Sunday, March 30, 2008

NY Times Blows Another Iraq Story

Today’s NY Times has a report headlined “Shiite Militias Cling to Swaths of Basra and Stage Raids.”

The Times reports the battle is going very badly for Iraq and American forces:
Shiite militiamen in Basra openly controlled wide swaths of the city on Saturday and staged increasingly bold raids on Iraqi government forces sent five days ago to wrest control from the gunmen, witnesses said, as Iraqi political leaders grew increasingly critical of the stalled assault.

Witnesses in Basra said members of the most powerful militia in the city, the Mahdi Army, were setting up checkpoints and controlling traffic in many places ringing the central district controlled by some of the 30,000 Iraqi Army and police forces involved in the assault. Fighters were regularly attacking the government forces, then quickly retreating.

Senior members of several political parties said the operation, ordered by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, had been poorly planned.

The growing discontent adds a new level of complication to the American-led effort to demonstrate that the Iraqi government had made strides toward being able to operate a functioning country and keep the peace without thousands of American troops.

Mr. Maliki has staked his reputation on the success of the Basra assault, fulfilling a longstanding American desire for him to boldly take on militias. ...
Shite militiamen “openly” controlling “wide swaths” of Basra, “the most powerful militia” setting up checkpoints, a “poorly planned” operation, “growing discontent,” and more.

The way the Times reports the battle, you'd think the battle was going as badly as Sens. Clinton and Obama and Speaker Pelosi keep saying things are going in Iraq.

But is the battle really going as badly as the Times reports?

Not according to another report today:
Six days after the Iraqi government launched Operation Knights’ Charge in Basrah against the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed Shia terror groups, Muqtada al Sadr, the Leader of the Mahdi Army, has called for his fighters to lay down their weapons and cooperate with Iraqi security forces.

Sadr’s call for an end to the fighting comes as his Mahdi Army has taken serious losses since the operation began.

The Iraqi government has welcomed Sadr’s call for his followers to cease fighting.

"The order to pull off gunmen off Basra along with all Iraqi provinces and to disavow those who has taken up arms against government offices and security forces is responsive and patriotic", Ali Al-Dabagh, the spokesman for the Iraqi government, told Voices of Iraq. The Iraqi government has not called for a halt in military operations.

Sadr’s call for an end to fighting by his followers comes as his Mahdi Army has taken high casualties over the past six days. Since the fighting began on Tuesday 358 Mahdi Army fighters were killed, 531 were wounded, 343 were captured, and 30 surrendered.

The US and Iraqi security forces have killed 125 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad alone, while Iraqi security forces have killed 140 Mahdi fighters in Basra.

From March 25-29 the Mahdi Army had an average of 71 of its fighters killed per day. Sixty-nine fighters have been captured per day, and another 160 have been reported wounded per day during the fighting. …
I'm betting Sadr and his "most powerful militia" have quit the fight, and that the NY Times has blown another report from Iraq.

Wishful thinking and spinning are no substitutes for fair and balanced news reporting.

NYT story's here; Long War Journal story's here.

Hat tips: Mike Williams and Instapundit


mac said...

For the Democrats to win, Iraq has to be lost, and the economy must fail. The Slimes has a vested interest in these outcomes.

Of course, with and its founder, they aren't as concerned with the Democrats actually winning: they just would like for us to lose.

Anonymous said...

John -

The NYT is a parody of a newspaper. The report you cite from Iraq reminds me of the time it had an Israeli policeman looking really mean, billy-club in hand, and a bloodied boy in front of him who was identified in the NYT as an Arab. The message the picture was meant to convey was, mean Israeli/Jewish policeman beating poor defenseless Arab boy. The only problem with the picture was that the boy was Jewish, he had been beaten by an Arab (or Arabs) and the policeman was defending him. Whoops, blew it again, so-sorry, but damage done anyway.

John - keep up the great work.

Just a short reply to Mac at 6:37 PM - I'm not a political scientist so I can't say what will happen in Iraq, but I am economist, and I think I can see light at the end of the tunnel for the economy's problems brought on by recent financial innovations (and the light is not the oncoming train)- Hopefully we should start seeing a turn-around by June. (Of course, God created economists to make weather forecasters look good, so I could easily be wrong.)

Jack in Silver Spring

mac said...

Jack in Silver Spring,

Having spoken with a small number of returning soldiers, I would agree with your assessment about the progress. Now that they have the werewolf Muqtada on the run, and the Sunnis are humiliating al Qaeda, things ought to be flowing a bit better.

Enjoyed your NYT comment.


Anonymous said...

Does that mean that the Times is telling ---- well -----lies? Can't possibly imagine that -- (tongue firmly in cheek).