Tuesday, July 19, 2005
War News for Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Bring ‘em on: Thirteen Iraqis killed in ambush of a minibus carrying workers to a
Bring ‘em on: Three Sunni members of the committee drafting
Bring ‘em on: Eight policemen killed in gunbattle in Khadra, insurgent casualties unknown. Six police officers, including a colonel, killed in five separate attacks across
Bring ‘em on: At least one person, believed to be a civilian, killed in car bombing targeting US and Iraqi troops in Rawah. Two Iraqi soldiers killed in eastern
Ever-mounting toll: Nearly 25,000 civilians have died violently in
Based on more than 10,000 media reports, the dossier is the first detailed account of such deaths.
"The ever-mounting Iraqi death toll is the forgotten cost of the decision to go to war in
The Iraq Body Count and Oxford Research Group, made up of academics and peace activists, carried out the survey.
The Dossier on Civilian Casualties in Iraq 2003-2005 says 37% of all non-combatant deaths were caused by US-led forces.
Almost a fifth of the 24,865 deaths were women or children and nearly half of all the civilian deaths were reported in the capital
"On average, 34 ordinary Iraqis have met violent deaths every day since the invasion of March 2003," said Mr Sloboda.
"It remains a matter of the gravest concern that, nearly two-and-a-half years on, neither the
Markedly worse: I visit
Each time the security situation has been markedly worse than the time before.
Briefly, after the election in January, which brought an Iraqi government to power, things seemed to improve; then, after some weeks of fewer bombs and fewer deaths, the level of attacks rose again.
Now it is higher than it has been at any time since May 2003. The supply of suicide bombers seems endless.
Two separate campaigns appear to be going on: the Baathist resistance movement which Saddam Hussein planned and provided vast stocks of weapons and money for, is targeting the Iraqi army and police, and to a lesser extent the American and British forces.
As far as anyone can tell, this is the larger and better equipped of the two main underground movements.
The other is the extremist religious movement headed (we assume) by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which announced last year that it was associating itself with al-Qaeda. Foreign Muslims in sizeable numbers have come into the country to support it.
Intelligence officials in
But to be honest, who does what is largely a matter of guesswork.
Working overtime: In the face of seemingly irreconcilable differences, Iraqi politicians are working overtime to put together a permanent constitution that can eventually guide the country to a peaceful future.
Keeping the political process on track is the only way to keep an edge vis-à-vis the insurgency, Iraqi and US officials say. And sticking to the schedule, increasingly, looks to be the key to preventing full-scale civil war.
Finding a sectarian compromise appears especially urgent amid a spike in suicide bombings over the past week, including Saturday's attack at a gas station next to a Shiite mosque in Musayib, south of
At each critical juncture in the political process, the Sunni-dominated insurgency is under pressure to prove its continued relevance, US officials argue.
However, the main factions on the drafting committee - Shiites, Kurds, and Sunnis - say they agree on the rough shape of the constitution. They are now working "day and night" to hammer out a mutually acceptable draft by Aug. 15, the deadline for parliament to approve the document prior to a nationwide referendum to be held by Oct. 15.
They could finish by the end of the month, unless they don’t:
"The committee is working on the constitution and about to complete the constitution which could be ready by end of the current month," Talabani told reporters after a meeting with former prime minister Iyad Allawi.
He said the committee has made a good progress "but there are some Arab brothers who have some reservations that are under discussion," Talabani said, referring to the Sunni Arabs who were at odds with fellow Kurds and Shiites over the definition of federalism.
This may slow things a bit: Gunmen shot dead three Sunni Arab members of the team drafting
Drawing Sunni Arabs on to the committee, due to deliver a new constitution by Aug 15, was the cornerstone of the U.S.-backed strategy of persuading members of the restive minority to move off the streets and into peaceful politics.
The three men represented a Sunni umbrella group called the Iraqi National Dialogue.
Hours earlier, President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, issued a statement saying he hoped the draft constitution could be ready early -- by the end of this month -- if Sunni concerns could be quickly addressed.
How will this fit into that constitution?: Shiite parliamentarian Khudayr al-Khuzai called on the government Sunday to "bring back popular militias" to protect vulnerable Shiite communities. "The plans of the interior and defense ministries to impose security in
Following Mr. Khuzai's outraged speech in parliament, other members of the Shiite-led majority bloc said they also wanted militias to help stop such attacks. "We need militias to provide protection," said Saad Jawad Kandil, a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), a key party in the Shiite-led alliance that dominates parliament.
Under US-drafted provisional legislation, nongovernmental militias are meant to be either disbanded or integrated into the government security apparatus as part of
"Correct course of action": Moqtada Sadr, the radical Iraqi Shia cleric whose militia led uprisings against
Speaking to Newsnight, Mr Sadr said that even US President George W Bush would agree that fighting an occupation force was a correct course of action.
However, he did call upon Iraqis to exercise restraint with US troops.
And he said he would not interfere with the democratic process, saying "Whoever wants to take part, let him do so".
"Resistance is legitimate at all levels be it religious, intellectual and so on," Mr Sadr said, in his first interview with Western media.
"The first person who would acknowledge this is the so-called American President Bush who said 'if my country is occupied, I will fight'."
Hey, they absorbed about $9 billion with no trouble: As fresh violence engulfs
But in a finely balanced argument, the Iraqi officials also said their country and its fledgling financial institutions were stable and secure enough to manage the influx of that much money.
Your money or your security: Iraqi officials warned the international community today that more delays in delivering on aid pledges would further destabilize the country and threaten global security.
Planning Minister Barham Salih thanked the
Bungled reconstruction: In language both sharp and subtle, Iraqi and international officials on Monday criticized the U.S.-led rebuilding effort for moving too slowly to improve the lives of Iraqi citizens.
They said the
Medical crisis: More than two dozen doctors walked out of one of
Physicians said the troubles started when soldiers barged into a woman's wing at Yarmouk hospital, opened curtains and conducted searches as patients lay in their beds on Monday.
A 27-year-old internal medicine specialist said a soldier began intimidating and abusing him.
"Before he left he said, 'Why are you looking in disapproval?' Then he came and punched me lightly on my arm before sticking his rifle into my stomach and cocking it," the doctor, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, told Reuters.
"I stayed quiet but relatives of the patients told him to calm down before pulling him out of the room. Just then, four more soldiers came in and pointed a rifle at my head. At that point I became scared and begged them to leave me alone."
General Ilker Basbug, second in command at
Blair says no connection: Prime Minister Tony Blair warned Tuesday against making a connection between the
A third of the people sampled in a British opinion poll published Tuesday thought Blair bore "a lot of responsibility" for the attacks, because he joined the U.S.-led invasion of
"Of course these terrorists will use
"Sept. 11 happened of course before both of these things, and then the excuse was American policy, or
Chatham House begs to differ:
The British government "has been conducting counter-terrorism policy 'shoulder to shoulder' with the U.S., not in the sense of being an equal decision-maker, but rather as pillion [back-seat] passenger compelled to leave the steering to the ally in the driving seat," said the report published by Chatham House, also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, which has close ties to the government.
The policy, it added, "has proved costly in terms of British and
British government denies link: The government reacted sharply on Monday to a private research report that said Britain was particularly exposed to a terrorist attack because of its role in Iraq as an ally and "pillion passenger" of American policy.
Coming 11 days after four bombers struck
"The time for excuses over terrorism is over," Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, said in
The government's response added to indications that Britain's role in Iraq is again returning as a political specter, likely to be linked with accusations of a failure by Britain's intelligence agencies to focus sufficient attention on Al Qaeda, whose "evil ideology" Prime Minister Tony Blair has blamed for the attacks. That failure was also cited in the report by Chatham House, a nonpartisan research group.
The government has sought to define the
But, in denying a link between the July 7 attacks and its policies in
Richard Clarke begs to differ: The carnage in the London Underground follows an even more horrendous attack on
Earlier this year the administration revealed that Osama bin Laden had communicated with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of ''Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia,'' urging him to send some of his many fighters to the homelands of the
A recent C.I.A. analysis reportedly concluded that those being recruited by Zarqawi are receiving better training and preparation by fighting in
British government sticks its fingers in its ears and goes la la la: A controversial fly-on-the wall account of the
Publication of The Costs of War by Sir Jeremy Greenstock,
Regarded as a career diplomat of impeccable integrity, during his time in post-invasion
The decision to block the book until Greenstock removes substantial passages will be interpreted as an attempt by ministers to avoid further embarrassing disclosures over the conduct of the war and its aftermath from a highly credible source.
Of course, none of the above could have anything to do with this:
The British government has long declined to set a timetable for withdrawing troops from
A New Revelation From
Manipulated elections?: The January 30th election in Iraq was publicly perceived as a political triumph for George W. Bush and a vindication of his decision to overturn the regime of Saddam Hussein. More than eight million Iraqis defied the threats of the insurgency and came out to vote for provincial councils and a national assembly. Many of them spent hours waiting patiently in line, knowing that they were risking their lives. Images of smiling Iraqis waving purple index fingers, signifying that they had voted, were transmitted around the world. Even some of the President’s harshest critics acknowledged that he might have been right: democracy, as he defined it, could take hold in the
Whether the election could sustain its promise had been in question from the beginning. The Administration was confronted with a basic dilemma: The likely winner of a direct and open election would be a Shiite religious party. The Shiites were bitter opponents of Saddam’s regime, and suffered under it, but many Shiite religious and political leaders are allied, to varying degrees, with the mullahs of
Random News From The
On your kid’s charge card: The wars in
The could make the combined campaigns, especially the war in Iraq, the most expensive military conflicts in the last 60 years, causing even some conservative experts to criticize the open-ended commitment to an elusive goal. The concern is that the soaring costs, given little weight before now, could play a growing role in
"Osama (bin Laden) doesn't have to win; he will just bleed us to death," said Michael Scheuer, a former counterterrorism official at the CIA who led the pursuit of bin Laden and recently retired after writing two books critical of the Clinton and Bush administrations. "He's well on his way to doing it."
Frontline: Private Warriors: Watch the PBS television documentary on the 120,000 private contractors working in
Three myths about
THE DEMOCRACY MYTH -- IRAQI ELECTIONS WERE FREE AND FAIR: In last month's major Iraq address, President Bush recalled that "In January 2005, more than eight million Iraqi men and women voted in elections that were free and fair."
THE PROGRESS MYTH -- HIGH-INTENSITY VIOLENCE ON THE DECLINE: On July 8, Maj. Gen. William Webster, who oversees coalition forces in
War photos: In May, the Los Angeles Times released a survey revealing how few photographs of wounded or dead American service members in
The Times' survey of six months of coverage found almost no pictures of Americans killed in action at a time when 559 Americans and Western allies died; the same publications ran just 44 photos from
Comment: Let me remind you that the underlying issue in the Karl Rove controversy is not a leak, but a war and how
Enough is known to surmise that the leaks of Rove, or others deputized by him, amounted to retaliation against someone who had the temerity to challenge the president of the United States when he was striving to find some plausible reason for invading Iraq.
The role of Rove and associates added up to a small incident in a very large scandal - the effort to delude
Editorial: Even by the standards of insurgent violence in
The disavowal could indicate worry about a backlash against the deaths of youngsters. Iraqis have asked why insurgents were killing their fellow citizens in an attempt to force coalition troops to leave. Now they ask again, "Why kill children?"
Since the invasion in March 2003, insurgents have killed the top United Nations official in the country, the Egyptian ambassador, clerics and many police recruits. They have planted bombs by the road, dispatched suicide bombers and beheaded some of their victims. Security forces can't stop all attacks; they depend on help from Iraqis to provide intelligence about guerrilla plans. Even those who want coalition troops to leave immediately should understand that a nation can't be built on the bones of murdered children.
Opinion: There is a widespread view, even among many who opposed the invasion, that we have a responsibility to keep our troops in place until certain minimum conditions are achieved: some degree of security for the Iraqi people; a reasonable start on stable and representative self-government; and partial reconstruction of the civilian infrastructure. Prompt withdrawal is considered unthinkable by most Republicans and Democrats, because it is difficult to envision a pullout that leaves a peaceful
So the expectation is that we will be in Iraq for several more years, perhaps with a somewhat reduced presence, but spending considerable money (more than $1 billion per week) and sacrificing lives ( one dozen to two dozen deaths and serious casualties per week), while working to achieve those minimum objectives required for withdrawal.
This conventional view, however, ignores two important questions. The first is, how much are American interests in the Arab world being harmed by our continued presence in
I do not believe that we are making progress on any of our key objectives in
The insurgency cannot be overcome easily by either
Our best strategy now is a prompt withdrawal plan consisting of clearly defined political, military and economic elements. Politically, the
Opinion: I hate to introduce this hoary old idea, but I believe it is true: an American withdrawal will be interpreted as a sign of weakness by aggressive enemies (and we do have enemies). If the US diminishes or gives up its military presence (that is, our police station) in the Middle East, it may only be a matter of time before we lose access to two-thirds of the world's remaining oil supplies that happen to be located there. We would also have to wonder how long our military bases in
What I believe will happen: the Jihadi violence will continue, the American public will lose patience with the attrition in Iraq, other flash points (North Korea, Pakistan, Venezuela, Mexico) will make it clear that the US Army is not capable of conducting land operations elsewhere, events will evolve to choke off oil imports to the US as our hegemony slips away, terror events in Europe will continue and provoke a backlash against Islamic imigrants, which will only inflame the Islamic world further, the US will revert to a naval strategy of attempting to protect our interests -- namely access to oil -- which will not be effective, and America will be plagued at home by political recrimination, blaming, scapegoating, and a futile campaign to keep the car-dependent utopia going.
Ultimately, the world will enter The Long Emergency, a horizonless era of conflict, withering global economic relations, and energy starvation -- with plummeting standards of living.
Meanwhile, we are doing nothing at home to prepare for this future, for instance a crash program to restore the American railroad system, or to restore true fiscal discipline to the mortgage industry in order to stem the insane spread of even more car-dependent suburban sprawl (a.k.a. the housing bubble). Where is the Democratic party (my party) on this? Lost in the raptures of sexual and racial pandering.
Comment: Most of the time you'd hardly know there's a war going on, that boys and young men in America's all-volunteer army are fighting and dying in places like Falluja and the remote mountain provinces of faraway Afghanistan.
Sixty years ago, the beaches of
Today, war is perfectly OK as long as nobody is inconvenienced, as long as the Red Sox keep winning and topless young women continue lining up on the Howard Stern Show to reveal what's under their thongs.
Most of us can rattle off David Ortiz and Johnny Damon's batting averages. We can also repeat more than anybody needs to know about celebrities like Johnny Depp and Mariah Carey. But when it comes to understanding why America's No. 1 enemy, Osama bin Laden, is considered a hero in so many parts of the world, we're completely in the dark.
Even television has distanced itself from the terrorist and Iraqi conflicts and their underlining causes. But then one must keep in mind who owns and controls the news and entertainment industry, an industry that has a far greater stake in selling cars, beer, hamburgers, toothpaste and deodorant than in exposing the real reasons why the nation is bogged down in a bloody war not only in the