Close Call in Iraq


It was with surprise and then relief yesterday that I saw the news that the UN’s top representative in Iraq, Ad Melkert, and the chief of Najaf’s police had emerged unscathed from a car bomb targeting their convoy as it left the Shi’ite holy city in Southern Iraq:

While roadside bombings occur daily in Iraq — there were at least six reports of roadside attacks throughout the country on Tuesday — they are far less common in Najaf, a relatively peaceful Shiite holy city where Mr. Melkert traveled to meet with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a powerful Shiite spiritual leader.
After a three-hour meeting in Ayatollah Sistani’s offices, Mr. Melkert would not comment on what the men discussed. He urged Iraq’s politicians to end the stalemate that has gone on since parliamentary elections last March failed to hand a majority to any political bloc. Iraqi and foreign officials worry about rising levels of violence and unrest amid the power vacuum.
Despite his widespread influence among thousands of Iraq’s Shiite Muslims, Ayatollah Sistani has remained all but silent during the postelection political jockeying. He urged Iraqis to vote in the elections but refused to throw his support behind any electoral coalition.
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, whose political coalition finished narrowly behind the leading vote-getter, has gained the support of Moktada al-Sadr, an anti-American Shiite cleric, and has spent the last week traveling to Jordan and Iran to shore up support for his bloc.

Melkert is a long-time friend of TWN Publisher Steve Clemons, and he spoke eloquently at the New America Foundation last November on the challenges facing Iraq. While we here at TWN are glad to hear he is safe, this attack underscores not only the immense risk posed to Iraq stability by violent spoiler groups, but also the urgent need to form a stable Iraqi government that can withstand such pressures.
— Andrew Lebovich


7 comments on “Close Call in Iraq

  1. Cee says:

    the pentagon claimed that the dreaded “Zarqawi” was leading “foreign fighters” and was actually the al-Qaeda deputy leader”
    Perhaps he’ll raise from the dead again. The recent violence in Iraq came as no surprise since we want to blame al-Sadr for every evil thing under the sun.


  2. Carroll says:

    The “violent spoiler groups” link Lebovich inserted in this post is to an article in the LA Times by Ned Parker …” AlQ back from the dead” and is claiming the violence is mainly the work of AlQ….writing:
    “Although Al Qaeda in Iraq is nowhere near its level of power in 2005 and 2006, when it controlled large swaths of territory in Baghdad and other cities, its ability to once more establish havens is an ominous sign that could point to the possible renewal of the country’s sectarian war if the political void persists and communal resentments are not addressed.”
    In other words we are being told that ALQ is moving in (they weren’t there prior to our invasion of Iraq but we’ll ignore that for the moment) and will ramp up the violence between the Shiites and Sunnis.
    SO…ALQ is back on the map in Iraq?
    Remember back in 2004 & 2005?…..the pentagon claimed that the dreaded “Zarqawi” was leading “foreign fighters” and was actually the al-Qaeda deputy leader”.
    But then as it turned out according to the WP who peeked at some internal pentagon documents:
    “The Zarqawi campaign is discussed in several of the internal military documents. “Villainize Zarqawi/leverage xenophobia response,” one U.S. military briefing from 2004 stated. It listed three methods: “Media operations,” “Special Ops (626)” (a reference to Task Force 626, an elite U.S. military unit assigned primarily to hunt in Iraq for senior officials in Hussein’s government) and “PSYOP,” the U.S. military term for propaganda work.
    An internal document produced by U.S. military headquarters in Iraq, states that “the Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date.” WP..April’06
    Supposedly the pentagon promotion of Zarqawi’s “ALQ-ness” was to rouse the Sunnis to purge the Bathist and attack large blocks of Shiites in Iraq to clear the way for US forces…
    which is what happened.
    So…Lebovich..what’s the agenda here?
    Taliban Surpasses Al Qaeda in Afghanistan – CBS News
    Petraeus Admits There’s No Al Qaeda In Afghanistan – 2009/5
    May 10, 2009 May 10, 2009 … Al Qaeda’s Global Base Is Pakistan, Says Petraeus –
    Al Qaeda Using Iran as “Base of Operations” | The …
    3:02 PM, Feb 5, 2009


  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Ya gotta love it.
    “Former Baathists”.
    “Saddam Loyalists”.
    “Sunni Insurgents”.
    “Al Qaeda in Iraq”.
    “Iranian Operatives”.
    And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, we bring you….
    “Violent Spoiler Groups”.
    Is the hat almost empty now? Can these geniuses now stop dragging these renamed boogie men out willy nilly in their attempt to explain away a major clusterfuck thats about to blow up in our faces?
    I hereby declare all further violent groups in Iraq be named “Hemorhoid Warriors”; the product of a “success” story created by assholes, funded by assholes, maintained by assholes, and marketed by assholes.
    If this “success of the surge” business wasn’t such a despicable and slimey con job, it’d be funny. That is, uh, if we didn’t keep tripping over piles of dead bodies.


  4. paul_lukasiak says:

    has anyone claimed responsibility for this bombing?
    As to the whole “violent spoiler group” nomenclature, it isn’t as if Iraq is ALL BUT a stable democracy that some small groups are trying to destabilize, what passes for a government of Iraq is a kleptocracy maintained in power by the continued presence of US troop (and cash). Perhaps the most important “violent spoiler group” is the US military, which is preventing the inevitable metamorphosis of Iraq into a kinder, gentler Iran.


  5. DakotabornKansan says:
  6. Cato the Censor says:

    “[T]his attack underscores not only the immense risk posed to Iraq stability by violent spoiler groups, but also the urgent need to form a stable Iraqi government that can withstand such pressures.”
    And how is this last goal to be achieved? Iran’s government seems to be doing more toward this end than our own, the US gov’t that came in and basically destroyed Iraq in the first place. How is it that a theocracy is doing better than what’s supposed to be the greatest democracy in human history?


  7. Don Bacon says:

    “. . .the urgent need to form a stable Iraqi government that can withstand such pressures.”
    Iraq had a stable government prior to the US violation of the UN Charter (unremarked on) in April 2003, and it will have again as soon as the US exits the country and Iran is fully allowed to establish its new satellite government.
    The UN? It’s been a no-show regarding this illegal war, as well as the one in Afghanistan. What are its people doing in Iraq anyhow.
    Melkert in November: “Into the future, the three areas at the top of the UN agenda in Iraqi are to help the Iraqi government develop a framework for negotiations on Kirkuk, support better relations between Iraq and Kuwait, and to help implement economic development packages and budget management that does not revolve around oil prices alone. . .Melkert still expressed his cautiously optimistic outlook, noting that there are lots of opportunities but far less certainties for Iraq


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