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February 05, 2007

The Surge Begins

Confederate Yankee has confirmation from a source in Baghdad that the crackdown has begun.

Meanwhile, Shiites blame American dithering for the fresh spate of mass killings:

A growing number of Iraqis blamed the United States on Sunday for creating conditions that led to the worst single suicide bombing in the war, which devastated a Shiite market in Baghdad the day before. They argued that slowness in completing the vaunted new American security plan has made Shiite neighborhoods much more vulnerable to such horrific attacks.

The chorus of critics said the new plan, which the Americans have barely started to execute, has emasculated the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia that is considered responsible for many attacks on Sunnis, but which many Shiites say had been the only effective deterrent against sectarian reprisal attacks in Baghdad’s Shiite neighborhoods. Even some Iraqi supporters of the plan, such as Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister who is a Kurd, said delays in implementing it have caused great disappointment.

In advance of the plan, which would flood Baghdad with thousands of new American and Iraqi troops, many Mahdi Army checkpoints were dismantled and its leaders are either in hiding or under arrest. With no immediate influx of new security forces to fill the void, Shiites say, Sunni militants and other anti-Shiite forces have been emboldened to plot the type of attack that obliterated the bustling Sadriya market in central Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least 135 people and wounding more than 300 from a suicide driver’s truck bomb.

I don't think the Mahdi Army was ever able to protect the Shiites. Or else there wouldn't have been so much carnage before now. All they can do is offer the weak deterrent that if Sunni terrorists kill Shiite civilians, they will in turn kill many Sunni civilians who are unlikely to be actual terrrorists.

There is some deterrent effect in that, but I imagine it's vastly outstripped by the natural result of Sunnis wanting more of their own payback.

And the terrorists on both sides aren't terribly concerned by mass killings of civilians. It empowers them both.


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posted by Ace at 03:10 PM

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