Monday, August 04, 2003

U.S. officials blame die-hard Saddam loyalists and foreign Arab fighters for a wave of attacks on American troops that has killed 53 soldiers since Washington declared major combat over on May 1. They say attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated -- and increasingly deadly.

On Sunday morning an Iraqi civilian car hit an explosive device and burst into flames on the road to the U.S. base at Baghdad airport, badly wounding the driver.

Sergeant Brent Williams of the 1st Armoured Division said the blast had probably been caused by a landmine. Asked whether it had been intended for U.S. convoys that use the road regularly, he said: "That's a possibility."

A crowd of children gathered, flinging stones at soldiers and shouting their support for Saddam.

"Our flesh and blood, we sacrifice for you Saddam," the children chanted as the car smouldered.

On Thursday, a U.S. soldier was killed and three were wounded when their vehicle hit a landmine on the airport road.

U.S. officers say they hope that if they track down Saddam they can end the guerrilla campaign.

Colonel James Hickey, the pugnacious cavalry officer who commands the 4th Infantry's 1st Brigade, says the deposed dictator is being forced into a corner.

I find a couple of things pestering me today on this subject.

The first is what has happened to prompt those children to gather around and chant those things? From my readings I had come to believe that the children often serve as a GIs barometer to measure what is going on in the Iraqi homes, out of sight of the soldiers.

Of course, with the reporting being selective and spotty, this sort of thing might be happening everywhere daily, and we simply don't know about it.

Still, if it is new...I'm not keen on it.

Second pestering item of the day goes back to yesterday's post entitled "Militant Islamists". Here is what bothers me. If Mr. Bremer is correct and some of the attacks are coming from outsiders (non-Iraqis) with a fundamentalist Islamic agenda, the capture or death of Saddam Hussein will have not one whit of impact on these groups.

Now certainly we might hope that those attacks stemming from former Ba'athists will die off once the former dictator does the same.

But those who would impose a Muslim fundamentalist government on Iraq (as if they worked well in Afghanistan and Iran) actually are happy that Saddam is out of the way, and now see the US as the obstacle between them and another gloriously brutal and corrupt government for Allah (sarcasm, mine).

And these nut cases are probably reasonably well trained and funded from outside Iraq.

Nope, I'm not happy with these developments.

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