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Iraq’s violence eclipses Bush’s “surge" - more US casualties

Posted By Ahmed Abdullah

Americans should be prepared for more U.S. casualties in Iraq, White House spokesman Tony Snow said on Monday after another deadly weekend that claimed the lives of 12 American troops. 

Snow’s comments echoed a bleak assessment of Iraq’s situation by Major-General Rick Lynch, commander of U.S. forces south of Baghdad, who said on Sunday that American troops could be in Iraq for years and should expect heavy casualties in the next few months as they dig into “enemy” territory as part of a military operation ordered by President George W. Bush in January – the so-called “surge” strategy – under which an extra 30,000 U.S. troops are being sent to Iraq to boost the 150,000 American soldiers already deployed there.

“There are going to be increased casualties during this surge because we are taking the fight to the enemy,” Lynch told journalists in Baghdad.

The three-month-old, U.S.-led “security crackdown” – another flawed policy by the Bush administration – was supposed to make Iraq safer for civilians and for U.S. troops.

But the “surge” has made the situation worse. Hundreds of Iraqis have been killed in a spate of bombings that hit different areas of the country in recent weeks. About 104 American soldiers also died in Iraq in April, making it one of the deadliest months since the 2003 invasion. 

Most of the U.S. deaths this weekend took place in the Diyala province, which has seen a spike in attacks against American soldiers since the start of the so-called “security plan.” In fact, some analysts say the crackdown succeeded in one thing: shifting the violence from Baghdad to other parts of Iraq.

“This year, at least 60 American soldiers have been killed in the Diyala province, compared with 20 in all of last year,” according to an editorial on the LA Times.

The latest U.S. deaths were among 25 American troops killed in the first week of May, a bloody start to a month in which the Democrat-controlled Congress is determined to keep up pressure on the Bush administration to plan a withdrawal from Iraq.

Despite the rising U.S. casualties, Iraqi soldiers and civilians have borne the brunt of attacks, not just since the "security crackdown" started, but from the moment the U.S. invaded the country.

A car bomb explosion hit the southern Iraqi town of Kufa on Tuesday, killing at least 16 Iraqis and wounding dozens others. On Monday, two car bombings near the western city of Ramadi killed 24 and injured at least 40 others. And on Sunday, a car bomb in Baghdad killed more than 30 people and wounded 80 others at an outdoor market in Baiyaa. 

The attacks came as the White House and the U.S. Congress continue their negotiations on a revised war spending bill. Bush vetoed the original legislation last week, rejecting any conditions to link war funding to the withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of next March. 

Bush argues that the $124 billion bill to fund wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is needed to give time for his "surge" strategy. But the troop buildup has so far failed to reduce the violence which continues to claim Iraqi and U.S. lives.

 “There is a wide gap between the White House and Capitol Hill on the revised war-funding bill,” according to an article on the Voice of America.

“The White House wants no mention of a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. The Democratic Party leadership in Congress originally pushed for a timetable, but now it says it may settle for language that sets specific goals and consequences for the Iraqi government,” it added.

The situation in Iraq is deteriorating so rapidly that even top members of Bush’s own Republican Party are becoming increasingly skeptical about his Iraq policy.

In an interview with Fox News television on Sunday, John Boehner, the Republican Minority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, said Republican support for Bush’s Iraq war policy might falter if the policy does not succeed by this autumn.

“Over the course of the next three or four months, we’ll have some idea how well the plan is working…By the time we get to September or October, members (of Congress) are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it’s not, what’s Plan B?," Boehner wondered.  

So far, there seems to be no Plan B – just as there was no pre-war planning and just as there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

 

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