Here at this searing, dusty U.S. military base about four miles west of Baqouba , Iraqis— including interpreters who walk the same foot patrols and sleep in the same tents as U.S. troops— must use segregated bathrooms.
Another sign, in a dining hall, warns Iraqis and "third-country nationals" that they have just one hour for breakfast, lunch or dinner. American troops get three hours. Iraqis say they sometimes wait as long as 45 minutes in hot lines to get inside the chow hall, leaving just 15 minutes to get their food and eat it.
This is how well you know it's going in Iraq. When the media has nothing to print but a story about alleged discrimination on a US base in Iraq. The reporter goes on to talk about Truman ending segregation in the military before finally getting around to asking some folks why the bathrooms are separate:
There's also disagreement on the reason.
Marquez cited security. "We are at war, and operational security (OPSEC) and force protection are critical in this environment," Marquez wrote. "We screen all our local nationals working and living in the FOB, however, you can never know what's in their mind."
After the official word from the command, the reporter went around and asked other soldiers why they thought it was segregated. It was widely differing from cultural bathroom habits to hygiene and back around to security. They conclude by noting that FOB Warhorse is the only FOB with separate bathroom facilities.
This is when you know its boring over there. Reporters are now worried about possible discrimination against Iraqis and TNC (third nation contractors). Apparently, big bombs did not go boom during this embed rotation so they had to come up with something to talk about.
I believe that just about says it all.
However, I'll point out a few other facts, such as the fact that Al Qaeda is having a harder time setting off big bombs. You know that because it has not made your headlines in almost a week. It is taking a longer and longer cycle to make big propaganda splashes in the media.
However, US, Iraqi and coalition forces are making big strides against al Qaeda in Iraq's leadership.
U.S. troops kill Iraq shrine bomber
Haitham Sabah Shaker Mohammed al-Badri was killed in a U.S. operation Thursday east of Samarra, the U.S. military said in a statement.
The military said al-Badri was the al-Qaida in Iraq emir of Salahuddin province, and the mastermind responsible for the bombing of the Askariya mosque's minarets on June 13.
"Al-Badri was positively identified by close associates and family members," the statement said.
He was probably responsible for the bombing of the golden dome as well and, by fall out, the deaths of hundreds of Iraqis in sectarian reprisals.
He's not the only one:
Operations in Iraq's North; Mosul's emir killed
Bill Roggio notes that operations in the north have been picking up as Babil, Anbar and Diyala are cleared out. Insurgents are falling back to other positions including to Samarra where Al Badri was killed directly after US forces began tandem operations in Samarra, Ninewah and al Salahidin. He goes on to state:
To the north in Mosul, the operational tempo against al Qaeda's network has been relentless. U.S. and Iraqi security forces have conducted numerous raids in the northern city over the past few months, killing or capturing multiple high value targets. The latest raid, by the Iraqi Army, resulted in the death of Safi, al Qaeda's emir of Mosul..
While conducting a series of operations throughout the city, the Iraqi Army spotted Safi and three bodyguards, and gave chase. Safi and his bodyguards were killed after they pulled over and opened fire on the Iraqi troops. Prior to the killing of Safi, U.S. forces captured Khalid Abdul Fatah Da’ud Mahmud Al Mashadani, a senior Iraqi member of the al Qaeda political front, the Islamic State of Iraq
Al Mashahdani was a giant score. We are most likely using documentation and interrogation materials to find these forces. Statements by Mashahdani also imply that he is cooperating because he is angry at the foreign influence of Al Qaeda in Iraq which he stated was largely ran by Egyptians and Saudis while the Iraqis put on a facade of control and local legitimacy. He further implied that the foreign Al Qaeda masters were using Iraqis for cheap canon fodder. Not too surprising since we figured that out long before Zarqarwi died. However, people generally have to find out fore themselves and this was a bloody, hard lesson.
No relation but a good point to make is that the Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan have been dropping like flies as well. h/t Jawa Report.
Back to Iraq, there are a few issues that are flies in the ointment unless you read between the lines.
Iraqi power grid nearing collapse
Electricity Ministry spokesman Aziz al-Shimari said power generation nationally is only meeting half the demand, and there had been four nationwide blackouts over the past two days. The shortages across the country are the worst since the summer of 2003, shortly after the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, he said.
Power supplies in Baghdad have been sporadic all summer and now are down to just a few hours a day, if that. The water supply in the capital has also been severely curtailed by power blackouts and cuts that have affected pumping and filtration stations.
Getting down to the "between the lines, nitty gritty":
One of the biggest problems facing the national grid is the move by provinces to disconnect their power plants from the system, reducing the overall amount of electricity being generated for the entire country. Provinces say they have no choice because they are not getting as much electricity in return for what they produce, mainly because the capital requires so much power.
"Many southern provinces such as Basra, Diwaniyah, Nassiriyah, Babil have disconnected their power plants from the national grid. Northern provinces, including Kurdistan, are doing the same," al-Shimari said. "We have absolutely no control over some areas in the south," he added.
One of the big issues is that the provinces feel like the Baghdad government has not been playing fare with them. Like in the days of Saddam, the big money, power, food and reconstruction has been kept in Baghdad and other limited capitols where specific national parties have control over the ministries and money that goes with it from the oil revenues. Michael Yon reports in "Bread and Circus" that Baquba in Diyala has been without food shipments for 10 months due to several issues including Al Qaeda seizing the food warehouses and using it to blackmail the populous and siphon off the food for themselves and to selling it on the black market for pocket money.
Second problem? The food warehouses in Baghdad where it originates from is smack in the middle of Sadr city and run by Sadr goons.
The Mayor of Baqubah, and all the king’s horses and men, were afraid to try to get that food from the warehouse next to Sadr City. The Mayor told me that when a representative from Baqubah went to another warehouse to get medical supplies, he disappeared. And then the Mayor told me flat-out that he knew if he went to the food warehouse, he would be killed.
But, LTC Fred Johnson had a plan. Read about it in "Bread and Circus"
I believe that the cut off of power to Baghdad has multiple purposes. Mainly that the provincial governors are rebelling against the sectarian government in Baghdad. This is their leverage. In a sense, this is like the federalists v. states rights. A blogger recently noted that, as Anbar and other provinces grow stronger with US presence, local government and politicians are stepping up to the plate. It's the local governments that are getting the support of the people. This may change the dynamics of the national parties and government in Baghdad. Something that is inherently good considering it is the people in the provinces that will end the sectarian violence and bring about national reconciliation, not Baghdad. Baghdad will follow the provinces this time.
The explanation for all this goodness? Besides the fact that it's super hot and no terrorist wants to be digging holes in the 130 degree heat?
JD Johannes has a little video up that shows why the terrorists continue to lose: "Mu, mu, mu Jihad," which roughly translated means "Not, not, not Jihad."