War News for Sunday, June 12, 2005
Bring 'em on: Two marines killed in roadside bomb attack in Saqlawiyah
Bring 'em on: Forty killed in US air strikes on the western Iraqi city of Karabilah
Bring 'em on: Eleven Iraqi construction workers killed when their minibus was raked with gunfire in Diyara
Bring 'em on: Ten Iraqis killed in a bomb attack on the mainly Shia Shula district of Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Casualties reported in bomb attack outside the Slovakian Embassy in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: The bodies of three murdered Iraqis have been found on the roadside in Dourah, a southern suburb of Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Two Iraqis killed in a bomb explosion in a cemetery in Najaf
Bring 'em on: Iraqi truck driver killed in convoy attack in Mosul
Bring 'em on: American soldier killed by IED in Bayaa, a southern suburb of Baghdad
Bring em on: Two Iraqis working at an American base killed in bomb attack in Fallujah
Make it Legal
: Another damning piece of evidence:
Ministers were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.
The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.
The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.
As if US military forces weren't bogged down enough as it is but
Condolezza Rice has vowed
to stop any attacks against Turkey from neighboring Iraq, Turkey's foreign minister said, adding that Ankara expects greater US cooperation in fighting Kurdish rebels. "Mrs Rice has promised us that no terrorist action against Turkey from Iraqi territory will be allowed," Abdullah Gul told Turkey's Anatolia news agency late Tuesday after meeting Rice in Washington.
. Better known by the nom de guerre Abu Walid, he runs his own television show, Terrorism in the Grip of Justice, on which alleged insurgents make confessions.
"[The bomber] failed to reach him so he blew himself up in the courtyard," Jabor said. Two other former members of the unit were being hunted, he added.
Body parts littered the compound, close to the interior ministry and police academy, which houses the Wolf Brigade. One officer was injured.
French hostage and her Iraqi companion freed after five months captivity in Baghdad
Opinion and Commentary
President Bush's continuing upbeat comments about the war in Iraq don't reflect reality.
American soldiers continue to be killed and maimed, and Iraqi troops appear far from ready to assume the burden of their nation's security. Insurgents' bombs and bullets take a steady toll on the Iraqi people and their leaders. Citizens in the capital city of Baghdad cope with unclean water and little electricity while fearing the random attacks on civilian targets.
Yet, Bush has said on more than one occasion, "I'm pleased with the progress."
He may be. The American public is not.
Only 41 percent of Americans support the president's handling of the war, according to the results of an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Friday. That's the lowest level of support recorded since the AP-Ipsos poll was launched in 2003.
Dwindling support is also reflected in the Army's inability to recruit new soldiers. The Army, which initially had a goal of 8,050 for May and later lowered it to 6,700, reported that it was able to recruit only about 5,000 men and women last month.
President Bush owes the American people an honest, realistic status report on the war. He should go on television and, as Sen. Joe Biden said Thursday, explain why he believes that Americans must stay in Iraq to ensure the self-determination of its people.
Thanks to regular reader and fellow blogger asterism for catching this editorial in the Financial Times that slipped under my radar. It's a subscription article but here is the editorial in full.
The past month in Iraq has witnessed such appalling carnage that most of those involved in the country's fate have either been awed into silence or chosen to obfuscate. President George W. Bush, for example, purports to believe that 600 Iraqi civilians died this month because a defeated insurgency against the US occupation is in despair. One has to wonder what the situation would look like if the insurgents were winning.
Without re-rehearsing the dismal catalogue of delusion and bungling that has characterised US stewardship of Iraq, it is important to be clear about the salient facts of what is happening now. Iraq is on the brink of a sectarian war that could suck in its neighbours and make the Lebanese civil war of 1975-90 look tame by comparison.
There is really very little going on in the world right now more important than stopping this from happening.
January's election marked a historic turning point not only for Iraq but for the region. The raw courage of the millions of Iraqis who braved the threats of revanchist ba'athists and butchering jihadis to turn out to vote has indelibly stamped the future of the Arab world. Because of their valour, no Arab tyrant is safe on his throne, whether or not he is a US client.
But the tactics of the jihadis drawn into Iraq by the US invasion have switched since the election. They want civil war between Sunni and Shia - even more than they appear to care about fighting US "crusaders" and their allies, whom they in any case blame for bringing the Shia to power. Until now, the Shia majority has kept its eye on the prize of democratic empowerment and - restrained by a clerical establishment led by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani - forsworn reprisals against Sunni provocation.
This now appears to be changing - marking arguably the most dangerous moment since the invasion of Iraq.
The good news is that a significant cross-section of Sunni notables and clerics - some with links to nationalist insurgents - has signalled its wish to join the political and constitutional process the Sunnis boycotted in January. The bad news is that the jihadi element of the insurgency is so spooked by this that it is trying to turn Iraqi streets almost literally into rivers of blood - and that the Shia are finally retaliating. Sunni leaders are beginning to turn up mangled and dead.
Exceptional measures such as the current "lockdown" of Baghdad by up to 40,000 Iraqi security forces are justified to combat this. Greater openness by the Shia victors of the elections towards the Sunni minority is also more than ever essential. But it is time too that Iraq's neighbouring Sunni rulers - watching the downtrodden Shia rise to power with undisguised horror - start helping. The US loudly alleges Syrian connivance with the Iraq insurgency. It should also tell its friends in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to stop anti-Shia agitation that risks fanning the flames of sectarian war.
Remember what the Financial Times said on May 30, 2005. "There is really very little going on in the world right now more important than stopping this from happening."
If a foreign spy had sneaked in to this week's inaugural round of the game in a hotel in Newport, Rhode Island, the early scenes would have encouraged a suspicion that the superpower was on the slide.
"Astonishing,'' commented one of the game's controllers. "They are reacting like the Senate: talk, talk, talk, and letting China walk all over them.''
As Japan and South Korea despaired of their old protector, the mood in America's rivals was close to euphoric.
"We still don't have to admit to having nuclear weapons,'' crowed Iran's war game president. "Just issue a statement that we have redeployed our forces to be 'asymmetric'… to deter any invader.''
China's politburo was yet more upbeat. "Why must we accommodate the US?'' asked its war game president, responding to a Washington overture. "We are on the upswing. They are on the down.''
But ultimately China's and Iran's internal weaknesses put a brake on their ambitions. China was awarded first place in the "game", but only just, and America came a close second. "So was the US losing?" asked Mr Barnett, who believes in conciliating and not confronting China.
"From the point of view of the American people the presidents [in the game] would be pretty popular. Americans are not getting killed in a war and are not 'meddling'.
"No major wars - this is the definition of a happy ending. America was losing to win."
Susan in the comments thread yesterday recommended "The Dreams of Sparrows". I do to.
One of my Iraqi friends here in Amman recently told me that Sunni who live in the south are being pressured by members of the Badr Organization to relocate elsewhere. It should also be noted that the Badr came back to Iraq on the heels of the invaders.
“You and your (Kurdish) brothers are the heroes of liberating Iraq,” added Talabani at the aforementioned conference.
So we have the US-backed Iraqi “government” overtly (they have been doing this covertly for quite some time) pitting Shia and Kurdish militias against the primarily Sunni resistance. State sponsored/propagated civil war-although most Iraqis continue to fear and loath the idea, and so many Iraqi political and religious organizations continue to work tirelessly to avert the worsening of this now low-grade civil war.
Meanwhile, violence continues across Iraq. Car bombs are a daily occurrence, yet now we have seen motorcycle bombs, push-cart bombs, donkey bombs, donkey-cart bombs, dog bombs, human bombs, bicycle bombs and recently two Iraqi policemen dying from eating poisoned watermelon.
Next stop Syria
From Syria to Egypt, from Lebanon to Iraq, along the length and breadth of the Arab world the presumed drive toward greater democracy and openness is lurching along, often coming to sudden halts. Whether brazenly blocked by a ruling party and an elite determined to preserve their hold on power, as in Syria, or stealthily undermined by the same old political bosses, as in Lebanon, progress is patchy, to say the least. And the causes are remarkably similar across the region: a mixture of deep sectarian, regional and tribal divisions, a lack of neutral central institutions, and a clientele system that creates powerful mafias and capi di tutti capi that look after their own in a winner-take-all environment.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration, undeterred by the bloody chaos in Iraq, still seems intent on spreading its ill-fitting idea of democracy in the region, with Syria its possible next target. A well-informed analyst in Damascus told me that the United States is preparing an "Iraq scenario" for the country, including possibly imposing a no-fly zone in the Kurdish-dominated north. The United States' rumored plans are likely to backfire, slowing down reform or halting it altogether. Worse, they could plunge Syria and Lebanon into violent chaos.
Four Point Plan
1. Pull our troops out of Muslim countries in order to make clear that we do not have a war against Islam. Until we do this, 90% or more of the Muslims in the world will continue to believe that America is making war on Islam at the behest of Israel and other interests that are detrimental to Islam and the world’s Muslims. One has only to see the number of Muslims being detained in the world and in American prisons and you can see how Muslims see America’s behavior in the world. Also, tear down the Israel wall for starters.
2. We must quit trying to follow the Bush doctrine of “continuous war” on the rest of the world. America will never be able to conquer the whole world, and it’s time it quit trying. Bush hasn’t yet realized this because he keeps listening to the senile Dick Cheney and the ambitious Zionist, Paul Wolfowitz and the ignorant Donald Rumsfeld. Remember, to show how ignorant Rumsfeld is, one has but to look at his recent comments about China to a joint committee of the Congress, when he said, “We hope China will join the civilized world and …” Donald, do you realize that China is one of the oldest civilizations in the world, one of the greatest and we are but a recent upstart. Cheny and Wolfowitz’ ignorance is shown because they both told the U.S. media that the Iraqis would greet the American troops “with flowers and cheers.” Obviously, they were, and are, living in La La Land.
3. America must get its house in order and quit farming jobs out to alleged American corporations like Halliburton and others who have their headquarters offshore, pay few taxes if any, and who couldn’t care less about America or its workers. Add to this, that America must treat its workers better; if not, then our whole economy will crash like a house of cards (that may happen anyway because of the Fed printing money, with the help of the U.S. Government, that is basically worthless paper.)
4. America must once again value truth, honesty and courage. Bill Clinton was a bigger liar and charlatan than Dick Nixon, yet he never was put out of office; GW Bush is even worse, and has committed more impeachable offenses than any president in American history, yet he remains in office. It is clear that the American media and the American people no longer value truth, honesty or courage—they prefer blowhards, liars and men who show bravado but not real courage—i.e., Clinton, Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Ashcroft, Bremer and the rest of the ilk.
Washington sought to disarm the militias during the months of formal occupation, but failed. It sought to prohibit them under the Iraqi interim constitution, and failed again. Now, despite Washington's advice to the contrary, the elected government has embraced these militias and showered them with public praise. Many Sunnis, meanwhile, are convinced that the Badr Organization, an Iranian-trained group led by the powerful Shiite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, has begun waging warfare against Sunni communities and leaders.