Some 20,000 U.S. troops ushered 50,000 Iraqi military and police forces into and around Baghdad in what Bush and Maliki described as a security crackdown. A similar, military force numbering in the hundreds was ordered in and around Ramadi to 'capitalize' on the killing of their longtime nemesis, Zarqawi. The tactic in both cities was the same: surround the cities with barriers and checkpoints, establishing outposts to stage further operations.
Along with the close occupation, there will be an escalation of 'anti-insurgent' raids and airstrikes, increasing the possibility for civilian casualties and the certain reprisals against the deliberately compacted forces. Ramadi has a population of about 440,000, Baghdad 5,600,000. All that this contrived posse will accomplish is more resentment, more recrimination, and more unrest.
Amazingly, the residents of Baghdad and Ramadi have not been told to evacuate, despite lessons which should have been learned from the civilian deaths that occurred as a result of the past assault on Fallujah, and the reports of deliberate and collateral killings by American troops and warplanes throughout Iraq.
The exasperation of Sunni Arab deputy prime minister, Salam Zikam Ali al-Zubaie was on public display in a TV interview on al-Jazeera. I can say that I am not pleased with the way the Baghdad security plan began, al-Zubaie complained.
In Ramadi, the AC-130 Spectre gunship is being employed, military sources say, in the hunt for followers of Zarqawi. According to the AP, the assault on Ramadi is described by the Pentagon as an "isolation" tactic against insurgents there, but almost certainly, the most devastating impact of both offensives will be on the residents who have to navigate through the hastily erected checkpoints and maze of military impeding their free movement in their own town. How many more innocent Iraqis have to die at these checkpoints in a hail of bullets from the deadly rifles of our defensive troops?
Its hard to imagine that bombing in these residential areas won't result in even more innocent Iraqis killed. Myriads of the same Iraqis who enabled the Maliki regime to assume power with their vote are to be surrounded and held hostage by our lethal forces who are, perhaps, necessarily more concerned with their own safety than with the well-being of the residents who are forced to live at the business end of their guns, tanks, and warplanes.
Bush wants his own 'Tet' offensive in Iraq to vainly "roll back the terrorist's fringe" and give his War Party a glimmer of progress in Iraq to carry into the midterm elections and beyond. There really isn't any plan in place for the drawdown of troops the Bush regime's mouthpieces have been hinting at since before the last Iraqi election took place. If anything the WH seems to be digging in.
The pullout talk intensified in the days preceding Maliki's appointment as the head of the new Iraqi imperium, but it was quickly suppressed, perhaps to accommodate their latest escalation, or, maybe they just dug an even deeper hole with the killing of their old nemesis. The violence in Iraq increases with every swaggering political exploitation Bush commits here at home. Every time he re-declares war there, the militarized opposition obliges. 'Bring it on.'
How quickly they appointed another enemy, replacing Zarqawi, to strike fear into the war-weary American public. Strange how silent their new terror induced protege has been in the wake of the cabal's coronation.
The Bush regime may well intend to begin to reduce the size of the U.S. contingent in Iraq, but, the numbers discussed publicly (troops down to 100,000 by the end of the year) will do little to reassure Iraqis that Maliki's reign isn't just a chronic extension of the bloody American imperialism that enabled him to achieve power, and enables him to serve.
The escalation of operations in Baghdad and Ramadi can only be seen as a tighter occupation to the residents who have no association with the elements Bush and Maliki claim to be concerned with. So much of what has occurred in their name since they voted has been directed against their communities with the incessant search and destroy missions and the 'insurgent' round-ups which have resulted in hundreds detained since the initial invasion, indefinitely, without charges or access to counsel. The state of war that surrounds the U.S. presence in Iraq allows a perpetual cycle of resistance and recrimination. resulting in an ever-evolving class of antagonists for the American forces to point to as justification for further military 'clampdowns.'
The illogic behind the new offensives is revealed in the bluster of the commander of the 1st battalion, quoted in an AP article: "When you plant a flag on the enemy's favorite playground, that sends a very strong signal to the Iraqi people and to the enemy."
Sadly, this officer is projecting his own ambition onto a parcel and population that aren't his to manipulate and lord over. Prime Minister Maliki announced today that Iraqi forces would take control of security away from coalition forces in the southern province of Muthanna in a month. The British military forces who dominate there now say they have no intention of leaving Iraq, though. Australia's prime minister today dismissed the possibility for a quick withdrawal of his country's troops from greater Iraq (450 in Muthanna now).