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Monday, May 30, 2005

Lam Son 820


Another dead cop

Iraqi Offensive Met by Wave of New Violence From Insurgents
By JOHN F. BURNS
Published: May 30, 2005
................

Even before the fighting on Sunday, the government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari appeared to have opened a new and potentially hazardous chapter in the war. Announcing the crackdown last week, government officials said the operation would move Iraqi troops "from the defensive to the offensive" in the war, and show Iraqis that the leaders they elected in January were capable of providing the security that just about every opinion poll in recent months has shown is their highest priority.

But the operation met with skepticism even before it started.

For one thing, few believed the government could commit the 40,000 soldiers and paramilitary police officers it had promised, since the American command's latest official count of the number in Baghdad Province, reaching deep into the countryside beyond the capital itself, totaled only slightly more than 30,000. Many Iraqis said they suspected that the government was overstating its abilities in the hope of stemming rising popular anger in the face of the new insurgent offensive.

There has been another fear, one rooted in the country's shifting political landscape. Essentially, the operation begun Sunday involves a government led by two religious parties with strong ties to Iran, commanding new American-trained army and paramilitary police forces that are heavily Shiite, taking on an insurgency that is almost entirely Sunni Arab.

The potential for a further sharpening of sectarian tensions has been unavoidable, despite assurances by Dr. Jaafari that the Shiite leaders intend to govern in a way that draws Iraq's religious and ethnic communities together.

The concern appeared to be at least partly born out on Sunday, as truckloads of Iraqi soldiers and police officers in camouflage fanned out across the city, setting up checkpoints and moving in force through neighborhoods long known as insurgent strongholds, raiding homes and carrying away suspects.

One man in Amariya telephoned The New York Times to say that people in his neighborhood believed that the sweeps were inspired and led by the Badr Organization, a shadowy militia group founded in Iran that is an offshoot of one of the two governing Shiite religious parties, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

In 1971 the US supported the South Vietnamese invasion of Laos. It was an utter disaster. Lam Son 719 ended with ARVN troops in full retreat and US helicopter crews scared witless of the flak they had met up with there.

posted by Steve @ 1:22:00 AM

1:22:00 AM

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