May 12, 2006

Chaos In Iraq

Juan Cole says Saving Iraq is a mission impossible:
Mostly fundamentalist political parties dither and jockey for position behind their downtown barricades, while armed gangs kill with impunity. On Sunday alone, 51 bodies showed up dead in the streets of the capital. Baghdad police have regularized the custom of the morning "corpse patrol," in the course of which victims of the country's low-intensity sectarian civil war are discovered, hands bound and a bullet behind the ear. The reprisal killings by religious militias have forced some 100,000 Iraqis from their homes since the bombing in late February of the sacred Askariyah Shrine of the Shiites in Samarra, according to Iraqi government estimates.

The lack of security has kept the economy a basket case. A third of Iraqi children are malnourished, according to UNICEF. The guerrillas' successful siege of the capital has reduced electricity availability to only three hours a day in the midst of a scorching summer, causing food to spoil. Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor reported this week that services in the capital are at an all-time low. The ethnic cleansing of mixed Baghdad provinces is proceeding apace, with minority Shiites or Sunnis being forced out.

That the new Iraq's seething religious and ethnic hatreds and the increasing mobilization of neighborhood-based militias can be fought by appointing a technocrat as minister of the interior, or by installing new ministers of trade or transport, beggars belief. The nightmare seems destined to continue.


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