investigative misstep that could complicate efforts to prosecute Blackwater employees involved in the incident.
And that it is no secret that nature abhors a vacuum.
General David Petraeus, noting that Al Qaeda in
Criminals have established an "almost mafia-like presence" in some areas and pose a dangerous new threat.
Phil Aliff, now back at Ft. Drum, New York, says that his unit’s mission was to help the Iraqi Army "stand up" in the Abu Ghraib area of western Baghdad, but in fact his platoon was doing all the fighting without support from the Iraqis they were supposedly preparing to take over.
Aliff said he participated in roughly 300 patrols:
"We were hit by so many roadside bombs we became incredibly demoralised, so we decided the only way we wouldn't be blown up was to avoid driving around all the time."So we would go find an open field and park, and call our base every hour to tell them we were searching for weapons caches in the fields and doing weapons patrols and everything was going fine. All our enlisted people became very disenchanted with our chain of command."
No more. This is because, to a welcome extent, some of those once awful figures have dropped precipitously, but to a greater extent because the U.S. and Iraqi governments have clamped down so completely on the dissemination of combat-related stats that reliable ones are pretty much impossible to come by.