Sunday, August 08, 2004

War News for August 8, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Danish patrol ambushed near Qurnah. Two Iraqis killed, seven wounded. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi police raid al-Sadr’s home in Najaf. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi soldier killed by roadside bomb near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Twenty-one Iraqis killed in continued fighting in Najaf. Bring ‘em on: Twenty-two Iraqis killed in continued fighting in Sadr City. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi child killed by roadside bomb near Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: Insurgents and Iraqi police fighting in Amarah. Bring ‘em on: US convoy ambushed near Samarra, one driver missing. Bring ‘em on: Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Iraq. US soldier dies in “non-combat related incident” near Baghdad. British soldier killed in unspecified accident. Not good. “Although US troops blocked the main routes into Najaf, the city itself remained largely under Mahdi control as Shia fighters travelled in from the towns of Amara, Kut and Diwaniya, using dirt tracks to bypass the closed roads. Others gathered in front of the mosque in the centre of Kufa, Najaf's sister town where al-Sadr is based. ‘Yes, yes, Moqtada,’ they chanted. ‘By soul and blood, we worship Moqtada.’ Abbas Fadhil, 24, a farmer from Kut, said: ‘We honour Moqtada with our souls. I came from Kut to Najaf to fight by the side of the Mahdi army. It is a great honour for me.’ Every 100ft along the roads in central Najaf, near the Imam Ali shrine, were Mahdi army checkpoints. The few Iraqi policemen who remained were openly fighting alongside the Mahdi army. The fighters were further bolstered by the arrival of battle-hardened Sunni soldiers from Fallujah, west of Baghdad - an alarming development that suggests a growing unity among Iraq's usually divided militias.” Allawi turns up in Najaf with new spin on current uprising. “Allawi said Saturday that he believes the people behind the violence in the Najaf are common criminals and foreign forces -- not part of the militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Allawi said criminals are using al-Sadr's name to sow discord, and the prime minister said he has been getting positive messages from the al-Sadr side.” I wonder if he plans to personally execute al-Sadr. Poor policy decision. “Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi signed an amnesty Saturday intended to persuade militants fighting a 15-month-old insurgency to put down their weapons and join government efforts to rebuild the country. But the law pardons only minor criminals, not killers or terrorists, and appeared unlikely to dampen the violence, as some insurgent leaders called it ‘insignificant.’” Let freedom reign. “Oregon National Guard soldiers attempted to stop Iraqi jailers from abusing dozens of Iraqi prisoners, but they later were ordered to return the prisoners to their abusers and leave, according to a published report. The soldiers spotted the abuse on June 29, Iraq’s first day as a sovereign nation since the U.S. invasion, The Oregonian, which had a reporter embedded with the Oregon guardsmen of the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, reported in today’s editions. Capt. Jarrell Southall, an Oregon Guardsman who witnessed the day’s events, provided the newspaper with a written account of the incident. Other Guardsmen interviewed in Iraq echoed Southall’s account on the condition of anonymity.” Lieutenant AWOL alienates another old US ally. “Former defense chiefs and diplomats condemned Australia's involvement in the Iraq war Sunday in a major blow to Prime Minister John Howard's re-election prospects. The 43 eminent Australians including two former chiefs of defense and three ambassadors issued a scathing public statement accusing the government of deceit and of rubber-stamping foreign policies decided by Washington.” Report from Najaf. “Our Iraqi interpreter is growing increasingly concerned for our safety. He tells us it's time to get going. And he reminds us that it's dangerous to wait much longer because there is one Sunni city on the road back to Baghdad that's notorious for kidnapping foreigners. We need to be past there by nightfall. From Najaf, the road directly back to Baghdad is blocked. We take an alternate route through the central Iraqi city of Kufa, another Sadr bastion. There, an Iraqi police checkpoint that had been manned just the day before is abandoned. At the Kufa mosque - where Moqtada al-Sadr's speech that day will call on Muslims to fight against the Americans, "our enemies" - there are only Mahdi Army fighters, within full sight of the main road. It will be another 40 kilometers before we see another checkpoint manned by Iraqi police or US military.” Another Turkish transportation company supporting US forces halts operations in Iraq. Support the troops. “The VA has not allocated any money for the effort; the social workers it has assigned were already on staff. The Army's program — called the Disabled Soldier Support System — is run by fewer than 10 people on a budget of $1 million this fiscal year. It was born when Gen. George W. Casey Jr., then the Army's vice chief of staff, visited recovering soldiers at Walter Reed and was struck by their anxiety and confusion about what lay ahead. Since it was started last fall, the program's small staff has been able to reach out to nearly 200 severely wounded soldiers. Crammed into a crowded office suite in Rosslyn, Va., staff members spend much of their time struggling to locate wounded soldiers who have been discharged.” Report from an alternate universe. “Not only has President Bush gotten rid of Saddam Hussein, the region's most brutal dictator, but his relentless promotion of democracy in the Middle East has also turned up the heat on other regional autocrats and jump-started the reform debate. These days, no Arab government can afford to simply quash increasingly persistent and widespread demands for reform.” Iraq reinstates capital punishment. Commentary Editorial: “Americans might have heard that electrical power is spotty in Baghdad — three hours on, three hours off. Our rare blackouts cannot compare with the hardships of losing electricity in Iraq’s 120-degree summer heat. Children fret because they can’t sleep. Adults grow irritable. There’s no water because electric pumps don’t work. Food spoils without refrigeration. Water stored in rooftop cisterns spurts from taps scalding hot. McDowell and Trotochaud try to help Iraqi organizations get back on their feet so they can improve their countrymen’s lives. But everywhere the story is similar: no medicine, no spare parts to repair broken equipment, no salaries for workers, no fresh food. Because Oregon is a swing state, we are likely to be visited by candidates from both parties. Voters should press them to explain: Why has hardly any of the $18 billion earmarked for reconstruction been spent? How much control over their own destiny has been returned to Iraqis? How much longer will Iraqis have to wait for reliable electricity, clean water and streets safe enough to venture out on?” Opinion: But if the Bush presidency has been about anything, it's been about breaking free of the fetters of the traditional past. It was the Bush presidency, after all, that did away with the fussy old notion about the U.S. not engaging in unilateral acts of first-strike aggression against sovereign nations. It was George Bush, after all, who redefined a ‘conservative’ as someone who believed in enormous deficits. And it was the Bush administration that accelerated the separation of language from action by constantly saying one thing while meaning another; i.e. ‘Clear Skies’ initiatives, and ‘No Child Left Behind.’” Analysis: “Basic security has almost collapsed. Fresh kidnappings of supply truck drivers are being reported, even as a defiant CD communique, allegedly released by master terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, circulates in Gulf capitals. These factors have combined to raise the stakes yet further for Mr Allawi - and for Washington. Much now hangs on the outcome of the renewed conflict in Najaf, where al-Sadr has spurred a second uprising by his irregular Mehdi Army, prompting fierce counter-measures from the US marines.” Casualty Reports Local story: Michigan Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: New Mexico Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Louisiana Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: West Virginia Marine wounded in Iraq. 86-43-04. Pass it on.


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