We strongly suspect that the front-page Feb. 19 story in the New York Times—based entirely on anonymous “studies” and quotes from anonymous “officials”—purporting huge hydrocarbon deposits in Iraq’s Sunni center (“Iraqi Sunni Lands Show New Oil and Gas Promise” by James Glanz) is a ploy to convince Sunnis they have a secure future in a unified Iraq, and thereby chill out the “insurgents” (as the media flatteringly call them). True, your average “insurgent” probably doesn’t read the New York Times, but Iraqi legislators do, and it is hoped that if they can strike a deal that gives the Sunni center a share of the oil wealth the grassroots wil be mollified. As the Times notes: “The question of where the oil reserves are concentrated is taking on still more importance as it appears that negotiators are close to agreement on a long-debated oil law that would regulate how Iraqi and international oil companies would be allowed to develop Iraq’s fields.” (IHT Feb. 19)
Meanwhile, in some stunningly optimistic news from Taji, just north of Baghdad, an explosives-rigged chlorine tanker truck exploded today, killing at least two and injuring 148. Many of the injured suffered lung damage from the chlorine, which causes a secretion of mucus in the lungs and imparis breathing. In Baghdad itself, two bombings killed at least 11 and wounded 18. The first was outside a gas station, while the second targeted a market, CNN reports. Three US troops were killed by a roadside bomb in southwest Baghdad and two more died in a suicide car bombing targeting a new combat outpost north of the city, the BBC reported. Eight Iraqi police officers were killed in the attacks as well. Interior Ministry officials said 20 bodies had been found scattered around Baghdad yesterday, the fruit of sectarian warfare. (UPI, Feb. 20) Yesterday, two suicide car bomb attacks hit police stations in Ramadi, killing and wounding some 20. One station was close to the home of Shiekh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, a tribal leader who led a government-backed campaign to fight al-Qaeda militants in Anbar province, and he is believed to have been a target. (Xinhua, Feb. 20) A car bomb in Mahmoudiya, 30 miles south of Baghdad, killed one person and injured four Iraqis. Another car bomb parked near the home of an Iraqi army commander in the mostly Sunni town Duluiya, about 55 miles north of the capital, killed five Iraqis and injured five more. (LAT, Feb. 20)
Looking good, eh?