guest post by Taylor Marsh
The headlines are hair-raising.
Iraqi leaders have all but given up on holding the country together and, just two months after forming a national unity government, talk in private of "black days" of civil war ahead. ANALYSIS-Gloom descends on Iraqi leaders as civil war looms
What will Senator Joe Lieberman do, offer more stay the course campaigning?
Senator Harry Reid wants to talk about Iraq again. With over 100 attacks a day in Iraq, Reid is now at long last calling it what it is: a civil war. He says he’s been approaching Iraq "gingerly," but it’s now time for a new debate. That’s a far cry from his actions when Senators Kerry and Feingold offered a way through. The inspiration for Reid’s change of tone and heart is simple. There have been over 6,000 Iraqis killed in May and June, with 14,000 killed this year alone.
In Baghdad and across much of the center and south of the country, the rhythms of normal life and commerce are rapidly breaking down in a sign that US and Iraqi government plans to build an effective security force are faltering. Reports of police standing aside as civilians get attacked are common, as are claims by survivors that government security forces, infiltrated by sectarian militias, took part in the killings.
The United Nations estimates 14,338 Iraqis were killed in the first six months of the year, and there are indications the rate of bloodshed is rising; more than 3,000 Iraqis were killed in June, most after the June 7 killing of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose death US officials had hoped would diminsh violence.
"The government promised security, but the increasing number of bombs in our neighborhood proves that they’re failing,” says Ibrahim Mohammed, who runs a leather-jacket store in Karada where sales have collapsed "to almost nothing" in the past few months.
The escalating violence induced the reclusive top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to call Thursday "on those who are keen for the unity and future of this country … to exert maximum efforts to stop the bloodletting."
In recent months he says the unit has captured a number of men they believed were running Shiite death-squads in the city. But the Interior Ministry, which oversees the police, secured the alleged killers’ freedom in all cases. "There’s too much interference from politicians, from the Americans, to do this job properly." He says that he and five other senior members of the unit are likely to quit soon.
Iraq’s police overwhelmed by violence
More than 3,000 Iraqis were killed in June, an escalation of the country’s death toll.
In other news, the Pentagon just sold $6 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. They say it’s so U.S. forces won’t be needed. But could it be that somebody is getting nervous?
Meanwhile, regarding Lebanon…
And if you need a good laugh amidst all the headline horrors, check this out. The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto is attacking… me.