- Today, on CBS television, Paul Bremer boasted, "In
the last three or four weeks we've seen a rather dramatic reduction in
the number of attacks on the coalition. They are down by about 50 percent,"
- I read this quote to my friend Hamoudi here in Baghdad.
He raises his eyebrows and says,
- "But attacks on helicopters has been up 100%. The
resistance is finding it easier to attack the helicopters than the ground
patrols. Attacks are not decreasing, they are changing. Doesnít
Mr. Bremer see this?"
- I don't know if the attacks on helicopters has risen
100%, but I do know that 4 have been shot down in the last 2 weeks. And
that just a few days ago the CPA admitted to over 20 attacks per day on
occupation forces. And that, on average, at least 1 US soldier is dying
per day in Iraq, with several more wounded.
- At the same time, tens of thousands of US troops are
being involuntarily retained past their scheduled departures from the US
- But my Iraqi friends could really care less about Mr.
Bremer's news of a decrease in attacks on occupation forces. Why? Because
it has only meant an increase in attacks on Iraqi Police and Iraqi civilians.
- While the Governor of Iraq was boasting of this supposed
success we receive news this morning of a suicide car bomb in Baquba which
exploded at a police station, killing at least two people and wounding
14. A policeman said he watched a white car speed towards the police station,
then explode in a powerful blast that knocked down scores of people.
- This atrocity is only the most recent of a horrible pattern
that has emerged. For car bomb attacks on police stations in Baquba and
a town near it in November killed 16 people. 8 people died in a car bomb
at a restaurant in Baghdad on New Years Eve. Last Friday a bomb strapped
on a bicycle exploded near a mosque in Baquba killing 6 people.
- Despite the spin given by Governor Bremer, the situation
on the ground in Iraq today is horrendous, and Iraqi civilians, Iraqi Police,
and US troops are all paying the price with their blood.
- The problems here are not confined to Baghdad and the
so-called, 'Sunni Triangle.' In the south, the largely Shiite Muslim population
who the US hopes to be supportive of the occupation, has erupted in riots
in Kut, Amarra and several other cities protesting the lack of jobs. Iraqi
Police, British and Ukrainian Soldiers have killed several civilians at
- The governor of the province where Kut is located, Niímat
Sultan Pasha, resigned from his position with the CPA as the result of
the unemployment riots.
- At the same time Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraqís
most revered Shiite cleric, has said he opposes the American plan for creating
a transitional government by July 1st.
- Monday night found another horrible killing of innocent
Iraqis, when a man and a 10 year old boy were killed by American soldiers
who shot their car when a roadside bomb went off near a US patrol. The
boy's mother, aunt and two of his siblings were injured and taken to local
- My friend Rana was at the scene, and told me of seeing
a candy bar that the boy, Mustafa was eating when his car was riddled with
bullets by the Americans.
- "It was horrible. There was a piece of chocolate
on the ground with pieces of his brain stuck to it."
- An Iraqi policeman said, "You know the truth? I'll
tell you the truth. The Americans did this. I know after this conversation
they will fire me from my job, but that's what happened."
- In the hospital where the wounded were taken, an Iraqi
- "God curse the Americans! God curse those who brought
them to us!"
- By the end that day, in violence around the country involving
the American military, an American soldier and at least 9 Iraqis had been
killed, as well as 10 Iraqis and 2 American soldiers wounded.
- Meanwhile, yesterday in Mexico George Bush told reporters
of his plans to give NASA $1 Billion over the next several years for space
exploration. "The spirit is going to be one of continued exploration
... seeking new horizons and investing in a program that ... meets that
objective," he said.