BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Snipers firing from rooftops and a cemetery killed at least 17 people and wounded dozens Sunday in a series of attacks on a Shiite religious procession that drew hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to Baghdad. The "terrorist assaults" took place when the pilgrims were walking through Sunni areas on their way to the shrine of Imam Moussa Kadhim, one of 12 Shiite saints, Health Ministry spokesman Qassim Allawi told The Associated Press.In one neighborhood, security forces and Shiite militiamen in flak jackets were seen exchanging gunfire with unseen assailants who were firing from houses and buildings. Some of the attackers were firing from behind tombstones in a Sunni cemetery.
The violence defied a weekend driving ban to prevent car bombs amid a cycle of tit-for-tat attacks by Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq since the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite mosque in Samarra. The sectarian warfare, along with the deadly Sunni Arab insurgency, has become the biggest challenge for the U.S.-backed national unity government.
Thousands of extra U.S. troops also have been deployed in recent weeks as part of a security crackdown in the capital as many fear the bloodshed, which is claiming about 100 lives a day, could lead to an all-out civil war.
GOI: This attack underscores the inemptitude of the Iraqi government. They call for a car ban and the insurgents shift tactics to sniper attacks and keep the violence going. There is no evidence so far that these thousands of U.S. troops will slow down the violence in Iraq. The Iraqi government is so embroiled in back-biting and terf wars that they are not strong enough to hold their country together. What was barely reported this past week was that the main Sunni leader in the Iraqi government was talking about leaving the government over infighting. This Sunni leader is radical but it represents a disturbing crack in the government. yet another distraction for the government.
Then there was the massive support rally in Iraq for Hezballah during the recent Hezballah-Israel war. That disturbing rally was pretty much a foot note in the media reporting during the war. I, however, find it a very upsetting development that shows just how radicalized Iraq has become.
In addition, the Iraqi police and military forces are still not strong enough (or willing enough) to do much on their own after some 3 and one half years since the invasion and over-throw of Saddam. The New York Times magazine as reported on, "Meet the Press" this morning reports that the Iraqi troops are not being paid on time or even at all and still have a high AWOL rate. Corruption is rampant in the high ranks of the Iraqi military. We can not want stability for the Iraqi's more then they do and expect a success. As I have mentioned before on this blog, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is a definition of insanity and ineptitude.
Also on, "Meet the Press" this morning Senator John McCain said that the number of troops on the ground should be increased and that it is NOT up to the generals on the ground (as the President and Rumsfeld like to say). It is up to the highest ranks of the Pentagon (i.e. Rumsfeld).
Again, as I have said before, (and I will continue to repeat it) if Iraq is the "centrol front on terror" then the Bush administration and the Republicans are loosing the war on terror. BIG TIME. Stay the course really means, "I see no reality, hear no reality, and speak no reality."
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