Can Car Bombs, Terrorism Be Prevented In Baghdad, Iraq?

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem ----- February 17, 2007 .... The headline has become so familiar, so callous that it appears no different than a daily weather report. "Two Car Bombs Kill Over 100 in Baghdad," a headline reads from last Monday. Today, the same headline rings out, only the numbers are different.

What is the US doing wrong? Can car bombs be stopped in Baghdad?

The answer is yes. But it will take a different military approach to warfare and terrorism in Baghdad to succeed.

In western Baghdad, joint Iraqi U.S. patrols roamed the streets and stepped up searches, but they showed no signs of sealing off neighborhoods, witnesses said. Why are neighborhoods not being sealed off?

Some Iraqis were optimistic about the US plan, while others complained the military operation seemed to concentrate only on Sunni insurgents while allowing Shiite militias to escape the security net. Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, depends on Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, head of the Mahdi Army militia, for his political survival. Al-Maliki's failure to confront sectarian violence carried out by Mahdi Army has been partly blamed for the failure of two previous security operations in the capital.

Mohammed Ali Jassim, a 40-year-old Sunni owner of a spare parts store, said he was hopeful it would work after he was forced to abandon his business in Sinak, one of Baghdad's commercial areas where more than 50 people were kidnapped by gunmen disguised in military uniforms late last year. Jassim's brother was among the victims.

"I wish I could open my store again and send my children to their schools without fear of being kidnapped or killed," said Jassim, who has three children and lives in Baghdad's western Khadra neighborhood. "The government must annihilate the Shiite militias which are supported by Iran and not turn eyes to their acts. The government should also seek political solutions not only military ones," he said.

But Anwar Abdullah, 30, a supermarket owner in the predominantly Shiite eastern area of Mashtaal, said the government had given the Shiite militias time to flee in advance of the operation, which was announced more than a month ago but only formally launched Wednesday.

"The government has been talking about this plan for ages and many of the terrorists have fled Baghdad to other areas," Abdullah said. Sadr himself in Iran, also spokesmen described that as a visit, saying he had not fled Iraq.

Thousands of U.S. troops started a clearing operation in mostly Shiite areas north of the militia stronghold of Sadr City on Wednesday as new checkpoints went up across the city of six million people. Senior Sunni politician Adnan al-Dulaimi expressed hope it would succeed, but he accused the Shiite-dominated government of concentrating the crackdown on Sunni areas.

"We have noticed that this plan started with attacking Sunni neighbourhoods in Baghdad in Ghazaliyah, Amiriyah, Jihad and Amil and conducting random arrests," al-Dulaimi said. "It should concentrate on those inciting sedition, violence and terrorism in all areas without exception. And it should not only target Sunni neighborhoods."

This following paragraph is dedicated to George W. Bush.

Mr. President, if you are going to be effective in winning the war in Iraq, controlling future Iraq oil supplies, defeating terrorism and providing the people of Iraq with democracy then you must take measures which are realistic. If Washington had suffered two cars bombs going off today, what measures would you order?

I remember the brave measures that you and New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani took following 9/11.
You shut down New York and Washington. You divided New York into two cities. Downtown, which was not accessible to anyone but emergency crews and national guard and uptown, which remained fairly normal except that you could see a policeman or National Guard soldier on almost every street.

In Israel, we have suffered much. Therefore, we increased our security roadblocks, increased our Intel in the Palestinian areas making it almost impossible to blow anything up today in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Each and every citizen is aware and prepared to report suspicious people and objects. Security guards are placed on buses, in front of stores, restaurants, banks and shopping malls.

Most Palestinians have learned today that their suicide bombers and car bombs have had little effect on Israel. That Israelis are not running away to Europe or North America. That 72 virgins are not waiting for members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and Hezbollah.

When the US finally reacts to car bombs exploding in Iraq as if they were going off in Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Paul or Orlando, then and only then will we see a reduction in the terrorist's weapon of choice - the car bomb. Until then don't get upset at those Iraqis who wish the US out of Iraq, and those Americans who wish US troops to come home.

On January 19, 2005 it was reported that terrorists unleashed a wave of five car bombings across the capital, murdering about a dozen people, despite stepped-up U.S. and Iraq measures to protect this month's elections. North of Baghdad, terrorists killed a British security officer and kidnapped a Japanese engineer.

The U.S. general commanding the security crackdown in Baghdad said Friday that he has asked for reinforcements beyond the 17,000 U.S. combat troops already committed to the Iraqi capital as part of President Bush's emergency build-up. Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division based at Fort Hood, told a Pentagon news conference that he has requested additional forces to provide attack helicopters and combat engineers to bolster efforts to regain control of the capital city of 5 million.

Yet, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Iraq leaders today that the Baghdad security operation needs to "rise above sectarianism" and noted that no U.S. or Iraqi forces have yet moved into the capital's major Shiite militia stronghold, an Iraqi official said. Condi, who is supposed to know something about Intel, never served in a combat unit. She just doesn't get it. You never fight a war with one arm tied around your back.

Today, Iraq army Brig. Gen. Qassim Moussawi, a spokesman for the Baghdad commander, said only 10 bodies had been reported by the morgue in the capital, compared to an average of 40 to 50 per day. "This shows a big reduction in terror and killing operations in Baghdad," he said on Iraqi state television.

"Only 10 bodies?" Again, it sounds like a weather report. "Only four inches of snow fell today compared to two feet."
We can't control the weather - not yet, but we can control human movement.

Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, also reported a reduction in violence, attributing it to both the increased U.S. and Iraqi security presence and an apparent decision by the militias and insurgents to lay low.

"They're watching us carefully. There's an air of suspense throughout the city. We believe, there's no question about it, that many of these extremists are laying low and watching to see what it is we do and how we do it. How long that will last, we don't know," he said.

That is the problem. "How long it will last" should be made for a very long time with the right measures.
Otherwise al-Qaida, Syria and Iran will be enjoying breakfast in Baghdad, as we all again watch that all too familiar tragic scene of a US helicopters evacuating personnel from a US Embassy rooftop. Have we not learned anything from Vietnam?

We don't have China tying our hands today. We are tying are own hands. And soundbytes will not win this war. Take the same measures in Baghdad as if it was a US city.

US troops are ready. Is the White House?




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