War News for Sunday, March 27, 2005
Bring 'em on: US soldiers raid paediatric hospital in Ramadi
Bring 'em on: Iraqi police officer and off-duty guardsman shot dead in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: One person killed and three injured in shooting incident in cafe in Kirkuk
Bring 'em on: Video of the execution of Iraqi liason officer posted on the internet
Bring 'em on: Insurgents injure one civilian in roadside bomb attack on Iraqi police in Basra
: New details from an intense battle between insurgents and Iraqi police commandos supported by U.S. forces cast doubt Thursday on Iraqi government claims that 85 insurgents had been killed at what was described as a clandestine training camp.
Accounts of the fighting continued to suggest that a major battle involving dozens of insurgents had occurred Tuesday on the eastern shore of Lake Tharthar, about 50 miles northwest of Baghdad. But two U.S. military officials said Thursday that no bodies had been found by American troops who arrived later at the scene. A spokesman for the Iraqi Interior Ministry, meanwhile, said he presumed the death toll was accurate, but he played down the scope of the fighting.
US appoint new Democracy Czar
for the Middle East.
issues warning to Al Sistani? Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said on Saturday Shi'a Muslim religious leaders should stay out of politics, an unprecedented public criticism of the powerful clergy.
"Thrusting the religious establishment into daily political affairs could distance it from its guiding role and disrupt relations between the political forces, which could create an imbalance," his National Accord Party said in a letter sent to Shi'a and Kurdish politicians.
"Everyone must agree on the role of the religious leadership in the interim period," it said. State-owned al-Sabah newspaper published the letter. Public criticism of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most influential Shi'a cleric, is almost unheard of in the country.
It could deepen a political crisis sparked by the failure so far to form a government after the January 30 elections.
: Two years on from the start of the war in Iraq, reconstruction is in many areas still largely stalled. Wars, years of sanctions and looting have devastated the oil-rich nation's infrastructure. In 2003, after Saddam Hussein's fall, the World Bank said Iraq needed $36bn for reconstruction by 2007. The US authorities in Baghdad added another $19bn to the estimate, to cover areas such as security and the oil industry. At a special conference held in October 2003, donor nations and institutions pledged to contribute $32bn toward the reconstruction effort. Over half that sum was pledged by the US. By September 2004 only $2.5bn had been released, largely because the security situation has not allowed rebuilding work to proceed. Over half the $1.2bn released by the US was spent on security-related measures.
? On Tuesday, in a raid on an insurgent training camp, Iraqi troops called in U.S. helicopter gunships that killed close to 80 foreign trainees, including Jordanians, an Algerian and a Filipino. The Times quoted Maj. Richard Goldenberg of the 42nd Infantry Division as saying his outfit, whose job is to secure the northern Sunni Triangle, had never "come across such an organized facility for the Iraqi insurgent elements."
Two years into the war, what have we accomplished? Oh yes, that’s right: elections. Remember?
Here’s what elections have brought to Iraq: not much. Innocents still risk their lives by having anything to do with Americans, and operations to train foreign recruits are getting bigger and more sophisticated as opponents of the American occupation dig in for a long resistance.
Oh, and last Sunday, a band of 40 to 50 attacked an American convoy.
Optimistic observers like to point out signs that democracy is making inroads in the Middle East, inspired, they think, by the victory over Saddam and the spectacle of Iraqis lining up to vote. Something like a Berlin Wall is falling, they hope.
There’s only one problem with this evaluation: It doesn’t fit. While Eastern Europe’s communism was clearly a rotten fruit ready to drop from the branch, militant Islam is an enthusiastic thing, and the American presence in Iraq gives it new purpose and vigor.
Dozens of ballistic missiles are missing
in Iraq. Vials of dangerous microbes are unaccounted for. Sensitive sites, once under U.N. seal, stand gutted today, their arms-making gear hauled off by looters, or by arms-makers.
All the world now knows that Iraq had no threatening "WMD" programs. But two years after U.S. teams began their futile hunt for weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has something else: a landscape of ruined military plants and of unanswered questions and loose ends, some potentially lethal, an Associated Press review of official reporting shows. The chief U.N. arms inspector told AP that outsiders are seeing only a "sliver" of the mess inside Iraq. Demetrius Perricos reports that satellite images indicate at least 90 sites in the old Iraqi military-industrial complex have been pillaged.
The U.S. teams paint a similar picture. "There is nothing but a concrete slab at locations where once stood plants or laboratories," the Iraq Survey Group said in its final report. But that report from inside Iraq, though 986 pages thick, is at times thin on relevant hard information and silent in critically important areas. Just days after the report was issued last fall, for example, news leaked that tons of high-grade explosives had been looted a year earlier from the Iraqi complex at Qaqaa. It was a potential boon to Iraq's car bombers, but the U.S. document did not report this dangerous loss.
Similarly, the main body of the U.S. report discusses Iraq's Samoud 2s, but doesn't note that many of these ballistic missiles haven't been found. Only via an annex table does the report disclose that as many as 36 Samouds may be unaccounted for in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion. Seventy-five of the 26-foot-long, liquid-fueled missiles were destroyed under U.N. oversight before the war, because they too often exceeded the 93-mile range allowed for Iraqi missiles under the 12-year-old U.N. inspection regime. After the U.N. inspectors were evacuated on the eve of the U.S. invasion, they lost track of the remaining missiles.
The Iraq Survey Group, which ended its arms hunt in December, says a complete accounting of the Samouds "may not be possible due to various factors."
This is Rumour Control on the failed
manhunt for Osama bin Laden.