10 July 2006


BAGHDAD (AFP) - More than 30 people were
in attacks across Iraq as sectarian
bloodletting raged on in Baghdad, raising new
fears that the country is sliding towards civil

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki appealed to the
country's Shiites and Sunnis to unite to "defeat
terrorists and all those who insist on opposing
the political process".

Ten people were killed and 51 wounded in a
car bombing and mortar attack in the capital's
Shiite-dominated slum district of Sadr City,
police said, a day after 61 people were killed
in apparent tit-for-tat attacks.

The attack in Sadr City, a bastion of fighters
loyal to firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-
Sadr, came after 42 Sunni Arabs were gunned
down Sunday in a deadly rampage in a Sunni
district of Baghdad blamed on Shiite

In an apparent revenge attack soon
afterwards, 19 people were killed and 59
wounded when twin car bombs went off
outside a Shiite mosque in a largely Sunni
district of the capital.

Baghdad has been swept by a wave of
sectarian violence, much of it targeting
mosques, since Sunni militants in February
blew up a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra,
north of the capital.

Another 23 people were killed across the
country on Monday, including seven Iraqis who
were executed by gunmen after their bus was
ambushed in Baghdad's mainly Sunni
neighbourhood of Ameriyah, security officials

Iraqi and US troops also sealed off the
capital's Sunni neighbourhood of Dura and
state media announced a daytime curfew there
from 2:00 pm (1000 GMT) until 8:00 am
(0400 GMT).

The whole capital is already under a dusk-to-
dawn curfew.

A curfew was imposed after Dura residents
reported hearing gunfire and said large
numbers of armed men were out on the
streets. The neighborhood has been the scene
of repeated fighting and attacks on security

Sunday's violence was the deadliest since a
July 1 truck bombing in Sadr City that killed 66
people, overwhelmingly Shiites, triggering a
new wave of communal attacks.

Take it away, Condi...

WASHINGTON (AP) - Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice
said Monday she is certain
Iraq's new leaders can prevail over
"determined killers'' like those that killed 41
people over the weekend.

"No one could have expected that just within
weeks of coming to power that the Iraqi
government would have been able to stop the
violence and to completely address a difficult
security situation,'' Rice said. She spoke
before a meeting at the State Department with
Pakistani Foreign Minister Kursheed Kasuri.

It’s interesting how over the years, Condoleezza Rice
has become something of an expert on judging what no
one could have expected. Many will remember the
infamous (and irrefutably false) claim
she made in
May 2002 regarding the 9/11 hijackers:

"I don't think anybody could have predicted
that ... they would try to use an airplane as a
missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."

And while it’s true that no reasonable person thought
the violence would suddenly stop once this new
government was formed, the current picture in Iraq is
certainly a stark contrast to the “cakewalk and rose
pedals” scenarios painted by the architects of this war
prior to the invasion. And we now know (thanks to the
Downing Street memos) that back in January 2003, Bush
and Blair didn’t expect any sectarian violence at all.

NY Times [3/27/06]:

The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned
a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi
government that would be complicated, but
manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was
"unlikely there would be internecine warfare
between the different religious and ethnic
groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.

I guess no one could have expected that the public
would ever learn the contents of that memo -- or that
anyone involved would ever be held accountable for
their incredibly poor judgment.