More Troops in Iraq?

November 20, 2006

There is indication today that the US may increase the number of troops in Iraq on a temporary basis. While US President Bush, who is currently in Jakarta, was non-definitive on the plan of action, Pentagon officials may opt for an increase in troops. The idea is to restore security in the country, particularly Baghdad, by bringing in as many as 20 000 new troops.

In their midterm Congress bid the democrats vowed to not increase troops in Iraq. It will be interesting to see how the Democratic Party will handle this, if the Bush Administration truly decides to go ahead with a troops increase. With 144 000 troops already on the ground, the Democrats’ may be accused of being unpatriotic.

With violence in the country rampant, security has to be somehow restored and decreasing troops can potentially put American troops in danger. Without a commitment from Iran and Syria, a plan favored by British PM Tony Blair, it’s hard to imagine the right plan for the Administration to take. In fact, a troops increase could be a last attempt at a decisive victory, which the Bush Administration has been thirsting for a while.

It is clear that within the next twelve months or so the US will decrease their troops in Iraq, but the next few months can go either way.

The most interesting story to follow is the way the Democrats will be handling it.

Making Democracy Work

November 14, 2006

In a bid to reclaim Western aid, authorities in the Palestine have made steps forward toward a unitary government.

Aid to Israel was cut off when Hamas was elected to the Palestinian government; Israel, Western Countries and the Arab League, all stopped funds transfers to the Palestinian Authority, leaving civil servants without pay and leaving the area economically devastated. The new unitary government is likely to be headed by a scholar, Mohammed Shabir, who is not politically affiliated but is close to Hamas.

Work on establishing a unitary government quickly went ahead after last week’s fatal week which peaked with the bombing at Beit Hanoun in the Gaza strip. The Hamas leadership made it clear that it would give place to a unitary government if that meant getting aid back to Palestine: Israel owes Palestine about $60 million a month, which is collected as a tax.

Over the weekend, the Arab League decided it would recommence fund transfers to the Palestinian Authority as a result of the Beit Hanoun killings of 19 innocent civilians. The real test for the Palestinians, though, is getting Western aid back.

The sad part in all this is that aid was blocked because of a democratically elected faction. Instead of having civil servants working to make the democracy work, the West is only promoting radicalism by leaving those servants without pay. And unwilling or not, the civilian casualties don’t help either, especially with an Israeli Prime Minister who expresses regret only to add that similar incidents “may happen” yet again.

And then, none other than the US vetoes a UN Security Council Resolution condemning Israel’s conduct in Beit Hanoun.