Numbers, Accounts Get Disputed (Updated)
The Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Armed Services, Lt. Gen. Babekr Zebari (Kurd), disputed the numbers of “deserters” that was first announced by an Interior Ministry spokesman five days ago. Zebari, speaking to Radio Sawa yesterday (Arabic), alleged that only 144 soldiers had “fled from their duties” in the initial stages of the fighting—Operation Cavalry Charge is still in effect three weeks after its launch—adding that, in his opinion, this is a very low number that surprised the commanders who had anticipated larger numbers of desertions.
Furthermore, the spokesman for the Baghdad Security Plan (Operation Rule of Law) disputed Michael Gordon’s story for the New York Times about a company of Iraqi soldiers that had abandoned its forward positions in Sadr City. According to Gordon, some 80 freshly-arrived troops had replaced the company that had been fighting in that area for two weeks earlier, and after 48 hours of fighting, the Iraqi major newly in charge decided to pull his soldiers back. The NYTimes pegged the story as the collapse of the Iraqi Army. But in today’s edition, the same paper seems to play down the events reported by Gordon, claiming that the Iraqi Army quickly addressed the security gap without needing the aid of US soldiers. But the spokesman, Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, dismissed Gordon’s story out of hand in an interview yesterday with Voices of Iraq (Arabic), claiming that by his reading only three soldiers fled from their duties during the fighting on Wednesday in Sadr City.
I think herein lies the quandary: there’s a divergence between those who see these problems as fixable, which they are, and between those using them as evidence that the sky is falling. Surely, there are many things that need to be fixed in Iraq, but one should take heart that there are those working very hard to fix them and they are succeeding. But then there are others who’re holding their breaths for any trip-ups so that they can scream that things are hopeless. Within this latter category one can place all the recent reporting from Basra.
But isn’t it odd that instead of focusing on the fact that the Iraqi Army is stepping-up to the plate and taking the initiative, which would mean that the Unites States can pull its forces out quicker, the Democrats—who’ve made troop withdrawal their sacred raison d’être—have failed to seize upon the positive while inexplicably playing-up the negative, to the detriment of their own policy recommendations. I think they are doing that because there’s an election to win in November and the Republican candidate has staked his run on conditions in Iraq. So if things improve there and troops can come home, then that’s bad for the Democrats because it authenticates the Bush administration’s contention that the fight in Iraq can be won, and is being won.
But hey, things in Basra went south from what we’ve been told, so that’s why the Iraqi Army is evicting the Sadrists from their office today (Arabic). Maliki has signed an order that all government buildings in Basra currently occupied by political parties or squatters must revert back to the state within 48 hours. The Sadrists now occupy a former Iraqi Olympics Committee complex in the heart of Basra and have been told that they must vacate the premises immediately. It seems that other political parties such as the Supreme Council and the Da’awa Party have also been told to vacate the government buildings they now occupy.
Doesn’t this story conflict with the false narrative of the ‘fiasco’ that was Operation Cavalry Charge, as peddled by western journalists and ‘analysts’?
Weren't we told that the Sadrists had won, and that the Iraqi Army had collapsed? So how come Iraqi soldiers are throwing the Sadrists out on their asses?
What's funnier is that these western reports are re-hashed and further mutilated in their Arabic translations, ending-up in openly-hostile newspapers like Azzaman, but these damaged goods are then recycled and cited by the fake 'experts' in the west, the ones that can barely speak Arabic, as first-hand accounts that filter back to lend added legitimacy to the existing false narrative! So the English-to-Arabic-to-English Chinese telephone that stands in for an analytical look at Basra only manages to further distort the facts.
I should also note that it’s been three weeks since Basra began to dominate the headlines, yet neither the New York Times or the Washington Post have sent a serious reporter down there. Why report the facts on the ground when you can make them up, eh?
UPDATE: this story from the Associated Press, the first to be written from Basra itself, contradicts itself through and through: How can things have improved so much if Operation Cavalry Charge had been a failure?