We’re very pleased to see that there has been progress in Iraq since the last ministerial in Istanbul. I would just note that violence in Iraq has decreased.
Decreased? Perhaps no one told the Iraqi journalists at Azzaman who yesterday reported:
Medical and security sources say 21 unidentified corpses were collected in the past two days in the restive city of Baaquouba. Meantime, 16 headless bodies were found during the same period in the southern city of Diwaniya.
Reports of decapitated bodies and corpses decomposing on roadsides are no longer of interest to international media as they have become a way of life for the country.
Media interest is now focused on the raging battles between U.S. and government troops on the one hand and the Mahdi Army of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
The U.S. is even employing helicopter gun ships and heavy weaponry in the fight to flush Sadr City in Baghdad of Mahdi Army fighters.
There are reporters of massive damage casualties mostly innocent civilians.
Momentum needs to be maintained, and we are looking to the Iraqi Government to continue to make progress on elections law constitutional amendment, a hydrocarbons package, and we encourage the Iraqi Government to welcome all Iraqis into the political process who are not guilty of war crimes and who disavow violence and terror.
Now who would that be?
And here, I want just to underscore that we need to really understand what happened in Basra. The Iraqi Government was seeking to establish law and order in one of its most important cities against criminal elements and against terrorist elements and extremist elements.
What really just happened in Basra? The Mahdi army won and Condi’s friend Maliki had to beg Iran to intervene.
The people of Iraq have made immeasurable sacrifices to rebuild their country in the face of terrible and incredible challenges. They need and they deserve our full support and full denunciation of those who seek to undermine Iraq’s nascent democracy, whether they seek to do so from within or from without.
(or those who might win in fair elections and then kick us out?)
Today, Iraq’s neighboring countries have provided assistance through the hosting of Iraqi refugees. We now look to the Iraqi Government to substantially increase its contributions to international appeals to assist displaced Iraqis and to prepare a plan for their safe and voluntary return.
Just like our Congress is now talking about billing the Iraqi people for the bombs we drop on them daily?
The larger international community also needs to step up its assistance for refugees. The United States has already made available $208 million and plans to contribute an additional $70 million this year toward the more than $900 million in assistance appeals for displaced Iraqis.
Let’s see – $278 million what percentage of the US funding for the occupation that is causing them to flee?
Badger notes that Condi’s appeal to the Expanded Neighbors of Iraq Ministerial to open new embassies in Baghdad is likely to be a flop. He points to a Brookings report:
The American researcher Suzanne Maloney spells out the repercussions and the result of the American war on Iraq: "The disastrous Bush policies fostered a sectarian Iraq that has helped empower Iranian hardliners. Rather than serving as an anchor for a new era of stability and American pre-eminence in the Persian Gulf, the new Iraq represents a strategic black hole, bleeding Washington of military resources and political influence while extending Iran’s primacy among its neighbors." (Her Brookings report here)*
Or as Badger sums it up so well:
The Arab commentators are probably too polite to put it this way at least in print, but what this comes down to is the following: Would it really be a good idea for the already-unpopular Arab regimes to support a government that invites US warplanes to carry out airstrikes against its own most densely-populated residential areas? Would this be a genuine feather in their caps and a manifestation of true pan-Arab solidarity?
For a more realistic view of what’s happening in Iraq now, take a look at the latest report from The Real News:
PS: In her report, Suzanne Maloney mentions a bit of news I had not seen before. It seems that on Cheney’s recent visit to Iraq:
security conditions forced him to travel under a blanket of secrecy, on a plane carrying a specially reinforced trailer for his sleeping accommodations in a country where 155,000 American troops patrol.