Unending nightmare

THE White House’s claim of progress on Iraq has suffered yet another strong setback, this time one of the former US commanders on the ground rubbishing the official line. Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez ®, who led the Joint Task Force 7 in Iraq in ’03, is a weighty addition to the anti-war drive’s momentum that is questioning the White House’s handling of the insurgency.

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Published: Mon 15 Oct 2007, 9:01 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:02 AM

Having led the US forces at the beginning of the campaign, his word no doubt carries more weight than media watchdogs and thinktanks, and therefore poses greater difficulties for the Bush lobby. That is especially so since his take is in stark contradiction to the commander now running the show. Putting things in perspective, it is little surprising that the General is extremely critical of the recent troop-surge, which General Petraeus claims has made way for considerable improvements.

And if the show so far has featured “a glaring unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership”, then the immediate days ahead stand to be much worse. The unnecessary standoff with Turkey is all set to create havoc in the only part of Iraq that enjoys a relative degree of stability — the Kurdish north. Considering the US congress’ ill-timed decision to rub salt into Turkey’s Armenian wounds, only the most subtle diplomacy will stop Ankara from authorising use of force to deal with the irritating Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) from inside Iraq. And going by the recent track record of Condi and her team, with little impressive stemming from their engagement with Middle Eastern countries, Pakistan and now Russia, concrete progress is unlikely.

A Turkish assault on the PKK would not only introduce another active front in the war-torn country, but also block key supply routes for America’s struggling military presence in the rest of the country. And even the prospect of the debacle has sent international oil prices to unprecedented highs. Therefore, on top of the current chaos, yet more uncertainty seems destined to come Iraq’s way in not too distant the future.

It is unfortunate that no matter what lows the Iraq equation touches, there is not the slightest show of soul-searching from George Bush and his team. They continue to justify their policies, with their more-of-the-same rhetoric insulting concerned opinion across the globe. Iraq’s continuously worsening situation reminds one of the old adage, “No matter how bad things are, they can always get worse.”

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