Two sites to go to today.

One is Juan Cole’s excellent analysis of the current state of play in the Pentagon operation to make Chalabi our Somoza in Iraq. Cole encountered point man for Chalabi -- Perle -- at a Senate hearing, yesterday. As Cole points out, that Perle was testifying there at all is bizarre, since Perle's ignorance of Iraqi culture -- and Middle Eastern culture in general -- should surely bar him from testifying in a forum meant for expert testimony.

Yesterday, on NPR, they interviewed the man’s nephew, Salam, who is to be, in a bizarre and self-discrediting move, the official prosecutor of Saddam, and not one question was asked about his background. Also, LI was heartened to read Cole’s note because Cole takes the same position LI took since last year about Sisteni’s insistence on elections, and why they should have been held by now.

Second, the IWPR site publishes an excellent battlefield report on Falluja from an Iraqi perspective.

We particularly liked the visit to the sniper -- or the kidnapping to visit the sniper. The whole scene is like something from one hundred fifty years ago, in the Caucasus:

“In front of him, Aqil [one of the journalists] sees a man dressed in loose pyjama pants and a button-down shirt. Only his eyes are visible through his yishmagh.
Beside him is propped a Dragunov, a Russian-made sniper rifle issued only to the elite of the Iraqi military. Everything about the man, the room, and his weapon is spotlessly clean.
In a slow, deep voice, Abu Walid told Aqil that he had been brought here to "let American forces know about our power".
The American casualty figures – 70 soldiers killed throughout Iraq since April – are a lie, he says, "I myself killed maybe 100 soldiers. Every day we destroy at least three vehicles, just in the gateway to Fallujah, in Gurma. Americans are liars."

There is no ideological ax ground in the reportage, by the way. It is simply a narrative from a perspective that has been ridiculously neglected in the past couple of weeks.