Monday, November 22, 2004

War News for Monday, November 22, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Nine ING soldiers killed in patrol ambush in Ramadi. Bring ‘em on: Police chief and driver assassinated in Khalis. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqis killed, six wounded in fighting near Samarra. Bring ‘em on: Sunni cleric assassinated in Mosul. Bring ‘em on: ING convoy ambushed near Latifiyah. Bring ‘em on: One ING soldier wounded in checkpoint attack near Tikrit. Elections. “Death threats have chased away four elections officials in Mosul, stalling preparations for the vote in the northern city. Insurgents have torched election materials and a militant group believed to operate in Mosul has warned Iraqis not to participate in the election. Iraq's third-largest city is already getting a taste of what many across this country fear may happen to Iraq's democratic transformation: insurgents using force and intimidation to try to hinder nationwide elections scheduled for Jan. 30.” More troops. “The officers said the exact number of extra troops needed is still being reviewed, but estimated it at the equivalent of several battalions, or about 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers. The number of U.S. troops in Iraq fell to barely 100,000 last spring before rising to 138,000, where it has stayed since the summer. To boost the current level, commanders have considered extending the stay of more troops due to rotate out shortly, or accelerating the deployment of the 3rd Infantry Division, which is scheduled to start in January. But a third option -- drawing all or part of a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division on emergency standby in the United States -- has emerged as increasingly likely.” Latifiyah. “Police have become such targets that many switch their uniforms for civilian clothes before going home at night. National Guards don balaclavas with their uniforms and keep their jobs secret from neighbours for fear of reprisals. The Sunni Muslim area east of the Euphrates river is one of the most dangerous in the country for Iraqi security forces, with ambushes common. Insurgents who rule the streets there, having chased off local police, also exact revenge on Iraqis they suspect of working with U.S.-led forces or foreign firms.” Baghdad. “A U.S.-Iraqi raid on the Abu Hanifa mosque, one of Sunni Muslims' most revered sites, appeared to spawn a weekend of street battles, assassinations and a rash of bombings that changed Baghdad. The capital, for months a scene of unrelenting but sporadic violence, has taken on the look of a battlefield. The chaos has fanned sectarian tension and deepened Sunni distrust of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a Shiite installed by the Americans five months ago. It has also heightened the anxiety of the city's 6 million people, already worn down by years of sanctions and tyranny, then war, military occupation, crime and deprivation.” WTF? “Two foreign civilians, at least one of them British, have been arrested in Baghdad after a gunfight in which one of the Iraqi interior minister's bodyguards was killed, a senior police source has told Reuters.” Commentary Editorial: “American military commanders in Iraq should not have to choose between securing Falluja and driving the insurgents out of other strongholds. Both must be done if the elections are to have any chance of success. That will require sending those 20,000 to 40,000 additional troops right away. Because 20 months of occupation duty have left the Army so badly strained, reinforcement will require even greater reliance on reservists and divisions that have already served in Iraq. These desperate policies cannot continue much longer without a damaging toll on morale, readiness and recruitment. What is needed is a significant permanent increase in the regular Army, through recruitment, without a draft. But shifting more of the Pentagon's well-padded budget into manpower has few supporters in a Defense Department transfixed with faddish theories of quick war-fighting, outsourced peacekeeping and minimal ground forces. Iraqi civilians without jobs and clean water and American soldiers without relief and a clear strategy for winning the peace have been paying the price for those seductive theories long enough.” Editorial: “After the scandal over abuse at Abu Ghraib erupted, Mr. Gonzales tried to distance himself from the torture memo, though what is known indicates that he played a central role in its formulation. Like Mr. Bush and other senior officials, he has ignored the abundant evidence that the decision on the Geneva Conventions led directly to the abuse of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq. His damaging and erroneous legal positions have been altered only in response to court rulings and then only grudgingly. Senators should ask Mr. Gonzales to explain his definition of torture and to say whether he believes captors in other nations could legally inflict pain short of organ failure on detained Americans. They should also ask why he chose to exclude or disregard the views of the uniformed military legal corps in his consideration of military commissions and the application of the Geneva Conventions. Above all, Mr. Gonzales should answer this question: Why is a lawyer whose opinions have produced such disastrous results for his government -- in their practical application, in their effect on U.S. international standing and in their repeated reversal by U.S. courts -- qualified to serve as attorney general?” Editorial: “Fallouja was thought to be the headquarters of militant leader Abu Musab Zarqawi; if so, he left before the Marines arrived. Zarqawi's followers continue to try to terrorize Iraqis into opposing the U.S. occupation by beheading natives and foreigners alike. Zarqawi was born in Jordan, but Marines said most of the fighters in Fallouja appeared to be Iraqi. That could be a hopeful sign that although the Iraq misadventure has inflamed Islamic opinion against Washington, few foreign fighters have wanted or been able to enter the country. But it also may mean Iraqis are sufficiently angered by the invasion to be willing to fight and die in large numbers without outside help.” Opinion: “The new Triangle, the Sunni Triangle, will be an equal butt-blaster. Yes, it can be temporarily secured, but until the Iraqi security forces are on their feet - which won’t be anytime soon - expect more than the occasional bloody reversal. And get ready for security to be mainly made-in-the-USA, meaning that our forces will probably be stuck in Iraq for a long, hot spell.” Opinion: “I won't judge those trash-talking Marines. I only hope they remember that bloody, defeated man they reduced to a corpse as something more than meaningless residue of battle. Or the battle itself is meaningless.” Casualty Reports Local story: Virginia Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: California Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: New York Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: California Marine killed in Iraq Local story: Arizona Marine dies from wounds received in Iraq. Note to Readers Due to my work schedule, I won't post an update tomorrow or Wednesday, but I'll post an open thread. I'll resume posting Thursday morning. Thanks, YD


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