War News for Monday, September 12, 2005
Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi soldiers killed in attack on their patrol in Fallujah
Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi policemen and five civilians injured by IED attack in Kirkuk
Bring 'em on: Major General in the Interior Ministry gunned down in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Bodies of two executed Iraqis found in al-Rustumiya
Bring 'em on: Cameraman for US network APTN shot by Iraqi forces in Samarra
Bring 'em on: British and American consulates under mortar attack in Basra
Bring 'em on: No casualties reported in attack on US convoy in Baghdad
Sock Puppet Talibani
: Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on Sunday urged Russia to forge better ties with the Iraqi authorities, saying that the Kremlin's "unfriendly" stance hurts Russian companies' chance of returning to the nation's lucrative oil market. "Russia's current policy is not a realistic policy. I would say this position conveys a rather unfriendly look," Talabani told Interfax.
: Scores of Mississippi National Guardsmen in Iraq who lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina have been refused even 15-day leaves to aid their displaced families, told by commanders there are too few U.S. troops in Iraq to spare them, according to guardsmen.
Referendum nears - No Constitution
: Iraqi politicians have failed to conclude negotiations on a draft constitution and it remains unclear when a final text may be printed, less than five weeks before a referendum, Iraqi and U.N. officials said on Sunday. "We don't know when they'll finish," Nicholas Haysom, the United Nations official charged with the printing, told Reuters, confirming that negotiations were continuing.
: Fighting eased Sunday, the second day of a U.S. and Iraqi sweep through the militant stronghold of Tal Afar near the Syrian border, as insurgents melted into the countryside, many escaping through a tunnel network dug under an ancient northern city.
State Sponsored Terrorism
: But Keysar Trad, from the Islamic Friendship Association, received the loudest applause when he said deaths resulting from state-sponsored violence are just as tragic as those caused by terrorists. "But we're not allowed to talk about state-sponsored violence, because the state is too powerful and if John Howard has his way with his diversionary laws, we will not be allowed to talk about it," he said. He warned that under the proposed laws Muslims would be tagged, monitored and eventually interned.
File under: Haven't a Clue
: Among the cases they described, U.S. troops arrested an Iraqi because he had a poster, with Arabic lettering, showing a beheaded man. The soldiers thought it was the propaganda of terrorists and hauled him away to Abu Ghraib. Months later, the Iraqis reviewing the case quickly recognized that the poster was a benign tribute to Imam Hussein, beheaded in the 7th century and deeply revered by all Shiites. The committee ordered the man's release.Many more Iraqis are wrongly detained based on the lies of manipulative informants, false positives in explosives tests or because they were simply passers-by swept up for being in the vicinity of an attack on U.S. troops, the lawyers said.
: More journalists have been killed during the war in Iraq than in the 20 years of fighting in Vietnam, according to Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.
Journalist deaths in recent wars
Iraq - 7/7 Link
: British intelligence officials in Iraq are questioning an al-Qaeda operative after information relating to the 7 July London bombings was allegedly found on his computer drive. The man, who has not been named, was captured by US forces last month. He is understood to have had a portable computer drive on him that showed 'knowledge' of the attacks that killed 56 people.
Clark loses in Europe
: Britain Home Secretary Charles Clarke failed to win backing for his anti-terror plans to increase telecommunications surveillance at an EU summit in Newcastle that opened on Thursday, as opposition lobbyists argued the plan would prove too costly and infringe on civil rights. Germany strongly opposed the British proposal, which calls for maintaining long-term records of mobile phone and internet traffic for use by security services in tracking suspected terrorists, and telecom industry representatives also criticized the plan.
Opinion and Commentary
Have the US media woken up?
The facts about who brought us this disaster are far from clear. There will be special commissions and official investigations, not to mention a lot of journalism, and it is impossible to say what we will learn from all this work. But there is now a growing sense in the American media that Katrina may tell us something about Bush's leadership that we haven't quite been able to put our fingers on before.
A lot of terrible things have happened to the US on Bush's watch, beginning with 9/11. He led the country into a deadly war in Iraq, which is becoming increasingly unpopular. Through it all many Americans have given Bush the benefit of the doubt, crossing their fingers for things to improve. And the media establishment has effectively gone along, by keeping its claws in, minding its manners.
Thanks to the debacle of New Orleans, the era of complaisance is over. Just two weeks ago, American journalists looked for all the world like the zombies in Night of the Living Dead. Well, the zombies have snapped out of their trance, they're indignant, and they're heading for the White House. Stay tuned.
"Getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a gift for humanity and I thought that there was a coherent plan to put Iraq back on its feet," he said.
But the rock legend said "it shocked me to know that Blair already knew that the weapons of mass destruction were simply an excuse and that there was nothing planned for the day after" the invasion.
Too Many Targets
An analyst is puzzled and even shocked when comparing the targets the U.S. wanted to achieve by sending its troops to invade our country. Initially, the target was to ‘liberate Iraq’ from the tyranny’ of Saddam Hussein and free Baghdad, the capital, from his despotic grip. That target was easy to achieve as it only took a few days for the troops to find themselves basking in the luxury of Saddam Hussein’s fabulous palaces in Baghdad. But nearly two and a half years later, the troops still have many more military targets to achieve.
Practically, they have yet to spread their control over most of Baghdad and have directed their military operations to subdue one city after another only to be retaken by insurgents once they withdrew. Today the commanders have directed their formidable war machine against the once peaceful town of Tal Affar, home to no more than 200,000 people. Earlier, they had sent their troops to control Falluja, Qaim, karabla (a village), Haqlaniya (a village), Haditha, Samara, Najaf and Al-Sadr Town in Baghdad.
The country which succumbed to U.S. troops in 2003 in a few days is not only out of control but has plunged into a hell. Is there anyone in the U.S. to ask why? The U.S. must have learned the lesson that it cannot deliver Iraq from this hell merely through the use of military force. It must have also learned that the divisive, sectarian, religious and ethnic pursuits of groups holding the country’s fate in their hands will not save the country.
Iraq needs a truly national government whose mission transcends these divisions, works for the country’s integrity and national unity rather than the short-sighted objectives of factional groups. We are in need of an elected government that is truly representative and in which Iraqis find hope for a better future for all. Iraqis really need a strong friend like America. But unfortunately, we are only aware of America as a military might in Iraq. We have seen nothing of America’s other side – the country which fights for equity, democracy, civilization, spread of science and technology and other human values.
Tanks, warplanes and heavy artillery are not the right means for these values to hold ground. Turning a blind eye to atrocities the militias of various factions commit in the country is contrary to the American values we have read about.
Certainly the picture in Iraq would now have been different had America thrown its weight behind building a truly national, well-supplied army and not a conglomeration of factions armed with the kind of guns and equipment which hobbyists may not accept to use. For reasons like these both sides – the U.S. and the government – are now in an abyss from which they cannot get out. Military operations and hastily drafted constitution and legislations will do no good.
It's Civil War
The Muslim Scholars Association criticized the operation in a 10 September statement posted to their website (http://www.iraq-amsi.org). The group accused the al-Ja’fari government of accepting the shedding of Iraqi blood and of asking “the occupiers and invaders to shed it”. The association claimed that al-Ja’fari is doing what former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi did in Falluja, “slaughtering and destroying" the town. “What is happening in Tal Afar is an attempt to give vent to a deep-seated sectarian grudge, from which a ruler should disassociate himself,” the association claimed, referring to the Shi’ite prime minister. In an attempt to incite violence, the association called on “anyone who can [to] stop” the operation.
Muhammad Rashid, the Sunni mayor of Tal Afar, reportedly resigned on 10 September in protest of the operation's targeting of Sunni neighborhoods, AP reported. Meanwhile, US and Iraqi forces have said Sunni and Turkoman tribal leaders worked with the Iraqi and US forces to evacuate residents from the city in the days leading up to the operation.
But on balance the indicators are troubling. Electricity production remains stuck at prewar levels even as demand soars, and the power is off in Baghdad more often than it is on. Unemployment is stubbornly high. Infant mortality rates are still among the Middle East's highest.
And Iraq is the most violent country in the region, not only in terms of war casualties but of criminal murders as well. On one point at least, pessimists and optimists about Iraq tend to agree: the situation needs a major boost from the political process. In that light, the Oct. 15 referendum on the draft constitution looms very large.
Onward Backward Christian Soldiers
With increasing frequency, Christians are condemning U.S. military involvement in Iraq. And the growing unrest among Christians threatens to erode President Bush's most loyal base.
"We had no plan for making the peace. We continue as a superpower to be arrogant. ... And we have acted as though all is well, when, in fact, daily we have reports of suicide bombings and more disruptions in Iraq,' said the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, a coalition of mainline Protestant and Orthodox denominations.
"Just like with Hurricane Katrina, (Bush) doesn't want to hear people say 'it didn't go well,'' said Edgar, a Democrat who was president of Claremont School of Theology from 1990 to 2000.
In the buildup to war, Bush told Americans that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The despot has been deposed, but WMDs have not been found. U.S. troops remain in Iraq while the fledging government adopts a constitution and trains its own security force.
By March 2004, he said there was a palpable drop in morale. The claim of weapons of mass destruction had been unfounded, people were dying and very little progress was being made, he said. It seemed like they were just there "to occupy space. There was no reason to be there."
When Cindy Sheehan began her peace camp, Lewis admired her for trying to ask President Bush tough questions about Iraq that no one else had the guts to ask. He couldn't afford the bus trip to Texas. Wanting to show support, maybe in Binghamton, he contacted Iraq Veterans Against the War. The group paid his airfare to Camp Casey II at the end of August.
The camp had what you might expect, he said, "hippies there for the vibe." What surprised him was the large number of people you would never expect to see at a peace march -- especially "people with relatives in the military who have something at stake in the war."
An eight-peak tent, the size of a basketball court, sat on a plot of mowed grass just off the intersection of two one-lane roads. Under it, there was a generator, ice truck, refrigerated trailer, a professional kitchen, seating for 1,000 people, and a stage with a sound system. Lewis camped with the IVAW and Gold Star Families For Peace (founded by Sheehan) nearby.
There were counterprotesters, honking vehicles passing by with people waving signs saying "IM4W." One man's pickup towed a trailer sign with a crudely painted image of the World Trade Center towers in flames. Lewis accepted that these people differed with him, but wished they didn't link patriotism with not questioning the government's actions in Iraq.
Lewis had never met a celebrity and feared it would be humbling to meet Sheehan. The reality -- she was one of the nicest people he had ever met, very friendly and approachable. Not the media-savvy, left-winger portrayed on TV. Sheehan was simply a mother angry about her son's untimely death.