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Hello tsunami, goodbye Iraq

By jardinier ·
Well I hate to be the one to bring everyone crashing back to earth, but the fact is that while the news has been dominated by the tsunami tragedy, to the point where Iraq hardly gets a mention, the fact is that violence and civil disorder continue to escalate.

The insurgents are apparently determined to do everything possible to ensure valid elections cannot be held by the agreed date.

Here is the latest bad news from Iraq:

Gunmen have killed the Baghdad governor in Iraq's highest-profile assassination in eight months, and a suicide bomber killed 10 people near the Green Zone in an escalating campaign to wreck the January 30 election.

The targeting yesterday of Ali al-Haidri raised fresh doubts whether Iraqi security forces can protect politicians and voters as the national ballot draws near.

The assassination took place just hours after a suicide bomber rammed a fuel truck into a checkpoint near Baghdad's Green Zone, a sprawling complex housing the Iraqi Government and the US and British embassies. It created a giant fireball that rocked the capital, police and hospital sources said.

The bombing, which also wounded 58 people, brought new scenes of bloodshed and destruction to Baghdad a day after 17 security men were killed in a string of ambushes and explosions across the country.

These included an attack in west Baghdad early on Monday when an explosives-laden car tried to ram through a checkpoint on a road leading to the headquarters of the National Accord party of the Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi.

Three British nationals and an American were also killed in an attack on an American convoy in Baghdad on Monday.

Details of Mr Haidri's death remained sketchy. As the head of Baghdad province he was the most senior Iraqi official to be assassinated in Baghdad since Izzedin Salim, the president of the Governing Council, was killed by a suicide bomb last May.

Hours after Monday's bombings Dr Allawi spoke to the US President, George Bush, although US officials insisted that the Prime Minister did not tell Mr Bush that elections should be delayed.

"There was no substantive conversation about delay," an Administration official said. Dr Allawi"wasn't even a bit wobbly" on that point.

But some officials in Washington and in Iraq interpreted the call as a sign that Dr Allawi, who is clearly concerned that his party could be heading for defeat if the election is held on schedule, may be preparing the ground to make the case for delay to Mr Bush.

While White House officials were hesitant to give many details of the discussion between Dr Allawi and Mr Bush, they said the Iraqi leader brought up questions of security and the ferocity of the insurgency.

Yet Dr Allawi's cabinet is already showing signs of weakening on the question of holding the elections this month.

The Defence Minister, Hazim al-Shaalan, said in Cairo on Monday that the voting should be postponed to ensure greater participation by Sunnis.

[Reuters, The New York Times]

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But should they ?

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Some Australian Iraqis de ...

They don't live there, probably don't pay taxes, none of the decisions taken will impact their quality of life, so they are right where they should be, at the bottom of list. If they want to vote they should move back and be available to face the consequences of their decision. If they don't they should become the australian citizens they want to be and vote there.
Can you imagine facilititating their vote and them tipping in a candidate who the majority who lived there didn't want. Oh there'll be an election, whether it does any good is another matter. I want to see Bush and Blair's faces when they vote in someone considered entirely unsuitable.

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apotheon, Tony Hopkinson ....

by jardinier In reply to Some Australian Iraqis de ...

Thank you for your comments. You are absolutely correct.

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Well that's never happened before !

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to apotheon, Tony Hopkinson ...

That's not cricket you know. I was expecting a reasoned argument about how simply choosing or being forced to live in a foreign country does not abrogate your right to political representation and if for whatever reason you cannot exercise it in the country you are in you should still be able to in your country of origin. Certainly if I was in their position, I'd swim over to post my vote, just in case someone decided if I didn't do it last time, they needn't bother with me again.

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by apotheon In reply to apotheon, Tony Hopkinson ...

Heh. You're welcome. I do try.

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Just a little something to think on here

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Hello tsunami, goodbye Ir ...

Now that the Australian Government has effectively annexed Indonesia by increasing the limits of its Territorial Waters it is only right that they should be providing so much support to the affected Indonesian communities.

Currently we have a small number of troops on the ground there who could be supported by a "Friendly" Indonesian Government so it could become part of Australia and then increase our Territorial Waters once again.

Personally I think the AU Prime Minister and his Cabinet has lost the plot in this case as they are effectively taking over Sovereign Nations by passing laws which can not be supported by the AU military or even upheld in the International Courts if challenged.

But it is a good excuse to supply all of that aid that they are currently saying that they are going to do. Personally I think about 90% of it will be lost in the Bureaucratic maze of "Red Tape" and only a small % will eventually end up where it is needed.


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Meanwhile, Back in Iraq...

by Aldanatech In reply to Hello tsunami, goodbye Ir ...

While the world's attention has been focused for the past 10 days on the catastrophic tsunamis in South Asia and the subsequent relief efforts, the situation for the United States and its dwindling number of allies in Iraq appears to have worsened.

The administration of President George W. Bush and its supporters continue to insist that elections to a constitutional assembly scheduled for Jan. 31 will turn the tide against the insurgency, even as key figures in Baghdad's interim government, as well as outside analysts, are expressing growing doubts about whether the poll should even go ahead, given the deteriorating security situation.

Indeed, two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 18 U.S. troops and contractors, as well as three Iraqi security personnel, at a military base in Mosul, the ambush and killing in broad daylight Tuesday of the governor of Baghdad, Ali Haidary, raised new questions about whether even senior officials could be adequately protected less than four weeks before the scheduled elections.

Haidary, a staunch U.S. ally, was the highest-ranking official to be killed by insurgents since last May.

On the same day, five U.S. soldiers were killed in several incidents around Iraq -- the worst toll since the Mosul bombing. And the number of U.S. wounded in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, more than half of whom have not returned to active duty due to the gravity of their injuries, surpassed the 10,000 mark.

Meanwhile, Iraq's interim president, Ghazi Yawar, who Bush himself had quoted just a week ago as being determined to proceed with the elections, expressed renewed doubts Tuesday, telling Reuters that the United Nations should ?stand up for their responsibilities and obligations by saying whether (holding elections) is possible or not?. He said it was a ?tough call?.

Yawar spoke a day after President Ayad Allawi himself telephoned Bush on the latter's first day back at work after the Christmas holidays about what White House officials described as ?impediments? to pulling off the elections given the prevailing insecurity and the growing likelihood that the Sunni population -- about 20 percent of Iraq's voters -- is unlikely to participate.

Two days before, another long-time U.S. favorite who played a leading role in the transition from the formal occupation to the formation of the interim government last June, Adnan Pachachi, expressly urged the administration to put off the vote to enhance the chances for Sunni participation and get the security situation under control. ?That situation has deteriorated significantly,? stressed the veteran Sunni politician and former foreign minister in a column published in the Washington Post entitled 'Delay the Elections'.

And, as if to underline the security problem, the interim government's intelligence chief, Gen. Mohammed Shahwani, told a Saudi newspaper this week that he believed that U.S. and Iraqi forces were facing as many as 40,000 ?hard-core fighters? -- twice Washington's previous biggest estimate -- backed by as many as 150,000 to 200,000 others who acted as part-time guerillas, spies, and logistics personnel. He blamed the growth in the insurgency on a ?resurgent Baath Party? under the direction of former officials, some of whom he said, are based in Syria.

?I think the resistance is bigger than the U.S. military in Iraq,? Shahwani said.

If even remotely accurate -- and U.S. officials were quick to cast doubt on Shahwani's claims, although they did not deny them either -- those numbers should discourage the U.S. military, since basic doctrine calls for a 10:1 troop-rebel ratio to control and eventually defeat an insurgency. Washington currently has 150,000 troops in Iraq.

What's worse, the insurgency, by virtually all accounts, is actually growing.

?Until now, the best efforts of the United States and the emerging Iraqi army have not succeeded in preventing the growth of the insurgency,? noted Robert Killebrew, a retired Army colonel and counter-insurgency specialist, who believes that even if the elections come off, Washington may well soon face the greater danger of a region-wide insurgency.

Killebrew, whose theories will be featured next week at a forum at the influential neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), argues that the only way to redress the situation is to increase Washington's, as well as the Iraqi government's, troop strength, close the borders with Iran and Syria, and threaten Iraq's neighbors with retaliation if they provide support or safe haven to the insurgency. He also favors substantially expanding the U.S. military as a signal of ?national will?.

But to other counter-insurgency specialists who believe that Washington might still snatch some modicum of victory from the jaws of defeat, increasing U.S. forces and influence in Iraq at this point is likely to be counter-productive, if only because Washington's actions have so thoroughly alienated so much of Iraq's population.

?The beginning of wisdom,? wrote James Dobbins, an analyst at the Rand Corporation who served as U.S. special envoy in a host of hotspots from the Balkans to Afghanistan, in the latest 'Foreign Affairs' magazine, ?is to recognize that the ongoing war in Iraq is not one that the United States can win.

?As a result of its initial miscalculations, misdirected planning, and inadequate preparation, Washington has lost the Iraqi people's confidence and consent, and it is unlikely to win them back,? according to Dobbins, who argued that the situation can still be saved ?but only by moderate Iraqis and only if they concentrate their efforts on gaining the cooperation of neighboring states, securing the support of the broader international community, and quickly reducing their dependence on the United States.?

From Anthony Cordesman, a highly regarded military expert on the Middle East at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), also argues that eventual success will depend on Iraqis themselves taking control, mostly through the creation of ?larger and more effective Iraqi forces as soon as possible? and far more effective governance than the interim regime has been capable of to date.

?The nature of both the insurgency in Iraq and Iraqi politics makes it all too clear...that only Iraqi forces can minimize the anger and resentment at U.S. forces, give the emerging Iraqi government legitimacy, and support efforts to make that government and the Iraqi political system more inclusive,? Cordesman wrote in his latest analysis. ?It is also clear that even the segments of Iraqi society that tolerate Coalition forces as a necessity today want them out as quickly as is practical?.


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Deja vu?

Is it only me, or does anyone else have a sense of deja vu about this whole Iraqi business?

Wasn't this the way Saddam came to power a couple of decades back, as a "friend and ally" of the US?

Didn't they supply him with arms and everything he needed to invade Iran (and later, Kuwait), then decide that wasn't how they (the US) had planned it, so everything just backfired?

It all seems to be just going round and round in a continual circle. When are we going to have a break?


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by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Meanwhile, Back in Iraq.. ...

Who's this Killebrew chap, sounds like he's planning the next war. Suspicious name he's got as well, should there be an apostrophe in it.

I love the Military expert as well. He wants the Iraqi goverment to take more effective control with a larger force. Just send Hussein back then.

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by FluxIt In reply to Hello tsunami, goodbye Ir ...

Face it we live in a place that is nothing more than a soap opera. Everyday we read the news and show that 'I left the oven on' pannicked face.

There are more disasters in the works, more hate and discontent being planned, and more unrest. The world has never been heaven. Some 2500 yrs ago the Persians marched on Athens. The army was said to be so large that they left the Earth barren and drank rivers dry. Before that Nebuchadnezzar defeated and enslaved the Jewish people. Closer to home, Axis powers engaged most of the World. And more recently, Radical Islamics unseccessfully declared Jihad.

Natural disasters plague the past as they do today. Look at Pompeii or the Volcano in Africa whose gases killed entire villages. Every year in Bangladesh 10's of thousands die during the typoons then they are eaten by the Bangel Tigers.

The list goes on. What does man have to show for all his toils?

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a lot

by apotheon In reply to AS THE WORLD TURNS

art, science, philosophy, high aspirations, great and honorable achievements

Mankind has accomplished much. Don't sell 'em short.

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