Tuesday, September 20, 2005
War News for Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Bring ‘em on: At least 10 Iraqis, including seven policemen and a soldier, killed and at least 12 people wounded in two suicide bombing attacks at two checkpoints half-way between Baghdad and Karbala. One civilian killed and three others wounded when a mortar round struck a house in Baquba.
Bring ‘em on: One US diplomatic security agent and three private security contractors killed in a car bomb attack on a US diplomatic convoy in Mosul.
Bring ‘em on: Four US Marines killed in two separate incidents while “conducting combat operations” in Ramadi. One
Bring ‘em on: Fourteen Iraqi soldiers killed in suicide bombing attack on a joint US-Iraqi patrol near Taji. Five Iraqi policemen and two civilians killed, 13 officers and bystanders wounded in suicide bombing attack on an Iraqi police patrol south of
Bring ‘em on: Iraqi journalist abducted and murdered in
Bring ‘em on: Tribal leader killed by gunmen wearing police uniforms in Iskandariya. Dean of Political Science at
Bring ‘em on: In Basra, at least one Iraqi policeman killed and one wounded, apparently at the hands of British undercover soldiers, who were then arrested by Iraqi police and taken to a jail in Basra which was soon surrounded by British armored vehicles, leading to hours of rioting during which Iraqi police cars circulated downtown, calling through loudspeakers for the public to help stop British forces from releasing the two. Heavy gunfire broke out and fighting raged for hours, as crowds swarmed British forces. Witnesses said they saw
Early report: Iraqi police detained two British soldiers in civilian clothes in the southern city
"Two persons wearing Arab uniforms opened fire at a police station in
The two soldiers were using a civilian car packed with explosives, the source said.
He added that the two were being interrogated in the police headquarters of
After the capture: Two undercover soldiers freed in Basra in a British raid appeared nervous in television footage of their detention which showed wigs, Arab headdresses and weapons apparently used in their mission.
The tired, unshaven pair were shown seated beside the disguises, an anti-tank missile, other weapons and communications equipment in Iraqi state television footage.
One of the soldiers, who appeared to be in his thirties, had spots of blood on his white T-shirt. At one point his comrade, wearing a blue T-shirt, put on one of the thick black wigs and a headdress lying on a table, apparently at the instruction of a policeman who joked that he was a Shi'ite descendent of Islam's Prophet Mohammad.
Images of the soldiers could hurt British efforts to maintain a low-profile approach to security in
The pair sat forward in their chairs as police discussed the events that led to their detention. One recalled how a crowd formed around the British soldiers' car when they were detained.
Another pointed out that the pair had electronic positioning devices.
As their medical kit was searched, a policemen cautioned his colleagues that the black bag filled with medicine may have a bomb inside.
It may have been another joke. But some Iraqis may take it seriously after two and a half years of suicide bombings, shootings and kidnappings that have plagued the country since
Clashes erupt: Violence erupted in
British troops fired on crowds throwing petrol bombs, burning furniture and tyres which set at least one tank on fire. Reuters witnesses said a British soldier was engulfed by flames as he scrambled out of the burning tank, being pelted with stones by the crowd. Two Iraqis were killed in the violence, an Interior Ministry official said. The fighting broke out after two British soldiers, allegedly dressed as Arabs, opened fire on a police patrol killing one officer and wounding another.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed that two military personnel were detained by Iraqi authorities today, but would not comment on rumours that the soldiers were working undercover.
One of the men sat with a bandage on his head after they were detained, a Reuters photographer said. His trousers were stained with blood spots.
A witness said after the clash with troops people drove through the streets of
Prison break: British troops used tanks last night to break down the walls of a prison in the southern Iraqi city of
An official from the Iraqi interior ministry said half a dozen tanks had broken down the walls of the jail and troops had then stormed it to free the two British soldiers. The governor of
Aquil Jabbar, an Iraqi television cameraman who lives across the street from the jail, said dozens of Iraqi prisoners also fled in the confusion.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We have not had confirmation of the full details of this. We've heard nothing to suggest we stormed the prison. We understand there were negotiations."
In a day of dramatic incidents in the heart of the British-controlled area of
The soldiers, who were said to have been wearing Arab headdress, were accused of firing at Iraqi police when stopped at a road block.
In another incident an angry crowd attacked a Warrior armoured personnel carrier with petrol bombs. A British soldier was forced to flee from his burning vehicle.
Undermining assumptions: The storming of the
Ironically, British military commanders in
It is significant, too, that British commanders and senior diplomats in
They certainly did not want a repeat of the incident shortly after the end of the "war fighting" stage in 2003 when six military policemen were murdered at an Iraqi police station where they had gone to train local Iraqi recruits.
Yesterday's dramatic incidents suggest that British commanders on the spot still cannot trust the Iraqis they trained - not just the police, but the judges as well.
This has huge implications for the government's hope that it can soon reduce significantly the number of troops it is deploying in southern
The use of force, rather than waiting for the men to go before an Iraqi court, could also undermine the
"We've heard nothing to suggest we stormed the prison," a defense ministry spokesman in
An Iraqi interior ministry official earlier said British tanks smashed into a prison in
British Defense Secretary John Reid said in a statement that the two men, who have not been named, were back with British forces.
"I can confirm that the two British service personnel detained earlier today by the IPS (Iraq Police Service), have now been released and are back with British forces," he said.
"The situation in
Differing versions: British armored vehicles broke down the walls of the central jail in this southern city Monday and freed two British soldiers, allegedly undercover commandos arrested for shooting two Iraqi policemen, witnesses said. But
The different versions of events came on a chaotic day that raised questions about how much sovereignty Iraqi authorities really were granted when the U.S.-led Coalition Provision Authority handed over power to an interim Iraqi government in the summer of 2004.
The arrests of the two British soldiers Monday appeared to have been the first real and public test of how far that sovereignty extends. There have been no known incidents of Iraqi authorities arresting
Mohammed al-Waili, the governor of
Late Monday, the Ministry of Defense in
According to the BBC, Defense officials insisted they had been talking to the Iraqi authorities to secure the release of the men, but acknowledged a wall was demolished as British forces tried to "collect" the two prisoners.
Witnesses indicate things were a bit more disorderly: British armored vehicles backed by helicopter gunships burst through the walls of an Iraqi jail Monday in the southern city of
Monday's violence underscored the increasing volatility of
Iraqi security officials on Monday variously accused the two Britons they detained of shooting at Iraqi forces or trying to plant explosives. Photographs of the two men in custody showed them in civilian clothes.
When British officials apparently sought to secure their release, riots erupted. Iraqi police cars circulated downtown, calling through loudspeakers for the public to help stop British forces from releasing the two. Heavy gunfire broke out and fighting raged for hours, as crowds swarmed British forces and set at least one armored vehicle on fire.
Witnesses said they saw
Declining to comment on why two armed British nationals disguised as Iraqis would be in
"Iraqi law requires any coalition force members to be handed back - once it was established they were foreign soldiers, they should have been handed over.”
And a second defence official said that although the raid - which appears to have devastated the police station - had been unsuccessful, it allowed troops to obtain accurate intelligence as to where the two men would be found.
"Unfortunately they weren't released and we became concerned for their safety. As a result a Warrior infantry fighting vehicle broke down the perimeter wall in one place.
"Our guys went in there and searched it from top to bottom in order to go and recover our two soldiers who had been detained," he said.
The two undercover agents were later rescued from a house in
Their justification: John Reid, the Defence Secretary, has said he is alarmed that Iraqi police, supposedly British allies, handed over two undercover soldiers they had captured to local militias.
The British Army said today it was forced to send in troops to free the two in
Jack Straw nails it: The UK is part of the security problem in
But Tory defence spokesman Gerald Howarth said Mr Straw's remarks were a "grave insult" to British troops.
"To suggest that our Armed Forces who have secured the rebuilding of countless schools, hospitals and other facilities of benefit to ordinary Iraqis are helping fuel the terrorist insurgency in the country is monstrous," the MP for
The schools! The countless schools! Jack Straw didn’t mention the schools!
More of the usual shit: Using enemy body counts as a benchmark, the
But by many standards, including increasingly high death tolls in insurgent strikes, Zarqawi's group, al Qaeda in
Zarqawi's guerrillas this spring and summer showed themselves to be capable of mounting waves of suicide bombings and car bombings that could kill scores at a time and paralyze the Iraqi capital. Insurgents have also launched dozens of attacks every day in other parts of Iraq and laid open claim this summer to cities and towns in the critical far west, despite hit-and-run offensives by U.S. forces.
Last week, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the top
This article uncritically perpetuates the “Zarqawi as Superterrorist” myth and utterly fails to draw any distinctions among the various fighting groups making up the so-called ‘insurgency’, but it does nicely illustrate the complete loss of contact with reality afflicting the
After a bombing: The rooms of the dead are mostly empty now. Their meager belongings are all that remain: A small pile of pickles wrapped in plastic. A bag of salt. Pairs of old shoes. Work shirts and towels draped on a coat rack in the corner.
The items, left in a hostel in
That attack, and a string of others that have followed, all aimed at Shiites, have brought new vulnerability and dysfunction to the streets of
Pilgrimage: Hundreds of thousands of Shias have descended on
Authorities said they had already uncovered a cache of explosives and arrested four people for allegedly planning attacks on the pilgrims attending festivities on Monday marking the birthday of the 12th Shia imam, Mohammed al-Mahdi.
Similar gatherings in
Health care disaster: Iraqi officials appealed Monday for more money and better coordination to improve health care and environmental protection, warning that their country faces dire problems.
"There should be a national program to tackle this crisis," Iraqi Deputy Health Minister Amar al-Safer told 230 experts at a U.S.-organized conference in the Jordanian capital,
Iraqis lack safe drinking water and must cope with diseases such as cholera and pollution from asphalt factories, dust storms and oil pipeline explosions.
The U.N. World Health Organization has spent $12.2 million to improve water quality and food safety and another $37.4 million on
Mothers Against The War
Law enforcement: Cindy Sheehan may be the Rosa Parks of the anti-war movement. But that didn't stop members of the New York Police Department from marching into the crowd of about 150 people gathered in
The NYPD pulled the plug just as Sheehan was calling on the audience not to lose heart in the fight to end the war in
"We get up every morning, and every morning we see this enormous mountain in front of us," said Sheehan, speaking on behalf of the other parents and family members of fallen soldiers who have taken up the crusade to bring the troops home.
"We can't go through it, we can't go under it, so we have to go over it," she continued, just as the cops rushed the makeshift podium.
Gutless Hillary: Cindy Sheehan, the mother of an American soldier killed in
Speaking in front of more than 500 supporters in
Then, as the crowd cheered, she issued a challenge to Senator Clinton, saying, "You say it or you are losing your job."
A spokesman for Senator Clinton, while not commenting about Ms. Sheehan's remarks, said that the senator, while voting to give President Bush the authority to go to war, has been very critical of the way he has chosen to use that authority.
Another brave soul: A Scottish mother whose son was killed in
Fusilier Gordon Gentle, from Pollok in
His mother Rose will take part in a march and rally in the American capital on Saturday.
She will join Cindy Sheehan, the American mother who sparked anti-war vigils across the
The Continuing War Against International Law
No regrets: The new
David Wilkins is also warning that other Canadians with dual citizenship could face a similar fate if they fall under suspicion.
"We're committed to making sure that our borders are secure and our country is safe. Will there be other deportations in the future? I'd be surprised if there's not."
Arar, a Canadian citizen of Syrian birth, was arrested in
He denies any terrorist activity and says he was tortured into false confessions in
Wilkins, who took up his post in
"You talking about regrets by the
Well, Some Americans Are Having Regrets
Like more than half of them: Two and a half years into the war in
The poll also suggested that there was widespread reluctance to make sacrifices to continue to pay for the mission in
Ninety percent of those surveyed, including a majority of Republicans, disapprove of Washington cutting spending on domestic programs to pay for the war, almost 80 percent would not be willing to pay more in taxes and 55 percent disapprove of eliminating recent tax cuts to raise revenue.
Support for the war is at an all-time low. Forty-four percent now say the
A majority, nearly 60 percent, now disapprove of the way President George W. Bush is handling the situation in
I’ll bet a few people in NO have regrets too: The deployment of nearly 50,000 National Guard troops from 50 states as part of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort has exposed debilitating equipment shortages in a force already stretched thin by three years of deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, head of the National Guard, said in an interview that the needs of Guard units overseas have left troops at home without modern communications and night vision equipment, as well as the vehicles necessary for Guard troops to traverse neighborhoods flooded in the wake of Katrina.
"Communications was the biggest challenge," Blum said of the Guard's post-hurricane performance. "You can't respond if you don't know what the situation is out there."
Most of the Guard's satellite phones--essential during the power and cell phone service outages caused by Katrina--are with troops in
Killer speech by John Kerry, sort of tangentially Iraq-related. Too bad the sorry son of a bitch didn’t make some like it when he was running for President.
Opinion: When I led my men of the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment across the border into
What I had not realised was that there was no real plan at the higher levels to replace anything, indeed a simplistic and unimaginative overreliance in some senior quarters on the power of destruction and crude military might. We were to beat the Iraqis. That simple. Everything would come together after that.
The Iraqi army was defeated - it walked away from most fights - but was then dismissed without pay to join the ranks of the looters smashing the little infrastructure left, and to rail against their treatment. The Baath party was left undisturbed. The careful records it kept were destroyed with precision munitions by the coalition; the evidence erased, they were left with a free rein to agitate and organise the insurrection. A vacuum was created in which the coalition floundered, the Iraqis suffered and terrorists thrived.
One cannot help but wonder what it was all about. If it was part of the war on terror then history might notice that the invasion has arguably acted as the best recruiting sergeant for al-Qaeda ever: a sort of large-scale equivalent of the Bloody Sunday shootings in
Opinion: Choking off our own grave doubts, the sort that the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, evidently put to Blair at the eleventh hour, did
So what influence did we buy for ourselves by going along with this ill-judged adventure? From the Crawford meeting in the spring of 2002, Blair had given Bush and his senior advisers to understand that, whatever happened, if there was fighting we would be shoulder to shoulder with them. What influence did we ever exercise over substance as opposed to process - over the prosecution of the war or the government of
It is revealing that whatever the disastrous mistakes made by the occupying power in
Analysis: Ever since the invasion was first launched, both the American and the British military have tended to underestimate the gut dislike by Arab Iraqis - Shia as well as Sunni - of foreign occupation forces in their homeland. This may be stronger among the Sunni but Shia are often equally nationalistic. The difference is the Shia want to gain power first through elections. The Kurds are the only community within
The British presence is also easier because there has never been the social breakdown in and around
Kidnappings and robberies, which have so demoralised or driven into exile people in the Iraqi capital, are far less common in
The fragile understanding between the British army and local powers may well continue. But at some point the relationship between the two could break down and the cities and towns be engulfed by the same violence as is seen further north.
Story: "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is." --Texas Governor George W. Bush, April 9, 1999, on the
Thirty months into the Iraq War, and nearly 2,000 American deaths later, Republican leaders in Congress have yet to hold hearings on how or when to bring US troops home. So dissenting Democrats, led by California Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, crammed into a small room in a House office building Thursday to hold an unofficial hearing on an exit strategy for
TV cameras rolled in the back, Congressional staffers lined the walls, media vied for two dozen available seats and roughly thirty lawmakers shuffled in and out to listen or ask questions between votes. "I had hoped that today's discussion would take place under the auspices of the House Armed Services Committee or the House International Relations Committee," Woolsey said at the outset. "But there has been very little appetite among the Congressional leadership for open discussion about how we might end the war in
Opinion: Remember several weeks ago when Bush delivered a speech to rally popular support for the
Letter to Laura Bush: I tried to see my way clear to attend the festival in order to bear witness--as an American who loves her country and its principles and its writing--against this undeclared and devastating war.
But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush Administration.
What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries where they will be tortured for us.
So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.
Opinion: With the death of a soldier from the 56th Brigade Combat Team near Al Asad,
They are a national balm, used to salve the ugly truth behind the deaths of these brave people who, in the ultimate act of good faith, lost their lives believing in rules that no longer seem to apply. They are empty phrases used by those wishing they were true or by political charlatans, hoping to mask one simple truth: That our countrymen who have perished in