Five Days of April in Iraq

By Larry C. Johnson
t r u t h o u t | Report

Clearly smarting under charges that they are “failing” to tell the good news in Iraq, the major TV network and cable channels appear to have abandoned any effort to report what is going on in Iraq. Fearful of being accused of undermining the war effort, the TV side of journalism apparently decided to punt and do nothing. Fortunately, the print media and wires continue to tough it out. Working from the info collected on, I have assembled a snapshot of the first five days of April in Iraq. It is not a pretty picture. While it certainly could be worse, the facts on the ground make it very tough to argue that the US is making progress in securing Iraq.

Here is a summary of the last five days (the specific news reports are posted at the end of this article). During the period of March 31st thru April 4th the following occurred:

There were 39 shootings/ambushes that killed 144 people.

There were 25 major bombings that left 40 people dead.

There were 5 mortar attacks killing 3 people.

Four people, including a physician and the brother of a Sunni lawmaker, were kidnapped.

One US military helicopter was shot down. The crew died in the crash.

There were three major attacks on oil pipelines.

All violence is relative. In the United States our cable networks have no trouble spending weeks covering the disappearance of a teenager in Aruba. In fact, the saturation coverage of the disappearance of Natalie Holloway would lead a visitor from Mars to conclude that she was some sort of goddess and that our very security depended on finding her. Compare that coverage with the actual events in the last five days in Iraq.

If we had 25 car bombings in New York City and Washington, could George Bush’s White House get away with chiding the media for not focusing on the good news in the United States? Based on the lingering shock from the four terrorist strikes on September 11, 2001, I wager that news coverage would be borderline, if not full blown, hysteria in this country if we were experiencing what the Iraqis are confronting on a daily basis.

The problem is not what the news media is reporting. The real problem is that the White House continues to delude itself into believing that the problems in Iraq can be solved simply by managing the news. The events on the ground in Iraq, however, reflect centuries of deep seated sectarian and ethnic strife. If we cannot create effective security forces or provide such security ourselves, the Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds in Iraq will seek protection from their own militias. A functioning government requires, at a minimum, that the people be protected. If it cannot fulfill that task then the government has little chance of being accepted as legitimate. Until that problem is solved Iraq will remain in the throes of a low-grade, but escalating, civil war.

06 April 2006

News Articles From

31 March 2006

Reuters: Gunmen Kill Five Civilians in Baqubah
Baquba – At least five civilians were killed when gunmen fired on their car near Baquba, about 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad.

AP: Soldiers Find Six More Bullet-Riddled Bodies
Earlier in the day, soldiers discovered the bullet-riddled bodies of six men, aged between 25 and 30 and wearing handcuffs, in western Baghdad, police said.

Reuters: Policeman Killed in Fallujah

A policeman was killed when gunmen fired on his patrol in Falluja 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.

01 April 2006

AP: Sunni Sheik Killed in Basra
A Sunni sheik was killed by armed men in a speeding car when he left his home in the southern city of Basra. His brother, who was with him, was wounded, a Sunni official said.

AP: Two More Bodies Found, Handcuffed Man Shot
Police discovered two more bodies of young men shot in the head and wearing handcuffs in Baghdad. Witnesses also told police they saw three gunmen in a BMW pull a handcuffed man out of the car and shoot him near a highway in west Baghdad.

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