The Happy Arab News Service

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

What's Your Options ?

The New Times Times and the Economist have published cautiously optimistic assessments of the latest American and Iraqi forces' 'Surge' in Baghdad. Yet since yesterday the things look gloomy once again. A kamikadze devastated yesterday what, according to various media sources, was a venerable Baghdad's book market killing dozens.

A suicide bomber destroys a book market in Baghdad

And today two kamikadzes inflitrated a crowd of Shia pilgrims waiting at a checkpoint and killed another one hundred.

The Mahdi Army has been conspicuosly absent from the streets of Baghdad since the beginning of the operation, giving the US and governments forces the last chance to put the things right. Yet the 'Surge' appears to be subsiding after it has barely started putting in danger the president Bush plans to beef up the US force in Baghdad with another 20,000 soldiers.

As snow is about to start melting down across the mountains separating Afghanistan and Pakistan a Jihadist leader, boasting to dispose of 6,000 volunteers for suicide missions against the US and Nato targets, threatens to plunge into chaos another American experiment in fast track nation building.

Mullah Abdullah has been a genuine nightmare for the foreign troops and intelligence agencies in Afghanistan for quite some time. The videos are analyzed with a meticulousness that matches their menacing character. "We know from experience that many of his pronouncements are not propaganda," says one Western anti-terrorism agent. "He's carried out most of his threats." Dadullah already threatened a wave of suicide attacks in 2006. No one took him seriously at first. By the end of 2006, the CIA's statisticians counted about 139 such attacks throughout the country (!!! NB) -- five times more than in 2005. 2007 could be even bloodier.


Afghanistan is experiencing a mild economic recovery with construction boom being reported in places like Kabul and Herat. Yet if Iraq has any lessons to offer, then the first lesson should be that it's close to impossible to beat these insurgents on their home turf. The state of the art suicide bombing techniques developed by the extremists make defeating them very difficult. Their skills of mass slaughter and igniting sectarian wars are well honed and their passion for economic sabotage and targeting infrastructure from transportation lines to power grid and oil pipelines does not give one much taste for placing a bet on the country's fragile economic recovery as capable of even surviving the approaching Taliban spring offensive let alone of defeating the insurgency.

Finally many people recently took to asking what options the US still has in Iraq and to a lesser degree in Afghanistan. Probably there are very few and one of them is just leaving these people to themselves in a hope that they will be able somehow to sort out this mess on their own. Yet there is a problem with this approach. The US may have very few options left regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, but on their own both the Iraqis and the Afghans hardly seem to have even one.


The toll from yesterday's twin suicide attack in Hillah stands at 120 dead and 190 wounded. In short they got 300 people in one attack. Today it appears that the insurgents simply switched to targeting Shia elsewhere as more attacks are reported from outside Baghdad where the US and government troops are carrying out their latest security operation.

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