War News for Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Bring 'em on: Thirty five Iraqi men are missing Wednesday after being abducted following failed bids to be accepted into a police training academy in Samarra
Bring 'em on: Twenty five executed bodies found in Nabaei
Bring 'em on: A roadside bomb has killed two Americans and injured a third when it hit a convoy carrying a U.S. security team near the southern city of Basra
Bring 'em on: Gunmen kidnapped a Malawian engineer, and possibly his Madagascan colleague, in an attack on a private security convoy in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Five policemen were killed and nine wounded when a makeshift bomb went off near their patrol in the small town of Sa'adiya
Bring 'em on: At least one gunman was killed and two policemen wounded in a failed attempt to seize a police station in the town of Iskandariya
Bring 'em on: An Oil Ministry security officer was seriously wounded, his driver killed, on Tuesday when gunmen ambushed his car in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Three suspected insurgents were killed in an air assault on Tuesday after being observed placing a roadside bomb near the town of Tal Afar
Bring 'em on: Mohammed Sadagi al-Batah, a tribal leader, was shot dead along with his nephew and another person in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Eleven Iraqi security personnel killed in ambush in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Shiite cleric gunned down in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: One woman killed and three injured by US troops at a checkpoint in Hawijah
Bring 'em on: Gunmen shoot dead seven workers who supply food to the Iraqi army in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: The bodies of five murdered Iraqi found in Al-Rustumiyah
Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi policemen and two civilians injured by a roadside bomb in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Two female Interior Ministry workers kidnapped in Al-Sadr city
Bring 'em on: One oil security guard killed and three injured in an insurgency attack in Jirf al-Sakhar
Bring 'em on: Seven civilians injured by a roadside bomb in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Seven US soldiers injured by a roadside bomb in Karbala
Bring 'em on: Oil infrastructure attacked in Samarra
Bring 'em on: Two civil defence workers gunned down in Baghdad
OIF veteran commits suicide
Just wanted to share this with you. It hit me pretty hard last night. Back on Dec. 16, a little over a week after you appeared on my show, I had Specialist Douglas Barber as my guest, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran suffering from PTSD. He was telling us how the VA had abandoned Iraqi vets, and how he couldn't get help for his PTSD. Last night, at the top of my 3rd hour, I received this email...
I was a dear friend of Douglas; I say was, because Douglas committed suicide today on the front porch of his trailer around 2:30 pm Opelika, Alabama time. I was just listening to your interview with him so I could hear his voice again. Just thought you might like to know.
: Pentagon officials tell ABC News they believe Iraqi insurgents used a Russian-made SA-7 surface-to-air missile to shoot down a U.S. military helicopter on Monday. It's a troubling new development because there are hundreds — and by some estimates thousands — of SA-7 missiles that are unaccounted for in Iraq. The weapons had been part of Saddam Hussein's arsenal, much of which was looted after the invasion. But until now, insurgents had never successfully used them against an American aircraft.
: More than 18 months after the Pentagon disbanded the Coalition Provisional Authority that ran Iraq, neither the Justice Department nor a special inspector general has moved to recover large sums suspected of disappearing through fraud and price gouging in reconstruction. Earlier audits by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction -- a post Congress created in late 2004 -- found that oversight of contractors by the Authority was so lax that widespread abuse was likely.
: Kidnapped American reporter Jill Carroll appeared in a silent 20-second video aired in Iraq yesterday by Al-Jazeera television, which said her abductors gave the US 72 hours to free female prisoners or she would be killed. Related News Update
: Iraq's ministry of justice has told the BBC that six of the eight women being held by coalition forces in Iraq are to be released early.
Bush's Australian Partner - Corrupt Politician
: By far the biggest fish to be caught in the net so far is Australia’s monopoly wheat exporter, AWB, which was, until 1999, the government-owned Australian Wheat Board. It has become evident that AWB paid hundreds of millions of dollars to Saddam’s regime, and it has now been stated in evidence that the deals in question were discussed with Australia’s foreign minister, Alexander Downer., who has played a leading role in defending Australia’s participation in the Iraq war.
Six Cabinet Posts
: The new government in Iraq reportedly will offer the Sunni Arabs six cabinet posts or the same number they held in the 36-member interim government.
: Iraq has ordered tests to confirm what may be the country's first case of bird flu, following the death of a girl in the northern city of Suleimaniya. The teenage girl from a town near the border with Turkey and Iran died at a hospital in the city, 15 days after falling ill, officials said.
: Well before President George Bush said in 2003 that Iraq was buying uranium from Niger, a high-level state department intelligence assessment deemed the deal "unlikely" for several reasons, The New York Times said on Wednesday. The document cast doubt on the alleged purchases as France controlled the uranium industry in Niger and could block the sale. The document said Niger was avoiding actions that risked it losing US and other foreign aid, and moving tonnes of uranium by truck across the border would be very difficult to do and easy to detect.
USAid - Iraq out of Control
An official assessment drawn up by the US foreign aid agency depicts the security situation in Iraq as dire, amounting to a "social breakdown" in which criminals have "almost free rein".
The "conflict assessment" is an attachment to an invitation to contractors to bid on a project rehabilitating Iraqi cities published earlier this month by the US Agency for International Development (USAid).
The picture it paints is not only darker than the optimistic accounts from the White House and the Pentagon, it also gives a more complex profile of the insurgency than the straightforward "rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists" described by George Bush.
The USAid analysis talks of an "internecine conflict" involving religious, ethnic, criminal and tribal groups. "It is increasingly common for tribesmen to 'turn in' to the authorities enemies as insurgents - this as a form of tribal revenge," the paper says, casting doubt on the efficacy of counter-insurgent sweeps by coalition and Iraqi forces.
Meanwhile, foreign jihadist groups are growing in strength, the report said.
"External fighters and organisations such as al-Qaida and the Iraqi offshoot led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are gaining in number and notoriety as significant actors," USAid's assessment said. "Recruitment into the ranks of these organisations takes place throughout the Sunni Muslim world, with most suicide bombers coming from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region."
The assessment conflicted sharply with recent Pentagon claims that Zarqawi's group was in "disarray".
The USAid document was attached to project documents for the Focused Stabilisation in Strategic Cities Initiative, a $1.3bn (£740m) project to curb violence in cities such as Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Kirkuk and Najaf, through job creation and investment in local communities.
The paper, whose existence was first reported by the Washington Post, argues that insurgent attacks "significantly damage the country's infrastructure and cause a tide of adverse economic and social effects that ripple across Iraq".
"In the social breakdown that has accompanied the defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime criminal elements within Iraqi society have had almost free rein," the document says. "In the absence of an effective police force capable of ensuring public safety, criminal elements flourish ... Baghdad is reportedly divided into zones controlled by organised criminal groups-clans."
The lawlessness has had an impact on basic freedoms, USAid argues, particularly in the south, where "social liberties have been curtailed dramatically by roving bands of self-appointed religious-moral police". USAid officials did not respond to calls seeking comment yesterday.
Judith Yaphe, a former CIA expert on Iraq now teaching at the National Defence University in Washington, said while the administration's pronouncements on security were rosy, the USAid version was pessimistic. "It's a very difficult environment, but if I read this right, they are saying there is violence everywhere and I don't think it's true," Ms Yaphe said. She said USAid could have published the document to pressure the White House to increase its funding. The administration does not intend to request more reconstruction funds after the end of this year.
Opinion and Commentary
Some observers of the recruitment crisis, including the recruiters themselves, have noted that a main reason for the drop off in numbers of new enlistees is the war in Iraq and the growing casualty figures attributed to the fighting in Iraq. This line of argument seems to draw a direct correlation between the costs associated with being a soldier and the decision to enlist.
I frankly couldn't think of a greater insult to the American people than to put forward an argument along those lines. When one examines the employment picture in America today, firefighting is listed as one of the most dangerous vocations. And yet America's youth are lining up to compete for firefighting jobs, despite the dangers. The reason for this is that danger aside, firefighting is seen as an honorable profession, one worthy of the sacrifice entailed.
Americans aren't afraid to put their lives on the line for a worthy cause. It is not military service that is being rejected, but rather military service in support of a cause not deemed worthy of the sacrifice expected. The military today has degenerated into an entity that is viewed by many in the American public as no longer serving the larger interests of the American people, but rather the play toy of a political elite who use the U.S. military as a tool to impose their ideology on others around the world, as opposed to "upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States," the mission assumed when one is sworn into military service.
It is not just the fighting and dying in Iraq that creates an image problem. The military today is involved in a variety of activities that not only insult American sensibilities abroad (such as the illegal invasion of sovereign states, and the illegitimate occupation and oppression of sovereign peoples), but also assault at home the very Constitution they are sworn to uphold and defend. Americans should not overlook the fact that the agency at the heart of the illegal warrant-less wiretaps that have been ordered by President Bush is the National Security Agency, or NSA, run out of the Department of Defense.The forgotten War, as Whisker tells us, January 18, 2005
Via Asia Times
Members of a delegation accompanying US Vice President Dick Cheney to Kabul for the inaugural ceremony of the newly constituted parliament last month would have been the first Americans to report back to Washington that something odd was going on in Afghanistan, that things were not quite like what they had read in their briefs and position papers.
The Afghan sentries guarding the presidential palace of Hamid Karzai simply shrugged their shoulders and roughly shepherded the protesting Americans to a corner, and proceeded to subject them, women and men alike, to a thorough body search before letting them into the premises where Karzai was waiting. These were Afghan guards who were trained and equipped by the US.
The Afghans have their own ways, devised through trials and tribulations of life in a harsh terrain, to let the world know when they are annoyed. More so, if they lose respect for someone. Surely, the people surrounding Karzai are hopping mad that the Americans are announcing "victory" in the "war on terror" in Afghanistan, and moving on.
An air of unease prevails in Kabul. The Taliban's exclusion from the peace process in Bonn in December 2001 indeed lies at the root of the Afghan problem today. The victorious regional powers wanted to wreak vengeance on the Taliban (and Pakistan) for all the ignominies they suffered during the Taliban era from 1996 to 2001.
As for the US, it needed an enemy after September 11, 2001, and the Taliban ("Afghan Nazis") presented themselves. As for Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which should have held the Taliban's case file at Bonn, they ducked either for reasons of political expediency or in consideration of their supreme national interests.
In the four years since then, it has become abundantly clear that except through a genuine intra-Afghan dialogue involving the Taliban, peace will remain elusive. The Taliban feel cheated out of power. Karzai has failed to engineer any significant defections from the Taliban, and he has not been able to consolidate Pashtun support either.
Therefore, the international conference in London this month may end up as another inconsequential marking on the margins of the Afghan tragedy unless the core issue of a durable Afghan political reconciliation is first addressed. Conceivably, the window of opportunity still remains open for an intra-Afghan dialogue.
From the US perspective, this may look a moot point since maximum political mileage has been already squeezed out of the "war on terror" in Afghanistan. To an appreciable extent, President George W Bush owes his second term in office to the Afghan war. Karzai's hastily arranged victory in the presidential election, on the eve of the US election, was trumpeted in front of a naive electorate in the US as a foreign policy triumph that made America more secure from "terrorism".
From Washington's point of view, therefore, it may seem that the law of diminishing returns is at work for the Bush administration. The most prudent thing for the US is, understandably, to claim "victory" and to disengage from active military duty in the Hindu Kush. The ground situation in Afghanistan is worsening. The Taliban are undoubtedly spreading their presence. There is no point quibbling over the Taliban's "strength".
The Taliban may not be able to capture power in Kabul, but they are increasingly in a position to create mayhem, and that makes the governance of the country simply impossible. The huge income from drug trafficking has made Afghan resistance "self-financing". The Taliban's tactics are working.