War News for Thursday, May 26, 2005
Bring 'em on: Four Iraqis, including a translator working for the US military, gunned down in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Senior civil servant in Iraqi Ministry of Industry & Minerals assassinated in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Deputy Dean of Baghdad's Mustansiriya University and three of his bodyguards gunned down in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Iraqi politician found dead with throat cut in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Three detainees escape from Abu Ghraib
Bring 'em on: US Marine killed in Operation New Market in Haditha
Bring 'em on: One month old and one year old Iraqis killed in fighting in Tal Afar
Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi policemen killed and nineteen injured in car bomb attack in Baghdad
American soldier killed in traffic accident in Al Touz
Iraq's Defence Ministry has announced a huge crackdown on terrorism in the capital Baghdad.
More than 40,000 Iraqi troops are to be deployed in the capital to hunt down insurgents.
Sadoun al Dulaimi said the force would include troops from the interior and defence ministries.
Operation Thunder would be by far the largest anti-insurgent effort carried out in Baghdad by Iraqi security forces.
"We will divide Baghdad into seven main areas," al Dulaimi told a news conference.
"The number of the forces who will take part in the operation will be more than 40,000."
Playing the al-Zarqawi game
Iraq's interior and defense ministers said Thursday that they have information that Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been wounded.
"We have information in the Ministry of Interior that al-Zarqawi was wounded, but we don't know how seriously," Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said during a news conference. "We are not sure whether he is dead or not but we are sure that he is injured."
Meanwhile: Al-Qaeda's Iraq branch said it has named Abu Hafs al-Qarni as its acting chief, according to an Internet statement posted on an Islamist website whose authenticity could not be verified.
Google Search: "Abu Hafs al-Qarni"
Under Saddam’s dictatorship, Iraqi women were among the most free in the Middle East. They enjoyed many rights equal to those of men: rights to education, employment, divorce in civil courts and custody over children were endorsed by the ruling Ba’ath regime although some of the legal rights were routinely violated.
It is now more than a year since the end of the war aimed at bringing liberation to the Iraqi people but rather than an improvement in their quality of life, women have been victims of widespread violence.
The Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq has informally surveyed Baghdad, and now knows of 400 women who were raped in the city between April and August last year. A lack of security and proper policing in post-Saddam Iraq has been blamed for the growing rates of crime against women. It is claimed that women can no longer go out alone to work or attend school or university without being accompanied by an armed male relative.
Opinion and Commentary
The specialists, including one with extensive experience in Iraq, suggested that Washington misinterpreted a lull in attacks after January's national elections as a sign that the Iraqi insurgency was dying out or relaxing its effort to force a foreign military retreat.
Instead, the experts said, the insurgents have shown patience as they regrouped, devised new strategies and repeatedly demonstrated an ability to thwart U.S.-led efforts to stabilize Iraq. The persistent campaign of attacks has demoralized the population while proving the insurgents can withstand repeated military offensives designed to defang them.
Events in Iraq this week showed the effectiveness of the insurgents' campaign. A car bomb exploded Tuesday outside a girls' school in Baghdad, killing six people, while eight U.S. troops were killed in separate attacks. A total of 14 Americans have been reported killed since Sunday, while about 60 Iraqis have died in shootings, car bombings and suicide attacks launched by the insurgents around the country.
"The fact that the U.S. Army managed to prevent insurgent plans from halting the elections, and the fact that such a large percentage of the Iraqi population defied the violence to vote, shook the confidence of the various groups deploying violence for political aim," said John Shipman, director of the independent International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
But the three-month gap between the elections of formation of a new government "gave the insurgency the strategic and political space to regroup and strike back," he added.
In spite of "risking their lives" to vote for a better future, Iraqis have not been impressed by the new government. Its inaction "has also demobilized the Iraqi population and encouraged a return to the alienation and cynicism that (previously) marked popular attitudes," Shipman said.
US Arms transfer since September 11, 2001
"Perhaps no single policy is more at odds with President Bush’s pledge to ‘end tyranny in our world’ than the United States’ role as the world’s leading arms exporting nation, " said Frida Berrigan, the report’s co-author. "Although arms sales are often justified on the basis of their purported benefits, from securing access to overseas military facilities to rewarding coalition partners, these alleged benefits often come at a high price."
As in the case of recent decisions to provide new F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan while pledging comparable high tech military hardware to its rival India, U.S. arms sometimes go to both sides in long brewing conflicts. And the tens of millions of U.S. arms transfers to Uzbekistan exemplify the negative consequences of arming repressive regimes.
Among the key findings of this report are the following:
In 2003, the last year for which full information is available, the United States transferred weaponry to 18 of the 25 countries involved in active conflicts. From Angola, Chad and Ethiopia, to Colombia, Pakistan, Israel and the Philippines, transfers through the two largest U.S. arms sales programs (Foreign Military Sales and Commercial Sales) to these conflict nations totaled nearly $1 billion in 2003.
In 2003, more than half of the top 25 recipients of U.S. arms transfers in the developing world (13 of 25) were defined as undemocratic by the U.S. State Department’s Human Rights Report: in the sense that "citizens do not have the right to change their own government." These 13 nations received over $2.7 billion in U.S. arms transfers in 2003, with the top recipients including Saudi Arabia ($1.1 billion), Egypt ($1.0 billion), Kuwait ($153 million), the United Arab Emirates ($110 million) and Uzbekistan ($33 million).
When countries designated by the State Department’s Human Rights Report to have poor human rights records or serious patterns of abuse are factored in, 20 of the top 25 U.S. arms clients in the developing world in 2003 -- a full 80% -- were either undemocratic regimes or governments with records of major human rights abuses.