Iraq Sampler

From Holden:

We awaken this morning to 87 U. S. soldiers killed in Iraq this month, making January 2005 the thrid-most deadly month for U.S. forces in Chimpy’s War, behind November 2004’s 137 and April 2004’s 135.

The New York Times says Baghdad is now largely controlled by the insurgency while offering this little tid-bit:

These incidents [of U.S. forces gunning down innocent civilians] have compounded a widespread impression among the people of Baghdad that the Americans are careless of Iraqi lives. Dr. Naqib, the dentist, fearful as he is of insurgent attacks, said he feared the Americans more. “The Americans, they are part of the terrorism,” he said.

“They’re so frightened, anything that happens to them, they start shooting right away.”

Finally we learn of fears that, although the security situation is extremely bad in Iraq now, conditions may worsen once the election results are in.

Colonel Aja believes Iraq’s security situation will improve after the elections, when Iraqis have had a chance to choose their own government for the first time.

But the second-in-command at the neighboring Iraqi Army base called Camp Chindit, Colonel Hassan Mazzid, thinks the real problems will not emerge until the results of the poll are released.

“We think some people want to win the election by force,” he noted. “Some lists will succeed at the polls and some will fail. We think some who fail in the election might make trouble because, as you know, democracy is new to Iraq.”

He says the army will stay on alert after the election to, in his words, “stop those people from making trouble for the new government.”

The colonel’s responses grow vague when he is asked which parties he thinks might cause that trouble. But he does not appear to be referring to any Sunni groups, because most of those are boycotting the poll.

Shiite parties, however, have enthusiastically embraced the poll, which they see as a chance to win back control of Iraq after years of oppression under Saddam Hussein and earlier Sunni-led governments.

Several of the leading Shia parties formed militias when they were opposition movements based in neighboring Iran. Although most of those fighters have nominally been absorbed into the new Iraqi security forces, the militias remain an imposing presence in Iraq’s political landscape.