War in Iraq: A News Summary Essay

            Rod Norland’s Newsweek article entitled “Walk Through Fire” tells of the U.S. Army’s Charlie Company assigned at the At Taji, north of the City of Baghdad under the able leadership of Col. Don Farris. The article describes the dangerous and deadliest neighborhood—the Adhamiya—where this company is conducting its foot patrol.  The foot patrol conducted was not a foot patrol per se nor an easy undertaking for the US Army personnel stationed in Base Apache since it was crafted in order for them (US) to convey a message that American’s presence is within their (Iraqi) reach and easy access, thus, winning the locals on its fold. On the intelligence side, these soldiers were put on the harms way in order to provide Human Intelligence (Humint) on the grounds for the use of the ground commanders. There are objections and apprehensions on the practicability of foot patrol in Baghdad’s deadliest street but like any other Military personnel one has to obey first before complaining.  Of course, this foot patrol is complemented with the heavy firepower right behind them because they couldn’t go unprotected in the middle of the day without enough firepower because it will end up to retreating. Yet, without the old-fashioned, unescorted foot patrols the Baghdad Security Plan-the surge- is almost certainly doomed because for one, it solely depends on US and Iraqi troops getting out on the streets to win civilians’ trust and cooperation to make the city safe enough for the real reconstruction activities to begin, which in turn would create jobs and give ordinary Iraqis something worth defending against insurgents and death squads (Norland n.p.).

            Norland emphasized the strategic importance of winning the battle and liberating Adhamiya because aside from the fact that it was the place where Saddam was captured, it is the heart and center of the insurgency problem of the country. Thus, winning the battle in this part of Baghdad will send a signal to other insurgent cells scattered in the city and in the rest of the country that the US led coalition along with Maliki’s government are much serious in moving forward to full reconstruction of Iraq and the eventual withdrawal of the US troops in the country (Norland n.p.).

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            In sending a Military Transition Team (MiTT) adviser who trains Iraqi troops to take over from the U.S. forces, the U.S believes that the mission is a noble undertaking and the faster they get the job done the better they could exit from the country. There are security precautions in place in the city like the Iraqi brigade that maintains 50 checkpoints, at the edge of Adhamiya, to keep the Shiite death squads out and Sunni insurgents in. Also, both perform joint foot patrols at night with the American contingent leading the round up of suspected insurgents especially by knocking at the doors or when entering sensitive places like local mosques resulting to the overflowing of clients in the Adhamiya’s Brigade Internment Facility. Not every one is happy with the Brigade’s performance as there are allegations that ¾ of its troops were infiltrated by Mahdi Army militiamen. Thus, instead of bridging the gap between the two sects, it fueled up their hatred thereby creating additional enemies at the front because although a lot of Iraqi soldiers sympathize with the Mahdi Army, that doesn’t make them their members outright (Norland n.p.).

            According to Gen. George W. Casy, Jr., then U.S. Commander in Iraq, nothing seems to be helping Adhamiya by restoring public services because even municipal workers don’t dare go near it, and the Shia-dominated government doesn’t seem to care also (Norland n.p.).

Indeed, the U.S. government is confronted with a Herculean task of not just leading the Brigade, in the case of Charlie Company—Base Apache, but finding a better alternative to end this bloody and costly sectarian violence because it seems that it will take more than a miracle to accomplish these things.

Article 2

Bush Defends Troop Buildup in Iraq, Claiming Progress in War

Sheryl Gay Stolberg

The New York Times/April 21, 2007

A Sherly Gay Golberg’s article entitled “Bush Defends Troop Buildup in Iraq, Claiming Progress in War” tell us that President Bush, in promoting his troop buildup in Iraq used maps and photographs on a wide electronic screen, broadcast to the world that his presidency has done wonderful things in Baghdad that will reduce if not totally stop violence. His speech to high school student audience and members of a civic group devoted to studying world affairs was a part of the White House public relations’ effort of persuading the Americans in general and the Democrats in Congress in particular that the Democrats were  wrong in using the Iraq war spending bill as leverage for him to bring troops home of which Mr. Bush has promised to veto it (n.p.)

On the second day of the conference, President Bush laid out his most specific terms to date what he viewed as an improvement in Iraq and he said that the operation meets the expectations—most especially of the Democrats.Since there was new development–a  security operation began in Baghdad—the people witnessed some of the highest casualties of the war as an example to justify his reason for the troop buildup but added that the city experienced bombings which killed 171 people  which is considered the deadliest day in the capital since before the American-led security plan for the city took effect two months ago. Bush statement was contradicted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying that the Iraq war is lost. Reid continued on saying that the more the people lined up down the president’s path, the more they will be away from responsibly ending the war also.

The Democrats has shown resilience on ending the war as opposed to the president’s opinion that the war must be upheld in order to safeguard the Iraqi people and it’s newly constituted government. For the President, troop’s withdrawal in Iraq is not a strategy for peace.

The President was not swayed by Senator Reid’s call that the war was lost in Iraq. Instead, the President outlined his battle plan by listing a step-by-step analysis of the conflict in Baghdad beginning with a map that used red triangles to pinpoint the location of joint security stations, posts in Baghdad where American and Iraqi forces are supposed to work to root out terrorists which resulted to incremental gains for Iraqi and American forces in Baghdad day by day.

Finally the president stated that the displaced families are beginning to return home, the number of sectarian murders and death squad killings in Baghdad has dropped by half according to the United States military while bombings which are mainly directed at Shiites have increased as well.

Indeed, the President has showed a concrete alternative and infused new strategy that will better solve the problem in Iraq compared with the Democrats who used the President failure to boost its own agenda. A stable Iraq is within the US national security interest which as the last super power in the world has an obligation to secure the liberty and freedom of the Iraqi people.

Article 3

Maliki’s Political Survival Tied to Security Effort

Edmund Sanders

The L.A. Times/ April 22, 2007

            The L.A Times writer Edmund Sanders in his article entitled “Maliki’s Political Survival Tied to Security Effort” describes the precarious situation of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s government due to his failure to fully implement the 2-month old security campaign in Baghdad. Sanders revealed that Iraqi’s politicians and analysts predicted that its first constitutionally elected government may rise and fall with the success of an ongoing US-Iraqi security crackdown in Baghdad amid the growing signs that the government of national unity is beginning to fracture says Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, who has gambled his political survival on the ambitious, 2-month-old security campaign. After a promising start which led to a noticeable decline in certain types of sectarian attacks, violence is once more increasing when 172 people died in five car bombings in and around Baghdad, making it one of the deadliest days in the capital. A suicide attacker infiltrated the fortified Green Zone and detonated a bomb in the Iraqi parliament cafeteria which killed a lawmaker. In this regard, Iraqi residents expressed outrage at some U.S. tactics of constructing concrete walls to separate Sunni and Shiite Muslim neighborhoods which critics say, spell trouble for Maliki.

Another political officer stated that by the current government’s action of attaching itself to the US’s security plan, it has accomplished nothing but more explosions of which the Iraqi people have run out of patience for Maliki. Former Prime Minister Allawi, desiring to win back his former job took advantage of  Maliki’s troubles by engaging in back-room jockeying and secret negotiations among major political players to realign themselves which led analysts to predict a major shakeout and Allawi continued to fuel their sentiments to assure his ego in replacing Maliki to the job. There are also efforts of joining Allawi’s secular bloc with the ultra-religious followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr despite of the fact that the two sides clashed bitterly at Sadr City in 2004 (Sanders n.p.).

In protesting the Prime Minister’s refusal to set deadline for U.S. troops to leave Iraq, two major defections happened in Maliki’s group and pulled its 15 members from the leading Shiite political bloc, the united Iraqi Alliance fortifying its camp while on the other side, Sadr, once a major supporter of Maliki, withdrew six Cabinet ministers from the government.

These parties complained about Maliki’s inaction, which is caused by the distribution of ministries based largely on sect and ethnicity, rather than political qualifications or experience. A de facto quota system dividing key government jobs among Shiites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds was used to break a deadlock in early 2006 that was preventing the newly elected government from taking office. But Maliki’s supporters predicted that the recent defections would enable him to implement his programs which led to a Cabinet reshuffle in order to improve his administration’s performance. U.S. officials support Maliki and military leaders hope a successful security program will help speed up the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops (Sanders n.p.).

            Maliki’s downfall is his failure to implement reforms come what may. His indecisive attitude created a vacuum of leadership in Iraq which is needed in order to stop the bloody sectarian violence that cripples its entire country in its desire to move forward to development.

Article 4

Maliki’s Last Stand?

Mark Kukis

Time Magazine Online/ January 05, 2007

The Time Magazine’s reporter Mark Kukis reported in an article entitled “Maliki’s Last Stand?” that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri  al-Maliki admits he has no luxury of time for his government’s failure to resolve the growing violence in Iraq. Thus, in a nationwide speech Maliki appealed for more time, vowing yet gain to curb violence in Baghdad, where he said Iraq troops would lead a new assault against insurgents and militias, with U.S. help as needed. He stated that though the Baghdad security plan will not offer a safe shelter for outlaws regardless of their ethnic and political affiliations he is inclined to use to them the iron hand in punishing anyone who hesitates to implement the orders because of their ethnic and political background. Likewise he stated that he will implement the plan even if it will lead to some harassment to all of Baghdad’s residents as he is confident that the people will fully understand these little sacrifices amidst the brutal terrorist attacks Iraq faces(Kukis n.p.).

            Though Bush publicly expressed support for Maliki, the fact remains that the White House has begun to signal its unease over the terrorist attacks. Also, President Bush joining forces with the others in condemning the way Maliki’s government handled the execution of Saddam Hussein. These disagreements over strategy are becoming more apparent when Maliki had pressed Bush to move U.S. troops from central Baghdad to the edge of the city, leaving the volatile downtown area in the hands of Iraq security forces.  Instead, the White House’s emerging strategy has most of a U.S. troops surge headed into downtown Baghdad.

The reason behind this action is the fact that Maliki is banking on the support of a political bloc led by Moqtada al-Sadr, the head of Shi’a Mahdi militia, the lawless sectarian army, but it seems that the relationship of alliance is one way only when the U.S. troops seized Sadr aide Sheik Mazin al-Saedi, a suspected organizer of kidnapping rings and death squads but Maliki immediately called for Saedi’s release of which the U.S. military complied. These developments have adversely affected Maliki’s morale (Kukis n.p.).

            According to Kukis, Maliki’s face has been the television of political watchers in Baghdad. The blank space on Maliki’s face has filled in since then with reflections of the country’s deepest problems because to look at Maliki now is to see streets shattered by car bombs, parading militia fighters and masked hangmen making basement snuff videos. His inaction against Sadr and his forces is only one of a long list of things he failed to do as he sat in the Green Zone in addition to his failure to abet electricity growing scarcer, tight supplies of water, shut down of schools and the failure of the oil revenues to materialize. For the people of Iraq wanting for so much, Maliki quickly transformed into a sort of un-prime minister when they failed to see any signs of meaningful accomplishments by his administration (Kukis n.p.).

            Anent to this, Iraq as a country waits for the White House to announce its new strategy because an increase in U.S. troops appears imminent, but they view that even a successful military push to secure Baghdad and other areas of Iraq is only half a solution at best. This being so, during his short stint in office, the state institutions the Bush administration worked so hard to build with Iraqis have broken down almost entirely (Kukis n.p.).

With so little left to work with in Baghdad, many in Iraq are looking to Washington for a bold political stroke that would sweep the sitting government from power as more U.S. troops roll in. In conclusion, Iraq cannot effectively run its own government and people but only depend upon the U.S. government for support in order to move onwards.

Article 5

Iraq Violence Kills 40 as Plans for Wall Angers 2 Sides

Alissa J. Rubin

International Herald Tribune/ April 22, 2007

Allisa Rubin article that appeared in the International Herald Tribune entitled “Iraq Violence Kills 40 as Plans for Wall Angers 2 Sides” describes the ordinary violence in Iraq nowadays which is characterized by car bombs, assassinations and executions that recently took the lives of about 40 people across Iraq as a fierce debate over the construction of walls between the volatile Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, the most chilling attack of which occurred in the city of Mosul. This happened after the marriage of a Sunni Arab man and a woman from the Yazidi faith, an offshoot of Islam and an ancient Persian religion because when the woman married she converted to Islam which angered some among the Yazidis. So she was kidnapped and killed according to the Mosul police. As a consequence, the Sunni Arabs in the area demanded that the Yazidis turn over the killers of which the Yazidis refused so to avenge their colleagues, armed men stopped minibuses traveling from a government textile plant in Mosul where many Yazidis and Christians were known to work, dragging the passengers off the buses, checked their identity cards and lined the yazidis against a wall and shot them killing 23 and wounding 3 (Rubin n.p.).

At the same time, in Baghdad, a car bomb killed 12 people, including 2 policemen; the construction of a wall separating a Sunni Arab neighborhood from surrounding Shiite areas drew sharp criticism from two powerful political groups. The groups, the Sunni Arab Iraqi Islamic Party and the Shiite group linked to the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr, both oppose dividing Iraq by sect because the group stated that the action of dividing the two would tend to increase sectarian hatred and fuel efforts to partition the country while other sectors opined that there are other methods of protecting the neighborhoods. But supporters of this move of partition rationalized that the main reason is since this area is an insurgent stronghold, making the walls would both keep out the Shiite militias who might attack civilians there as well as to stem the flow of bombs made in the neighborhood into surrounding areas but these surrounding areas of the capital with barbed wire and concrete blocks would harm them economically and socially. In addition, it will enhance sectarian feelings which will cause great damage to the neighborhood’s residents and have a negative effect on these areas instead of solving problems in addition to deepening the gap between the people and encouraging sectarianism. In effect, building that wall would tantamount to more of a liability to them rather than an asset (Rubin n.p.).

On the other hand, the spokesman of the U.S. military in Iraq stated that  the wall was intended only to be a temporary barrier to improve security by describing it as a mere tactic being used only in a handful of neighborhoods and not an effort to divide the city, much less the country. Further, Major General William Caldwell stated that the Adhamiya wall was “one of the centerpiece of a new strategy” because he said, it was only aimed at dividing Sunni Arabs in Adhamiya from the Shiites to the east and he also concurred with the previous statements that the wall was designed not for a permanent barriers between the two groups but just a temporary stronghold (Rubin n.p.).

Whoever is correct, it seems that the Iraqi people are the ones who suffer from the inefficiency of its leaders in coordination with the military forces of the U.S. government.

Summary

Like all wars of the past centuries, Iraq brought pains and bad memories to all mankind. It is a where violence is a daily routine for all the Iraqis and foreigners a like and is characterize by bombings, executions, and bloody deaths. This ethnic conflict is rooted on Shiite and Sunni’s interpretation of Qumran resulting to more and bloodier violence, and instability plunging the country and its people into misery and hopelessness.

            At the outset, the United States’ invasion in Iraq was a noble undertaking with the sole purpose of ending a regime which is characterizes by terror, oppression and mass murders of its people, enemies and innocent civilians. The noble idea of freeing Iraqi people from the clutches of Saddam Hussein’ reign of terror, after his capture, turned into a bloody war between the two major Muslim sect—the Sunni and the Shiite—leading to sectarian violence.

In Rod Norland’s Newsweek article entitled “Walk Through Fire” convey to the American public the danger its soldiers are facing in their daily grind in Iraq and whose professionalism and unparallel dedication is beyond reproach.  In this type of war against terror, Norland’s article is an eye opener that indeed, we place our soldier in a harms way to fight our own battles and of our ally–the new Iraqi regime. But like Norland, do American public and its institutions really appreciate their sacrifices? Or their sacrifices are lost in the oblivion of political grandstanding in Washington D.C.? Or we become callous and innocent bystanders who only care for ourselves and not others or our country. We have to understand that these soldiers are making a contribution to make the rest of the worlds free from the reign of terror allow democratic spirits flourish.  It is sad thing to note that in spite of supporting the soldiers, their plight and their dedication were subject to political dynamics in Washington and even was an issue on the U.S. Midterm election.

            Various Articles has been summarized on Iraq’s PM Maliki’s political indecisiveness that instead of helping and seizing the moments to restore peace and democracy in the country was even the sourced of the new wave of violence and political instability. The initial hopes and confidence in him having no political baggages was replaced by failures and mistrust. Indeed, L.A Times writer Edmund Sanders describes Maliki as a political liability rather than assets to Pres Bush by his failure to unite and pacify the two dominant Muslin sects in his country. International Herald Tribune’s Rubin reported the incident that was ensued when Maliki failed to exercise political maturity on the issue of constructing a wall that divides the two factions resulting to a blood bath. The mounting call for reforms and decisive action forced the Prime Minister to act strongly, as Kukis equitably observed.

            Is this not enough? No it is not.

            Overall, the War in Iraq is emotionally draining for all the sectors concerned in America. It drained our resources, family cohesiveness and destroys family values and structure. The gloomiest part is when soldiers’ family awaits the bad news of their fathers or family members who was sent in Iraq to fight this war which is not their own making.

            We may ask the following: Do we have the choice? What is our responsibility a democratic and strong nation to those countries that do not shared our own freedom?

            The 5 articles on Iraq showed us the different pictures of this bloody war across the different perspective. All of them agree that indeed, the War’s objectives were not fulfilled as new problem surfaces after another. There is a cloud of darkness given the shifting of new political landscape both in Washington in Iraq itself.

            In the outset, War on Terror in Iraq is a viable tool in making the “region” democratic and at the same time we are protecting our national and security interests in the Middle East. Our interest lies on equal access to oil production and political stability in the region which has consequences in our political dynamics. The development of democracy in this part of the world is an indication that the future is bright rather than allowing it to take its present course–a hotbed of terror. It is in this regard, that we are forced to intervene politically and militarily to arrest the further deterioration of the area.

            But Washington planner failed to consider the unique constitution of the socio-economic structures and the cultural values comprising the country or the region in making long term plans. Its failure has resulted to bloody civil war which was not in the original plan, hopefully it is not.  It was in this series of mistakes hinges on these fundamental truths about the people and the region that caused too much blood to spill on the various streets of Baghdad and at the same time ripped the hearts and soul of the American people.

            Amidst the cries for reforms in US policy towards Iraq, Washington is confronted on how to approach the problem in a way that will ensure a lasting peace in the region without starting a civil war between the Sunni and the Shiites–two major sects in the region and reducing its troop’s casualty in preparation for its permanent withdrawal in the country.

            What are the best alternative for the present problems, given the present scenario?

            First, the US and the Arab leaders should talk in a negotiating table on how to approach problem cautiously and effectively. In this instance, they have to iron out their differences in order to moved forward. Concession will play an important role in this instance; otherwise, the already ensuing civil wars will be bloodier and catastrophic both politically and economically.

             Second, the American political institutions (I mean the White House and Congress) should create a bipartisan approach to the situation in order to craft a better solution in ensuring lasting peace in the region. They have to stop political bickering ad grandstanding because to do otherwise, the troops stationed in Iraq will be victims.

            The War in Iraq is a war that will go down the drain even if the US will withdraw its troops, within the next six months without finishing first or at least establishing sectoral and structural political reforms in the country. It will be the next Somalia where lawlessness is the by-word and democracy a taboo. The reason behind these present undertaking is that there are no politicians or leaders that have risen above its ethnic background to unite this people; thus, it is wrong for us to take a non intervention approach. By allowing a country go down the drain without doing anything will result to breeding of new terrorist cells that will again test the cohesiveness of the American people and its institutions. This we should not allow.

            They are sacrifices to be made, and these sacrifices are bloody but by doing it we ensure the future of generations of American that it is good to live in a world of freedom and democracy.

References

Kukis, Mark. “Maliki’s Last Stand?” Time Magazine. 26 Apr 2007

            <http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1574410-2,00.html>

Norland, Rod. “Walk Through Fire.” Newsweek 26 Apr. 2007

            <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17888448/site/newsweek/page/2/l>.

Rubin, Allisa. “Iraq Violence Kills 40 as Plans for Wall Angers 2 Sides.” International Herald

            Tribune. 26 Apr 2007. <http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/04/22/africa/iraqB.5.php>

Sanders, Edmund. “Maliki’s Political Survival Tied to Security Effort.”  The L.A. Times. 26 Apr

            2007 < http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/iraq/complete/la-fg-

            maliki22apr22,1,6645916.story?coll=la-iraq-complete&ctrack=1&cset=true>

Stolberg, Sherly Gay. “Bush Defends Troop Buildup in Iraq, Claiming Progress in War” New

            York Times.26 Apr. 2007.

            <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/21/world/middleeast/21prexy.html>

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