Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Baghdad Fallen: Diplomats Ordered into Flak Jackets

Crossposted at Daily Kos

No. Bagdad has not fallen to the "insurgents". Not yet. But it's only a matter of time before the headline of this diary appears upon the front pages of U.S. newspapers.

Today, the Green Zone of Baghdad -- the so-called safety zone that is the hub of U.S. operations, a 3.5 square mile area in the heart of the city -- was hit by mortar fire for the second day in a row. According to an AP report, two people were killed and at least 10 wounded. The State Department minimized the attack, but U.S. Embassy officials "ordered diplomats to wear flak jackets and helmets while outdoors or in unprotected buildings."

It's the anti-surge. Instead of making Baghdad safer, the various groups that make up the Iraqi insurgency are stepping up their attacks in the very heart of the U.S. war and occupation regime.

Both the intensity and skill of the attack were noteworthy. The shells, believed to be 122mm, exploded in rapid succession over about a three-minute period.

The blasts were relatively close to one another, suggesting an experienced mortar crew using more than one launcher.

On May 3, four Asian contractors were killed by a rocket attack in the Green Zone. Yesterday, nine were wounded. Over and over, in the AP article, Americans are voicing their fears:

Nevertheless, the recent increase in attacks has raised alarm among American staffers living and working in what had been considered an oasis of safety in the turbulent Iraqi capital....

Later this year, the United States plans to open a massive new embassy inside the Green Zone despite the ongoing security threat. Embassy staffers have expressed concern that the new facility lacks enough space to house the estimated 1,000 employees in safety.

It was only a little over a month ago that a suicide bomber got into and blew up the cafeteria in the Iraqi Parliamentary Building. Meanwhile, as most news articles covering this story point out, such as this one from the Chicago Tribune, thousands of U.S. soldiers are searching for three soldiers reportedly captured in a surprise raid on a U.S. Humvee patrol. (Today, the Washington Post reports the names of the seven who were slain in the attack.)

The images are building up to an overwhelming sense of conclusion: events in Iraq are spiralling out of control, even from a strictly military point of view. One wonders if the sudden censorship of soldier-bloggers and the military shut down of sites like MySpace aren't related to efforts to stem the tide of information.

Even the British, who saw the departure of Bush ally, Blair, recently, have reversed course and saved the royal body of Prince Harry, announcing he will not be sent to Iraq, citing unacceptable risks and "specific threats".

No one is safe in Iraq today, least of all its ordinary citizens, who have died in the hundreds of thousands. Americans and their allies who felt safe in the Green Zone are beginning to bear the psychic and bloody cost of American imperial policy, and Bush's megalomania.

Today, the Senate failed to cut off war funds, though the vote was larger than ever to do so (67-29). But the entire affair in D.C. has a hallucinatory quality, as does the political analyses that surround it.

U.S. diplomatic staff cannot walk around even the Green Zone without wearing helmets and flak jackets. Rocket and mortar attacks are becoming a daily affair.

The U.S. must be forced to withdraw from Iraq now. Articles of impeachment are likely a necessity to remove the increasingly remote and Nero-esque Bush and his Rasputin-like cohort Cheney (if you can excuse the mixed historical metaphor).

As events related herein make clear: time is short. Tomorrow, Baghdad will be fallen.

[Updated: around 8:00 PM PDT, 5/16]

I wanted to add some links, as there are some sources that deserve credit on reporting a few days back on the fear growing in the Green Zone, and on the precautions ordered for diplomatic personnel.

ABC News: "U.S. Embassy: Wear Flak Jackets, Helmets"

Daily Kos diary by Olds88, 5/14/07, No Warning Sirens During Cheney Visit

McClatchy's story, 5/14/07, U.S. Embassy employees fearful over Green Zone attacks

BBC: War-torn Iraq 'facing collapse'

The latter is an important story, detailing a new British Chatham House think tank report:

Iraq faces the distinct possibility of collapse and fragmentation, British foreign policy think tank Chatham House has warned.

The report says the Iraqi government is now largely powerless and irrelevant in many parts of the country.

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