It was hard not to be a bit distracted the last few days. Confederate "Heritage" Month. The Pope's death. Britney Spears announces a new reality show. It's enough to make your head spin!
Sadly, the war goes on in Iraq. Insurgents have attacked the Abu Ghuraib prison twice in the last few days.
See: Fighters Target Abu Ghraib in Major Assault by Ellen Knickmeyer Washington Post 04/03/05.
Abu Ghraib Blast Injures 4 Los Angeles Times 04/05/05
Steve Gilliard had this to say about the significance of the first and larger attack (Guerrillas not dead yet, or close to it 04/03/05):
A large guerrilla force just walked up to one of the most heavily defended places in the middle east and started shooting and wounded 18 Americans. So what was this about the guerrillas wanting to surrender and end the rebellion? Seems they're ramping up operations and doing a good job of it. ...
Let me explain something: 60 men is a lot of men for a guerrilla force to show up with. It indicates prior military training as well, since someone has to lead all those men and plan the attack. The hand of the competent side of the former Iraqi Army shows its hand again. They had to meet, get together and then launch an attack. While hiding from US aerial observation.
Juan Cole also has some sobering observations about recent moves toward forming a government in Iraq, specifically the selection of a Sunni Arab speaker of parliament (Speaker of Parliament Elected amid Rancor 04/04/05):
The whole sorry episode is a matter for some alarm, in my view.
Choosing a speaker of the house should not have taken so long or been so acrimonious.
The punitive attitude of the Shiites toward Sunni Arabs who had had anything at all to do with the Baath Party is scary, since most Sunni Arabs who amount to anything inside the country, did. The rule ought not to be guilt by association but actual guilt of some crime. ...
The demonstration in Tikrit for al-Juburi shows that Sunni Arabs feel that fanatical Shiite sectarianism is blocking their respected leaders. Since the whole point of giving the Sunnis symbolic posts like speaker of the house was to mollify them and draw them into the new government, I'd say it was counter-productive to drive the Sunnis to popular protest about the process.
He also has a useful observation about Iraq news in general at the end of that same post: "Not everything in Iraq can be reduced to the issue of whether it is good or bad for the Bush administration or the Blair government."