Post-9-11 events and analyses
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
: Christopher Dickey reviews several sources who publicly predicted the current mess in Iraq (State Dept, Rice Uni, French diplomats, himself), and concludes: "I don't blame most of us Americans for being in denial; I can't blame people who pin their hopes on anybody who tells them it's all really OK. But somebody has got to face reality in the face of persistent lies and delusions. So here's the question looking ahead: What happens if those who refused to know such important things in the past continue to set our agenda for the future? " 11:09:17 PM
Even in eager Kosovo, nation-building stalls: Many subtle issues in nation-building. "five years after the world's first "humanitarian war," Kosovars say the promises of democracy and European integration now seem to be slipping further away, rather than getting any closer..
the West worried what message an independent Kosovo might send around the world: if you want independence, insurgency pays. .. So the UN opted for a familiar tack - kick-the-can diplomacy, as analysts describe it - putting off hard decisions until later. .. The UN has adopted a process it calls "standards before status," requiring Kosovo to meet satisfactory levels of democratic governance, rule of law, and multiethnic tolerance before beginning discussion of permanent status. Review of Kosovo's standards-before-status progress is slated for mid-2005. But the standards process is seen as an unreasonably high threshold for a war- ravaged region with little to no tradition of democracy .." 9:17:04 AM
BBC in Basra: How bad can things get? "the most worrying development of the August fighting was that none of Basra's 25,000 police officers came to the aid of the British soldiers. Some even helped the gunmen.
I met one of the senior civilian political advisors to the military command. Every time he came to Basra things seemed a "step change worse", he said. The best thing to happen, he went on, would be for a new Islamic government to be elected in January which would ask multi-national forces to leave. I don't think he was being facetious.
Elections do form part of the exit strategy, but not in this way. The hope is that national elections in January will produce a government with the authority and the legitimacy to face down the gunmen on its own. But in local elections in the British sector this week, turnout was just 15%. A government election with that much backing would be just one faction in the civil war which some American intelligence officials believe is brewing.
That is very much the worst case. But whatever happens, British officers no longer have any illusions that the southern corner of Iraq they run will be immune from the violence. " 8:59:18 AM
British-occupied port of Basra calm, but not truly stable
: "August was a bloody month in Basra. As militiamen loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr faced off against U.S. troops in Najaf, his forces in Basra launched coordinated attacks on British convoys, seized the old compound of Hussein's Baath Party and rained mortar shells and rockets on British bases. Three British soldiers were killed, one of them in a 21/2-hour battle in downtown Basra that resembled the movie Black Hawk Down,
British troops held back, choosing to nibble at the edges of militant strongholds rather than risk extensive civilian casualties. The restraint appears to have paid off. In late August, when Iraq's most revered Shiite religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini al Sistani, came to Basra, the fighting stopped immediately. There've been sporadic conflicts in the weeks since, but nothing to match the violence of August." 8:56:42 AM
Marines Bide Their Time In Insurgent-Held Fallujah
: Interesting dynamic reported inside the city: "In what may be the strongest sign of tension between residents and foreigners, the head of the Shura Council, Abdullah Janabi, who had invited foreigners to the city in April, issued a statement on Friday calling Zarqawi a "criminal."
"We don't need Zarqawi to defend our city," said Janabi, who sought to draw a distinction between what he called "Iraqi resistance fighters" and foreign fighters engaged in a campaign against Iraq's infrastructure, foreign civilians and Iraqi security forces. "The Iraqi resistance is something and the terrorism is something else. We don't kidnap journalists and we don't sabotage the oil pipelines and the electric power stations. We don't kill innocent Iraqis. We resist the occupation." Zarqawi's actions, Janabi said, have "harmed the resistance and made it lose the support of people."
Residents have reported skirmishes between residents and foreign fighters in recent weeks. The fighting has broken out after residents, fearful of airstrikes, have sought to evict foreigners from their neighborhoods, the residents said. " 7:40:14 AM