Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The 'surge' is on.

High rise in Haifa Street bombed, thirty killed, all 'insurgents'. Same raid, thirty-seven reported wounded, including women and children. Meanwhile, 600 Mahdi Army men have been arrested, which is either an audatious attempt to stimulate a combined Sunni-Shiite rebellion which can be put down with overwhelming destructive force, or a sign that US forces have taken Sadr's return to the government as a sign of political weakness.

What is curious is that Bush and his cabinet must be fully aware that the escalation policy has already failed. Last year, Operation Together Forward saw a boost in troop numbers by 14,000 in an effort to combat the Mujahideen Shura Council in Baghdad, a Sunni umbrella group that now describes itself grandly as 'the Islamic State of Iraq'. The MSC (or ISI if you like) are reported by coalition sources to have lost hundreds of fighters to superior firepower or capture. Even if this were true, and I expect there is serious inflation involved in the figures of fighters killed, the result was a drastic escalation in violence across the city. The White House announced that it would review operations, and on 24th October the operation was brought to an end. So, what are the odds that this escalation will do anything other than tear up Iraqi cities and residents a bit more?