Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Ongoing Battle For Haifa Street

If anything sets an example of the desperate security situation in Iraq, then it's the ongoing battle on Baghdad's Haifa Street. For weeks, U.S. and Iraqi forces have failed to contain the violence on this long street that runs through Baghdad right up to front door of the International Green Zone. Fresh Sunni fighters seem to emerge from this mainly Sunni residential neighborhood street on a near daily basis from the homes and dwellings of this street.

All of this raises serious questions that if the 130,000 U.S. troops and their Iraqi counterparts cannot even control the violence along this main street right outside the front door of the International Green Zone, then how are 21,500 more U.S. troops to bring peace to the entire city of Baghdad or even the entire country if a single street cannot even be controlled and insurgent activity controlled?

On the other hand, Iraq has turned into a huge humanitarian crisis with up to three million refugees either living in tent cities, or living in Jordan or Syria, and overwelming these nation's ability to provide housing and other vital humanitarian services. The UN currently has 15 trouble spots where they provide large peacekeeping forces to help maintain regional peace or prevent a larger scale humanitarian crisis from developing. If U.S. forces are deployed outside of Iraq as some support, then how is there to be any controls on the violence in Iraq? Sectarian and other violence in Iraq now takes more than 34,000 Iraqi lives, and about 1,000 American lives a year. Violence in Iraqi is mainly aimed at other Iraqis, not Americans. Yet nothing seems to work to provide better security for Iraq. The surge plan likely will only fail as well.

The government of Iraq is dominated by Shiite parties associated with militia groups. The Iraqi police are largely corrupt and infiltrated by Shiite militia groups. Only about 65 of the 270 elected members of the Iraqi parliament even bother to show up for legislative meetings, proving what a farce the Bush claims of a functioning Iraqi democracy actually are.

If anything, the ongoing battle for Haifa Strret in Baghdad illustrates in a mircocosm sort of way, all of the difficulties in providing security in Iraq. When not a single policing effort to provide security to a single street fails and no good answers or plans seem to work, then how can you really trust that simply adding more U.S. troops in the absence of an Iraqi will to work for a peaceful state will really work? When someone comes up with a workable plan to control violence along just this one street, then maybe a larger plan for peace in the city of Baghdad and Iraq in general will be forthcoming.


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