Here come the Turks?
Thursday’s vote in the Turkish Parliament to allow U.S. planes access to Turkey’s airspace is on hold in the face of U.S. opposition to Turkey sending troops into Iraqi Kurdistan. [CNN] So, still no northern front.
And listening to CNN, MSNBC et al. would lead one to believe that victory is at hand… That may be so but Kos has a good run-down on troubling reports from Reuters that things are not going as smoothly as the networks and 24-hour news channels might lead people to believe.
The toughest battles are yet to come. Stratfor lists the bridges across the Euphrates and the city of Basra as the real tests of Iraqi resistance. If the Iraqis don’t attempt to blow the bridge at al-Nasiriyah or offer only token resistance in Basra, “then the will of the Iraqi forces to fight has indeed collapsed.” [Stratfor] It is, as yet, too early to tell if that is the case.
Umm Qasr is still not 100 percent in the control of the British [Reuters], but Ha’aretz and AP are reporting that U.S. marines will soon be in control.
[UPDATE: 12:26 PM EST, AP reports that U.S. Marines of the 15th MEU, under British command, have taken Umm Qasr. Control allows access to a port for matï¿½riel and humanitarian supplies.]
At 1734 GMT, Al Jazeera reported bombings in the northern oil city of Mosul.
At 1730 GMT, another Marine from the 1st MEU was KIA, with another injured, U.S. defense officials confirmed. The Marines took fire during an operation near Rumaila.
It seems “A-Day,” the start of “shock and awe” is beginning. And just as a side comment, I was listening to NPR this morning and the announcers sounds almost disappointed that they had not seen the “shock and awe” campaign yet. Perhaps I’m just being snippy, though.
If this is the beginning of shock and awe, it means the Pentagon has given up on the smaller hits designed to sow confusion in the Iraqi leadership and that the full scale bombardment has begun. The Pentagon was likely hoping to avoid this by punching hard but backing off, and seeing if they could either get the Iraqis to topple Saddam in a matter of days or they were trying to smoke out the leadership.
Sat-phone and rugged laptop en route. Will depart for Ankara next week, probably Wednesday or Thursday. Will try to hook up with other photographer who, like me, is looking to get into Iraqi Kurdistan. Let’s hope all goes well…