Saturday, January 07, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY JANUARY 7, 2006 Bring ‘em on: Insurgents clash with US troops in Fallujah, in the al Wahda district in central Fallujah and in the eastern district also. More information here. Bring ‘em on: US journalist missing (kidnapped), interpreter killed in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Gunman attacked a police patrol in Baquba, injuring six. Gunman attacked a family in Baquba, killing a child and injuring a man. The father in this family reportedly worked for US troops. Car bomber struck a police checkpoint in Baghdad, injuring five policemen. Bring ‘em on: Five civilians also wounded by car bomber in Baghdad. Doctor in Fallujah killed by gunman. One civilian killed and another wounded when US soldiers opened fired on their car in Baiji. (Our troops are really not winning hearts and minds in Baiji lately. – Susan) Bring ‘em on: US troops build wall of sand around the town of Siniyah in an effort to trap insurgents. Bring ‘em on: Car bomb hits Iraqi army patrol in Baghdad, with unknown number of casualties. Bring ‘em on: Journalist death toll in Iraq exceeds that of Vietnam, Reporters Without Borders says. Most victims in Iraq died in insurgent and terrorist attacks, while three were killed by the U.S. military, Reporters Without Borders said. Bring ‘em on: Bremer claims that the US did not expect the insurgency. (The old “we’zz be dumb” excuse again. – Susan) REPORTS THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Insurgent attacks kill 5,000 Iraqis in 2005 It is the first time an official count on number of casualties due to insurgent attacks is issued by the Iraqi government. U.S. forces say they do not keep a count of the Iraqis killed during their own military operations. Only figures of insurgents allegedly killed in these operations are given. The ministry statistics, obtained by Azzaman, did not contain information on Iraqis who are killed due operations by Iraqi or U.S. forces. The figures also do not include victims of other forms of violence and mounting crime in the country. (Or deaths from lack of access to medical facilities, stress, grief, poor nutrition, bad water, etc., etc., etc. –Susan) THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Land Mines Menace One in Five Iraqi Towns A survey of 10,049 Iraqi communities conducted by the Washington-based Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation found that 2,029 were contaminated by mines and other explosive munitions, the group reported. "It comes as a surprise to no one that after decades of internal and international conflict, Iraq is littered with land mines and bombs," said Joe Donahue, the foundation's vice president. "The present conflict notwithstanding, Iraq has no hope of healing and recovering its economic footing without prompt attention to this problem by the rest of the world," he said in a statement. Iraq is among the most mine-infested countries in the world following the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, the 1991 Gulf War, the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and decades of internal conflict, said the foundation, an international humanitarian organization that aims to address the causes, conduct and consequences of war. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Any Day Now (Iraqi Blogger) I feel disjointed when I travel Iraq nowadays, since I don’t stay at our home. I went to visit, and even did that quickly so as not to alert whoever was watching on behalf of the bad guys, and before giving them a chance to do something about it. After two robberies, and several American ‘searches’, as well as insurgent snipers using our roof for a perch, the house was a total mess. The windows had all been blown-in and sand claimed every surface. My desk, my books, my files, and the little niche and shelter that was supposed to be my permanent anchor, were fiercely damaged, aesthetically and sentimentally.And they—relics of my life back in Iraq—keep calling these days, telling me Baghdad is burning, as if I can do anything about it. The price for a Kalashnikov bullet is 1000 Iraqi Dinars, up from 400 last month. People are preparing, but for just what, nobody knows. What is an Iraqi civil war, especially in an urban reservoir like Baghdad that holds a quarter of the country’s population, supposed to look like? Beirut could be divided into East and West, but where does one draw the line in Baghdad? Along the Tigris…But what Adhamiya and Kadhimiya? I have a Shia last name, but some of my first cousins have Sunni Arab last names; am I supposed to kill them? Are Sunnis supposed to be expelled from mixed areas and be compensated with ‘Shia homes,’ like our own, in their own sectarian cantons? THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Milestones in Jihadist Propaganda (same Iraqi Blogger) The Jaish Ansar Al-Sunna had put out videos last year that involved two people I knew well and liked. I watched Sheikh Ali Al-Maliki have his head severed, and images of 'Nizar' Menhel Al-Kinani were aired on Aljazeera. Nizar's burnt corpse was later found in the Mahmoudiya area. I can't describe how it feels to watch these things happen to people you know. The terrorizing effect hits deep into the soul, and one wonders if those victims had given away your name and other personal data, and that consequently JAS has you on a list for capture/decapitation somewhere. To see them sitting around in a studio and evidently making progress, feels like a personal defeat. NEWS: US Officials in Talks With Iraqi Insurgents U.S. officials have been talking with local Iraqi insurgent leaders to exploit a rift between homegrown insurgents and radical groups such as Al Qaeda, The New York Times reported on Saturday. Citing a Western diplomat, an Iraqi political leader and an Iraqi insurgent leader, the Times said that the talks were also aimed at drawing the local leaders into the political process. According to interviews with insurgents and both U.S. and Iraqi officials, clashes between Iraqi groups and al Qaeda have broken out in several cities across the Sunni Triangle and they appear to have intensified in recent months, the Times said. A Western diplomat who supports the talks told the Times that the Americans had opened face-to-face discussions with insurgents in the field, and were also communicating with senior insurgent leaders through intermediaries. NEWS: Police Seize Artifacts Stolen from Iraq Museum Iraqi border police have seized 174 archaeological pieces, which were looted form the Iraq Museum, a police source said. The source, refusing to be named, said the artifacts were seized in southern Iraq as the smugglers were trying to take them out of the country. “Seven suspects have been apprehended and they have already admitted that they intended to smuggle the pieces to a foreign country,” the source added. Antiquities experts who studied the seized artifacts say they were part of the possessions of the Iraq Museum which were looted shortly after the 203 U.S.-led invasion. NEWS: Iraq’s Dark Realities While the Sunni insurgency is now threatening to metastasize and grow worse than ever as Eisenstadt warned, Bush administration and U.S. media attention have been distracted from the growing organization and radicalization of Shiite militias throughout southern Iraq, astride the key land communication routes to Baghdad and to the U.S. forces fighting the insurgency in the western and central provinces. The fiercely anti-American Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army are developing close organizational ties with other Shiite militias, all backed by Iran, quietly but intensively. And it is by no means clear whether their fellow Shiites controlling the new army and police forces would be willing to confront, let alone crush them if America insisted on it. Most important of all, with predominantly Shiite forces being recruited and run by Shiite-controlled Defense and Interior Ministries in Baghdad, will the United States be able to count on the loyalty and reliability of these forces if U.S. forces bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, as there are widespread fears and expectations throughout Europe and the Middle East might happen any time in the next month or two. Thus, not only is the Sunni insurgency now getting far worse, defying every U.S. political initiative and tactical military innovation over the past half year, but it is also making the United States ever more dependent on the goodwill and cooperation of the Shiite masters of the new military forces being raised at the very time when the reliability and effectiveness of those forces is becoming more problematic than ever. This week has been a harsh awakening for the American people from the illusory good cheer on Iraq of the Christmas season: But it is all too likely that there will be far worse to come. NEWS: With Promise of Airport, Investment in Najaf Takes Off In a country starved for investment, the promise of Najaf's new airport, and a second one planned by the Iraqi government to the north, has helped spawn a wave of privately funded projects in various stages of development. Worth hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs if they reach fruition, they are establishing Najaf as southern Iraq's first boomtown, U.S. and local officials say. "We have broken the barrier, and now the companies and their money are coming," said Munther Ajina, an Iraqi American who lives in San Francisco but returned to the city of his birth part time to serve as the provincial investment director in the office of Najaf's governor, Assad Abu Kalal. "This is a town that for 35 years Saddam Hussein fought to break down. Now we are on the rise." But even here, severe challenges to private investment remain. Firms have struggled to raise investment capital to fund the projects they commit to building. And Western companies have been slow to join with local partners. Ajina said he had tried unsuccessfully to persuade Global Strategies Group, a London-based corporation that provides security for the Baghdad airport, to join the airport project here as a joint venture with an Iraqi contractor. NEWS: Social Security to Cover One Million Families, Official Says All Iraqis with no income or financial support will receive for the first time “meaningful” monthly salaries from the state, Finance Ministry Undersecretary said. In an interview, Kareem Hmoud said, nearly 1 million Iraqi families will be covered by a comprehensive social security program the state has began implementing with the start of the New Year. “We have established a network of social security protection for the first time in Iraq’s history under which 1 million Iraqi families on or below the poverty line will get monthly salaries,” Hmoud said. He said each family will get 120,000 Iraqi dinars a month, approximately 86 U.S. dollars. The Iraqi budget is healthy, Hmoud said, praising Iraqi Central Bank’s efforts to stabilize the exchange rate. Iraq now relies on oil export revenues and grants from international donors to balance the budget. But oil royalties have been declining with the fall in exports which were reported to have hit their lowest level since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Iraq used to export more than 2.2 million barrels per day in the months preceding the invasion. Last month’s exports totaled 1.1 million barrels a day. THE WAR AT HOME: Extra Armor Could Have Saved Many Lives, Study Shows. A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. That armor has been available since 2003 but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials. The ceramic plates in vests currently worn by the majority of military personnel in Iraq cover only some of the chest and back. In at least 74 of the 93 fatal wounds that were analyzed in the Pentagon study of marines from March 2003 through June 2005, bullets and shrapnel struck the marines' shoulders, sides or areas of the torso where the plates do not reach. (Even more lives, not to mention money, integrity, morals, world-wide standing and self-respect, could have been saved if our troops had only stayed home. – Susan) THE WAR AT HOME: Iraq War Could Cost US over $2 Trillion, Says Nobel Prize-Winning Economist The real cost to the US of the Iraq war is likely to be between $1 trillion and $2 trillion (£1.1 trillion), up to 10 times more than previously thought, according to a report written by a Nobel prize-winning economist and a Harvard budget expert. The study, which expanded on traditional estimates by including such costs as lifetime disability and healthcare for troops injured in the conflict as well as the impact on the American economy, concluded that the US government is continuing to underestimate the cost of the war. The paper on the real cost of the war, written by Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University professor who won the Nobel prize for economics in 2001, and Linda Bilmes, a Harvard budget expert, is likely to add to the pressure on the White House on the war. It also followed the revelation this week that the White House had scaled back ambitions to rebuild Iraq and did not intend to seek funds for reconstruction. But the economists' costings went much further than the economic value of lives lost. They factored in items such as the higher oil prices which could partly be attributed to the war. They also calculated the effect if a proportion of the money spent on the Iraq war was allocated to other causes. These factors could add tens of billions of dollars. Mr Stiglitz, a former World Bank chief economist, said the paper, which will be available on josephstiglitz.com, did not attempt to explain whether Americans were deliberately misled or whether the underestimate was due to incompetence. But in terms of the total cost of the war "there may have been alternative ways of spending a fraction of that amount that would have enhanced America's security more, and done a better job in winning the hearts and minds of those in the Middle East and promoting democracy". THE WAR AT HOME: Bush Impeachment Inquiry Has 8 House Co-Sponsors HR 635 reads as its official title: "Creating a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment." The bill was initially proposed by Rep. Conyers on 12/18/2005. The 7 other co-sponsors added their names on 12/22/05. "In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice-President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration. There is at least a prima facie case that these actions that federal laws have been violated – from false statements to Congress to retaliating against Administration critics," Rep. Conyers said in a press release on 12/20/05. POSSIBLE FUTURE WARS: Mideast Situation Grows More Tentative A Hamas spokesman, Mushir al-Masri, said Sharon's departure from politics "will change the world political map." In Iraq, meanwhile, Shi'ite Muslim parties heavily influenced by conservative clerics are expected to control the new parliament after the results from last month's voting are officially announced. "Everywhere you look on the map of the Middle East, you see trouble and no real solutions," said Diaa Rashwan, researcher for Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, Egypt. "Go in any direction. It's not an encouraging picture." In Lebanon, UN investigators may seek to go as high as Syrian President Bashar Assad for clues about last year's blast that killed Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 20 others in Beirut. In Saudi Arabia, security forces have battled with home-grown militants opposing the US-allied monarchy. And in Jordan, King Abdullah II has given the government a broad mandate to crack down on Islamic extremism following deadly suicide bombings in November. POSSIBLE FUTURE WARS: Britain closes embassy in Jordan, fears attacks. "Terrorists may be in the final stages of planning attacks against Westerners and places frequented by Westerners," the British Foreign Office Web site said. "The British Embassy in Amman will be closed until further notice due to the security situation." Britain is a prime target for its support for the U.S-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Jordanian officials said security authorities who assessed an undisclosed threat received by the British embassy had concluded the closure was unnecessary. "In this particular case the security authorities after assessing the threat concluded that it did not warrant the closure of the embassy," Nasser Joudeh, government spokesman told Reuters. Joudeh said this was not intended to belittle a threat to a diplomatic mission. POSSIBLE FUTURE WARS: Axis of Fanatics – Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad The guy is smooth – fluent in American idioms, telegenic to many eyes – and good at lying on camera. So, when Israeli police killed 17 Palestinians at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque in October 1990, Netanyahu led a disinformation blitz asserting that the Palestinians were killed after they'd rioted and pelted Jewish worshipers from above the Wailing Wall with huge stones. At the time, his fable dominated much of the U.S. media. Later even the official Israeli inquiry debunked Netanyahu's account and blamed police for starting the clash. Now, with Netanyahu campaigning to win the Israeli election for prime minister in late March, he's cranking up rhetoric against Iran. His outlook seems to be 180 degrees from the world view of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yet in tangible political ways, they're well positioned to feed off each other's fanaticism. The election that gave the presidency of Iran to Ahmadinejad last summer was a victory for repressive fundamentalism. Results have included a negative trend for human rights in the country and a more bellicose foreign policy. When Ahmadinejad declared in late October that "Israel must be wiped off the map," he did a big favor to the most militaristic of Israel's major politicians – Benjamin Netanyahu – who demanded that Prime Minster Sharon take forceful action against Iran. Otherwise, Netanyahu said in December, "when I form the new Israeli government, we'll do what we did in the past against Saddam's reactor, which gave us 20 years of tranquility." IN A PERFECT WORLD, WE WOULD PUT THEM BOTH IN THE SAME PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL ROOM: Duo Says Sharon’s Illness is Deserved. The television evangelist Pat Robertson and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may not agree on much, but both suggested Thursday that the severe illness of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was deserved. COMMENTARY OPINION: History’s Worst Military Blunder Bremer’s one-year term in Iraq was disastrous for Iraq. The day before he left his appointment, he presented a 100-item list of orders for Iraq that can not be changed by any incoming Iraqi government. One of the most well-known of these edicts disallows Iraqi farmers from using their own seeds for planting. For millennia, Iraqi farmers have used seeds from previous crops. A swoop of Bremer’s pen made this practice illegal. Iraqi farmers are now being monitored and if they use their own seeds, they are heavily fined by Monstanto, the multinational company who now owns the sole rights to sell Iraqi farmers genetically-modified seeds. For all his dastardly work, Bremer received an award. On December 14, 2004, Bush awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian award. The word "freedom" is used quite loosely here. One man’s freedom is another’s slavery. Bremer was the ultimate slave master.Let’s get back to the statement about the U.S. not seeing the insurgency coming. Only the most stupid, mindless dupe would believe this. Prior to the illegal March 2003 invasion, I could have told the U.S. government exactly what would happen after an invasion of Iraq. So could my Iraqi-American friend Tony, or my Iraqi-American friend Issam. It was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, the only Iraqis questioned about this were those of the Ahmed Chalabi persuasion: liars and thieves only looking for a payday from Washington. The U.S. administration never asked real Iraqis what would happen if Iraq was invaded. OPINION: America is Going to Lose This War. This is a sad admission for an advocate of the Third Option, an all-out effort to help the Iraqi people by eliminating the evil forces America unleashed in Iraq. The writing is on the wall. The American people are already being prepped for withdrawal, which equates to defeat for Americans and Iraqis alike any way you look at it. American resolve is not being weakened by those who wish a precipitate withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. American resolve and our military leadership are endangered by the President of the United States. Ignoring for the moment that we are not fighting terrorists, but Iraqis, members of the Sunni Arab resistance, al-Qaida of Iraq notwithstanding, as a student of military history, never have I heard such an ignominious "strategy for victory". In view of this address, my heart goes out to marines, soldiers, sailors, and their officers who are trying their level best to bring security to Iraq and are then undercut by their Commander-in-Chief. The same could be said for the Iraqi security forces who may be abandoned prematurely. (The war on Iraq has been long lost. – Susan) OPINION: Orwell Could Have a Case Against Bush "It was Mr. Orwell in '1984' who first came up with 'Victory Mansions' and industrial-grade 'Victory Gin.' Now the president calls his book, a 'National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.' The president doesn't go 10 seconds without using the word 'victory.' One doesn't have to be a math whiz to put two and two together. Our greatest concern is not that the president uses Mr. Orwell's words," Bilyalotz said, "but that he's actually using '1984' as a governmental guidebook, and I'm afraid the president hasn't read how it ends." In his weekly radio address, Bush said the "Spy on US" program has been reviewed regularly by the nation's top legal authorities and Fox talk-show hosts, targeting only those people with "a clear link to these terrorist networks, which include Al-Jazeera and CNN." "Freedom is in its last throes," Vice President Dick Cheney said. "First, they take away torture, now they want to take away spying on our own citizens. What's next to go, Fox News?" OPINION: Under Saddam, infrastructure was bad and old. When we had winter rain storms, Baghdad flooded with water. In the late 1990s, there was a big storm in Baghdad, in which streets in many parts of Baghdad were FULL of water and even cars disappeared under water. People in Al-Salam (Tobchi) neighborhood died of electric shock because water came into their houses and, for their bad luck, the neighborhood had a rare long hours of electricity. Children sank in the streets too.Now, when it rains, the same streets flood with water and the same neighborhoods suffer of lakes of sewer for days and days because the sewage system is not rehabilitated yet. (ask about Alawi, Bayaa, Amil, Hurriya, and other neighborhoods of Baghdad and all other provinces. Except Kurdistan.) The only difference now is that people don't die of electric shock because there is no electricity! Is that better or worse than before? Under Saddam, if I was seen talking to a foreigner, I would be put in prison and if they don’t charge me with treason and execute me, I would be released in a few years, maybe without a tongue. Foreigners were exposed only and exclusively to the Mukhabarat members (civil security). Now, I am free to work, talk, marry, and fool around with foreigners. But if I was seen doing one of these actions publicly, I will be killed. Is that better or worse than before? Under Saddam, the Shiites couldn’t practice their ceremonies, which are a lot during the year. Or lets say the did, but very resirictly and sometimes secretly. The Sunnis were free to practice their rituals. Now the Shiites are free to do whatever they want, any kind of religious ceremony. But the Sunnis cannot. Is it better now?The answer to the question I ended each comparison with is “It is not better now, and was not better under Saddam.” You can read this entry and other blogs and go back to internet and google some news about Iraq and try to decide for yourself whether it is better under Saddam now or not. But now, I will say what I think. Before, I was forced to accept to be restricted in making friends, making comments, expressing my feelings, and judging the government. And that applied to all Iraqis. If I decided to be free and do whatever I liked under Saddam, I don’t think I would be breathing now. OPINION: Happy (?) New Year Iraqis had the same fireworks-sound-fx, but as a result of 13 bombed cars in the first day of the New Year. I hope this year will be better and more peaceful, but I know it won’t be. If bush and his administration, along with the remaining minority of the war supporters, had any dignity or honor, Bush would have admitted the disaster he caused in Iraq, pulled out the occupation troops, and started paying compensation to Iraq and Iraqis.I’m planning on starting a new project estimating the compensation that should be paid by the occupation countries to Iraq as a country and to Iraqis as individuals. This project will be based on the legitimate and fair UNCC compensation scale that Iraq followed in the last decade in paying compensation to Kuwait.This compensation-to-Iraq project is a must, and I’ll appreciate any suggestions or ideas about it. You can take a look on UNCC’s website, it's good for brainstorming. PEACE ACTION: Out of Iraq Events Planned Nationwide (USA) on January 7, 2006. National call-in day on accountability planned for January 9, 2006. PLEASE call your elected officials and raise some STREET HEAT with them. They need to hear from you. CASUALTY REPORTS Local Story: Dad’s greatest fear: Son killed in Iraq Local Story: Virginia Soldier killed in Iraq Local Story: Pennsylvania Marine killed in Iraq Local Story: Texas Soldier killed in Iraq Local Story: Bomb kills Army officer from St. Louis Local Story: Florida Marine killed in Iraq. Local Story: Oregon soldier killed in Iraq. QUOTE OF THE DAY: Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you. -- Friedrich Nietzche


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?