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April 17, 2007

From Bad To Worse Iraq

Iraq is going from bad to worse. First, the casualty rate among US troops is accelerating. Miami Herald:

Over the past six months, American troops have died in Iraq at the highest rate since the war began, an indication that the conflict is becoming increasingly dangerous for U.S. forces even after more than four years of fighting.

From October 2006 through last month, 532 American soldiers were killed, the most during any six-month period of the war. March also marked the first time that the U.S. military suffered four straight months of 80 or more fatalities. April, with 58 service members killed through Monday, is on pace to be one of the deadliest months of the conflict for American forces.

Senior American military officials attribute much of the increase to the Baghdad security crackdown, now in its third month. But the rate of fatalities was increasing even before a more aggressive strategy began moving U.S. troops from heavily fortified bases into smaller neighborhood outposts throughout the capital, placing them at greater risk of roadside bombings and small-arms attacks. [Emphasis added]

And the chaos is spreading outward from Iraq. James Zogby:

With the discovery of an Al Qaida cell in Morocco, and deadly suicide terrorist attacks in Algiers and the National Parliament in Baghdad, it is now clear that Bin Laden's cancerous group has metastasised, spawning affiliates and copy-cat groups across the region. What is also clear is that war in Iraq is aggravating this growth in two other ways.

On the one hand, the war itself, the occupation and the behaviour associated with it, have fuelled extremism. Of equally deadly consequence is the fact that Iraq is now playing the role once reserved for Afghanistan. Reports coming out of Morocco and Algeria, establish that hundreds of young men from both countries have travelled to Iraq for training and combat, and have returned to their home countries with evil intent. [...]

In Iraq, demonstrations led by Moqtada Al Sadr brought out hundreds of thousands of Iraqis calling for an end to the US presence in their country. In a surprising display of unity in Najaf, Sunni and Shiite clerics walked together, in the mass mobilisation. This outpouring came in response to Al Sadr's call to all Iraqis to cease fighting each other in sectarian attacks and to unite around a single cause: ending the United States' 'occupation' of Iraq. A possible contributing factor to this display of unity may be found in a US Pentagon report noting that casualties in Iraq have actually increased since the beginning of the Bush Administration's 'surge'. While it is true that violence has decreased in Baghdad, it is more than offset by killings in the rest of Iraq as insurgents and sectarian terrorists have dispersed to other locations.

But, Baghdad is still not safe, as was made clear on Thursday when a suicide bomber penetrated multiple layers of security to detonate his bomb in the cafeteria of the Iraqi Parliament building. All of this directly challenged the notion that the 'surge' is working. In Afghanistan things are no better; Taliban attacks are up, as are Nato casualties. A recent report by a former US army general claims that much of Afghanistan has reverted into a lawless narco-state. [Emphasis added]

An Iraqi group said to be linked to al-Qaeda says that Iraq has become a "university of terrorism." Irish Times:

The head of an al-Qaeda-linked group in Iraq said the country had become a "university of terrorism", producing highly qualified warriors, since the 2003 US-led invasion.

In an audio recording posted on the Internet today, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the self-styled Islamic State in Iraq, said his fighters were successfully confronting US forces in Iraq and have begun producing a guided missile called al-Quds 1 or Jerusalem 1.

"The largest batch of soldiers for jihad ... in the history of Iraq are graduating and they have the highest level of competence in the world," Baghdadi said. [...]

"We would like to inform the mujahideen all over the world, and especially in Iraq, that the Quds (Jerusalem) 1 rocket has gone into the phase of military production," Baghdadi said, adding that its length, weight, range and precision "matches those of world powers". [...]

"The fear of the American Marines has disappeared from the hearts of the people of the world, as the mujahideen have become thousands from the few they were after the fall of the infidel Baath regime," Baghdadi said. "These are just some of the achievements of four years of jihad." [Emphasis added]

I hate to think about where this is all heading, but it's hard to see any way that it doesn't become a whole lot worse before it gets any better. All the King's horses and all the King's men (what horses and men the King has left) can't put this Humpty-Dumpty together again.

Failed states don't spontaneously recover, and chaos only breeds more chaos in a self-reinforcing feedback loop. The Soviet Union once seemed impregnable; then it got tied down in Afghanistan, and things unravelled quite suddenly and unexpectedly. It's hard to imagine the US imploding the way the Soviets did, but we sure seem determined to follow in their footsteps. The USSR seemed stable and secure — until it wasn't anymore. Chaotic, nonlinear systems can shift to new equilibrium states quite suddenly and unexpectedly. The pace of change is accelerating; nothing lasts forever.

Posted by Jonathan at April 17, 2007 09:51 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb