Tuesday, December 27, 2005

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY DECEMBER 27, 2005 Bring ‘em on: Iraq violence on Monday leaves at least 2 dozen dead. Violence increased across Iraq after a lull following the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections, with at least two dozen people including a U.S. soldier killed Monday in shootings and bombings mostly targeting the Shiite-dominated security services. Bring ‘em on: Raging Bulls charge into Iraq for the second time. Bring ‘em on: Gunman in army uniforms kidnapped the director of a pharmaceutical company along with six of his guards. Iraqi army official killed and two wounded when gunman attack their vehicle near Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: Three dead bodies, showing signs of torture and bullet wounds, found in Baghdad. The victims were from Kalidiya. Female pharmacist kidnapped by gunman in Tikrit. Civilian killed and two wounded when gunman attacked a petrol station in Kirkuk. Sultan al-Thabhawi, a member of Iraq’s biggest Shi’ite party, the SCIRI, died of wounds from an attack by gunman in Najaf. Bring ‘em on: Two soldiers died in helicopter crash (accident) in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: US Soldier killed by rocket-propelled grenade in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: US soldier died of wounds from small arms fire in Khalidiyah, near Fallujah. Bring ‘em on: Gunman killed two policemen and two civilians killed in Baghdad. Roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed two police officers south of Baghdad (another report says near Mahawil, and I am not sure if it is the same or different attack). Gunman in southern Baghdad killed another policeman. Gunman in Kirkuk killed another police officer. REPORTS THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Iraqis find 31 bodies in mass grave in Kerbala. Original reports said there were 150 bodies. This Reuters report is still saying that it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people disappeared into mass graves during Saddam’s rule. (I have been following this closely, and with over half the known sites evacuated, the total number of bodies uncovered is around 10,000 to 12,000. There is a report of 8,500 disappeared from Kurdish regions. There is no reporting in mainstream media of the new mass graves in Fallujah from April and November of 2004. They number in the hundreds or low thousands. – Susan) THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Women and children were found in this Iraqi mass grave in Karbala. The remains of women and children, believed to be victims of Saddam Hussein's ousted regime, have been found in a mass grave dug up by workers who were laying down pipes in Iraq's southern city of Karbala, a local official said. "The skulls of children and women with long hair were found in the grave," Abdel Rahman Meshawi, a spokesman for Karbala province told AFP on Tuesday. Some 20 bodies have so far been recovered and taken to the local hospital for DNA testing, he said. The people appear to have been victims of Saddam's bloody suppression of a Shiite uprising in 1991. NEWS: Freed hostage says kidnappers treated her well. She said she resisted her kidnappers as they shoved her inside a car’s boot, according to the voiceover. She could see a police patrol under a nearby bridge, she added. It wasn’t clear if the police saw her. The trip to where she was held lasted for a long time. There, her kidnappers called her by name and told her they knew she was a friend of Iraq, she said. They also told her that this was a political, not criminal kidnapping. The place where she was held was comfortable, she said, even though there was no power and no stores nearby. Mobile phones were not working. She drank tea and smoked a lot. THE WAR AT HOME: State by State: The Bill for the Iraq War. Interactive graphic NEWS: Iraq Contingent May Grow if Attacks Persist, Pace Says. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace said Sunday that the number of U.S. troops in Iraq could increase next year, not decrease, if the insurgency continued. Pace's comments on "Fox News Sunday" suggested that the Pentagon's plan to reduce the scale of American forces in Iraq, announced Friday by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, depended on several variables. “So if things go the way we expect them to, as more Iraqi units stand up, we'll be able to bring our troops down and turn over that territory to the Iraqis," Pace said on the Christmas Day edition of the talk show. "But on the other hand, the enemy has a vote in this, and if they were to cause some kind of problems that required more troops, then we would do exactly what we've done in the past, which is give the commanders on the ground what they need. And in that case, you could see troop level go up a little bit to handle that problem." NEWS: US – Shiite Struggle Could Spin Out of Control The George W. Bush administration has embarked on a new effort to pressure Iraq's militant Shiite party leaders to give up their control over internal security affairs that could lead the Shiites to reconsider their reliance on U.S. troops. The looming confrontation is the result of U.S. concerns about the takeover of the Interior Ministry by Shiites with close ties to Iran, as well as the impact of officially sanctioned sectarian violence against Sunnis who support the insurgency. The Shiite leaders, however, appear determined to hold onto the state's organs of repression as a guarantee against restoration of a Baathist regime. The new turn in U.S. policy came in mid-November, when the administration decided to confront Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari publicly over the torture houses being run by Shiite officials in the Ministry of Interior at various locations in Baghdad. The decision was not the result of a new revelation, because the U.S military command and U.S. Embassy had known about such torture houses for months, from reporting by U.S. military officers. If Abdul Aziz al-Hakin and other SCIRI leaders feel they have to choose between relying on U.S. military protection and the security of their regime, they are likely to choose the latter. They could counter U.S. pressures by warning they will demand a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops if the United States continues to interfere in such politically sensitive matters. That would not be an entirely idle threat. Last October, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani was reported by associates to be considering such a demand. The implication of calling for a relatively rapid U.S. withdrawal would be that the Shiite leaders would turn to Iran for overt financial and even military assistance, in line with their fundamental foreign policy orientation. The Bush administration's strategy of pressure on Shiite leaders over the issue of control over state security organs thus has the potential to spin out of control and cause another policy disaster in Iraq and the entire Middle East. ELECTIONS IN IRAQ NEWS: Call for Mass Protest in Baghdad Today Political parties alleging fraud in Iraq’s December 15 parliamentary elections called for a mass protest in Baghdad today as they stepped up their campaign for reruns in key areas. A spokesperson for the MARAM (the Arabic acronym for the coalition of political parties against the result of the recent national elections) alliance of Sunni and secular factions which is contesting the preliminary results released so far insisted that the protest call did not spell a rejection of the political process. “The parties and political entities brought together in the Maram movement call for a massive peaceful protest demonstration on Tuesday in Baghdad,” said the spokesman, Ali Tamimi. “This shows that we are not boycotting the political progress,” he said, adding that MARAM “is actually looking to move the process forward by revealing the fraud that accompanied the voting process. “The fraud benefited the United Iraqi Alliance,” he said, referring to the main Shiite list, and accused the electoral commission of “not being independent and only employing those belonging to a certain political tendency”. (Odd, isn’t it, how they are not being cheered on like the Lebanon’s protestors were during the Cedar Revolution. Funny how some people strongly support protest against one election but not others. – Susan) NEWS: Sunni Supporters Rally in Iraq (video included) More than 5,000 people, supporters of Sunni and secular parties, which contested Dec 15 polls marched through Baghdad on Tuesday (December 27), denouncing the vote as fraudulent. Carrying black, white and red Iraqi national flags and clutching posters of Sunni Arab politicians, they strode through Baghdad's upscale neighbourhood of Mansour, chanting: "No to vote-rigging." The protest was organised by MARAM, an umbrella group formed by the Iraqi National List of former prime minister Iyad Allawi, and the main Sunni coalition of the Iraqi Accordance Front together with some 40 secular and Sunni parties to protest the partial election results that gave a main Shi'ite bloc a commanding lead, and to call for a re-run of the poll NEWS: Post Election Tension Grows in Iraq Tensions are growing in Iraq where angry protesters are charging irregularities in last week's elections. Minority Sunni Arabs received fewer votes than expected in the Dec. 15 parliamentary poll, which has sparked charges of vote-rigging along with fears of further violence between the Sunnis and majority-garnering Shiite Muslims, the New York Times reported Sunday. Further raising concerns for peace, Shiite and Sunni leaders have called for separate armies for their regions while the Kurds already have one in place, the newspaper noted. "Every group here is afraid of every other group: The Sunnis are afraid, the Shiites are afraid, and the Kurds are afraid," an unidentified Western diplomat in Baghdad told the Times. "And the response to that has been to sort of draw together as a kind of self-preservation tactic." NEWS: Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq - Interactive Map of uncertified partial results from each governorate. NEWS: Iraqi Leaders Will Meet to Plan for New Government Iraqi political leaders will meet the president in his Kurdish homeland over the next few days to prepare the ground for the formation of a new government, a senior government official said on Tuesday. The announcement, part of efforts ease sectarian and ethnic friction following this month's election, came as around 5,000 supporters of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi marched through Baghdad in the latest protest against the results. Sunni and secular parties are insisting the vote should be rerun -- at least in some key provinces where they say results were fixed to favor the powerful Shi'ite Alliance which forms the backbone of the interim government. POSSIBLE FUTURE WARS IN THE MIDDLE EAST TURKEY: Bombings fuel fear and anger in southeast Turkey. Former Kurdish rebel Seferi Yilmaz fears for his life after he was almost killed in his bookstore by a bomb many blamed on Turkish intelligence agents. Yilmaz's name was on a hit-list found in the car of the suspected assailants -- reviving memories of extra-judicial killings linked to security forces at the height of a separatist insurgency in Turkey's troubled southeast in the 1990s. In Semdinli, an impoverished town beneath the snow-capped mountainous borders with Iraq and Iran, locals worry that a wave of violence heralds a return to the brutality of those days, just as Turkey begins European Union entry talks. Police in Semdinli said rioting locals had destroyed one of their buildings and erected a makeshift "PKK checkpoint" after the bombing. Rioters ripped down Turkish flags and destroyed a bust of modern Turkey's founder Ataturk, one officer said. Ankara has begun an investigation into the bomb attack and a court on Tuesday ordered the arrest of two members of the gendarmerie, a rural paramilitary force. A third gendarme and a Kurdish rebel-turned-informer have been in detention since the bombing. Israel preparing strikes to take out Iranian nuclear sites. The German weekly Der Spiegel reported Saturday that the Mossad has marked six Iranian nuclear facilities as targets for an Israeli Air Force pre-emptive strike. An unnamed IAF pilot told the weekly that such a mission would be "complex, but feasible." The Los Angeles Times reported that Israel has modified U.S.-made Harpoon cruise missiles so it can launch nuclear warheads from submarines. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered Mossad chief Meir Dagani to devote "utmost efforts" to gather information about Iran's growing nuclear capabilities, Maariv reported today. According to Maariv, Sharon told associates that "Iran is the greatest danger to Israel" and that he was coordinating intelligence-gathering efforts with the United States "down to the last detail." Israel Expands War Arsenal to Deal with Iranian Nuclear Threat Israel is expanding its military arsenal to deal with what it views as the greatest threat to its existence: a nuclear attack by Iran. It has acquired dozens of warplanes with long-range fuel tanks to allow them to reach Iran and signed a deal with Germany for two submarines reportedly capable of firing nuclear missiles. Though Israeli security officials say a strike against Iran is not on the horizon, senior Israeli politicians have begun openly discussing the possibility of a military option – either alone or with other countries. Such a mission would be far more complicated than the 1981 Israeli raid that destroyed an unfinished Iraqi nuclear reactor. It would require heavy precision bombs that can blast through underground bunkers, manned aircraft to bombard multiple targets and possibly ground commandos to make sure weapons materials are destroyed, experts say. Both the United States and Israel refuse to say whether a strike plan is in the works. Israel Readies Forces For Strike on Nuclear Iran Israel’s armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed. The order came after Israeli intelligence warned the government that Iran was operating enrichment facilities, believed to be small and concealed in civilian locations. Iran’s stand-off with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over nuclear inspections and aggressive rhetoric from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, who said last week that Israel should be moved to Europe, are causing mounting concern. The crisis is set to come to a head in early March, when Mohamed El-Baradei, the head of the IAEA, will present his next report on Iran. El-Baradei, who received the Nobel peace prize yesterday, warned that the world was “losing patience” with Iran. Persian Fire So now we know: Next time the fire will come in Iran. The blow will be delivered by proxy, but that will not spare the true perpetrator from the firestorm of blowback and unintended consequences that will follow. Even now, the gruesome deaths of many innocent people in many lands are growing in futurity's womb. The Rubicon of the new war was crossed on Oct. 27. Oddly enough for this renewal of the ancient enmity between the heirs of Athens and Persia, the decisive event occurred on the edge of the Arctic Circle, at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, where a Russian rocket lifted an Iranian spy satellite, the Sinah-1, into orbit. This launch, scarcely noticed at the time, has accelerated the inevitable strike on Iran's nuclear facilities: Israel is now readying an attack for no later than the end of March, The Sunday Times reports. The order, from embattled Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, puts Israel's special forces at the "highest stage of readiness" for the strike. While Iran's plan to begin enriching uranium -- which will give it the capability of building a nuclear bomb -- is the precipitating factor, the budding Iranian space program is a "point of no return" for Sharon, and that is what is driving the actual timing of the strike. The Sinah-1 is just the first of several Iranian satellites set for Russian launches in the coming months. Thus the Iranians will soon have a satellite network in place to give them early warning of an Israeli attack, although it will still be a pale echo of the far more powerful Israeli and American space spies that can track the slightest movement of a Tehran mullah's beard. What's more, late last month Russia signed a $1 billion contract to sell Iran an advanced defense system that can destroy guided missiles and laser-guided bombs, the Sunday Times reports. This too will be ready in the next few months. US Heightens Rhetoric Against Syria: Syria is on "the side of terrorists." That accusation comes today from the U-S State Department, which is linking Syria to a Palestinian group that says it's responsible for five terror attacks on Israel. Palestinian Islamic Jihad has offices in Damascus. And a State Department spokesman says there are "regular interactions" between Syria and the group. US Warns of Possible Mideast, North Africa Attacks (from terrorists) The United States has warned of possible militant attacks on its interests in the Middle East and North Africa and urged Americans there to be vigilant, the U.S. embassy in Kuwait said on Saturday. "Credible information has indicated terrorist groups seek to continue attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa," the U.S. embassy in Kuwait said in a statement dated Dec. 15 and posted on its Web site on Saturday. Earlier this month, Kuwait said it had beefed up security around vital oil and other installations after a recent al Qaeda threat to attack oil facilities in Gulf Arab states, which supply about a fifth of global energy needs. Iran Launches Big Military Exercises The armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran launched bigget ever maritime war-game in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman regions, commander of Iranian Navy, Rear Admiral Sajjad Kuchaki told IRIB Thursday. The maneuver codenamed "Ashegane Velayat" covers more than 55,000 square kilometers ranging from the strategic Hormoz strait to the port city of Gouater in the southernmost part of the country, he added. All branches of the military and the Revolutionary Guards including air, land and navy forces as well as Basij voluntary members are participating in the war-game. The maneuver, he noted, is aimed at sending a message of peace and freindship to the regional countries, adding Iran is ready to work with its neighbors to prevent crisis in the region. Israel: Hamas victory precludes return to road map A potential Hamas victory in the upcoming parliamentary elections in the Palestinian Authority would make it impossible to return to the road map peace plan, Israel Radio quoted a government official in Jerusalem as saying Saturday. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom reiterated his stance that acquiescence to Hamas' participation in elections runs counter to Israeli interests, warning that Israel would impede Palestinian movement during elections in the event the Islamic group does run in the poll. "The participation of Hamas in the elections will result in the establishment of 'Hamastan' in the territories and will put us back 50 years," Shalom said. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said in respose to the American bill, "People must respect the democratic choice of Palestinians," adding that the U.S. government had a different standard for the Palestinian election than for the recent Iraqi election. Yahad-Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin attributes Hamas' strong showing in the elections is the "rotten fruit" of the Israeli government's policy, which has destroyed the ruling infrastructure of the Palestinians Authority over the past five years, Army Radio reported Saturday. Middle East News, Iraq, Iran current affairs Not exactly a tactician or a strategist, Ahmadinejad self-consciously bills himself as a man of the people (Asia Times Online Travels in Ahmadinejadland, September 15). When he says that Europeans "have created a myth in the name of the Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets", he is basically expressing a popular consensus from Cairo to Baghdad, from Ramallah to Karachi, according to which Israel always invokes the victimhood of the Holocaust as a smokescreen for its occupation and activities in Palestine. Ahmadinejad is capable of producing rhetoric that Arab potentates congregating in Mecca for a conference or in Dubai for a polo match cannot; otherwise they would lose precious American protection in the form of investment/aid dollars and/or weapons sales. The man-of-the-people president doesn't need any favors from the so-called (by the Iranian revolutionaries) "Great Satan". And although a Persian, he's above all a pious Muslim, so he'd rather be in sync with the vast masses of the Arab lumpen proletariat. Moreover, everything he says about Israel is standard practice since the 1979 Islamic revolution. It's exactly what Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini thought and expressed. And it's exactly how the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sees it. Once again this week, meeting with the head of Hamas' politburo, Khaled Mishaal Sayyed, Khamenei reiterated that the only way for Palestinians to liberate their land was through armed resistance. Ahmadinejad clearly does not care about Western public opinion - an alien concept to his mindset. He instinctively knows that the message that sticks in the minds of the disenfranchised Muslim masses is when he stresses that the West has invaded Muslim lands and plundered their wealth. For all their conceptual divergence and mutual hatred, al-Qaeda (which considers Shi'ites apostates) would be saying exactly the same thing. Pakistan to Stand by Iran in Case of US Aggression Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri has said Pakistan strictly opposes any expected US attack on Iran, and will stand by Iran if this extreme step is taken by Washington. Iranian foreign minister’s statement during his recent visit to Pakistan provides testimony to our policy towards Tehran. Pakistan aspires to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue according to the principles of the IAEA, he added. Kasuri told newsmen here on Saturday neglecting defence would be a suicide in the present scenario and Pakistan would acquire latest technology and defence equipment at all costs to maintain a balance of power in the region. The deferred purchase of F-16s has started. This was put on hold only for coping with the situation arising out of the Oct 8 earthquake, he said. Pro-Israel Group Criticizes White House Policy on Iran After years of unwavering support for the Bush administration, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC has begun to sharply criticize the White House over its handling of Iran's nuclear program. In lengthy news releases and talking points circulated to supporters on Capitol Hill, AIPAC describes the Bush administration's recent policy decisions on Iran as "dangerous," "disturbing" and "inappropriate." One background paper suggests that White House policies are actually helping Iran -- a sworn enemy of the Jewish state -- to acquire nuclear weapons. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has tussled with past administrations -- Democratic and Republican -- but not with Bush, who has staked his presidency on a vow to bring democracy to a region dominated by Israel's enemies -- chiefly Iran, Iraq and Syria. (This “pro-democracy” stance does not jibe with their “vote the way we tell you” stance in Palestine, does it? – Susan) U.N. nuclear inspectors are on the third year of an investigation of Iran's nuclear program. They have not found proof of a weapons program, but mounting evidence suggests that the Iranians have spent the past two decades acquiring the knowledge and technology that could be used to build an atomic bomb. (But they are not going to let a few facts get in the way of warmongering, are they? – Susan) CIA’s Goss Reportedly Warned Ankara of Iranian Threat During his recent visit to Ankara, CIA Director Porter Goss reportedly brought three dossiers on Iran to Ankara. Goss is said to have asked for Turkey’s support for Washington’s policy against Iran’s nuclear activities, charging that Tehran had supported terrorism and taken part in activities against Turkey. Goss also asked Ankara to be ready for a possible US air operation against Iran and Syria. (I wonder how that conversation went….”we really messed up big-time in Iraq, but we thought we would try out attacking and invading Iran and see how that goes” – Susan) COMMENTARY OPINION: Juan Cole debunks the top ten myths about Iraq. 1. The guerrilla war is being waged only in four provinces. This canard is trotted out by everyone from think tank flacks to US generals, and it is shameful. Iraq has 18 provinces, but some of them are lightly populated. The most populous province is Baghdad, which has some 6 million residents, or nearly one-fourth of the entire population of the country. It also contains the capital. It is one of the four being mentioned! Another of the four, Ninevah province, has a population of some 1.8 million and contains Mosul, a city of over a million and the country's third largest! It is not clear what other two provinces are being referred to, but they are probably Salahuddin and Anbar provinces, other big centers of guerrilla activity, bring the total for the "only four provinces" to something like 10 million of Iraq's 26 million people. OPINION: On the Iraq Election No rational person pays the slightest attention to declarations of benign intent on the part of leaders, no matter who they are. And the reason is they're completely predictable, including the worst monsters, Stalin, Hitler the rest. Always full of benign intent. Yes that's their task. Therefore, since they're predictable, we disregard them, they carry no information. What we do is, look at the facts. That's true if they're Bush or Blair or Stalin or anyone else. That's the beginning of rationality. All right, the basic facts we know: when Bush and Blair invaded Iraq, the reason was what they insistently called a 'single question.' That was repeated by Jack Straw, by Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, everyone. 'Will Iraq eliminate its weapons of mass destruction?' That was the single question, that was the basis on which both Bush and Blair got authorization to use force. Within a few months this single question was answered and the answer came out the wrong way and then all of sudden... But hold on a second, the US and Britain announced at once, at once, we will not have a timetable to withdraw. So yes, you can all want us to leave, but we won't have a timetable for withdrawal. Now of course, there's a conflict, the Iraqis have forced the occupying powers to allow some kind of electoral process. What the occupying powers are doing now is perfectly clear and very familiar, very familiar. We've had a long history of this in Central America, the British ran an empire, the Japanese ran an empire, and the Russians ran an empire in Eastern Europe. The way they want it to work - standard procedure - you want the local forces to run their own countries, so Poland under the Russians, the Polish army runs it, the Polish civilians are the bureaucrats, Russians are in the background. The same in say, El Salvador, the US-run state terrorist forces are the military, the civilians are local, and the US is in the background. If anything goes wrong, they move in, the same with the British in India, the same with the Japanese in South Korea. Many of the Western backed or Russian or Eastern or other backed tyrants rose up. However, it is as clear as a bell that the US, and Britain behind it, are doing everything they can to prevent a sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq. And they are being dragged into it step by step. Now there's a good reason why the US cannot tolerate a sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq. We're not allowed to talk about it because there's a party line. The party line we have to rigidly adhere to says you're not allowed to talk about the reasons for invading Iraq. We're supposed to believe that the US would've invaded Iraq if it was an island in the Indian Ocean and its main exports were pickles and lettuce. This is what we're supposed to believe. Now the truth of the matter, obvious to anyone not committed to the party line, is that Iraq has huge oil resources, maybe the second in the world, mostly untapped, that it's right in the middle of the main energy-producing region of the world and that taking control of Iraq will strengthen enormously the US's control over the major energy resources of the world. It will, in fact, give the US critical leverage over its competitors, Europe and Asia, that's Zbigniew Brzezsinski's [President Carter's national Security Adviser] accurate observation. That's the reason. Now suppose that Iraq were to become sovereign and democratic, what would happen? Just think of the policies they would undertake. I mean, we can run through them, it would be a nightmare for the US. The victory of the non-violent resistance in Iraq, which compelled the occupying forces to allow elections, that's a major victory. That's one of the major triumphs of non-violent resistance that I know of. It wasn't the insurgents that did it - the US doesn't care about violence, they have more violence. What it can't control is non-violence and the non-violent movements in Iraq, partially with Sistani as a kind of figurehead, but it's much broader than that, it compelled the occupying forces to allow elections and some limited, very limited degree of sovereignty. And yet we should be trying to help them in these endeavours. OPINION: Iraq’s Disarray is America’s Legacy Prior to the Bush administration’s ill-conceived adventurism in Iraq, waged on the back of a string of falsehoods and leaving countless corpses in its wake, most Iraqis identified themselves as Iraqi first and Sunni, Shiite, or Kurd second. Not so today, as evidenced by the results of the Dec. 15 poll when voters mainly stayed true to their own religious or ethnic parties, resulting in a healthy majority for the Iraqi United Alliance, a religious Shiite coalition, rubber stamped by the powerful cleric Ali Al-Sistani. Yet another winner is neighboring Iran, a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by one of the country’s leading newspapers Kayhan, which last Sunday predicted “of the 275 seats in Iraq’s new parliament, 140 will belong to pious Islamists, 60 will be occupied by Kurds with excellent ties with Iran, and 40 will belong to Sunni Arabs, most of whom want a sovereign Islamist state.” “Today’s Iraq shows the two sides of the Middle Eastern coin,” concludes the editorial, “the victory of Islamism, and the defeat and flight of the West.” OPINION: Bush’s 6 wrong ideas on Iraq. At the end of November, the Bush administration issued a 35-page document titled, 'National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.' The new white paper does not represent a change of strategy: it says at the outset, 'The following document articulates the broad strategy the President set forth in 2003 . ...' But it does offer an authoritative statement of the administration’s position and is thus worth careful consideration. First, the terrorists, Saddamists, and rejectionists do not have the manpower or firepower to achieve a military victory over the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces. They can win only if we surrender. This reduces 'military victory' to childish simplicity, effectively defining it as winning a game of King of the Hill. That is not how guerilla war works. Nor does it end in anyone’s formal surrender. In order to achieve eventual military victory, all the guerillas have to do is continue the fight, which means finding ways to hit us without exposing themselves to annihilation. So far, they have proven rather good at doing that. Sixth, while we can help, assist, and train, Iraqis will ultimately be the ones to eliminate their security threats over the long term. Not only does this ignore the fact that most of those security threats are made up of Iraqis, it misses the all-important fact that whatever we 'help, assist, and train' automatically loses its legitimacy because of our involvement. Indeed, nowhere does the white paper come to grips with this central problem, namely that as an invader and occupier, we cannot confer legitimacy on anything. On the contrary, we have the reverse Midas touch; when it comes to legitimacy, that all-important factor in Fourth Generation war, anything we touch turns to crap. There is an old military saying that 'assume' makes an ass of you and me. In this case, the Bush administration has explicitly based its 'security track' in Iraq on six assumptions, not one of which is self-evident. If we accept those assumptions, what would that make us? OPINION: Of Terrorism and Insurgency During his presentation about the importance of distinguishing between terrorism and insurgency, Murtha was directly admonishing the White House. But what he said could also serve as a reality check for news media. All too often — without attribution to any source — reporters have asserted that the US military actions in Iraq are part of a “war on terror”. And journalists have routinely failed to include any perspectives that challenge the view, avidly promoted by the Bush administration, that the fighters doing battle with American forces in Iraq are, by definition, terrorists. In a typical news report from Baghdad, airing on “All Things Considered” early this month, NPR correspondent Anne Garrels presented the US government line as the only one worth mentioning. During the Dec. 2 broadcast, she described recent American offensives and then told listeners: “The military says its actions have resulted in numerous terrorists killed or detained, as well as the discovery of a large number of weapons caches.” The Bush administration is glad to define a “terrorist” as anyone who uses violence against occupation troops. And many US news outlets parrot the claim. But that is flagrant manipulation of language. PEACE ACTION: The plan is simple. First, Visitors call or visit the offices of Maine's congressional delegates in small groups of three or four. They request private meetings to discuss their concerns about the war. If they haven't gotten a meeting after several attempts, they stage a sit-in, referred to most often as an "occupation," in which they eulogize the Iraq War dead. They ask for a town meeting, open to the public, in which the congressional delegate can discuss his or her policies on the war with constituents. If they don't get a commitment, or a reasonable promise of one, they make phone calls, send letters, write e-mails, several times a month, over and over and over, asking for a town meeting. It is frequent, pointed pressure. Visitors are the guests who won't leave. CASUALTY REPORTS Local Story: Soldier stationed in Aberdeen killed in Iraq. "This is a very bad Christmas," she said. "She is my only child. She is my only daughter." Local Story: Texans killed in Iraq in December. Local Story: List of Michigan casualties in Iraq. Local Story: War widow finds Christmas gift in newborn son. QUOTE OF THE DAY: The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree; and there is just the same inviolable connection between the means and the ends as there is between the seed and the tree. Mohandas K. Gandhi


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