Monday, June 13, 2005

War News for Monday, June 13, 2005 Bring 'em on: Eight US troops injured in mortar attack on FOB St Michael 20 miles south of Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Female Kurdish human rights activist kidnapped in Kiruk. Bring 'em on: Two civilians killed and five injured in suicide bomb attack on US patrol in Baghdad. Reports from the scene say three US personnel were evacuated. Bring 'em on: A senior US diplomat has escaped injury in a suicide bomb attack on a US convoy in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Thirteen Iraqi injured when insurgents fired mortars on a funeral in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Twenty bodies of murdered Iraqis found in in the Nahrawan desert 20 miles east of Baghdad. Bring 'em on: One Iraqi police commando killed and another injured in roadside bomb attack in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi policemen killed and six injured in suicide bomb attack in Tikrik. Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi policemen killed and five injured in suicide bomb attack in Samarra. Bring 'em on: Eight bodies of executed Iraqi found in the Shula district of Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Two US soldiers killed by IED attack in Amiriyah. Bring 'em on: Six year old Iraqi killed by mortar attack on Iraqi army barracks in Tal Afar. After the reports yesterday that 40 insurgents has been killed in US airstrikes here's this report from the scene:
Iraqis inspecting the damage of U.S. air strikes in western Iraq on Sunday challenged American assertions that the raids had killed 40 insurgents, saying there were no guerrillas in the area. "There were no mujahideen (fighters) or armed men in the area. The planes attacked indiscriminately," said one man, who did not give his name, as he inspected the rubble of a house. Quite how many may have died, or their identities, remained unclear. Residents would not let a Reuters cameraman film two of the houses that were hit by the strikes. Hamdi al-Alusi, chief of nearby Qaim hospital, said three civilians from houses in the nearby district of Rumana were brought in wounded after the air strikes, including a 12-year-old boy who later died. The U.S. military spokesman said Rumana was not targeted during or after the strikes. "These are children's clothes," said one man, picking up a shirt from the rubble left by the strikes.
Banned Contractor still getting work. Juan Cole takes a look at some of the Iraq and other ME news that's out and ponders "Things You Wouldn't expect to Happen if You Listened to Bush and Cheney" Opinion and Commentary Military can't fix Iraq:
A growing number of senior American military officers in Iraq have concluded that there is no long-term military solution to an insurgency that has killed thousands of Iraqis and more than 1,300 U.S. troops during the past two years. Instead, officers say, the only way to end the guerrilla war is through Iraqi politics — an arena that so far has been crippled by divisions between Shiite Muslims, whose coalition dominated the January elections, and Sunni Muslims, who are a minority in Iraq but form the base of support for the insurgency. Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, expressed similar sentiments, calling the military’s efforts “the Pillsbury Doughboy idea” — pressing the insurgency in one area only causes it to rise elsewhere. “Like in Baghdad,” Casey said during an interview with two newspaper reporters, including one from Knight Ridder, last week. “We push in Baghdad — they’re down to about less than a car bomb a day in Baghdad over the last week — but in north-center (Iraq) ... they’ve gone up.” The recognition that a military solution is not in the offing has led U.S. and Iraqi officials to signal they are willing to negotiate with insurgent groups, or their intermediaries. “It has evolved in the course of normal business,” said a senior U.S. diplomatic official in Baghdad, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of U.S. policy to defer to the Iraqi government on Iraqi political matters. But the violence has continued unabated. Lt. Col. Frederick P. Wellman, who works with the task force overseeing the training of Iraqi security troops, said the insurgency doesn’t seem to be running out of new recruits, a dynamic fueled by tribal members seeking revenge for relatives killed in fighting. “We can’t kill them all,” Wellman said. “When I kill one, I create three.”
A Long War
At the moment, the Sunnite Arabs do not have a credible collective leadership with whom the government could negotiate even if it wanted to, and there’s not much point in trying to negotiate with the insurgents, either: some 38 different groups have claimed attacks against American troops. Nor will sealing the frontiers help, as the great majority of the insurgents are Iraqis moved by some combination of nationalism, Islamism, and/or Baathism. (The International Institute for Strategic Studies recently estimated that there are between 20,000 and 50,000 insurgents, organized in some 75 separate units). Another election might ease some of the strains if substantial numbers of Sunnite Arabs chose to participate next time, but it is far from clear that they would, and in any case the timetable is slipping fast. Current deadlines foresee completion of the new constitution by August 15, a referendum on it in October, and new elections in December (assuming that the referendum says “yes”), but three months were lost in haggling between Kurds and Shias over government jobs and now that schedule is most unlikely to be met. In fact, it will be surprising if they can even agree on a new constitution by the end of the year -- and Sunnite Arab views will scarcely be represented at all. So the violence will probably continue at around the current level for the next six to nine months at least, and beyond that the future is simply unforeseeable. Whether you choose to call this a civil war or not, the fact is that almost all of the insurgents are Sunni Arabs, while the new Iraqi army and police forces are overwhelmingly Shiites and Kurds. So long as the insurgency continues, the Shia leadership is unlikely to demand the immediate departure of American troops -- and so far, the US still seems determined to stay. It’s a long time since the early days of the occupation, when US officials spoke airily about a prolonged occupation of Iraq and only very gradual moves towards putting power back into Iraqi hands, but they have (deliberately or accidentally) created a situation in which key Iraqi players depend on their continued presence. Nor is there any sign that Washington has yet given up its plans for “enduring bases” in Iraq as the strategic center from which it can perpetuate its military domination of the oil-rich Gulf region. This is going to be a long war.
Freedom Comes - Freedom Goes:
Sheikh Abdul al-Bahadli, a firebrand cleric with an artistic bent, drew a tree on a notepad. It was not a bad sketch. After a pause his pen returned to the pad and drew a box around the tree. "Is it not more beautiful if it is put in a frame?" he asked. This was not an invitation to discuss aesthetics, but an argument for women wearing the Islamic headscarf known as the hijab. It was also a justification for the transformation of Basra and southern Iraq. Since the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein two years ago, this city with a long liberal tradition and the surrounding provinces have fallen under the sway of conservative Islam. Alcohol shops have been burnt, women have been encouraged to wear the veil and music has been banned in many places. Prostitution has gone underground. A student picnic was viciously attacked because the male and female undergraduates mingled. Mr Bahadli, an ally of the influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, said music and television must not excite the wrong emotions. "Mozart yes, Michael Jackson no."


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