Monday, March 21, 2005

War News for Monday, March 21, 2005 Bring 'em on: Turkish driver shot dead in Bayji. Bring 'em on: Two Jordanian students found dead in Hillah. Bring 'em on: Bomb attack kills civilian and injures policeman in Basra. Bring 'em on: Four Iraqi policemen killed and nineteen injured in truck bomb attack in Baquba. Bring 'em on: US soldier killed and three injured in bomb attack in Kirkuk. Bring 'em on: Insurgents blow-up municipal building in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Insurgents kill civilian and wound three policemen in coordinated attack in Samarra. Bring 'em on: Civilian killed and two others injured after mortar attack on the Iraqi army base in Mahmoudiyah. Bring 'em on: Gunmen open fire at the funeral of top Iraqi anti-corruption policeman (killed earlier in the day) killing two mourners in Mosul. Bring 'em on: Twenty four insurgents killed and six US troops injured in a major gun battle following the ambush of a convoy in Salman Pak. Bring 'em on: Reuters still running with the story that the Iraqi Minister for the Provinces, Wael Abdul al-Latif, has been kidnapped by insurgents in Suwayra. Bring 'em on: US soldier killed Sunday in Al Anbar province. Singapore ends its involvement in the crumbling coalition. Iraq has withdrawn its diplomatic envoy in a tit-for-tat move following Jordan's earlier decision to pull its envoy out of Baghdad. Jordan withdrew its charge d'affaires Damai Haddad saying that anti-Jordanian protests outside its Baghdad embassy had made it unsafe for him to remain. Shia protesters say that Jordan had a role in a suicide bombing last month. Now Iraq has pulled its envoy out of Amman for consultations, saying relations were "in crisis mode". Protests were held outside the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad on Friday, and an Iraqi flag was raised over the building, while Jordanian flags were burnt. More Rummy diplomacy:
On the political front, Mr Rumsfeld warned Iraq's political leaders they had to be "darned careful" about the make-up of their new government. "The important thing is that they be competent people. They have to be darned careful about making a lot of changes just to be putting in their friend or to be putting in someone else from their tribe or from their ethnic group. This is too serious a business over there and the United States has got too much invested and too much committed and too many lives at stake for people to be careless about that."
Asked if he had any regrets looking back at the US campaign of the past two years, Mr Rumsfeld said he wished US troops had not been "blocked" from entering Iraq through Turkey, saying this had boosted the insurgency. "Given the level of the insurgency today, two years later, clearly if we had been able to get the 4th Infantry Division in from the north, in through Turkey, more of the Iraqi, Saddam Hussein, Baathist regime would have been captured or killed." Mr Rumsfeld said on Fox. "The insurgency today would be less." he said, adding that the resulting thrust of the US invasion through southern Iraq had enabled many insurgents to evade capture in the north.
On March 18, US Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman resigned from both his post in Ankara and the US foreign service. "This is a personal decision. It has nothing to do with Turkish-US relations and what was happening here in Turkey." he said. He was referring to a period of unusual coolness in Turkish-US ties. Sistani is getting impatient: The spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shiites, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has lamented the absence of a new government nearly two months after the landmark elections which he strongly backed, said senior Shiite politician Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. "The sayed (honorific) was sorry for the delay in forming the Iraqi government because this will adversely affect people’s lives and called for it to be formed soon," Hakim told reporters late Sunday after meeting with Sistani, who is based in the shrine city of Najaf, south of Baghdad. "According to the latest information that I have, there is progress in negotiations and I think all points should be finalised by Thursday, if not the unveiling of the new government will be a few days after that." Media Independence and Iraq The BBC last night gave another sign that it is determined to maintain its editorial independence by screening a Panorama programme strongly critical of Tony Blair's manipulation of thin intelligence, on the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. In the programme, Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6, was reported as having told Mr Blair that Washington had fixed policy on a war against Iraq and was going to fit the intelligence around that policy. Despite the humiliation of losing its director general, Greg Dyke, over its allegations concerning David Kelly, the government arms control officer, the film contained powerful condemnation of the government. It included interviews with former officials who had already broken in public with the government's Iraq strategy. It also quoted extensively from leaked documents first revealed by the Daily Telegraph. In the most startling revelation, the programme claimed that at a meeting on July 23 2002, Sir Richard said a war was inevitable, adding that the facts and the intelligence were being fixed round the policy set out by George Bush's administration. Commentary Higher Oil Prices: Instead of inaugurating a new age of cheap oil, the Iraq war may become known as the beginning of an era of scarcity. Two years ago, it seemed likely that Iraq, with the world's third-largest petroleum reserves, would become a hypercharged gusher once U.S. troops toppled Saddam Hussein. But chaos and guerrilla sabotage have slowed the flow of oil to a comparative trickle. The price of crude on global markets hit an all-time record Friday, and oil experts say U.S. consumers are likely to keep feeling the pinch. "Global supply hasn't kept up, and it isn't likely to in the near future, and one of the causes is Iraq," said John Lichtblau, chairman of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation in New York. The war coincided with the start of a sharp rise in oil imports by booming China and India, and experts say this alignment of factors may keep prices permanently high. Iraq's oil production averaged about 3 million barrels a day before the war and now lags below 2 million, while prewar projections had pegged production to have hit at least 4 million by now. This missing production would have covered much of the annual growth in global oil demand, which is expected to increase by 1.8 million barrels a day this year, to 84.3 million barrels. "If it weren't for the insurgency, Iraq would produce at least another million barrels day -- and maybe two," said Gal Luft, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in Washington. "Iraq is very much missing from the market, and it's one of the reasons why prices have risen so much."


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