Monday, April 25, 2005

War News for Monday, April 25, 2005 Bring 'em on: Twin bombings in Shia market area leave 15 dead and 57 wounded in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: US soldier killed in bomb attack on convoy in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: US sailor killed by bomb attack in Fallujah. Bring 'em on: Member of Interim National Assembly narrowly escapes assassination attempt in Baji. Kidnapped Pakistani Diplomat freed. Human Rights Watch call for inquiry to look at Donald Rumsfeld's possible role in the abuse of US military prisoners, a human rights group says. They say the US defence secretary may bear "command responsibility" for abuse in Iraq. Now the US is demanding the names of passengers that overfly the United States. Even Tony Blair has limits as to how far he will bend over for Bushboy. Laura Rozen has all the Bolton details. Meanwhile the poodle is coming under further pressure from his General Election rivals over the advice given by the Attorney General regarding the legality of the Iraq invasion. Open the Fridge! Lost History: Saddam Hussein's power had collapsed and the newly arrived US-led coalition forces were unable to prevent a crime against history. Professional smugglers connected to the international antiquities mafia managed to break some of the sealed doors of the Baghdad Museum storage rooms. They looted priceless artefacts such as the museum's entire collection of cylindrical seals and large numbers of Assyrian ivory carvings. More than 15,000 objects were taken. Many were smuggled out of Iraq and offered for sale. Note to Bush: Iraqi army and police units are deserting their posts after the recent escalation in insurgent attacks, according to reports from around the country yesterday. On the Syrian border, US troops in the Sunni city of Husaybah report mass desertions. An Iraqi unit that had once grown to 400 troops now numbers a few dozen who are "holed up" inside a local phosphate plant. Major John Reed, of the 2nd Marine Regiment, said: "They will claim that they are ready to come back and fight but there are no more than 30 of them on duty on any given day and they are completely ineffective." In Mosul, which has been a hotspot since insurgents fleeing Fallujah effectively overran it last year, residents have complained to newspapers that police now rarely patrol and only appear in response to attacks. Well, I can understand why they are deserting their posts. Don't criticise the Emperor: The UN's top human rights investigator in Afghanistan has been forced out under American pressure just days after he presented a report criticising the US military for detaining suspects without trial and holding them in secret prisons. Cherif Bassiouni had needled the US military since his appointment a year ago, repeatedly trying, without success, to interview alleged Taliban and al-Qa'ida prisoners at the two biggest US bases in Afghanistan, Kandahar and Bagram. Mr Bassiouni's report had highlighted America's policy of detaining prisoners without trial and lambasted coalition officials for barring independent human rights monitors from its bases. Killing with Impunity: An American patrol roared past us with the soldiers gesturing furiously with their guns for traffic to keep back on an overpass in central Baghdad. A black car with three young men in it did not stop in time and a soldier fired several shots from his machine gun into its engine. The driver and his friends were not hit, but many Iraqis do not survive casual encounters with US soldiers. It is very easy to be accidentally killed in Iraq. US soldiers treat everybody as a potential suicide bomber. If they are right they have saved their lives and if they are wrong they face no penalty. "We should end the immunity of US soldiers here," says Dr Mahmoud Othman, a veteran Kurdish politician who argues that the failure to prosecute American soldiers who have killed civilians is one of the reasons why the occupation became so unpopular so fast. He admits, however, that this is extremely unlikely to happen given the US attitude to any sanctions against its own forces. The Armour you Have!: On May 29, 2004, a station wagon that Iraqi insurgents had packed with C-4 explosives blew up on a highway in Ramadi, killing four American marines who died for lack of a few inches of steel. The four were returning to camp in an unarmored Humvee that their unit had rigged with scrap metal, but the makeshift shields rose only as high as their shoulders, photographs of the Humvee show, and the shrapnel from the bomb shot over the top. "The steel was not high enough," said Staff Sgt. Jose S. Valerio, their motor transport chief, who along with the unit's commanding officers said the men would have lived had their vehicle been properly armored. "Most of the shrapnel wounds were to their heads." You can read more about this here. The Green Zone must Die!: On that point everyone agrees; the Americans who created it, the foreigners who shelter in it, the parliamentarians who sit in it and, not least, the insurgents who bomb it. This fortress by the Tigris, home to the US and British embassies and Iraqi government offices, is an unloved, unlovely complex created two years ago as the nerve centre of the occupation. Purely on aesthetic grounds you have to sympathise with those who rain rockets and mortars on to its sandbagged reinforced-concrete roofs.


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