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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Capturing Samarra--Again

There's an old joke about quitting smoking: "It's easy! I've done it 100 times!" Well, the U.S. military is stuck in Groundhog Day in Iraq, reconquering the country time and time again. Except that each time it gets harder, and, unlike Phil Connors (Bill Murray) in the movie, they never seem to learn anything from the experience. Patrick Cockburn at Counterpunch gives us some insight into what's really going on in Iraq:
American generals in Iraq triumphantly announced at the weekend that they had successfully taken over Samarra and killed 125 insurgents. They failed to mention that this is the third time they have captured this particular city on the Tigris river north of Baghdad in the past 18 months.

The campaign to eliminate the no-go areas under rebel control in Iraq is getting into full swing. Fallujah is being bombed every night and may soon be subjected to ground assault. Najaf was recaptured from Shia militiamen in August and much of the city is in ruins.

The current US military campaign is very much geared to getting President George Bush reelected to the White House in November. The aim of the bombing is to prove to American voters that their army is on the offensive, but without substantially increasing US casualties.

The situation on the ground in Iraq is far worse than what is portrayed by the media. Ironically, this is because it is now so dangerous for journalists and television crews to leave their heavily guarded hotels in Baghdad that they cannot refute claims by the American and British governments that much of Iraq is safe.

Nothing could be more untrue. I have spent most of the past year-and-a-half travelling in Iraq, and I have never known it so bad. The roads all around Baghdad are cut by insurgents. At Mahmoudiyah, just south of the capital, rebels in black masks felt confident enough last week to establish a checkpoint on the main road to Najaf.
Here's the rest of the article.