Going Out With a Bang
No matter where you look in the world, the Bush legacy — you know, the one about turning everything Dubya touches into chaos, disaster, and misery — seems to be not just progressing steadily but actually picking up speed.
The Associated Press reports from Baghdad:
Iraq’s prime minister vowed Thursday to fight "until the end" against Shiite militias in Basra despite protests by tens of thousands of followers of a radical cleric in Baghdad and deadly clashes in the capital and the oil-rich south.
. . . In another bid to stem the fighting, the Iraqi military command clamped a curfew on Baghdad. No unauthorized vehicles, motorcycles or pedestrians will be allowed on the streets from 11 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Sunday.
Mounting public anger focused on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is personally overseeing operations against the militias dominated by [Muqtada] al-Sadr’s supporters amid a violent power struggle in Basra, Iraq’s southern oil hub.
Iraq’s Prime Minister was staring into the abyss today after his operation to crush militia strongholds in Basra stalled, members of his own security forces defected and district after district of his own capital fell to Shia militia gunmen.
With the threat of a civil war looming in the south, Nouri al-Maliki’s police chief in Basra narrowly escaped assassination in the crucial port city, while in Baghdad, the spokesman for the Iraqi side of the US military surge was kidnapped by gunmen and his house burnt to the ground.
Saboteurs also blew up one of Iraq’s two main oil pipelines from Basra, cutting at least a third of the exports from the city which provides 80 per cent of government revenue, a clear sign that the militias — who siphon significant sums off the oil smuggling trade — would not stop at mere insurrection.
In Baghdad, thick black smoke hung over the city centre tonight and gunfire echoed across the city.
The most secure area of the capital, Karrada, was placed under curfew amid fears the Mahdi Army of Hojetoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr could launch an assault on the residence of Abdelaziz al-Hakim, the head of a powerful rival Shia governing party.
While the Mahdi Army has not officially renounced its six-month ceasefire, which has been a key component in the recent security gains, on the ground its fighters were chasing police and soldiers from their positions across Baghdad.
You don’t need me to tell you that Dubya thinks things are going fine, even as U.S. staff in the ever-more-ironically named Green Zone are ordered to take cover ("We strongly recommend personnel do not sleep in their trailers") to avoid nearly continuous mortar fire.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports on a similar bull-versus-china-shop approach in Pakistan:
The United States has escalated its unilateral strikes against al-Qaeda members and fighters operating in Pakistan’s tribal areas, partly because of anxieties that Pakistan’s new leaders will insist on scaling back military operations in that country, according to U.S. officials.
Washington is worried that pro-Western President Pervez Musharraf, who has generally supported the U.S. strikes, will almost certainly have reduced powers in the months ahead, and so it wants to inflict as much damage as it can to al-Qaeda’s network now, the officials said.
. . . A senior U.S. official called it a "shake the tree" strategy. It has not been without controversy, others said. Some military officers have privately cautioned that airstrikes alone — without more U.S. special forces soldiers on the ground in the region — are unlikely to net the top al-Qaeda leaders.
Of course, a "shake the tree strategy" means there really isn’t a strategy — it’s just dropping some bombs to see what happens. But who needs strategy, I guess, when you’ve got remote-controlled missiles? And for those of you
with open eyes who keep your tinfoil hats close at hand, there’s always the likelihood possibility that Dubya isn’t done dealing out the carnage just yet, if this report from the German Press Agency (via the King of Zembla) is accurate:
The Saudi Shura council will secretly discuss national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the kingdom following experts’ warnings of possible attacks on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactors, media reports said Saturday.
The Saudi-based King Abdul-Aziz City for Science and Technology has prepared a proposal that encapsulates the probabilities of leaking nuclear and radiation hazards in case of any unexpected nuclear attacks in Iran, the Okaz Saudi newspaper said.
As Chris Floyd notes, this news broke just after Dick Cheney paid a social call on
his masters our allies in Riyadh. If anyone needs me, I’ll be hiding under the bed.