Sorting Iraq

Apphoto Bill O'Reilly's counseling end game. William F. Buckley Jr., says the mission has failed. Hillary Clinton is being picketed for siding with George Bush. I'm confused about Iraq; where to turn?

How about Frontline's brutal hour-long piece on the insurgency, titled "The Killers," which helps sort out who's who in the ranks of those responsible for the hundreds of deaths a week? Using intermediaries, the journalists got interviews with the fighters to show how al Qaida in Iraq has muscled former Baathists out of the way and changed the lines of the battle.

Juan Cole's Informed Content, where the University of Michigan professor closely reads the local papers and breaks down the week of sectarian violence that has the ominous look of civil war. He's fond of this NYTimes piece on the role of Shiite clerics in the rising attacks.

On the opposite side of the aisle from Cole, there's Powerline, which recently posted a letter of thanks from the mayor of Tall 'Afar to the U.S. troops which freed the city from the boot of Abu Mousab Al Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born al Qaida leader.

For a view from the streets, there's Healing Iraq, a blog by a dentist reporting on post-Saddam Iraq. He wrote on Friday of:

Fierce streetfighting at my doorstep for the last 3 hours. Rumor in the neighbourhood is that men in black are trying to enter the area. Some armed kids defending the local mosque three blocks away are splattering bullets at everything that moves, and someone in the street was shouting for people to prepare for defending themselves.

There’s supposed to be a curfew, but it doesn’t look like it. My net connection is erratic, so I’ll try to update again if possible. The news from other areas in Baghdad are horrible. I don’t think it’s being reported anywhere.

And the latest post (Thursday) from Baghdad Burning, written by a young Iraqi woman:

We woke up this morning to news that men wearing Iraqi security uniforms walked in and detonated explosives, damaging the mosque almost beyond repair. It’s heart-breaking and terrifying. There has been gunfire all over Baghdad since morning. The streets near our neighborhood were eerily empty and calm but there was a tension that had us all sitting on edge. We heard about problems in areas like Baladiyat where there was some rioting and vandalism, etc. and several mosques in Baghdad were attacked. I think what has everyone most disturbed is the fact that the reaction was so swift, like it was just waiting to happen.

All morning we’ve been hearing/watching both Shia and Sunni religious figures speak out against the explosions and emphasise that this is what is wanted by the enemies of Iraq- this is what they would like to achieve- divide and conquer. Extreme Shia are blaming extreme Sunnis and Iraq seems to be falling apart at the seams under foreign occupiers and local fanatics.


Posted 02/26/2006 10:49:43 PM

Juan Cole's work is dizzying. The sort of resource so prolific it sometimes feels like picking up a book halfway through. Truly remarkable! I hope he writes a book soon.

jay lassiter
Posted 02/28/2006 06:28:06 PM

woah, this is pretty intense stuff. i hope spending time on all these sites doesn't somehow put me on dick cheney's shitlist. Unlike 'baghdad burning' the 'healing iraq' site allows comments from readers. As a part time blogger, i find this a strange-feeling connection to have some contact with my fellows in Iraq. guess i never imagined i'd made much common ground with the average iraqi. The average iraqi *blogger* however is a different story. (shrug) very cool.