Sunday, February 20, 2005
War News for Sunday, 20 February 2005
Bring ‘em on: Yesterday was the Shi’ite religious festival of Ashura. Last year 271 people were killed in bomb attacks and this year there are reports that up to 55 were killed in Iraq. Reports vary with the number of deaths; AP report 55 deaths. This graphic report from the Observer may indicate that the death toll could be higher. However, CNN report 16 killed.
Bring ‘em on: US Marine killed in action inAl Anbar province.
Bring ‘em on: In one of the suicide bomb attacks above, a US soldier was killed in Baghdad.
Bring ‘em on: 9 Iraqi troops killed in attack on checkpoint 20 miles south of Baghdad.
Dahr Jamail writes that news about Iraq goes through filters, because overall the mainstream media reportage in the United States about the occupation in Iraq is being censured, distorted, threatened by the military and controlled by corporations that own the outlets.
Most Americans don't know that on any given day, an average of three U.S. soldiers die in Iraq as a result of 75 attacks every single day on U.S. forces or that Iraqi civilian deaths average 10 times that amount.
Most Americans also don't know there are four permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq, with the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root diligently constructing 10 others.
Most Americans don't know overall troop morale in Iraq resembles that of the Vietnam War, with tours being extended and stop-loss orders imposed.
Nor do most folks know where billions of their tax dollars have been spent that were supposed to be used in the reconstruction of Iraq.
Riverbend writes: It’s interesting to watch American politicians talk about how American troops are the one thing standing between Sunnis and Shia killing each other in the streets. It looks more and more these days like that’s not true. Right now, during all these assassinations and abductions, the troops are just standing aside and letting Iraqis get at each other. Not only that, but the new army or the National Guard are just around to protect American troops and squelch any resistance.
There was hope of a secular Iraq, even after the occupation. That hope is fading fast.
Can Iraq make it? The results of the January 30 ballot — which Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani described as a religious obligation and which the Sunnis boycotted — did not give the Shia-dominated United Iraqi Alliance a clear majority and instead pushed the cleric-backed group into a huddle with the Kurds. That means more complications and bargaining with the Kurds — a people battered and poisoned by Saddam in Iraq and tormented by the Turks on the other side of the northern frontier — who are scrambling to finally get a degree of autonomy and dignity. Massoud Barzani is an ally of the coalition troops so far but as power shifts to a local government, suspicions will rise, especially if old Baathists and Sunni leaders get a voice.
"The fact remains that we are two different nationalities in Iraq — we are Kurds and Arabs," Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, said in an interview to a western daily three days ago at his headquarters in Salahuddin. "If the Kurdish people agree to stay in the framework of Iraq in one form or another as a federation, then other people should be grateful to them."
Hopes are being pinned on the ability of Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the Dawa Party leader being listed as the frontrunner for the premier's post, to open a dialogue with the Sunni Muslim Clerics' Association, which called for the boycott. But the group doesn't seem to be in a mood for compromise and says it won't relent on attacking the 150,000-strong US-led coalition force. "We believe the goal should not be the parliament, but rather it should be who can get the occupiers out of our country," Sheikh Abdel Salam al-Kubaisi, a senior cleric in the association told reporters.
Juan Cole follows up on an Al Hayat article that says a decision on the new prime minister will not be announced until at least Wednesday. The decision was postponed in part because of Ashura, and in part because of the difficulty in getting a "green light" from Washington in the wake of Ambassador John Negroponte's appointment as intelligence czar. US news sources have not spoken as openly of the need for a green light from Washington, but al-Hayat's sources are frank about it. This frankness agrees with the comment made by one embassy official that Iraq cannot select a prime minister who is unacceptable to Washington.