US could be in Iraq for years: general

Major General Rick Lynch, who commands US forces south of Baghdad, told reporters May 7 recent history indicates that it takes an average of nine years to put down internal insurgencies, and there is “no instantaneous solution” in Iraq. “You can’t just build a government overnight,” said Gen. Lynch. “I can’t see significant advances in that sphere in the same timeframe. Bringing stability to Iraq could take years.”

He added the military is bracing itself for a spike in troop casualties through September as US forces move into hardline areas of Baghdad. “All of us believe that in the next 90 days or so you’ll probably see an increase in American casualties because we are taking the fight to the enemy. This is the only way we can win,” he said. “The enemy dominates the terrain. He has the opportunity to set traps and ambushes. As soon as we do something to prove our capability, he does something to defeat it,” Lynch said.

The general’s warning was repeated by White House spokesman Tony Snow “We are getting to the point now with the Baghdad security plan where there is going to be real engagement in tougher neighborhoods and you’re likely to see escalating levels of casualties,” he said.

The warning came on a day when 25 people were killed near Ramadi in two suicide bombings that authorities blamed on al-Qaeda. They were the latest in a string of car bombings across Iraq that have killed hundreds in recent weeks despite the new US-backed security crackdown in Baghdad and outlying areas. (Glasgow Herald, May 8)

One of the suicide attacks in Ramadi was a police checkpoint (a legitimate target for “insurgents”). The other was on a food market. (Definitely not a legitimate target if these guys don’t want to be callled “terrorists.”) (AP, May 7) A day earlier, a suicide attack on a vegetable market in southwest Baghdad’s Baya neighborhood killed at least 35. (NYT, May 7)

The White House and Pentagon have said this kind of thing before. Repeatedly, at that. Looks like Ayman al-Zawahiri may get what he wants. And Moktada al-Sadr is said to want the same thing, albeit perhaps for different reasons.

See our last posts on Iraq, the “surge,” and the insurgency.