On the heels of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s announcement that the UK would start to withdraw its’ troops from Iraq, leaving the United States as a “coalition of one”, Dick Cheney said that this was good news:
"Well, I look at it and see it is actually an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well," Cheney told ABC News' Jonathan Karl.
"In fact, I talked to a friend just the other day who had driven to Baghdad down to Basra, seven hours, found the situation dramatically improved from a year or so ago, sort of validated the British view they had made progress in southern Iraq and that they can therefore reduce their force levels," Cheney said.
Too bad he was once again totally full of shit.
According to Juan Cole:
This is a rout, there should be no mistake. The fractious Shiite militias and tribes of Iraq's South have made it impossible for the British to stay. They already left Dhi Qar province, as well as sleepy Muthanna. They moved the British consulate to the airport because they couldn't protect it in Basra. They are taking mortar and rocket fire at their bases every night. Raiding militia HQs has not resulted in any permanent change in the situation. Basra is dominated by 4 paramilitaries, who are fighting turf wars with one another and with the Iraqi government over oil smuggling rights.
Blair is not leaving Basra because the British mission has been accomplished. He is leaving because he has concluded that it cannot be, and that if he tries any further it will completely sink the Labor Party, perhaps for decades to come.
Don’t trust Juan Cole? OK, how about LA Times:
The British military is approaching "operational failure," former defense staff chief Charles Guthrie warned this week.
"Because the British army is in essence fighting a far more intensive counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan, there's been a realization that there has to be some sort of transfer of resources from Iraq to Afghanistan," said Clive Jones, a senior lecturer in Middle East politics at the University of Leeds, who has closely followed Britain's Iraq deployment.
"It's either that, or you risk in some ways losing both," he said.
It has been four days since the UK announcement, and things just look like they are going swimmingly. Just look at all of the progress over the four days since the UK decided to
Over 40 dead in a suicide bombing of a college campus near Baghdad earlier today. Close to 50 more were injured and most of the ones killed were college students.p>
Twenty two US troops killed in the seven day period ending yesterday in at least 18 attacks.
Suicide bombers on February 21 killed nearly 30 people and injured 38 more in a number of incidents in Najaf and Baghdad. Of the 28 killed, at least 16 were construction workers.
Two separate attacks that exploded trucks carrying chlorine occurred on back to back days, and the third time in under a month:
In Baghdad, a pickup truck carrying chlorine gas cylinders was blown apart, killing at least five people and sending more than 55 to hospitals gasping for breath and rubbing stinging eyes, police said.
On Tuesday, a bomb planted on a chlorine tanker left more than 150 villagers stricken north of the capital. More than 60 were still under medical care on Wednesday. Chlorine causes respiratory trouble and skin irritation in low levels and possible death with heavy exposure.
In Washington, two Pentagon officials said the tactic has been used at least three times since Jan. 28, when a truck carrying explosives and a chlorine tank blew up in Anbar province. More than a dozen people were reported killed.
An attack on a Sunni mosque yesterday killed 45, including 17 women and 5 children. Another 110 were injured in the blast. Additionally, other violence in Baghdad killed at least 20, including 8 Iraqi police officers.
Nearly 30 bodies were found in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Mosul on Friday. Also, a 12 year old by was killed when he was caught in the crossfire as US troops were pursuing 2 suspects in southern Baghdad.
Thousands of Shiites protested the latest boneheaded move when the US detained Amar al-Hakim, the elder son of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Republic in Iraq, or SCIRI, a Shiite party with close ties to both Iran and the United States. This resulted in an embarrassing apology from U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. Needless to say, it didn’t go over too well with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
One of the “crucial” reforms that the Iraqi government was supposed to comply with under the terms of the escalation plan is, in the words of a US official, “moving backwards and dead in the water”:
In spite of a commitment by Iraq's prime minister to its passage, legislation that would ease rules barring former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from government service has been blocked by the country's Shiite-dominated parliament.
And guess who is heading up the Iraqi panel on de-Baathification? One Ahmad Chalabi – the same man who “duped the US into war and was accused of working with Iran.
Looks like lots of progress has been made over the past week. Let’s recap because there is so much to point to:
- Main provisions and conditions of the escalation in danger of falling apart;
- 30 bodies found in a single day;
- Over 250 people injured in a four day period (at least);
- 22 US troops killed in the past week;
- At least 139 killed in attacks over a four day period.
With great news like this, I would hate to see what would constitute a “lack of progress”...