Friday, March 28, 2008

US Forces Bomb Basra - Fighting Escalates Throughout Iraq

And so it begins, again! US forces bombed sites in Basra overnight. We are bombing Shiite militias or at least that is the idea. The problem with this is we are enforcing the Iraq Prime Ministers threat of "no retreat" in the fight against militias in Basra. The other problem is a growing anger among followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army. Now we are backing one side in what is fast becoming a civil war.

Unlike conventional civil wars, there are three factions here. The Shiites lead by Muqtada al-Sadr, the Badir brigade under Al Hakeem and the Iraqi government forces. We are siding with the government, even though we have been trying to build coalitions to end the violence and that will destroy any good will.

For the average Iraqi, their world has become chaos. Baghdad is under a curfew, yet fighting continues and other cities such as Basra and Nasiriya have erupted in pitched battles. The Green Zone in Baghdad is not even immune to attack and has become the focus of repeated rocket fire and mortars. US Embassy personnel are being told to stay in shelters and wear protective clothing when traveling outside.

In a vain attempt to quell the violence the Prime Minister is offering a cash for weapons trade, but with things being so volatile, it seems to be an impotent deal.

The press in this country is preoccupied with the election and has under reported the whole mess. They are simply saying there are some clashes, but it is much worse than that. If you remember the scenes in Vietnam just prior to the fall of Saigon, you might have an idea of the scene in Baghdad. From the messages of bloggers there, it sounds pretty hopeless. I will keep them in my prayers.

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