Monday, August 16, 2004

War News for August 16, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Two US soldiers killed fighting in Najaf. Bring ‘em on: One US Marine killed fighting in al-Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed by roadside bomb near Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqis killed, four wounded by mortar fire in Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Fighting reported in Sadr City. Bring ‘em on: French-American journalist kidnapped near Nasiriyah. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi soldiers killed by roadside bomb near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: US patrol ambushed near Beiji. Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqi civilians wounded in ambush of US patrol near Khaldiyah. Bring ‘em on: Pipeline ablaze near Mussayyib. News blackout imposed on fighting in Najaf. “The Iraqi authorities ordered foreign journalists to leave Najaf yesterday, threatening to arrest or even shoot reporters as US marines and Iraqi government forces resumed the fight against Shia militants. Iraqi police told the journalists to leave because of a supposed threat by insurgents to bomb their hotel. The intimidation - including shots apparently fired by police at the hotel - came as Iyad Allawi, the interim prime minister, hailed the birth of democracy in Iraq at the opening of a national conference in Baghdad.” More desertions from Iraqi security forces. “Sunday's showdown in Najaf was troubled even before the fighting resumed. Several officials from the Iraqi defense ministry told Knight Ridder that more than 100 Iraqi national guardsmen and a battalion of Iraqi soldiers chose to quit rather than attack fellow Iraqis in a city that includes some of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam. Neither U.S. military officials nor Iraqi government officials would confirm the resignations. ‘We received a report that a whole battalion (in Najaf) threw down their rifles,’ said one high-ranking defense ministry official, who didn't want his name published because he's not an official spokesman. ‘We expected this, and we expect it again and again.’” Low Expectations. “With the conference in Baghdad, Dr. Allawi and the Americans saw an opportunity to demonstrate that, the violence across the country notwithstanding, it was possible to proceed with the timetable for democracy laid down earlier this year, when Iraq was still formally an occupied country. As well, in the context of the uprising in Najaf and the Sadr militia's attacks elsewhere, they wanted to show that a large number of politically active Iraqis - Shiites a majority among them - would defy threats of violence from Mr. Sadr's fighters and other insurgent groups and attend the gathering. By that measure, Iraqi and American officials said, they counted the conference a success, just for the fact that it had convened.” Ambush in Ramadi. “The first of 2nd Lt. John T. Wroblewski's three Humvees slowed as it entered the Ramadi marketplace where the insurgents were waiting. At the wheel was Lance Cpl. Kyle Crowley, 18, of San Ramon, Calif. With him in the unarmored green Humvee were radio operator Lance Cpl. Travis Layfield, 19, of Fremont, Calif.; Pfc. Christopher R. Cobb, 19, of Bradenton, Fla.; Lance Cpl. Anthony Roberts, 18, of Bear, Del.; Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Fernando A. Mendez-Aceves, 27, of San Diego, a medic; Staff Sgt. Allan K. Walker, 28, of Lancaster, Calif., and Lance Cpl. Deshon E. Otey, 24, of Louisville, Ky. In the back, manning the machine gun, was Pfc. Ryan Jerabek, 18, of Oneida, Wis.” Sen. Harkin spanks Snarlin' Cheney. “Sen. Tom Harkin called Vice President Dick Cheney a ‘coward’ for avoiding service in Vietnam and called on President Bush to end the ‘backdoor draft.’ The Iowa Democrat was responding Friday to the call-up of a Des Moines police officer who has already completed his eight-year military commitment. Harkin echoed comments earlier this week by Des Moines Police Chief William McCarthy, who said the military's treatment of Des Moines Police Officer Rodell Nydam was ‘evil.’ Nydam, 26, is being called back to Iraq despite finishing his National Guard commitment in April. He's being called up under the military's ‘stop loss’ exemption, which can extend duty in wartime.” Patriotism. “But as much as Jack and Angel stood by their son and every other American soldier in Iraq, working with other families to send food and gifts, they have never believed in this war. ‘We believe we can separate the politics from what's going on there, from what our soldiers are being asked to do,’ Jack said. ‘I agreed with why we went to Afghanistan. I think we needed to. But we misread what was going to happen in Iraq.’ But what do you say, I asked Jack, to those who think we must rally around the president? ‘The last time I looked, our right as United States citizens is to question our leaders,’ Jack said. ‘That is what my son died for us to do. We shouldn't just blindly follow along.’” Commentary Editorial: “The brutalities committed by US soldiers on innocent Iraqis made Iraqis not trust them. Iraqis hate them. The Muslim countries cannot remain indifferent to the atrocities in Iraq. A political solution must be sought to the problem in Iraq in the context of the Middle East. The part of endeavour has to be to make American people understand where lies the solution. Bush administration is the problem and not the solution for Iraq. The US help is no doubt needed. But under the umbrella of the United Nations the Muslim countries must play an active role for peace in Iraq and the Middle East.” Analysis: “The standoff in Najaf threatens not just the conference but the legitimacy of the Allawi government, say analysts. While most Iraqi Shiites aren't Sadr supporters, anger over the siege at the Shrine of Imam Ali threatens to drive most Iraqi Muslims away from supporting the interim government. Over the weekend, thousands of pro-Sadr demonstrators converged on Najaf and formed a ring around several hundred of Sadr's fighters, who are holed up in the shrine, one of the holiest sites for the world's 180 million Shiite Muslims.” Opinion: “And was invasion our last resort? Even the war-maker himself, President George W. Bush, never claimed that. In the beginning, he said, it was the last resort because the United Nations had pushed hard enough to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. When there were no such weapons, he said Saddam was a very bad guy. That was true - and it was true 20 years ago when we were supplying him with weapons to use against Iran. But was he a great enough threat to go to war ourselves? Was killing Iraqis after the war our last resort? ‘I know what I'm doing when it comes to winning this war,’ said Bush last Wednesday. That's good to hear. What exactly are you doing in Najaf? Killing bad guys, I guess. If that is the criteria for putting the Marines around the shrine of the Imam Ali, then we will be at war forever, everywhere.” Opinion: “Am I angry about losing almost a 1,000 of our soldiers, the maiming of another 7,000 and the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis in a war that was totally unnecessary, illegal and immoral? Aren't you? Who isn't furious that this administration, during wartime, has cut back on funding for military housing and substantially reduced VA money? They actually have the nerve to be closing 11 VA hospitals when so many wounded are returning. All this so they can give their billionaire friends and contributors, the ‘haves and the have mores,’ a giant tax break. Why even Bush himself refers to them as his base. You're not outraged?” Casualty Reports Local story: Pennsylvania soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Pennsylvania Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Alabama soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Pennsylvania Marine wounded in Iraq. 86-43-04. 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