Saturday, August 21, 2004

Math isn't really that hard...

...but facing the facts it reveals can be hard to handle.

Figuring out what's going on in Najaf is a bit of a puzzler right now. There have been a lot of conflicting reports over the last 48 hours or so, but Reuters offers what seems to be a concensus view for the moment.
NAJAF, Iraq - Rebel Shi'ite fighters appeared still to be in control of the Imam Ali mosque in the Iraqi city of Najaf, but the whereabouts of their leader, the fiery cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, were unknown on Saturday.

Police were nowhere to be seen in the area round the mosque, Iraq's holiest Shi'ite Muslim shrine, and police elsewhere in the city told broadcaster CNN they did not control the site.
There's one thing that quite clear, though. This is one bloody mess we're in. Total coalition fatalities for the month to date already stand at 53, including 45 Americans, and exceed the total for the last month before the occupation supposedly ended (though I still haven't figured out what all those troops are for if the occupation is over). The fatality rate of 2.53 per day is edging awfully close to the 2.63 a day we saw in April '03, when we were still engaged in 'major combat operations' (though losing over 2 1/2 lives a day hardly seems minor to me.)

The proverbial 'fog of war' will always obscure some of the action on the ground, but based on the numbers one conclusion is painfully clear.

The situation in Iraq is FUBAR.


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