DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2006
An Iraqi child plays with a toy gun next to Iraqi army soldiers patrolling on railway tracks on Friday, March 10. Note: This is taken from a gallery of 13 photos provided by Der Spiegel
Ambush kills director of Iraq's public television channel Al-Iraqiya
. Note: This government-controlled station displays strong Shiite partisanship. Four days ago, an announcer for the Sunni partisan channel Baghdad Television was killed
Roadside bomb targeting U.S. troops kills 6 civilians, wounds 14
in southern Baghdad. Separate bomb injures 5 Iraqi soldiers.
Yarmouk Hospital reports receiving 20 bodies overnight
, most had been shot. Additional incidents reported by Reuters:
Separately, two Iraqi soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb exploded as their patrol passed in central Baghdad. Four other soldiers were wounded.
Two other civilians were killed and at least four wounded when a mortar hit a paint supply shop in central Baghdad. Another mortar bomb hit a house in the capital's eastern Jamila district, wounding two.
Four mortar bombs landed in Zafaraniya district in southern Baghdad, police said, adding that no casualties had been reported.
Drive-by shooting kills three in Biyaqa neighborhood of Baghdad
; separate drive-by shooting wounds several in a crowd of day laborers in Amariyah neighborhood; rocket strikes house in Jamiah neighborhood, killing one and injuring two.
Al Jazeera reports additional incidents
, including a claim by an Iraqi journalist that a U.S. soldier was killed, and a drive-by shooting of two Iraqi intelligence officers.
OTHER NEWS, IN-DEPTH REPORTING, AND IRAQI VOICES
Trial of Saddam and co-defendants resumes
; Three defendants testify, deny role in massacre; not clear whether Saddam will take the stand.
Khalilzad denies a report in the London Sunday Times that he had written to Iranian leaders asking help in calming situation in Iraq
The Sunday Times newspaper said journalists in Tehran had been shown a letter by a senior Iranian intelligence agent that was purportedly from U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and which invited Iran to send representatives to talks in Iraq.
"Ambassador Khalilzad has the authority to meet with Iranian officials to discuss issues of mutual concern," the embassy said in a statement. "But he has not sent a letter in any language to the Iranians." The newspaper said the letter was written in Farsi, which the Afghan-born ambassador speaks.
Tehran was open to a meeting, the paper said, citing a source close to the Iranian government, but it would have to be in a neutral country. Iran hoped this might eventually enable them to have a dialogue about Iran's nuclear programme, the paper said.
Khalilzad convenes yet another Green Zone meeting to address political impasse
. This one appears to be principally an attempt to salvage Kurdish cooperation.
By ALEXANDRA ZAVIS | Associated Press
March 12, 2006 BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -The American ambassador's high wire act to broker a unity government in Iraq appeared Sunday to have taken on greater urgency as he held meetings the leaders of all the country's political and ethnic blocs in a bid to break the stalemate. At least 11 more Iraqis were killed in violence.
The meeting Sunday afternoon convened at Kurdish Democratic Party headquarters in the heavily fortified Green Zone.
Present were Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd; Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, a Shiite; Adnan al-Dulaimi, a Sunni; and Adnan Pachachi, a secular Sunni. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shiite, did not attend but met earlier Sunday with Talabani.
Khalilzad appeared particularly eager to publicize the meeting. His office took the unusual step of announcing it in advance and calling together reporters to be on hand for a photo session and news conference that was planned when it concluded.
A key Kurdish politician indicated the timing of the session may have been forced on Khalilzad by a threat from Massoud Barzani, the president of one of two Kurdish provinces, to leave the capital for home if there was no progress on negotiations over the government.
"Massoud has commitments in Kurdistan and he wants to know if there is a reason to keep staying in Baghdad or go back to the region," said Kurdish parliamentarian Mahmoud Othman.
Citing an unspecified security incident, U.S. embassy forbids government employees from taking commercial flights out of Baghdad.
Boston Globe's Thanassis Cambanis tells of ethnic cleansing by Shiite security forces
BAGHDAD -- As he stood in front of his partially destroyed neighborhood mosque a few weeks ago, Walid Mustafa Kamal quickly realized that he was no longer welcome in the neighborhood where he had lived for eight years. Kamal, a Sunni living in a predominantly Shi'ite neighborhood, recalled how his neighbors made it clear that they viewed him as the enemy.
''Good, the Sunnis deserve it," one woman declared as a crowd jostled around the rubble of the Sunni mosque, which apparently had been bombed in retaliation for the destruction of a Shi'ite shrine. That night, Kamal packed up his wife and four children and moved across the river to a Sunni enclave next to the US-defended Green Zone, where they have been ever since.
Their move comes as Sunni-Shi'ite violence has reached a crescendo, and the drumbeat of retaliatory attacks against the once-dominant Sunni minority has swelled into a movement to drive Sunnis out of some mixed neighborhoods in Baghdad.
It's impossible to tell how many people have been intimidated or pushed out of their neighborhoods amid the disorder of Iraq's burgeoning wave of displacement, kidnapping, and murder. And Shi'ites have raised their own allegations of sectarian attacks targeting supporters of the governing Shi'ite Islamist political parties.
But conversations with Sunnis in Baghdad appear to portray widespread fear, propelled by tales from friends or relatives of beatings, threats, and killings apparently intended to force Sunnis out of areas where they live alongside Shi'ites.
And Baghdad's Sunni community is awash in anecdotes about a widespread campaign against Sunnis -- so much so that many middle-class Sunnis who have stayed away from sectarian infighting are now arming themselves and making plans for neighborhood watch-style militias in the event of invasions by Shi'ite militias. One Sunni professional described training his younger sister to use a pistol, leaving her to protect the family home while he went to work.
Ziad and Ather, two army veterans who have spent time in the reconstituted Iraqi Army and spoke on the condition their last names not be published, described a military in which sectarian identity has become a dominant factor. During Hussein's time, the military tried to promote a single nationalist identity, even though Sunnis dominated the officer corps. In the last year, as the military has gathered force and engaged in serious operations against primarily Sunni insurgents, the two veterans said that increasingly Sunnis felt marginalized within the military and that the most zealous fighters were Shi'ites on a sectarian mission.
Ather, a lieutenant, said that Shi'ites with no experience were hired into the army at more senior ranks than Sunnis with a military background. Ather himself is a Shi'ite married to a Sunni, who believes the military should resist the sectarianism gripping most Iraqi institutions.
''Morale was low, like a piece of wood hollowed from the inside by termites," said Ather, who left Iraq with his family on Friday with plans to start a new career in Egypt or the United Arab Emirates.
LA Times' Richard Boudreaux reports that sectarian tensions are reflected in personal animosity between Talibani and al-Jafari
When Jalal Talabani was sworn in to Saddam Hussein's old job last April, the veteran Kurdish leader defined himself as a father figure who would use the presidency to bridge Iraq's ethnic and sectarian divides and conduct its foreign affairs as a traveling head of state.
Since then, his aides say, the 72-year-old interim president has often felt upstaged, slighted or ignored by the Shiite Muslim interim prime minister, Ibrahim Jafari, a younger man with less political experience but more formal power in Iraq's parliamentary system — and a tendency to monopolize it.
Friction between the two boiled over late last month, adding an intensely personal feud to Iraq's caldron of troubles. When Jafari, 59, made a foreign trip without informing Talabani, "the president went berserk," said a person close to him, hastening an open break with the prime minister that has paralyzed efforts to form a new government.
Iraqi teen blogger HNK's uncle is killed by U.S. troops
. Then things get worse.
Before 3 days our first day in hell started when my mother answered the phone and talked with my aunt. My aunt told my mother that my father's uncle was killed that day by bullets from an American soldier. The police called my cousin who was going to make her engage party in the next day. The police asked her if he know somebody called "s". She told him that she knows him very well and so they told her that he was injured and he was taken to the hospital. My cousine began to cry and yell and told her parents what the police told her. My uncle and his husbend go at once to the hospital and found him died. My aunt's husband told the American soldiers that uncle "s" is an old man in the age of 78 and it was clear that he is not a terror. The soldiers told him that they are sorry.
We reach the school at about 7:45. The windows were broken, the girls were crying and the teachers were in panic. Some girls running, other's talking and the rest are crying. Everything looks strange. My friend Maas was the first one I talked to. She told me that a mortar fell in our school garden. After then, The police came; some of them went to the roof and the rest in the garden and the school yard. You don’t know how much the girls felt in peace when they saw the police! They girls who didn't cried before, cried this time. And when we finally helped one girl to feel better and stop crying, the other girl began to cry and so on.
Note: I chose today's photo to remind us of the reality of childhood in Iraq today
Faiza of A Family in Baghdad
asks us to help protect and rebuild Iraq's shattered cultural heritage.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Former NYT Bureau Chief John Burns tells Bill Maher that "U.S. effort in Iraq will likely fail
Asked if a civil war was developing there, Burns said, "It's always been a civil war," adding that it's just a matter of extent. He said the current U.S. leaders there--military and diplomatic--were doing their best but sectarian differences would "probably" doom the enterprise.
Burns said that he and others underestimated this problem, feeling for a long time that toppling Saddam Hussein would almost inevitably lead to something much better. He called the Abu Ghraib abuse the worst of many mistakes the U.S. made but said that even without so many mistakes the sectarian conflict would have gotten out of hand.
He also pointed to a key period coming up, as the top American generals decide over the next two weeks whether to go ahead with the planned "draw down" of U.S. troops starting this spring which, as it turns out, coincides with deteriorating conditions on the ground. The problem is, he said, U.S. withdrawals could lead to chaos there, with the Iraqi military not ready to take over; but not bringing troops home would prove to be a political disaster for the White House here.
Speaking from Cambridge, Mass., where he was speaking at a conference on the Vietnam war, Burns observed that he had been on the ground for 24 hours and, of all the people he had interacted with so far, "no one supports this war."
Chris Floyd decries the propagandization of U.S. troops
While much has been made of the recent poll showing that a majority of U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq think we should get out – heartening news for all those who oppose Bush's bloodsoaked war crime – the poll contained another revelation that should disturb anyone – anti-war or pro-war – who still believes in American democracy: the fact that some 85 percent of US forces in Iraq believe they are fighting to avenge Saddam Hussein's role in the September 11 attacks. (Alex Sabbeth at Consortiumnews.com has more on this, and on Bush's broader propaganda war, in America Anesthetized.)
Saddam Hussein played no role in the September 11 attacks, of course; even the Warmonger-in-Chief has been forced to admit this indisputable fact, in public. It has also been confirmed by multiple investigations by the intelligence services, and even by the whitewashing, Bush-run, see-no-evil-unless-it-speaks-Arabic 9/11 Commission. Yet American troops have been thoroughly inculcated with this false notion – no doubt deliberately.
The dangers of infecting the armed forces with such partisan propaganda are immense. First, think of how this notion has skewed the reaction of American soldiers to the Iraqi people, especially anyone accused or suspected – for whatever reason, or none at all – of being an insurgent, or a "Baathist diehard," etc. To an American soldier blinded by the deliberate Bush lies, such people would appear to be nothing but evil terrorists complicit in the murder of thousands of innocent Americans. And in fact, all Iraqis would be tarred by this brush: for how could a soldier out on patrol distinguish which of the seething mass of foreigners surrounding him had been a supporter of the man who (supposedly) attacked America?
Putting deluded soldiers in such a position, fed with such lies, is a formula certain to produce atrocities and abuse. No wonder we have seen so many cases of American soldiers being quick on the trigger, quick with the boot and the fist, belligerent and brutal in tumultuous house searches, eager to "soften up" prisoners for CIA interrogators, and so on. Most of them believe they are there to avenge murdered Americans, and that anyone who opposes their presence – or even looks at them wrong – must be part of the system that (supposedly) produced 9/11.
The evil of this deliberate policy is great in itself; but the broader implications are perhaps even worse. For consider this: if American troops can be propagandized to believe such a transparent lie about Iraq's non-existent connection to 9/11 – what can't they be manipulated into believing?
British soldier resigns in disgust over "illegal" American tactics
After three months in Baghdad, Ben Griffin told his commander that he was no longer prepared to fight alongside American forces. Ben Griffin told commanders that he thought the Iraq war was illegal. He said he had witnessed "dozens of illegal acts" by US troops, claiming they viewed all Iraqis as "untermenschen" - the Nazi term for races regarded as sub-human.
The decision marks the first time an SAS soldier has refused to go into combat and quit the Army on moral grounds.
It immediately brought to an end Mr Griffin's exemplary, eight-year career in which he also served with the Parachute Regiment, taking part in operations in Northern Ireland, Macedonia and Afghanistan.
Mr Griffin, 28, who spent two years with the SAS, said the American military's "gung-ho and trigger happy mentality" and tactics had completely undermined any chance of winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi population. He added that many innocent civilians were arrested in night-time raids and interrogated by American soldiers, imprisoned in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, or handed over to the Iraqi authorities and "most probably" tortured.
2,600 Minnesota National Guard members headed to Iraq.
Army Sgt. P.D. Rains welcomed home to Daphne, Alabama with a parade
, before returning to Washington for several more months of therapy after severe injuries suffered on January 10.
19 year old Norwalk, Iowa Marine in critical condition after accidental explosion of ordinance
Three Wisconsin National Guard soldiers injured by roadside bomb
Quote of the Day
"The Americans had this catch-all approach to lifting suspects. The tactics were draconian and completely ineffective. The Americans were doing things like chucking farmers into Abu Ghraib [the notorious prison in Baghdad where US troops abused and tortured Iraqi detainees] or handing them over to the Iraqi authorities, knowing full well they were going to be tortured.
"The Americans had a well-deserved reputation for being trigger happy. In the three months that I was in Iraq, the soldiers I served with never shot anybody. When you asked the Americans why they killed people, they would say 'we were up against the tough foreign fighters'. I didn't see any foreign fighters in the time I was over there. I can remember coming in off one operation which took place outside Baghdad, where we had detained some civilians who were clearly not insurgents, they were innocent people. I couldn't understand why we had done this, so I said to my troop commander 'would we have behaved in the same way in the Balkans or Northern Ireland?' He shrugged his shoulders and said 'this is Iraq', and I thought 'and that makes it all right?'
"As far as I was concerned that meant that because these people were a different colour or a different religion, they didn't count as much. You can not invade a country pretending to promote democracy and behave like that."
-- British Special Air Services trooper Ben Griffin