Bush & Co. rushed into Iraq like a small child racing toward the edge of a steep cliff, excited by the possibilities, but dangerously oblivious to the risks. Unfortunately, this time there was no careful mother to step in just in the nick of time to save the day.
And now we just keep falling and falling . . .
The New York Times: Civilians in Iraq Flee Mixed Areas as Killings Rise
BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 1 — The war in Iraq has entered a bloodier phase, with American casualties steadily declining over the past five months while the killings of Iraqi civilians have risen tremendously in sectarian violence, spurring tens of thousands of Iraqis to flee from mixed Shiite-Sunni areas.
The new pattern, detailed in casualty and migration statistics and in interviews with American commanders and Iraqi officials, has led to further separation of Shiite and Sunni Arabs, moving the country toward a de facto partitioning along sectarian and ethnic lines — an outcome that the Bush administration has doggedly worked to avoid over the past three years.
Los Angles Times: Neighborhood Militias Add Another Armed Layer
BAGHDAD — When the “black shirts” come back, the neighbors of the mosque will be ready to fight.
The Sunni Arab men of the district have posted plainclothes spies on the corners to look out for suspicious strangers. They keep their cellphones close at hand, waiting for the ring that will call them to arms. When it comes, the men will pour from the surrounding homes, guns blazing.
Faced with the growth of Shiite militias such as the black-shirted Al Mahdi army and deadly abuses by the Shiite-dominated police forces, Sunnis in mixed-sect neighborhoods and cities throughout Iraq are stashing guns in their mosques and knitting themselves into militias of their own.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A U.S. military helicopter went down southwest of Baghdad on Saturday, the military said in a statement, saying it was unclear if there were casualties.
A militant group said it shot down a helicopter in the same area and residents said they heard gunfire.
“A … helicopter went down southwest of Baghdad at approximately 5:30 p.m.” the military said. “The status of the crew is unknown.”
A spokesman declined to say how many were aboard or the type of helicopter involved.
WASHINGTON - Islamic militants in Iraq are providing military training and other assistance to Taliban and al Qaida fighters from eastern and southern Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas, U.S. intelligence officials told Knight Ridder.
A small number of Pakistani and Afghan militants are receiving military training in Iraq; Iraqi fighters have met with Afghan and Pakistani extremists in Pakistan; and militants in Afghanistan increasingly are using homemade bombs, suicide attacks and other tactics honed in Iraq, said U.S. intelligence officials and others who track the issue.
Several Afghan and Pakistani “exchange students” volunteered to join the fight against American and Iraqi forces in Iraq, but were told to return to Afghanistan and Pakistan to train other militants there, two U.S. intelligence officials said. They and other officials spoke only on condition of anonymity because the intelligence is highly classified.
The intelligence suggests that if the trend continues, American forces, already contending with escalating violence in Iraq, could face the same thing in Afghanistan in the coming months, further complicating the Bush administration’s plans to withdraw some troops.