|The Pentagon announces another 14 U.S. troops killed in Iraq during Bush's "surge."
BAGHDAD - Fourteen American soldiers were killed in three deadly days in Iraq, the U.S. military said Sunday, including four in a single roadside bombing and one who was struck by a suicide bomber while on a foot patrol southwest of the capital.U.S. commanders concede that the surge strategy, which takes U.S. troops out of barracks and heavily armed vehicles and splits them into smaller units who are mixed in with the Iraqi military units and pushed out into the Iraqi body politic, has resulted in more casualties. And expect it to only get worse as the summer drags on. Meanwhile, Moqtada al-Sadr, with whom the U.S. is seeking talks apparently, talks to the UK Independent. According to the paper:
The blast that killed the four soldiers occurred Sunday as the troops were conducting a cordon and search operation northwest of the Iraqi capital, according to a statement. Two other soldiers from Multi-National Division — Baghdad were killed and five were wounded along with an Iraqi interpreter in two separate roadside bombings on Sunday, the military said.
One soldier was killed Friday after the patrol approached two suspicious men for questioning near a mosque, and one of the suspects blew himself up, according to a statement. The military did not provide more details.
Seven other troops were killed in a series of attacks across Iraq on Saturday.
The deaths raised to at least 3,493 members of the U.S. military who have died since the war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
The Shia cleric told The Independent on Sunday in an exclusive interview: "The Americans have tried to kill me in the past, but have failed... It is certain that the Americans still want me dead and are still trying to assassinate me.
"I am an Iraqi, I am a Muslim, I am free and I reject all forms of occupation. I want to help the Iraqi people. This is everything the Americans hate."
Mr Sadr, revered by millions of Iraqi Shias, spoke after leading Friday prayers in the Grand Mosque at Kufa, just over 100 miles south of Baghdad. It is one of the four Iraqi cities considered holy in Shia Islam. He always wears a black turban, the traditional symbol of a Shia cleric who can trace his ancestry to the Prophet Mohamed. But for the second time in two weeks, he also wore a white shroud - a symbol of his willingness to be martyred, and his belief that death is close at hand.
As for talking to the Americans:
"There is nothing to talk about," he said angrily. "The Americans are occupiers and thieves, and they must set a timetable to leave this country. We must know that they are leaving, and we must know when." He has reason to be wary of US offers to negotiate. As revealed by The Independent last month, respected Iraqi political figures believe the US army tried to kill or capture Mr Sadr after luring him to peace talks in Najaf in 2004.Cue the wingers associating al-Sadr with the Democrats ... see that! The key word is "timetable"! That's what the terr'rists want!!! Actually, that's what the Iraqis want -- and al-Sadr is an Iraqi. It's also what 70 percent of the American people want. And I'll bet, it's what the majority of American troops in Iraq want.
"We are fighting the enemy that is greater in strength, but we are in the right," he said. "Even if that means our deaths, we will not stand idly by and suffer from this occupation. Islam exhorts us to die with dignity rather than live in shame."
Too bad we don't have a government in Washington capable of implementing the will of the American people.
Back to al-Sadr: his rise to power and influence coincides with a greater Shia movement throughout the Middle East that has strong ties to Hezbollah, and therefore, in standard issue GWOT parlance, to Iran:
Mr Sadr, whose rise to become one of the most influential figures in Iraq coincided with the US overthrow of Saddam, said his movement sought to follow the example of Hizbollah, the Shia armed resistance movement in Lebanon. "Hizbollah and the Mahdi Army are two sides of the same coin," he said. "We are together in the same trench against the forces of evil."Al-Sadr denies that he is favorably disposed toward increased Iranian influence in Iraq, and in most analysts' opinion, he is first and foremost an Iraqi nationalist. According to the same article, his Mahdi Army has even met with Sunni militias who are fighting al-Qaida and the occupation at the same time, ostensibly because they share common goals (to expel both foreign fighters and foreign troops from the country.) But the notion that al-Sadr would make common cause with Hezbollah, which receives both funding and inspiration from the Mullahs in Iran is worrying for the Bushies, who have inadvertently become the chief enablers of both Hezbollah and Iran. But here's the rub -- those Shia movements are primarily anti-Israel, and their ire is directed there, and only secondarily at the U.S., because of our unwavering support for the Likuud government in Israel and their expansionist politices in the West Bank. Conversely, the al-Qaida, Sunni movement, is more directly aimed at us, and at the Sunni dictators and monarchs we prop up (in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.) Together, they form not a single "axis" of terror, but a multi-headed hydra of anti-Western militancy, which the Bush administration has neither the wisdom nor the competence (nor the strong alliances for that matter,) to confront.
And because of that, these movements -- and general anti-Western militancy untethered to any group or movement) are spreading, in Europe, in Africa, in Latin America, in the Caribbean ... and to some extent, inside the U.S. Is it a mortal threat to you and me? Not really. Most of us will never be confronted by a terror attack. Are we under constant threat, as the Republicans would have us believe? I would guess not. No need to hide under the bed. But these developments have serious long term implications for Western society writ large, as they aggravate socioeconomic fissures that over time, could undermine the social fabric that holds us together. In other words: Bush's war has made us less safe for a longer time.
And the worst thing is, he doesn't seem to know what he has done, let alone what to do about it, and neither do the insane neoliberal so called "neocons" around him. Their madness has undone George W. Bush's presidency, undermined our democracy, and weakened our nation, our security, and our national honor. So what are they doing ? Why, praying for another war, of course.
Shame on all of them. The blood of our fallen servicemen and women -- who hail from the half of our uniformed military who are bearing the full brunt of Bush's war all alone -- are on all their hands.
View the full U.S. casualty count here.
Labels: Iraq, Iraq war, military, Moqtada al-Sadr