Wednesday, September 14, 2005
War News For Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Bring ‘em on: Seven unidentified bodies found in Rustumiya, hands tied and shot in the head. Six civilians killed and two wounded when gunmen attacked an estate agent's office in the Shu'la district of western
Bring ‘em on: Seventeen men dragged from their homes and shot to death in Taji by men in Iraqi army uniforms. Two US soldiers wounded in suicide car bomb attack on their convoy in eastern
Bring ‘em on: Five people killed and 22 wounded in a suicide car bombing in the Shula district of Baghdad. Three Iraqi soldiers killed when a car bomb targeted their patrol in the Adel district of western
Bring ‘em on: US airstrikes reported against targets in Haditha and Qaim. Fighting continues in Haditha. Clashes reported between insurgents and coalition forces in Qaim.
Bring ‘em on: 114 people killed and more than 156 wounded in
Scenes from the bombing: The bodies of the dead and the dying lay slumped on the cold tile floors of
Weeping relatives were left to hold up bags of saline for the wounded after equipment ran out in the hospital, one of the city's busiest. Wards overflowed, leaving dozens lying in shock on the floor, desperate for treatment.
The ground was littered with blood-stained bandages and empty plastic bags of medicine, while the corridors echoed with the screams of patients, some of whom lost limbs in the blast.
"Oh Ali! Ali!" cried one man through a grimace, invoking the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, a revered Shi'ite imam.
Stunned doctors in white coats tried to assess the worst cases and decide who could wait, who needed urgent surgery and for whom it was already too late.
One man, half naked and curled up in a ball on the grime- ridden floor, shook uncontrollably, his body still in shock from the attack. Doctors stepped over him, and the pool of blood around him, as they tended to even worse cases.
The scenes at Kadhimiya were repeated at Yarmouk and at other hospitals and clinics throughout
Retaliation for Tal Afar?: A dozen explosions ripped through the Iraqi capital Wednesday, killing at least 152 people and wounding 542 in a deadly series of attacks that began with a huge suicide car bombing that targeted laborers assembled to find work for the day. Al-Qaida in
The Americans called in bombing raids in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of the capital. They captured one militant with ties to al-Qaida in
In the volatile city of
In the south, a roadside bomb killed four people near
Punishing Sunnis?: Much of the American press has reported the Tal Afar campaign as a strike by the new Iraqi Army, supported by US troops, against foreign infiltrators in the largely Turkmen city of 200,000.
As Jonathan Finer makes clear in the Washington Post, however, the operation looks different if we know some details. (Story linked below) The "Iraqi Army" leading the assault turns out to be mainly the Peshmerga or Kurdish ethnic militia. Along for the ride are local Turkmen Shiites who are being used as informers and for the purpose of identifying Sunni Turkmen they think are involved in the guerrilla movement (apparently they sometimes make false charges to settle scores). Tal Afar was 70 percent Sunni Turkmen and 30 percent Shiite Turkmen. The Sunni Turkmen had thrown in with Saddam, and some more recently had turned to radical Islam. The Shiite Turkmen lived in fear of their lives. So Kurds and Shiites are beating up on Sunni Turkmen allies of Sunni Arabs. That is what is really going on. The number of foreign fighters appears to be small, and US troops that had been guarding against infiltration on the Syrian border were actually moved to Tal Afar for this operation. It is mainly about punishing the Sunni Turkmen for allying with the Sunni Arab guerrillas. That the attack came in part in response to the pleas of local Shiite Turkmen helps explain why why Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari (Shiite leader of the fundamentalist Dawa Party) authorized it, and went to Tal Afar on Tuesday for a photo op. The US will never get stability in Iraq if it is merely an adjunct to a Kurdish-Shiite alliance against the Sunni Arabs and their Turkmen supporters.
No dialogue sought: Sunni Arab leaders in
Since the military operation in the predominantly Sunni city of Tal Afar began on Saturday, the government has been reassuring the Iraqi public that the offensive, near the Syrian border, was launched only after residents there begged the government to rid Tal Afar of Iraqi Sunni extremists and foreign fighters, who had turned the city into a terrorist haven.
Still, several prominent Sunni Arab groups and leaders on Tuesday said that they deplored the use of force in Tal Afar.
Former interim Iraqi Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib criticized what he said was the government's failure to seek a political dialogue with Sunni leaders in Tal Afar before opting for a military solution.
"Definitely, there should have been a better solution than a major military operation,” he said. “I don't encourage any military operations against civilians. I've been told that there are quite a number of innocent people being killed during this operation. I've been told that the humanitarian situation is very bad in Tal Afar."
Refugees: An estimated 6,600 families have fled the northern
According to the Iraqi official, most of the displaced residents are living in the villages surrounding Tal Afar, although some have made it as far south as
The largest refugee camp, in the Al-Kal'aa area, is located about 3 miles (5 km) outside of the city and has 1,000 tents. It houses 600-700 families, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
There are another approximately 3,000 families living in various villages around Tal Afar -- with most families staying in deserted industrial buildings and schools, and a few in mosques.
There are a few families staying in a refugee camp close to the
Al-Iraqiya television, which showed no pictures, said Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari was in the Tal Afar area despite an insurgent threat to unleash chemical and biological weapons against the force of 5,000 Iraqi soldiers and commandos, backed by 3,500 troops from the U.S. 3rd Armored Cavalry regiment, who stormed into the city Saturday.
The offensive ``was a great shock to al-Qaida. They were thrown off balance and issued this threat. We will be on the lookout,'' Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said at a news conference.
Militant positions were found mainly deserted Sunday, and the invading force discovered a network of tunnels below the city through which the insurgents were believed to have fled to the surrounding countryside.
Informants: Soldiers with little training relevant to the mission have been forced into roles more traditionally assigned to police: gathering evidence, interrogating witnesses and suspects, and following up on leads. In searching almost every house in the city's most violent neighborhoods, they have detained hundreds of young men, some because they possessed weapons or insurgent literature, but others solely on the hearsay of local informants often called "sources" by
Many of the informants are residents of this city of more than 200,000 who now serve in the Iraqi army. Others had family members who were killed by the insurgents and said they wanted to help purge them from their neighborhoods. The
The informants "are the first important step in the process of weeding these people out," said Capt. Alan Blackburn, commander of Eagle Troop of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which has led the invasion of Tall Afar. "You obviously can't just go by what they say because they make plenty of mistakes, but since we don't know these places as well as they do, it helps to have them around."
More threats: "The Syrian government can do a lot more to prevent the flow of foreign fighters into
Bush threatened increased international isolation for
"There is blatant interference by
"We have given it every opportunity. The time is running out for more of the same."
When asked whether a military option against
And Just How Do They Propose To Keep The Military Option “On The Table”?
From yesterday’s post, on the subject of whether there were enough National Guard resources to cope with Hurricane Katrina:
TAVIS SMILEY: “There are a lot of folk, and I know you’ve heard this, who believe and it’s been everywhere expressed that this sentiment that the money and other resources that we have been spending on Iraq put us in a situation where we didn’t have the resources available quickly enough to move into the Gulf Coast. Do you accept that?”
SECRETARY RICE: “No, it’s just not true. Frankly, it’s hogwash. And I’ll use that term very, very clearly. There are plenty of resources to deal with this. There are military resources to deal with it. There were National Guard resources to deal with it.”
KMOX RADIO: “Does that mean we’re stretched a little bit thin?”
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: “No. In fact the implication that we’re stretched thin is an inaccurate one and it ought to be knocked down hard.”
And now this Bush lie: Just one day after the Washington Post reported that 600 Mississippi Guardsmen would not be granted leave to inspect damage to their homes from Hurricane Katrina and despite substantial evidence of an inadequate federal response to the worst natural disaster in American history, President Bush claimed "we've got plenty of troops" - on the ground in Iraq and the Gulf Coast.
The Post reported yesterday that commanders told 600 members of the Mississippi Guard in
Also, Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, head of the National Guard Bureau, said last Friday that the absence of thousands of
Oh, And There Might Be Just A Little More For American Troops To Do…
Did they mention it to George and Rummy?: Australia and Britain have told Japan they are considering withdrawing their troops from Iraq, according to two newspaper reports, in a move that has alarmed Japan, which is on the brink of renewing its military involvement.
The two countries told
The advice from both countries was "unofficial", according to the newspapers. One report said that the timing for the withdrawal "has not been set at all" but the other said that troops would be out by the middle of next year.
(Login to the story with username qazx6 and qazx for password. Thanks Bugmenot!)
But wait! It’s ok! The Iraqi army will save us!: Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Tuesday that Iraq will not set a timetable for a withdrawal of U.S. troops, backing away from his published remarks that the United States could withdraw as many as 50,000 troops by the end of the year.
Talabani, speaking at a joint news conference after a meeting with President George W. Bush, said however he hoped that by the end of 2006, Iraqi security forces would be strong enough to start taking over from "many" U.S. troops.
"We will set no timetable for withdrawal, Mr. President. A timetable will help the terrorists, will encourage them that they could defeat the superpower of the world and the Iraqi people," Talabani said in remarks that aligned him with Bush's often-stated view that a timetable for withdrawal would embolden the insurgency in
"We hope that by the end of 2006, our security forces are up to the level of taking responsibility from many American troops, with complete agreement with Americans," he said.
Talabani had said in an interview published in the Washington Post on Tuesday that the
That Pesky Constitution (Theirs, Not Ours)
Of course, it’s not perfect…: In addition to security issues, the Iraqi president faces a national referendum in October on
Iraqi lawmakers are debating the draft constitution, which was approved by a special committee that wrote the document. Sunni Arabs dislike some aspects of the document, which has support from Shiite Arabs and Kurds in the government.
"We have agreed [to] a draft constitution," Talabani said. "Of course, it is not a perfect document. But I think it is one of the best constitutions in the
For example, it seeems to promote secession: In 2002, the Iraqi authors of the "Final Report on the Transition to Democracy in
Darn good thing all Iraqis want to live together of their own free will!: Iraqi FM Zebari on the Iraqi Constitution
(Q) Some Sunnis say the constitution includes a mixture of good and bad elements. What is your comment?
(A) The good elements are much more. Moreover, I do not see any of the bad elements. The new
(Q) Many believe that the proposed options for the new system in
(A) They are not many because the majority supports a federal system. The Iraqi majority in the north and the south supports federalism and there are also voices in the center that support it. The federal system unites and does not divide. But it is a new experiment, especially as there is no federalism in our region. But federalism is a successful experiment. The Emirates is a federal state and
(Q) But the text of the draft constitution says federalism is voluntary and this means that secession is likely?
(A) The text says the Iraqis have decided of their own free will to live in a unified, undivided, and non-partitioned homeland. This is their choice and it was not imposed on them. What is imposed by force does not succeed. We have "
Meanwhile, There’s Money To Be Made
Battledress catwalk: British and American arms companies have been criticised for marketing weapons used in
Campaigners against the arms trade have criticised the Government for inviting countries with dubious human rights records, such as
A massive police presence is expected at the Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi) exhibition at the Excel Centre in
The exhibition has been criticised by the Metropolitan Police for diverting resources during a period of heightened terror alert. Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, has also criticised the fair.
Among the 1,200 exhibitors from 34 countries are many which have made equipment used in
The exhibition is run in conjunction with the Defence Export Services Organisation (Deso), the arm of the Ministry of Defence that promotes the sale and licensing of British-made military equipment. Yesterday's press preview day included a catwalk-style show organised by Deso, with soldiers in full battledress posing with weapons. These included the British L96 sniper rifle used in
Over the counter: Tom Lasseter writes from overseas about the grueling conditions our troops are facing in
Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Vidler, 23, of
That's not the only
"There's been reports of a .50 [caliber] sniper rifle out there. Maybe they called this in just to get us out here and take a shot. A .50-cal would go straight through our [body armor] plates," Coffey said, looking at the buildings across the river. "Why do I feel like I'm in a...
That .50 caliber rifle he's talking about is the same one we've been telling you about. It can tear through body armor, it can take down planes on takeoff, and stay effective up to 2000 yards. It's threatening our soldiers overseas in
Opinion: Americans are struggling to come to terms with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and with deaths that may ultimately number in the thousands. It is important that this near-apocalyptic disaster not eclipse the still-unfolding disaster of the war in
Editorial: Remarkably, two West Virginia Republican mayors have denounced the
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, who fought in
South Charleston Mayor Richie Robb, who earned a Bronze Star in Vietnam combat, said “I am not sure what we are doing,” because White House reasons for the war change each time a previous reason proves untrue.
He said that to invade
Opinion: A country music concert, T-shirt and fake dog tags. The victims of 9/11 and their families thank you.
I'm sure that all the restrictions and talk of arresting anyone who stepped out of line, or, in this case in line, without proper approval from the authorities put many people off from the America Supports You Freedom March. Which was exactly the point: To make sure that only the most uncritical, unreflective fleece-bearing citizens would show up. You know, those that wouldn't be fazed in the slightest by a "Freedom Walk" that was about as free, spontaneous and joyous as being herded down the tracks from some stalled subway car.
The almost total no-show of any organized counter to the Freedom March was glaring. I later met up with a man walking down the path by the Reflecting Pool carrying a sign, doing his part all by himself like me. According to him, he had read some liberal message board advising people to stay away in part due to fear of arrest and in part for the simple reason that some of the more "enlightened" liberals couldn't see sullying themselves by being present at such an event.
Jesus Christ: How typical. Once again the left cedes the field to the fleece-bearing herds. Those that were there countering the propaganda walk were there for less than a half hour, waved their signs around and split. These are the same sort of people who attached great significance to there only being a dozen or so Freepers at the Candlelight Vigil in August. I assume the left being so outnumbered isn't similarly significant to them.
It's a shame that so many people are so easily scared off or, worse, are fearless but think such things are beneath them. The Bush administration and the right wing in general have given us, with
If people aren't going to show up to fight for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, at least they can show up to put in a good word for reality.
Opinion: The destruction of
Riverbend: E. looked at me wide-eyed that day (September 11, 2001) and asked the inevitable question, “How long do you think before they bomb us?”
“But it wasn’t us. It can’t be us…” I rationalized.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s all they need.”
And it was true. It began with
Local story: Kingston Springs, TN, soldier who lost both legs, had his left arm reconstructed, was severely burned over 60% of his body, and who is unable to talk due to throat burns from an explosion in Iraq, is slowly 'recovering' from his wounds.