Sunday, November 20, 2005

War News for Sunday, November 20, 2005 Bring 'em on: One British soldier killed and four injured by road bomb in Basra. Bring 'em on: At least twenty four killed, including a US marine, in an ambush north of Baghdad. Bring 'em on: British trained policemen have tortured at least two civilians to death with electric drills in Basra. Bring 'em on: Centcom announce Zarqawi Lt number #,### + 2 captured in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Former Baath party member and his son assassinated in Kerbala. Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi women working for the Iraqi army kidnapped in Tikrit. Bring 'em on: Two members of Iraqi Islamic Party shot dead in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: US soldier killed by small arms fire in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Death toll now at fifty after suicide bomb attack on funeral in Baquba. Bring 'em on: One US marine and fifteen civilians killed by a roadside bomb in Haditha. Bring 'em on: One man seriously wounded after mortar attack on US position in Hilla. Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi soldiers killed and five wound in an attack on their patrol in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Three children killed and a man wounded in a mortar attack on a US position in Mahaweel. War on Silly: Two Iraqi men were taken into custody Monday in Tikrit after a routine stop by a Task Force Band of Brothers patrol near Ad Dujayl. Both men tested positive for explosives residue and a printed receipt for a land mine was found in the vehicle along with anti-coalition propaganda. Better Jaw-Jaw than War-War: Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has suggested during a three-day conference on Iraqi reconciliation that he is willing to talk to violent opponents of his government if they contact him. Talabani said during the Cairo meeting, which brings together many of the disparate groups striving for political power in Iraq, that if the Iraqi resistance desires to contact him, he would welcome the move. Bit Late: The Pentagon's leadership, recognizing it was caught off-guard by difficulties in pacifying Iraq after the invasion, is poised to approve a sweeping directive that will elevate what it calls "stability operations" to a core military mission comparable to full-scale combat. It's the Occupation: A leading Iraqi Sunni academic called Saturday for a timetable outlining the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, calling the continuing presence of U.S. troops in Iraq the country's greatest problem. Speaking at a preparatory meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo ahead of a wide-ranging national reconciliation conference, Harith al-Dari, head of the influential Association of Moslem Scholars said: 'The claim that ending the occupation would lead to chaos is merely a pretext for lengthening an illegitimate situation.' Opinion and Commentary History Lesson:
As we puzzle over how to end our nightmare in Iraq, the central question is the one raised by The Times on Aug. 7:
"How much longer are valuable lives to be sacrificed in the vain endeavor to impose upon the Arab population an elaborate and expensive administration which they never asked for?"
Not this Times, though. It was The Times of London on Aug. 7, 1920, as a ferocious insurgency threatened the British occupation of Iraq. The British had also started out thinking that they were liberators, only to find that they had catastrophically underestimated Iraqi nationalism. They ended up being sucked into what Lawrence of Arabia described as "a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor." Yet, ultimately, the British did manage to extricate themselves, providing lessons for us. In my last column, I looked at two options for Iraq and found both wanting. Immediate withdrawal would risk abandoning the country to civil war and chaos. But President Bush’s approach — grim ly staying the course indefinitely — inflames nationalistic resentment and feeds the insurgency. So what should we do? My vote is to set target dates for withdrawing our troops. I suggest that we announce that we intend to pull out at least half our troops by the end of 2006 — and the very last soldier by the end of 2007. We would also pledge that we will not keep any military bases in Iraq.
Insurgency Growing:
On Oct. 16, for example, a group of adults and children gathered around a burned Humvee on the edge of Ramadi. There was a crater in the road, left by a bomb that had killed five US soldiers and two Iraqi soldiers the previous day. Some of the children were playing hide and seek, and others laughing while pelting the vehicle with stones, when a US F-15 fighter jet fired on the crowd. The US military said subsequently it had killed 70 insurgents in air strikes, and knew of no civilian deaths. Among the “insurgents” killed were six-year-old Muhammad Salih Ali, who was buried in a plastic bag after relatives collected what they believed to be parts of his body; four-year-old Saad Ahmed Fuad; and his eight-year-old sister, Haifa, who had to be buried without one of her legs as her family were unable to find it. US forces increasingly use airstrikes to reduce their own casualties. They also work with Iraqi forces on search-and-destroy missions to retaliate after a successful attack on their troops, or to intimidate the population ahead of a US-choreographed political process. Most Iraqis are indifferent to the political timetable imposed by the occupiers — from the nominal handover of sovereignty to the bizarre three months of sectarian and ethnic wrangling about the interim government and the declaration of a “yes” vote on the draft constitution by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice within hours of the ballot boxes closing. They think the whole process is intended to divert their attention from the main issues — the occupation, corruption, pillaging of Iraq’s resources, and the interim government’s failure on human rights. A recent Human Rights Watch report gave fresh details of torture of detainees by US forces in Iraq. At a military base near Fallujah, Mercury, abuse was not only overlooked but sometimes ordered. The report describes routine, severe beatings of prisoners, and the application of burning chemicals to detainees’ eyes and skin, to make them glow in the dark. Thousands have been kept for more than a year without charge or trial, including the writer Muhsin Al-Khafaji, who was arrested in May 2003. Women are taken as hostages by US soldiers to persuade fugitive male relatives to surrender or confess to terrorist acts. Sarah Taha Al-Jumaily, 20, from Fallujah, was arrested twice: On Oct. 8 she was accused of being the daughter of Musab Al-Zarqawi, despite her father, a member of a pan-Arab party, having been detained by US troops for more than two months; and on Oct. 19 she was arrested and accused of being a terrorist. Hundreds of people demonstrated, and workers went on strike to demand her release. The Interior Ministry states that 122 women remain detained, charged with the novel crime of being “potential suicide bombers”. As large-scale US-led military operations continue, the health situation on the ground is at breaking point. The Iraqi health infrastructure, doctors and hospital staff are unable to cope with the deepening humanitarian crisis. No wonder more Iraqis are supporting the resistance. Armed resistance is in accordance with the 1978 UN General Assembly resolution that reaffirmed “the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence ... from ... foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle”. The Iraqi National Foundation Congress (INFC), an umbrella group of parties and civil society organizations, is leading political resistance. There is also civil and community resistance, involving mosques, women’s organizations, human-rights groups and unions, which are linking up with international anti-war groups and anti-globalization movements. Most Iraqis believe that they have a right to more than a semblance of independence. The lesson history taught us in Vietnam, that stubborn national resistance can wear down the most powerful armies, is now being learned in Iraq.
This article was written by a former prisoner of Saddam's regime.
Indeed. Not that the "bad boys" of SCIRI and the Badr Organization particularly needed any encouragement from Uncle Sam. But now that the Salvadoran Option is up and running -- very smoothly, by all accounts -- one can wonder why the Americans suddenly changed their mind, and busted down the doors of one of SCIRI's secret prisons the other day. Did things get out of hand, ala Abu Ghraib? (Ala the entire war, for that matter.) Or was the Death Squad Program-Related Activities Bureau ordered to switch gears, once the Finding a Political Solution to the Insurgency Department finally realized that sending Shi'a death squads out to torture and kill Sunni politicians, their bodyguards and their supporters was a bit counterproductive? These kind of bureacratic snafus happen. Personally, I think it probably just dawned on the architects of the Salvadoran Option that while they thought they were riding with the bad boys, the real bad boys were out riding with the Iranian secret police, who don't need any Spanish lessons on how to run a dirty war. And so now we have Iranian-backed Shi'a death squads hunting their political enemies through the slums of Baghdad under the pretext of fighting the insurgency, while Sunni Baathists (and/or their jihadist allies) blow up Shi'a mosques at prayer time under the pretext of fighting the American occupation. Meanwhile, back here in the good old U.S. of A (the A is for assholes) the ruling party is reliving Joe McCarthy's glory years, while the leaders of the so-called opposition party try to hide their worthless carcasses behind an ex-Marine congressman who finally saw one too many broken bodies warehoused at Walter Reed and suffered a temporary fit of sanity, causing him to blurt out the ugly truth that the war is hopelessly lost. For which crime he will now be the subject of an ethics investigation by the same people who made Jack Abramoff an honorary member of the House Republican Caucus.


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