Friday, December 03, 2004

 

Aren't you glad we're winning?

I mean, it's so much better than losing, even if sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.
Falluja Data Said to Pressure Guerrillas

By THOM SHANKER and ERIC SCHMITT

The American military is trying to press insurgents hard as they try to regroup across Iraq, requiring the additional forces announced Wednesday that will push the American military presence in Iraq to 150,000 troops by next month, its highest level since the invasion last year.

"The Falluja operation was very successful, and we want to capitalize on that success," Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday. "We need additional troops to do that."
Sure, at least 135 Americans died, along with who knows how many Iraqis, and most of the insurgents left before it started and are now holed up in Mosul and elsewhere, and you can't drive from Baghdad to the airport, what why let that get in the way of a big success?

I guess they never saw vampire movies - as Buffy said, they always come back.
Chalabi in Comeback, Siding With Shiites

By EDWARD WONG

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 1 - Throughout the autumn, a startling set of posters could be seen plastered across a neighborhood of western Baghdad. Scrawled in Arabic were the words "We'll be back to end the slaughter in Najaf." Above them loomed the wan, pudgy face of the former exile leader and onetime darling of the Pentagon's neoconservatives, Ahmad Chalabi.

The posters were an appeal to Shiite Arabs enraged in August when American troops killed hundreds of militiamen fighting for the renegade Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr.

With his campaign against the siege of the holy city of Najaf, Mr. Chalabi, a secular politician who until May was bankrolled by the Bush administration, brazenly cast his lot with both the staunchly anti-American Mr. Sadr and the Shiite religious establishment led by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most powerful cleric in Iraq.

It has been an arduous path to power, pockmarked by constant reversals of fortune, for a man who was instrumental in selling the White House on a costly war here. Mr. Chalabi fell from favor during the occupation and has since been castigated by the Americans and the interim government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, his longtime archrival.

They have accused him of spying for Iran, trading in counterfeit currency and overzealously purging the interim government of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, leading to profound feelings of disenfranchisement among the Sunni Arab minority and fueling the insurgency.

More broadly, his critics say that Mr. Chalabi, a former mathematics professor, remains a slippery charlatan, unabashedly throwing off his secular persona when it became inconvenient and packaging himself in a tidy new wrapping of Shiite nationalism and fundamentalism.

But Mr. Chalabi insists that his motives are more magnanimous than Machiavellian.

"This is not an election about parties," he said one evening in his opulent home in Mansour, the upscale neighborhood where the posters had appeared. "This is an election about a major issue, which is the constitution. It's also to establish the bounds of anti-sectarianism and the abolishing of sectarian politics in Iraq."

Despite those words, he has clearly aligned himself with the Shiite establishment here, first in his heading of a commission to purge former senior Baathists, many of whom are Sunni Arabs, and then in his founding of the Shiite Council, a group of 42 smaller political parties and individuals that includes the Iraqi National Congress, Mr. Chalabi's own party.

"He knows very well he needs them in the elections - he needs them as a bridge," said Mithal al-Alusi, a former senior official of Mr. Chalabi's party who was dismissed in September after going to Israel.
Boy, those elections sure are going to settle everything, aren't they?
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