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Iraq: Coalition plans floundering
SEVERAL WEEKS ago the US and British governments were talking up in the media how Iraq's security situation was improving. Today there is an air of desperation in Washington and London as Iraq's death toll in May exceeded 700, as well as 70 US troops.
The increasing violence and armed rebellion against the police and the US-led occupation forces since the new Iraqi government was sworn in, prompted US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice to pay a flying visit to Baghdad.
She urged Iraq's prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari to accommodate the disaffected Sunni community into the government. This won't be easy since the constitution-drafting committee is dominated by Shias and Kurds. Moreover, the political differences between the Shia and the Kurdish parties remain as wide as ever. In the meantime there has been a sharp rise in sectarian assassinations of Sunnis and Shias.
The Iraq Defence Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi announced last week a "crackdown on terrorism" called "Operation Lightning" - a fortified 'ring of steel' around the capital Baghdad, maintained by some 40,000 Iraqi troops and backed by 10,000 US troops.
This act appears to be aimed more at bolstering the sagging morale of the Iraqi security forces than practically deterring suicide bombers. Not least since most of the fighting in recent weeks has been outside of Baghdad in the western provinces and along the Syrian border. Moreover, many Iraqis question why Operation Lightning was announced three days before its implementation, giving plenty of time for any bombers to escape.
With the nationalist and Islamist-based insurgency showing no signs of abating and with the growing disaffection of the regime by broad swathes of Iraqis angered by the widespread unemployment, poverty and crumbling public services, the US-led coalition is floundering. And with increasing domestic opposition to the occupation, Bush and Blair appear to be running out of options.
In The Socialist 2 June 2005: