It appears as though the Cheney administration will soon “redeploy” thousands of US troops out of Iraq. While several permanent US military bases are under construction there as I type this, the Capital Hill Cabal, desperate to paint the Iraq disaster in a glorious hue, are working their pundits and spokespeople overtime to convince the ill-informed they have not failed dismally in every aspect of their illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.
In his weekly radio address on Saturday, Mr. Bush did not mention Iraq once. Instead, he spoke of the bright and shining US economy and the need to maintain current tax cuts.
“Unfortunately, just as we’re seeing new evidence of how our tax cuts have created jobs and opportunity, some people in Washington are saying we need to raise your taxes,” he said, “They want the tax cuts to expire in a few years, or even repeal the tax cuts now.”
What better time to maintain tax cuts in the US, particularly when a new study by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard budget expert Linda Bilmes estimates the cost of the Iraq war to be between $1-2 trillion, and the national debt already over $8 trillion?
Meanwhile, the reality in Iraq is the opposite of that generated by the Cheney administration as the carnage and chaos in Iraq worsens each day.
A quick look at foreign media outlets yields the following developments that were either not reported or under-reported in the US:
-Unidentified gunmen assassinated Rahim Ali al-Sudani, director-general of the Iraqi Oil Ministry, and his son early on the morning of 4 January in Al-Amiriyah area in northern Baghdad.
-Clashes broke out between civilians protesting against unemployment and Iraqi police in Al-Nasiriyah city in Dhi Qar Governorate, wounding scores of civilians and police officers. The TV added within the same news summary that two civilians were “martyred” and two others were injured when an explosive charge missed a US patrol unit in Kirkuk.
-Al Sharqiyah television reported that a US plane had crashed in Mosul. Quoting its correspondent in the city, the TV said that US forces had rushed to the area and sealed off the scene where the crash occurred.
-At least 130 Iraqis and 11 US soldiers die (highest number of US soldiers killed in one day since August) in one of the bloodiest days in Iraq since the invasion.
-A medical source at Al-Ramadi State Hospital [speaking on condition of anonymity] reports that 14 civilians, including three children, “were martyred at the hands of US snipers today.” The source added that “the snipers stationed on roof tops of high buildings in Al-Ramadi, killed those victims in the Al-Ma’arid district in the city center this morning”. Al Sharqiyah correspondent adds that “Al-Ramadi has witnessed massive protests against the presence of US snipers who have been deployed throughout the city, spreading fear among residents.” Al-Sharqiyah says that the US armed forces have yet to comment on this incident.
-For security purposes, Iraq has suspended its daily pumping of 200,000 barrels of crude oil to major oil refineries in Bayji, north of Baghdad.
-A US convoy came under attack in Samarra when an explosive device planted near a petrol station was detonated. Four children were injured in the attack and were rushed to Samarra State Hospital.
-A doctor at Nasiriyah Hospital reported that two Iraqis were killed and 23 were injured today as clashes between demonstrators, who were protesting against unemployment, and Iraqi police continued in Nasiriyah in southern Iraq.
-Fierce clashes broke out between resistance fighters and US forces in Fallujah when armed men battled with the US troops in al-Tharthar Street in the eastern part of the city as the latter tightened security measures, blocking all main entrances to the city. Local residents also reported fierce clashes between US soldiers and resistance fighters on Arba’ien Street in central Fallujah.
-Earlier in the day, a roadside bomb went off at about 7:30 a.m. (0430 GMT) in eastern Fallujah as a US military patrol was passing by, destroying a US Humvee, killing or wounding the soldiers aboard, the source said. An Iraqi doctor from Fallujah General Hospital was killed by a US sniper, according to residents.
A recent email from a good friend in Baghdad sums up life for Iraqis in their new “democracy”:
“We are living in a very critical situation now, for the ING [Iraqi National Guard] are covering every corner around us wherever you go inside Baghdad. The killings are ongoing everywhere inside and outside the city.”
“Everybody in my family is safe for now only because no one is interested in putting themselves in danger. Demonstrations are going on all over Iraq for different reasons; price of fuel, lack of security, jobless people are having demonstrations as well as those who do not accept the presence of the Badr Brigades or the American forces. [Meanwhile others are demonstrating in support of the Badr Brigades but against the Americans.]”
“This is some kind of situation around us. The last four nights without electricity…only half an hour every six hours. Fuel prices prevent people from running their generators at home. Fuel on the black market is fifty times the price what it used to be, and nobody can stand waiting at the pumps for days anymore. The minister of oil resigned for this, and Ahmed Chalabi is now the minister…everybody is frustrated yet life is still going on as if the people are hypnotized.”
“Nothing has changed except that we see US Humvees and pick-up trucks full of Iraqi National Guard everywhere [in Baghdad,]” he concluded.