While Central Iraq from east to west is now well known for the violent insurgency, the other points on the compass aren't exactly havens of freedom:
Basra’s lack of car bombs and relative calm have been touted as a victory for the British Army’s softly-softly approach. But fear is often palpable.
Asked about the Islamic gangs who force women to wear headscarves and prevent the sale of alcohol and music, a member of the writers’ union immediately started trembling. “I’m sorry, I can’t talk about that. This is a dangerous thing,” he said. “I have three kids and I love life. The Islamic movement is very hard. Al- Qaeda is not a problem here. The Iranian revolution is the problem.” The various Islamic parties, most of whom spent years of exile from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in neighbouring Iran, deny any link to the violence and blame al-Qaeda.
But officials say that the parties are closely linked to Iran, receiving funding and reciprocating with intelligence.
Samir Jassim Khadair, a spokesman for the Southern Oil Company in Basra, was blunt.
“Iran is running Iraq, frankly speaking,” he said.
And, up north:
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has again warned he could take action against Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq if U.S. forces did not stop the rebels infiltrating across the border into Turkey. "At the moment, frankly speaking, we do not see the efforts by the U.S. that we expect to see. We have expressed our views to that effect to the Americans," Erdogan said in an interview yesterday with Britain's Times newspaper. "There is a time limit. There is a limit to our tolerance," said Erdogan.
He said Turkey was within its rights under international law to defend itself from attack and drew a comparison with U.S. action against Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
"That mandate is provided for in international law,"
"If a country, if a people, if a nation are under threat, that country can do what is necessary under international law ... we would exercise that right in the same way as any other country could, would and did exercise that right."
Turkey has blamed the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for a rash of violence in the southeast of the country and says the guerrillas use bases in northern Iraq as a launch pad for attacks.
In the latest act of Kurdish insurgency, Turkish officials said Kurdish guerrillas have kidnapped the mayor of a town in eastern Turkey.
Meanwhile, the wingnut faction makes it ever more clear that they simply have no souls whatsoever:
How will hawks maintain their unshakable claims that the war was justified and victory is inevitable? It's a difficult question, but today we have an answer, courtesy of David Ignatius of The Washington Post. Ignatius's contention is that civil war--which, only months ago, hawks argued would never come about--wouldn't be the end of the argument:
Pessimists increasingly argue that Iraq may be going the way of Lebanon in the 1970s. I hope that isn't so, and that Iraq avoids civil war. But people should realize that even Lebanonization wouldn't be the end of the story. The Lebanese turned to sectarian militias when their army and police couldn't provide security. But through more than 15 years of civil war, Lebanon continued to have a president, a prime minister, a parliament and an army. The country was on ice, in effect, while the sectarian battles raged. The national identity survived, and it came roaring back this spring in the Cedar Revolution that drove out Syrian troops.
In this blithe description, fifteen years of carnage and atrocity followed by a further fifteen years of foreign domination was merely a prelude to the hopeful scenes of Martyrs' Square. (Hey, you need martyrs, right?) It's a debatable contention whether the "national identity" of Lebanon survived, though sectarian loyalty certainly deepened. What aren't debatable contentions are that 100,000 people didn't survive, nearly another million were displaced, and one of the world's premier jihadist networks, the still-powerful Hezbollah, was born. These aren't footnotes, and I have a feeling that the participants of the Cedar Revolution would never dream of treating them as such.
And, finally, AmericaBlog picks up on something the medulla-reliant mainstream media missed (they must've been too focused on nodding their heads--and not nodding off):
I posted earlier about our top general in Iraq saying they could start a major pullout in the spring (just in time for the 2006 elections oddly enough). Mostly, I made fun of the fact that the only condition he was really trying to set was that the insurgency not get any worse. That seems a pretty pathetic standard since the insurgency is stronger than ever.
But lots of threaders pointed out the obvious: Bush had just set a deadline. He certainly can't pretend conditions in Iraq have improved -- more people are dying this year than last year and more people were dying last year than the year before. And Bush insisted it was heresy to set a deadline to pull out -- if you do that, all the insurgents have to do is wait you out. Now they know they can hunker down (or even keep killing our men and women at the record levels they've been achieving) and we'll still be out in the spring of 2006.
Wingnut means you never have to keep track of your lies...