Friday, October 28, 2005

WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2005 Bring ‘em on: Iraq Insurgency Shows No Signs of Abating Bring ‘em on: Total Disconnect on Iraq Realities (from CBS News) About the only benefit from not being able to move freely to report is that there is time to read about this place. But in doing so, one gets the impression that nobody in the U.S. government pays attention to what we do manage to report. Or is it simply that the disconnect between the reality here and the preferred perception there is unbridgeable? For the sake of motorists, it’s probably a good thing that many VIPs prefer to ride over the city rather than through it because even more dangerous than the troops are the private security convoys. At least the troops are subject to some discipline and rules of engagement. The Private Security Details, or PSDs, drive as fast as possible, guns bristling, bulling their way through traffic in SUVs. The vehicles, of course, are guaranteed to make them a target. But maybe that’s the point. Apparently answerable to no laws, not even those of courtesy, PSDs who shoot at civilians are not known to stop and check what they have done. And the only thing they do more often than shoot is shout “F*** off!” at anyone who gets in their way. Bring ‘em on: Eight civilians injured from bomb in bus station in Miqdadiya. Five civilians, two of them children, injured when mortar round landed in residential district of Baquba. US Soldier killed on Thursday when his patrol hit an IED in south Baghdad. US Soldier killed on Thursday when his vehicle hit IED in Ramadi. Bring ‘em on: US aircraft continued air strikes on alleged insurgent safe houses near the Syrian border. Another senior al-Qaeda figure killed in Iraq (reportedly he used religious courts to try Iraqis who supported coalition forces). Three Iraqi bodies found near the town of Baqouba. Three Iraqi engineers where kidnapped recently in the area. Bring ‘em on: What the US death toll in Iraq reveals - Perhaps the most striking statistic from this war, compared with any other conflict in US history, shows troops today have a much better chance of surviving if wounded. This is because of vast improvements in body armor and strides in battlefield medicine. Bring ‘em on: Scores killed in Iraq Violence - Stepped-up attacks in Iraq over the past two days have killed at least 44 Iraqis, including 12 labourers, five of them brothers, who were shot and killed at a construction site. (This article is dated October 24, 2005.) Bring ‘em on: US Has 161,000 Troops in Iraq, Highest of the War Bring ‘em on: Gun Battle Sees Iraq Near Civil War - The conflict in Iraq took another significant step in the direction of civil war yesterday when rival Sunni and Shiite militias fought a gun battle outside Baghdad in which 15 people were killed. The fighting broke out after Sunni insurgents kidnapped a member of militant Shiite cleric Muqtadr al Sadr's Mahdi Army. Bring ‘em on: Juan Cole’s explains what happened in the battle mentioned above: Sunni-Shiite Warfare breaks out in Southeast Baghdad Al-Hayat: Exhibit A in the case for seeing what is going on in Iraq as a low-intensity civil war: On Thursday, Sunni Arab guerrillas from the Nahrawan district of southeast Baghdad kidnapped a member of the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr . When the rest of the Mahdi Army militiamen in the man's neighborhood heard about this, they traced the kidnappers to a house in Nahrawan and mounted an assault on it, freeing their colleague. They took the two kidnappers captive. But then as they were leaving Nahrawan they fell into an ambush and 25 of them were killed by Sunni Arab guerrillas. Then the Ministry of Interior gendarmes showed up to help the Sadrists (typically they are drawn from the Badr Corps paramilitary of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq). They engaged the Sunni Arab guerrillas, and lost two of their men in the firefight. Ironically, SCIRI fighters and Mahdi Army militiamen had clashed with each other in Najaf not so long ago. Assuming these gendarmes were originally Badr, they in any case were able to unite with the Sadrists against Sunni guerrillas. The last time this sort of thing had happened, the "Wrath of God" Shiite militia came up from Basra to Mahmudiyah to defend the Shiites. That was a much smaller conflict. The danger of Thursday's clashes is that they could easily spread. Bring ‘em on: 27 Killed in Clashes Between Iraqi Police and Civilians (update on yesterday’s story) Also, three Iraqi soldiers killed and at least 11 others, mostly civilians, were wounded in an attack by insurgents on an Iraqi army checkpoint south of Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Police colonel dies of wounds from prior attack in Kirkuk Bring ‘em on: Daily Death Fear for US Soldiers in Iraq - The one that sticks in the mind of Sergeant Joseph Barnes of North Carolina, is more ominous. "There's a sign on one of the posts that says 'Is today the day?"' Just a few hours after he escaped with nothing worse than a flat tyre from a roadside bomb that hit his fuel truck, Barnes said: "Every time you go out, you go out knowing that you might not come back." Bring ‘em on: Former Iraqi Pilots Decry Wave of Killings. Former Iraqi air force pilots say they are the targets of a witch hunt and are seeking refuge from a wave of assassinations that has killed almost two dozen since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Bring ‘em on: Chris Allbritton blogs on “Palestine (hotel) attack the work of Ba’athists, Jihadis” and also writes about the relationship between these two groups. He said the attack on the hotel was against not against journalists, but against security firms now working in Iraq. Bring ‘em on: Four foreigners die in Iraq blast - Four foreign nationals believed to be US security staff were killed by a roadside bomb targeting a convoy close to the western Iraqi city of Ramadi. Bring ‘em on: The Number Isn't 2,000 News outlets are now reporting that the number of American military fatalities in Iraq has reached 2,000. However, to focus only on the American and military fatalities as a result of the American-led invasion of Iraq would be a mistake. Here are some other numbers: Iraq Body Count currently records the number of Iraqi civilian fatalities as at least 26,690, and as many as 30,051. As of this writing, at least 3,450 Iraqi security forces have been killed since the start of the insurgency. In addition to Iraqi and American fatalities, coalition forces in Iraq have suffered at least 199 fatalities, including 97 from Britain. Further, as of this writing, at least 272 contractors have been killed in Iraq. Finally, lest we forget, at least 58 journalists have also been killed in Iraq. The number is not 2,000. It is way beyond 2,000. Even without the Iraqi civilian fatalities, the occupation has cost the lives of at least 5,979 people (again, most of whom are Iraqis). It has also caused tens of thousands of people to become wounded. So yeah, by the lowest count possible, the number of deaths in Iraq reached 2,000 today. That, however, should not be the only number we are counting. All the names must be collected. All of the dead must be remembered. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Uninvited Marines Become Part of Life for Iraqis For the Iraqis who become unwilling hosts, it can be anything from a mild inconvenience to a disruption that tears apart lives. For the Iraqis, the intrusion can be disruptive, especially when troops conduct nighttime drills with loud but harmless explosions and armored vehicles pass through at all hours of the day. Many Iraqis also fear the makeshift barracks in their neighborhoods will attract insurgent attacks, possibly putting them in the crossfire. Checkpoints can also make it difficult to travel to local markets. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: They are too young to understand: Psyche of Iraqi Children “Children are not living their childhood,” said Suat Mohammed, a psychology professor. “Children are growing afraid to interact with other children. They are afraid of relationships,” Mohammed said. “This generation, when it grows up, will create an unstable, weak society.... [They] will curse us for what we have wrought in Iraq.” At Al Huda School in Karada, a neighbourhood of Baghdad, Principal Najiha Mahdi Mohammed Hadi said she was seeing things she had never seen in her 32 years at the secondary school for girls. Hadi said students had begun talking about who was a Shia and who was a Sunni. This year, there have been several fights between girls from different religious sects, she said. “We never thought of distinctions before,” the 60-year-old principal said, shaking her head sadly in her sweltering first-floor office. “This idea just appeared.” THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Rising Civilian Toll Is the Iraq War’s Silent, Sinister Pulse The war here has claimed about 2,000 American service members, but in the cold calculus of the killing, far more Iraqis have been left dead. The figures vary widely, with Iraqi and American officials reluctant to release even the most incomplete of tallies. Civilians do appear to be dying at a faster pace. Mr. Cordesman found in a recent analysis of American figures that more than 60 Iraqis were killed daily this year, up from 40 last year. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Iraqi Death Toll Much Higher than U.S. The number of Iraqis who have died violently since the U.S.-led invasion is many times larger than the U.S. military death toll of 2,000 in Iraq. In one sign of the enormity of the Iraqi loss, at least 3,870 were killed in the past six months alone, according to an Associated Press count. One U.S. military spokesman said it is possible the figure for the entire war could be 30,000 Iraqis, which many experts see as a credible estimate. Others suspect the number is far higher, since the chaos in Iraq leaves the potential for many killings to go unreported. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Analysts Warn of Effects of Iraq Civil War Any all-out civil war in Iraq could shake the political foundations of places beyond that stricken land, sending streams of refugees across Iraqi borders, tempting neighbors to intervene, and renewing the half-buried old conflict of Sunni and Shiite in the Muslim world, Middle East analysts say. “If it’s a war between Sunni and Shiite, this war might be extended from Lebanon to Afghanistan,” says Diaa Rashwan, and Egyptian expert on Islamic militancy. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Grim Milestone? A Sad day in Iraq One paradox, which Sassaman and not a few others pointed out, was that the Americans could have shot Marwan and Zaydoon that night, and no American officer would have raised an eyebrow. Two young Iraqi men, in a nasty Sunni town, caught driving a pickup after curfew: Iraqi civilians have been killed for less. Yes, from the mouths of babes, Iraqi civilians have been killed for less. Racism? Prejudice? Venom? Insanity? What can you call it. And to add insult to injury, the US media calls today a Grim Milestone. For whom? Every day since the invasion has been a grim milestone for us. Every day another Iraqi is killed is a grim milestone. Every day medical services break down is a grim milestone. Every day Iraqis have to fear walking the streets is a grim milestone. ABC is calling the deaths the price of progress. I wonder if the people at ABC head office would view it as progress if they had to drink infested water, or walk through sewage in their neighborhoods, or dodge bullets from the trigger-happy. THE WAR COMES HOME: Casualties Of A War A World Away Elaina Morton is not listed as one of the 2,000 Americans now confirmed killed in Iraq since the start of the war, but she might as well be. In US military parlance the 23-year-old lab technician from Kansas would have been referred to as a "surviving spouse". But three months after her husband, Staff Sergeant Benjamin Morton, was killed by insurgents in Mosul, Elaina picked up a gun and shot herself. THE UPCOMING IRAQI ELECTION/IRAQI POLITICS IRAQ POLITICS: Shi’ite and Sunni lines drawn for Iraq vote: Iraq's ruling Shi'ite Islamist parties struck a last-minute deal to patch up differences on Thursday and agreed to register as a united bloc for Dec. 15 polls where they face a new Sunni Arab alliance. But in a flare-up likely to fuel mistrust between Iraq's two main religious sects, at least 21 Shi'ite militia fighters and two policemen were killed when they clashed with Sunni insurgents near Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said. IRAQ POLITICS: Sadr, Sunnis join hands to contest polls: Radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said Wednesday he would present a joint list of candidates with Sunni Arabs in the Al-Anbar Province to contest the upcoming legislative elections. IRAQ POLITICS: Ruling Shiite Parties to Run Together in Iraqi Elections - The country's ruling Shiite parties agreed today to run together as a coalition in the coming elections, virtually ensuring that the religious parties, all with strong Iranian ties, will remain a formidable force in the new government. The move also means the vote will likely divide along ethnic and sectarian lines, as it did during last January's elections for a transitional Parliament.One interesting permutation has arisen from the recent horse-trading: The Sadr organization, which has always advocated resistance to the Americans, will not run with the Shiite alliance in volatile Anbar Province, Sheik Rubaie said. There, it will join with hard-line Sunni Arab groups to form a slate of candidates running on an anti-American platform.This evening, Mr. Chalabi met with Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council, in last-minute negotiations. But the two failed to reach an agreement, and Mr. Chalabi now intends to form a coalition with Sheik Abdul Karim al-Muhammadawi, a popular politician from the southern marshlands, said Ali Feisal al-Lami, the senior political officer of the Hezbollah Party, which is led by the sheik. Hezbollah has a strong following in Maysan Province and could well win some of that province's seven parliamentary seats. IRAQ POLITICS: Three Shiite Parties Announce AllianceThree main Shiite Muslim religious parties Thursday announced an alliance to run in December's legislative elections, a reshuffled version of the slate that swept nearly 50 percent of the vote nationwide last January. COMMENTARY WASHINGTON POST VS. THE GUARDIAN: COMPARING TWO ARTICLES BY THE SAME IRAQI AUTHOR (who used to be an architect, who was there when the statue came down on April 9th – and was not brought there by Chalabi – and was very happy to see Saddam gone, who used to blog but stopped after US troops beat the crap out of him, who used to be pretty pro-American, who now sees things differently, I imagine. He has turned into a fine reporter. Pretty much the same material in both articles, but look at the difference in the titles and opening lines) FROM WASHINGTON POST: The New Sunni Jihad: 'A Time for Politics' Tour With Iraqi Reveals Tactical Change By Ghaith Abdul-Ahad Special to The Washington PostThursday, October 27, 2005 For weeks before Iraq's constitutional referendum this month, Iraqi guerrilla Abu Theeb traveled the countryside just north of Baghdad, stopping at as many Sunni Arab houses and villages as he could. Each time, his message to the farmers and tradesmen he met was the same: Members of the disgruntled Sunni minority should register to vote -- and vote against the constitution. "It is a new jihad," said Abu Theeb, a nom de guerre that means "Father of the Wolf," addressing a young nephew one night before the vote. "There is a time for fighting, and a time for politics." Abu Theeb recounted how once he was driving to Baghdad carrying a sack filled with anti-tank rocket detonators. American soldiers stopped him at a checkpoint, ordered him out and began searching his car. "I prayed to God. I told him, 'God, if I am doing what I am doing for your sake, then spare me. If not, let them get me,' " he recounted. "The American soldier opened the trunk where I had the sack filled with rocket detonators. He moved it away and started to search. He finished and asked me to leave. I knew then I was blessed by God." Initially, al Qaeda in Iraq gained support in parts of the Sunni community for its meticulous planning, its ferocious fighting and its funding. "If it wasn't for al Qaeda fighting alongside the Sunnis in Iraq, the whole battle would have had a different outcome," said Abu Hafsa, a regional guerrilla commander based north of Baghdad. "They have experience in fighting; they did very clever stuff," Abu Theeb agreed. "They attacked all the centers of the Iraqi state and by doing so prevented the Americans from creating a puppet state that they can hand everything to. The Iraqi resistance was preoccupied with fighting the Americans only and couldn't see that strategic goal." FROM THE GUARDIAN: “We Don't Need al-Qaeda” Thursday, October 27, 2005 by Ghaith Abdul-AhadAbu Theeb is the leader of a band of Sunni insurgents that preys on US targets north of Baghdad. Last week he openly defied al-Qaida in Iraq by actively supporting the referendum. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad spent five days with him - and uncovered evidence of a growing split in the insurgency. The tipping point came when al-Qaida, known then as the Tawhid al-Jihad, decided to target the Iraqi police and army and other Iraqi ministries and institutions. Its goal was to prevent the Americans establishing an Iraqi state that could lead the fight against the insurgency - and allow the Americans to take a back seat. "They have experience in fighting and they did very clever stuff," says Abu Theeb. "They attacked all the centres of the Iraqi state and prevented the Americans from creating a puppet state that they could hand everything to. The Iraqi resistance was occupied by fighting the Americans and couldn't see that strategic goal." Perhaps inevitably, though, the insurgents turned out not to have the same stomach for Iraqi blood. "Al-Qaida believes that anyone who doesn't follow the Qur'an literally is a Kaffir - apostate - and should be killed," says Abu Theeb. "This is wrong." OPINION: Who Are We To Pick Syria’s President? Could Someone Recommend One for Us? OPINION: The Voice of Iraq (Arab News) ALL interested parties will try to extract the message that most suits them from the overwhelming endorsement of the new Iraqi Constitution which was announced yesterday by the UN officials supervising the vote. However, regardless of any spin, the plain fact is that first the interim parliamentary elections and now the constitutional referendum have taken place, despite dire predictions that the men of violence would sabotage the process. The stage is now set for final parliamentary elections in early December at which point Iraq will have, on paper at least, completed its rapid transformation from a single-party dictatorship to a pluralist democracy. OPINION: Winds of Change (Iraqi Blogger –he says attack on Palestine hotel was against the media, whereas Chris Allbritton claims they were targeting foreign “security forces.”) But the progress towards democracy is unstoppable and inexorable and total victory is in sight. The enemy is now counting on one and only one forlorn hope, and that is to wear down the resolve of the American and western people, with the help of the MSM, which explains the latest explosions near the Meridien/Palestine hotel. The American and Iraqi military campaigns have achieved considerable success, and it is more essential than ever to persevere and stand firm at these critical times, I mean from now until the coming elections in December, at least. Firmness must be accompanied by no less determined efforts to draw in the reasonable elements from the Sunnis to the political process and full participation in the coming elections. This includes reinforcing and helping the local leaders and tribal communities who wish to maintain the peace in their areas and combat the extremists and terrorists, and there are quite a number of these, from my own personal knowledge. OPINION: The newly released film Occupation Dreamland, illustrates this particularly well with a Socratic monologue by a captain of the 82nd Airborne in Fallujah in the fall of 2003. He says, "What are we here for? To provide security? To secure the local government? Does anyone think that the local sheikhs and notables in the government are going to be killed by their own people? [This was still early in the occupation, when indeed that was very unlikely] So then who are we securing? We're securing ourselves." A USAID official quoted in George Packer's new book, the Assassin's Gate, says it similarly: "Our troops are in force-protection mode. They don't protect anyone else. They're another private militia." Another instructive point: the resistance in Ramadi, while composed of numerous groups with lots of competition and poor central coordination, and far from a model force – for instance, they heavily attacked polling centers on constitutional referendum day – in general maintains a focus on attacking the occupying forces. There have been no suicide bombings in a long time, and no mass killings of Iraqi civilians such as characterize so many other areas. Indeed, even further than that, according to the article's author, the resistance even refrains from attacking projects, like power plants and transformers, that the population supports. The result is that, at least as far as occupying forces can tell, the population of Ramadi is solidly behind the resistance, which is indeed, at least to some extent, a fish swimming in the sea of the people. Finally, says the article, Iraqi army forces are far better at fighting the resistance than they were a year ago. This is entirely because of the sectarian cast given to the counterinsurgency, where Shiite and Kurdish units are brought in to fight in Sunni Arab al-Anbar province. The result, presumably, is that the only ways for the Americans to win Ramadi will be to destroy it themselves or have Shiites and Kurds do it and set the stage for civil war. SIGNS OF POSSIBLE UPCOMING WARS IN THE MIDDLE EAST Iran's New President Says Israel 'Must Be Wiped Off the Map' UN Reports Rising Flow of Arms From Syria into Lebanon Israel Intensifies Crackdown on Palestinians Seven killed in Gaza air strike. Islamic Jihad said one of its suicide bombers had struck in Hadera (on Wednesday) to avenge the Israeli army's killing on Monday of Luay Saadi. In the aftermath of the Gaza air strike, a local Islamic Jihad leader said his group would hit back. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the Israeli attack and warned of "the consequences of this escalation. It came shortly after Mr Sharon …… vowed "wide-ranging and ceaseless" operations against Palestinian militants in response to the Hadera bombing. (got all that? It sure supports the thesis ‘violence begets violence’) Palestinian Suicide Bomber Kills 5 in an Israeli Town Bush Wants Syria Held to Account in Terrorism Experts: An Iraq Civil War May Cause Turkish Intervention PEACE ACTIONS Peace Group Urges Congress to stop Iraq War Funds Join Us In A “Show The War, Tell The Truth” Campaign - Without TV and press cheerleading the war could never have won support. With pressure, we can encourage the media to move in the other direction. Its time for a "SHOW THE WAR, TELL THE TRUTH" campaign aimed at unmasking media collusion and pressing for better coverage. Footage, Footage, Footage. It's there. Why can't we see it? At a recent protest at CNN HQ in Atlanta, network staffers told me that they get dramatic footage in from the conflict everyday that they do not put out. Why? It is time to end censorship and self-censorship. A CNN producer told protesters with signs demanding "Show the War" that they should be there every day. Media insiders know that pressure can move PR sensitive executives to respond to public demands. They don't want to be challenged as toadies of a bankrupt Administration. A Parent Responds: We will join you. My daughter Ava, a 15 year old Alabama activist, has created many anti-war animations that are very powerful. On their website, Peace Takes Courage. Pakistan press takes note of Cindy Sheehan’s arrest in Washington DC Bells ring for Iraqi Civilian Deaths - Outside Central United Methodist Church in Detroit on Thursday, Patricia Lent rang a bell, then Patricia Lay-Dorsey read the name of one of the Iraqis who died in the U.S.-Iraq war. "Noor Rameem Yswif," said Lay-Dorsey, a Grosse Pointe Farms resident. "A 12-year-old boy killed by a missile." AN IRAQI BLOGGER COMMENTS ON THIS: “The bells will ring; our hearts will hear. Let us work hand by hand toward putting an end to this madness. Let us pray together.” CASUALTY REPORTS Local Story: Indiana Soldier Dies in Iraq Local Story: Navy Corpsman from Millers Creek (NC) Dies In Iraq Foreign Story: A Soldier’s Story: The short life and violent death of Sgt Chris Hickey, 1st Battalion, The Coldstream Guards. His death on Tuesday got only fleeting mentions. So Severin Carrell went in search of the man who was the 97th Briton to fall in Iraq, and found friends asking: how many more of our lads are going to die like this? Local Story: Tucson (AZ) Soldier Among Latest of War Casualties Local Story: Video: Remembering Andy, One of the 2,000 Local Story: Convention Honors Teacher Killed in Iraq (Wisconsin) - "Together, we know that the source of all good teaching is the human heart," State Superintedent Elizabeth Burmaster told those assemble. "We learned Andrew was well known for his energy and his love of teaching." QUOTE OF THE DAY: I'm a Vietnam infantry veteran who has taken the time to peel away the onion of war. Strip off the uniforms, the flags, the nationalities, the slogans. War is, at best, the failure of leaders to solve problems. At worst, war is a massive money-generating machine with no regard for life. --Arnold Stieber, USA (published in letter to The Guardian)


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