Commentary on the economic , geopolitical and simply fascinating things going on. Served occasionally with a side of snark.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
War Watch December 26 , 2013 - US Sends Drones, Missiles to Iraq to ‘Fight al-Qaeda’ , meanwhile Baghdad Christians targeted during Christmas holiday ......Iran MPs Push Enrichment Bill to Retaliate for US Sanctions .....Truce Set to End Siege on Town Outside Damascus - The rebel-held town of Moadamiyet al-Sham, on the outskirts of Damascus, is set to disarm as a condition for the military ending its siege against the town.
Sectarian violence has been soaring in Iraq throughout the summer and into the winter, with spillover from Syria and internal resentment over Maliki’s reneging on power-sharing agreements combining to start a bloody civil war.
Unlike in Syria, however, AQI doesn’t control towns or territory in Iraq, and their attacks are the same hit-and-run insurgency that the US wasn’t able to stop with air strikes. Experts are saying they doubt the move is going to make any serious difference on the ground.
At least not with respect to the insurgency. The Maliki government has been keen to get larger amounts of weapons for years with an eye toward an eventual confrontation with Kurdistan, and while tensions have calmed there somewhat in recent months, the influx of missiles that will struggle to find a target in al-Qaeda may eventually be repurposed for Iraq’s future wars.
With Arbaeen over, bombers turned much of their attention to Christian Iraqis celebrating the Christmas holiday in Baghdad. At least 75 people were killed and 141 more were wounded in those and other attacks.
With hawks in the US Senate pushing hard for a new round of sanctions against Iran seemingly with the explicit intent of derailing diplomatic progress with the country,hardliners in Iran’s parliament look set to follow suit with a “retaliatory” bill.
The bill would respond to any new US sanctions with an immediate demand for the Iranian government to beginenriching uranium to 60 percent, still below weapons-grade but far higher than anything they’ve attempted before.
With Iran in the process of winding down 20 percent enrichment and focusing mostly on 3.5 percent, the move to jump to 60 would deal another potentially mortal blow to diplomacy with the P5+1, and as with the US sanctions that seems to be the idea, as the bill is being pushed by MPs who are openly opposed to the talks.
Nominally, the MPs are arguing the 60 percent enriched uranium could be used for nuclear submarines, though in practice Iran appears to have no such need, and the whole point of the threat is to be deliberately provocative. The Rouhani government hasn’t openly discussed the bill yet, but will likely oppose it.
The deal is set to be implemented in stages, with the locals returning the national flag to the water tower and the government restoring food supplies today. In the days to come the rebels will hand over heavy weapons and the government will dismantle its checkpoints. It is hoped that thousands of displaced residents can return.
The deal was said to be extremely controversial among the local rebels, with the moderates favoring a pact to resume food supplies to local civilians and the radicals saying any deal amounted to “giving in.”
If the pact manages to be implemented it could be a test case for broader such settlements nationwide, as both government and rebel fighters have virtual control over their respective territories, and many towns are finding themselves in similar predicaments on either side.