The reports flowing out of Iraq about US soldiers killing civilians are absolutely overwhelming. Coming on the heels of the Haditha publicity (or rather, in the midst of it) comes a report from the BBC of yet another alleged massacre:
The BBC has uncovered new video evidence that US forces may have been responsible for the deliberate killing of 11 innocent Iraqi civilians.
The video appears to challenge the US military’s account of events that took place in the town of Ishaqi in March.
The US said at the time four people died during a military operation, but Iraqi police claimed that US troops had deliberately shot the 11 people.
A spokesman for US forces in Iraq told the BBC an inquiry was under way.
It’s every day now.
Are these new allegations true? We have no way to know… but the composite picture these accusations are painting is downright frightening.
It’s hard indeed to remain composed in the face of this news onslaught, I agree. Calls for the US to “pull out immediately” are rising, and people are understandably upset. However, hysterical hyperbole will not help anyone (it almost never does).
We need to take a big step back. (Breathe, two three…. breathe, two, three….)
Better? K – let’s move on…. cautiously.
Yesterday, Iraq’s prime minister asserted himself publicly, stating that coalition troops (led by the US) are committing daily atrocities against civilians. Whether that’s true or not is something we need to confront here at home, but what’s immediately important is what this means in Iraq, for the country and its government.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 1 — Denouncing what they called repeated acts of violence by American forces against innocent civilians, Iraq’s top leaders said today that they would demand that American officials turn over their investigative files on the Iraq deaths in Haditha as they vowed to conduct their own inquiry.
The demand represented a unusual declaration for a new government that remains desperately dependent on American forces to keep some form of order in the country as a resilient insurgency and widespread sectarian violence have pushed it to the brink of civil war.
The move also came as the new Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, lashed out at the American military in the harshest terms anyone in his office has so far used to condemn what he characterized as habitual atrocities against Iraqi civilians.
Many are seeing al-Maliki’s statements yesterday as “turning on” the United States; that he has, in effect, declared war on our troops.
Polimom’s not convinced. I’m more inclined, actually, to think the PM is trying to unify the country by taking charge. By stepping up to the plate to lead (as one might expect a government to do), he’s effectively taking up the reins of his government.
Remember, reported events in both Haditha and Ishaqi occurred months ago, not yesterday. Whatever turns out to have gone on, it isn’t new news in Iraq; it’s only new to us. Rising levels of hostility and resentment don’t date from last week; they’ve been increasing for months.
Today, Reuters reports further assertion of leadership by Iraq’s new government:
Iraq’s prime minister said on Friday that military force should only be used as a last resort in Ramadi, a western town where the U.S. military says al Qaeda militants have gained ground.
Asked if he would be prepared to launch a major offensive in the town, Nuri al-Maliki told reporters: “We are trying to reach reconciliation with the people of Ramadi.”
“Force will only be used as a last resort, but if all other measures fail we will use force,” he said.
We need to recall the purpose – today – of this exercise (NO, I don’t wish to rehash the ramp-up into Iraq): To assist Iraq in establishing a democratic government. If Iraq’s prime minister is assuming the mantle, Polimom thinks that’s as good an outcome as we could ask for from all this.
Iraq’s government should be directing events in their own country, and we should be moving into a support role for their efforts. If these most recent statements from al-Maliki indicate a stronger hand, then I, for one, hope the coalition forces (read: the US leadership) can shift their footing.
I have to say that sitting here in the remote wilds of Katy, TX, it’s hard to know… but whether the PM decides that he’s going to drive the bus, or that the US troops are such a liability that they must leave, then that’s the answer. It’s their country.
Would I have preferred to see Iraq more stable before this came up? Yes yes yes… but they’re not, and here we are.
Polimom hopes we’ll support his efforts rather than oppose them.
As bad as everything looks and sounds right now, these are the thoughts Polimom is holding onto.
(Breathe, two, three…)
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Update: ABC News reports that the Ishaqi allegations have been investigated by the military, and were determined to be unfounded.
Horrific images of Iraqi adults and children have fueled new allegations that U.S. troops killed civilians in the Iraqi town of Ishaqi. But ABC News has learned that military officials have completed their investigation and concluded that U.S. forces followed the rules of engagement.A senior Pentagon official told ABC News the investigation concluded that the allegations of intentional killings of civilians by American forces are unfounded.
Rick Moran at Right Wing Nut House has more, and is wondering what the BBC is doing.
Myself, I think it’s danged hard to have a clue what’s really going on. Back to the lotus position for Polimom.