Thursday, April 05, 2007

Don't Misunderestimate President Ahmadinejad Either

He may be crazy, but he's not stupid.
This is from a Persian blog...

No matter what you think about this whole crisis over the British sailors, Iran took great advantage of the situation and got much of what it was looking for, while leaving a way out for the Brits to get their sailors back. Now everybody’s happy, except perhaps G. W. Bush (this guy almost never gets to be happy, because he can’t think!).

My instinct is that this more or less "official" initiative, capturing and holding foreigners for whatever alleged reason, is a variation of kidnappings. I haven't come across any stats, but it looks to me like a trend. Whether by a government or some outlaw gang the dynamic is the same: hostage-taking with a view to achieve some political, tactical or public relations goal.

Some time ago I recall a chilling line from Abu Khaleel, my cyber-friend in Iraq: Will it surprise you to know that, in today’s lawless liberated Iraq, you can get someone killed for as little as $50?

Consider this story from Iraq Slogger:

At least 43 people have been taken in two mass kidnappings in different areas of Iraq. In one kidnapping operation, in Diyala Province, gunmen donned garb resembling Iraqi security forces uniforms to sieze their victims.

Voices of Iraq reports that Iraqi police forces started a combing operation to search for 22 herdsmen who disappeared Wednesday morning west of Karbala, 108 km southwest of Baghdad, a source in the Karbala police department said.

“Iraqi police forces launched a wide-scale search operation in desert areas in western Karbala for the 22 herdsmen who were kidnapped by a group of gunmen this morning,” media spokesman for the Karbala police department, Rahman Mashawi, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).

“Armed clashes flared up between the forces and gunmen on the borders of Ramadi city but no trace of the herdsmen was found,” he added.

A group of gunmen wearing military uniform on Wednesday morning kidnapped 22 herdsmen west of Karbala, a security source from Karbala city had said earlier.

“A group of armed men wearing military uniform kidnapped 22 herdsmen in al-Rafee region, west of Karbala,” the source, who asked not to be named, told VOI.

“The attackers were traveling in three cars and headed to Ameriya Falluja region in Ramadi,” he added.

Meanwhile, a source in the Karbala police department dismissed the allegation that the attackers were police from the Karbala department.

I'm just a simple-minded old guy blogging, but I'm having a hard time grasping how an increased number of troops on the ground will have any meaningful effect on reducing the frequency or spread of these tactics. Swarms of mosquitos or flies cannot be wiped out by swatting.

Take a look at ONE DAY'S REPORTING from Today in Iraq.

We are not on the right track. Clearly there are many Iraqis who cherish and support our mission in Iraq. How could they not? They are the beneficiaries of body guards. But I cannot see how a continuing US military presence in Iraq is making the situation better. The overall picture is that of a civil war which will ultimately be concluded by Iraqis, not by outside forces. And no, I don't believe Iran or Syria would be any more successful than the US manipulating Iraq's internal dynamics. If anything, they would be even less effective than we. This is a conflict that will play out in generations, not years.

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