President Bush reported Saturday in his weekly radio address that while political progress is moving too slowly on the national level in Iraq, positive steps in cities and towns are offering hope for future stability.
"As reconciliation occurs in local communities across Iraq," he said, "it will help create the conditions for reconciliation in Baghdad as well."
What planet has George W.Bush been living on for the last four and half years?..."reconciliation in local communities across Iraq". Substitute ethnic cleansing for reconciliation and you have a pretty good description of contemporary Iraq including Baghdad, by Bush: as ethnic cleansing occurs in local communities across Iraq it will help create the conditions for ethnic cleansing in Baghdad.
A good example of this trend is Needlenose notes, via an AP report:
The Hurriyah neighborhood of northwest Baghdad, gripped by a spasm of deadly ethnic violence a year ago, has grown markedly calmer over the past eight months. It is now the kind of area that both U.S. and Iraqi officials point to when they cite progress at stabilizing Baghdad...By early December, almost all Sunnis had fled Hurriyah, except for a handful of elderly Sunnis, and the Mahdi Army was running several checkpoints. By March, Shiites who had been displaced elsewhere were moving into Hurriyah, taking the shops and apartments of Sunnis who had fled.So this is the peace of the dead and the silence of those who have left--ethnic cleansing, in other words, or to use less emotive words, (and less accurate words as well) ethnic consolidation not reconciliation is occurring.
As to the much touted success and attention to Anbar province by Bush, that seems, in large measure, due to the enormous reserves of oil tar sands that have been recently discovered there, and to the more widely reported news, that as 'The New York Times' reports today:
Sunnis, who have been underrepresented in the new Iraqi armed forces, now find themselves forming militias, sometimes with our tacit support. Sunnis recognize that the best guarantee they may have against Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated government is to form their own armed bands. We arm them to aid in our fight against Al Qaeda.
And in the Shiite capital of the oil rich province of Basra, how is that reconciliation going? One way, the way of the Shiite militias or the highway. According to 'The Sunday Times' 'Army chiefs fear Iraq exit will be Britain's Saigon moment'.British troops will start to pull back from Basra next month, and the withdrawal is predicted to be 'ugly and embarrassing'.
The British exit will be interesting and provide fuel for both sides in the debate; to either leave as quickly as possible, or to continue and stay and attempt the impossible; referee what has become ethnic cleansing between two Muslim sides who appear irreconcilable.
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