Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Different types of reporting on McCain's War

Here is Patrick Cockburn, the Arab-speaking Iraq correspondent for the London Independent, Violence erupts in Basra as Iraqi forces battle Mehdi Army 03/26/08.

The US has been eager for the central government to regain control of Basra, which sits on top of Iraq's oil reserves and is also close to the American army's main supply line that runs west of the city up the main highway from Kuwait to Baghdad. Basra has hitherto been run by competing local warlords, each of whom has been seeking to gain control of valuable local concessions and rackets such as fuel and the ports of Basra and Umm Qasr. ...

Mr Sadr has been keen to avoid an all-out military confrontation with the US army or Iraqi units backed by the Americans ever since he fought the US Marines in Najaf in 2004. Although his Mehdi Army militiamen suffered heavy losses because of the American force's superior arms, they showed that they were prepared to fight to the end. In the warren of slums in Basra, they could do the same and they could also spread the fighting across the overwhelmingly Shia south of Iraq. (my emphasis)
Here are Sholnn Freeman and Sudarsan Raghavan of the Washington Post in Iraqi PM Gives Basra Gunmen Ultimatum 03/26/08:

It was unclear why U.S. forces would take part in a broad armed challenge to Sadr and his thousands-strong militia on the eve of Petraeus's assessment, which the Bush administration has said would greatly influence its decision on whether to draw down troop levels. (my emphasis)
Now, in the paragraph just prior, they reported that Basra is "the conduit for Iraq's oil exports". It doesn't seem to have occurred to the folks at the Post that it's also strategically vital for the US supply lines. Maybe they should read Patrick Cockburn's reports to find out why, why, why might the Americans be concerned about fighting in Basra. Or they could check Pat Lang's column from the 07/21/06 Christian Science Monitor, The vulnerable line of supply to US troops in Iraq.

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