Thursday, April 15, 2004

This from the BBC

A year after the fall of Saddam Hussein US troops are battling gunmen in the old regime's Sunni heartland while unrest continues in Iraq's Shia cities.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the coalition faced its "most serious" threat since the end of the war.

But the US military said operations against militants were "going well".

Well, good to know they are going well at least.

The article goes on to note that...

Rafi Hayad, director of Falluja's main hospital, told Reuters news agency that 450 Iraqis had been killed and 1,000 wounded in fighting since the US ringed the city of 300,000 to pursue the killers of four American security men ambushed there last week.

The US has announced the deaths of six more of its soldiers in combat over the past two days, bring to at least 39 the number killed since the Shia unrest erupted on Sunday.

Concern is growing over the situation in Falluja both within Iraq and abroad:

Russia has called on the sides in Iraq to show restraint and warned of "an impending humanitarian disaster" in the city

A senior Sunni Muslim member of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), Adnan Pachachi, called the operation illegal and completely unacceptable

Kurdish IGC member Mahmoud Uthman said US policy was counter-productive

Muslim Friday prayers saw angry protests across the Middle East

The Iraqi interim Human Rights Minister, Abdel Basit Turki, and a member of the Iraqi Governing Council's rotating presidency, Iyad Allawi, both resigned on Friday without giving a reason for their decision.

Also, the New York Times(free registration required) notes that "There are signs that Shiites and Sunnis are joining to battle Americans."

When the United States invaded Iraq a year ago, one of its chief concerns was preventing a civil war between Shiite Muslims, who make up a majority in the country, and Sunni Muslims, who held all the power under Saddam Hussein.

Now the fear is that the growing uprising against the occupation is forging a new and previously unheard of level of cooperation between the two groups — and the common cause is killing Americans.

Well, at least we don't have to worry about civil war...


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