Monday, June 19, 2006

Our Man In Iraq

Juan Cole has put up a transcript of the "sensitive" description of Iraq from the US embassy there. (This was made public by the Washington Post.)

The document is dated June '06 and the US ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, has put his name to it. I'd recommend reading it for a rare opportunity to see what the US officials on the ground in Iraq actually say about the current situation. Here are a few lowlights.

In general:
1. (SBU) Beginning in March. and picking up in mid-May, Iraqi staff in the Public Affairs Section have complained that Islamist and/or militia Groups have been negatively affecting their daily routine. Harassment over proper dress and habits has been increasingly pervasive. They also report that power cuts and fuel prices have diminished their quality of life. Conditions vary by neighborhood, but even upscale neighborhoods such as Mansur have visibly deteriorated.
On women's rights:
2. (SBU) The Public Affairs Press Office has 9 local Iraqi employees. Two of our three female employees report stepped up harassment beginning in mid-May. One, a Shiite who favors Western clothing, was advised by an unknown woman in her upscale Shiite/Christian Baghdad neighborhood to wear a veil and not to drive her own car. Indeed, she said, some groups are pushing women to cover even their face, a step not taken in Iran even at its most conservative.

3. (SBU) Another, a Sunni, said that people in her middle-class neighborhood are harassing women and telling them to cover up and stop using cell phones (suspected channel to licentious relationships with men). She said that the taxi driver who brings her every day to the green zone checkpoint has told her he cannot let her ride unless she wears a headcover. A female in the PAS cultural section is now wearing a full abaya after receiving direct threats in May. She says her neighborhood, Mhamiya, is no longer permissive if she is not clad so modestly.

4. (SBU) These women say they cannot identify the groups that are pressuring them many times. the cautions come from other women, sometimes from men who they say could be Sunni or Shiite, but appear conservative. They also tell us that some ministries, notably the Sadrist controlled Ministry of Transportation, have been forcing fem1es to wear the hijab at work. Dress Code for All?
On Western clothing:
5. (SBU) Staff members have reported that it is now dangerous for men to wear shorts in public; they no longer allow their children to play outside tn shorts. People who wear jeans in public have come under attack from what staff members describe as Wahabis and Sadrists.
And finally, on security and confidence in the new government:
21. (SBU) Our staff, report that security and services are being rerouted through local provider whose affiliations are vague. As noted above, those who are admonishing citizens on their dress are not known to the residents. Neighborhood power providers are not well known either, nor is it clear how they avoid robbery or targeting. Personal safety depends on good relations with the neighborhood governments, who barricade streets and ward off outsiders. The central government, our staff says, is not relevant; even local mukhtars have been displaced or co-opted by militias. People no longer trust most neighbors.
It is grim indeed and should please no-one, whether they supported the war or opposed it.

What is important is that we in the West get a real understanding of the actual results of the policies of our governments. Without that understanding, which they seem desperate to deny us, they'll be free to continue to play fast and loose with the lives of people in faraway countries.

Presiding over the total collapse of a nation state is not a "tactical errror". It's a tragic catastrophe brought about by the ignorance, incompetance and stupidity of the Bush and Blair governments. If there were Western lives at stake (civilian, not cannon fodder), do you think they would still have behaved in such a recklessly cavilier way?

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. said...

"Areas near hospitals, political party headquarters, and the green zone have the best supply, in some eases reaching 24 hours."

There's a surprise.

Nosemonkey said...

Shush, you - they killed that nasty man with the beard, so the entire country's now flowing with milk and honey as delicate blossoms fill the air with their pristine scent and little baby animals frolick amongst the lush grasses of their verdant meadows. FACT.

ZepTepi said...

Another 'real useful' comment from a liberal. __First, the Washington Post publishes an article from a 'source' supposedly inside the American Embassy (that's called the State Dept folks...they guys who never found a war that they supported), never name who the 'leaker' of this so called 'sensitive' document came from, and then, our 'caring' writer of this article patronizingly informs us is that 'What is important is that we in the West get a real understanding of the actual results of the policies of our governments...which they seem desperate to deny us...presiding over the total collapse of a nation state is not a 'tactical error'...a tragic catastrophe brought about by the ignorance, incompetence and stupidity of the Bush and Blair governments".

Talk about stupidity. I haven't heard Mr. 'Curious Hamster' (appropriate name), write with any level of insight deeper than Cindy Sheenan's or Howard Dean's Democratic 'cut and run' talking points.__Why, in this equation does the 'sensitive', 'caring' liberal left NEVER, EVER talk about the evil that Sadaam Hussein was, about the hundreds of thousands of people that he killed, about the absolute horror hell Iraq was or the fact that the Iraqi's themselves (except for his IED murdering friends who bomb their own people) WANT US TOO STAY til they can build their own country's defenses?

To the lunatic liberals, support our troops means running to Canada, 'just like Cindy' is doing. __Patriotism means supporting liberal insanity like having NO foreign policy since JFK, which the Democrats haven't had. Their only policy is negativity, patent misinformation (ala Michael Moore, who is now being sued to the tune of $75 million by a Iraqi vet who Michael Moore utterly twisted his interview with a different reporter, and never asked for any permission to twist his thoughts into lies).

Mr. Hamster, you claim to be 'curious' and, may I suggest, your level of curiosity is certainly at the 'hamsterish' intelligence quotient. __For example, you ask no questions as to whether the Iraqi people themselves should decide who/when/where should help them. Nope, instead, you want US troops out, no matter what the people themselves 'over there think'. Pretty amazing isn't it. You run on your hamster wheel, all the while proclaiming how 'stupid' and incompetent Bush and Blair were, yet you never bother to mention that 15 of the 18 Iraqi provinces are totally safe, that the Kurds desperately, (DESPERATELY) want the US in their section of Iraq PERMANENTLY, TO BUILD BASES THERE. __You see, Mr. Hamster, those people over there, the Kurds (you know, the ones that were actually gassed by Sadaam's WMD's (oh that he never had), ALL of them DISAGREE TOTALLY with your 'hamsterish' observations about the Iraqi war. They don't think that it was a 'tactical error', or a 'catastrophe'. They thank the Americans ever day

CuriousHamster said...

Zeptepi, I could respond to your post in detail but I've decided not too.

I'll start with one point. You appear to have taken all your preconceptions as to what anyone who questions current US government policy believes, and then you've transfered them onto me wholesale. Is there a particular reason why you feel the need to do this? I'd rather you addressed views I actually hold rather than the views you think I hold.

This post concerns the daily realities of life in Iraq today so can we stick to that? The leaked memo, with the name of the man Bush appointed as US embassador to Iraq at the bottom, describes the current situation. This description matches any number of others which are coming out of Iraq (particularly Baghdad, the capital city, where somewhere between a quarter and a third of all Iraqis live, but in other areas too). Here's one from a blogger.

Feel free to respond. But please don't write another comment addressing your own preconceptions as to what my views are. Thanks.

. said...

Zeptepi, I thought all the opinion polls of Iraqis (not the Kurds, to believe of you) want the troops out now. The government currently doesn't. 15 out of 18 provinces are totally safe, you say. Really? Is that why the British forces instead of withdrawing from one which is planned are now going to have to stay? Is that why Basra is getting increasingly dangerous?

The caring liberal left doesn't talk of Saddam Hussein any more because he isn't there any more. He's in jail. We're dealing with what is going on now. We had two years of debate about how evil Saddam Hussein was, and there's some like you who'd rather revisit it. What's the point? We know what he did.

As for the Kurds, the reason they want troops in their province is because that they've always been oppressed and threatened by the Turkish, and the presence of the Americans would stop that from happening. The Kurds might not think it was a disaster or catastrophe, but they've been mainly autonomous for years - they were protected by the no fly zones before the war, and they also sheltered a major terrorist group - Asnar-al-Sunna, which is now part of the insurgency that is killing ordinary Iraqis.

Instead of just poring scorn on the comments of a "liberal", why don't you also face up to the fact that everything hasn't gone swimmingly? That document shows had bad the situation is in Baghdad, whether you like it or not. Dealing with that is now more important the re-running the arguments over the war.