Sunday, May 14, 2006

Iraq Worsens, More Denials Expected

It has been reported broadly, and for sometime, that the Iraqi Army and police forces were being "infiltrated" (if that is the right word) by various sectarian militias. One of the more alarming stories emerged last December:
Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern Iraq to lay the groundwork to swarm south, seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and secure the borders of an independent Kurdistan.
Sounds like a plan, a plan that doesn't have much to do with creating a unified, sovereign and stable Iraq. Indeed, the outlook was grim then:
Five days of interviews with Kurdish leaders and troops in the region suggest that U.S. plans to bring unity to Iraq before withdrawing American troops by training and equipping a national army aren't gaining traction. Instead, some troops that are formally under U.S. and Iraqi national command are preparing to protect territory and ethnic and religious interests in the event of Iraq's fragmentation, which many of them think is inevitable.
It appears that the "groundwork" is beginning to germinate some of the feared intramural clashes:
An Iraqi soldier was killed on Friday in a clash between two army units which prompted intervention by U.S. forces, the U.S. military said on Saturday.

The report may reflect ethnic and sectarian tension dividing the new U.S.-trained army that Washington hopes will replace American troops and prevent civil war.
Though reported by the US military, the clash has been "flatly denied" by both Iraqi police and military officers. Of course, flatly denying things that have actually happened is something these two groups do rather enthusiastically. In fact, it seems like the new Iraqi establishment, such as it is, has their own versions of Baghdad Bob: please, pay no attention to the Iraqi Army shooting at itself. This is just an illusion ....


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