Saturday, April 29, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 2006 Romanian soldiers carry the coffin of their colleague Bogdan Hancu, who was killed in a blast in Iraq, during the funeral in his hometown of Iasi, 400km (249 miles) northeast of Bucharest, April 30, 2006. The Italian flag at half staff is seen at the Vittoriano,The Unknown soldier monument, in Rome, Sunday, April 30, 2006, to commemorate the three Italian soldiers killed in Iraq this week. Iraqis gather around a damaged vehicle following a roadside bomb explosion in Suwayrah, 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Baghdad, Sunday, April 30, 2006. Three security contractors were killed in a roadside bomb attack and two others injured, Britain's Foreign Office said. AP photos Bring 'em on: Three British "security contractors" killed in attack on convoy near Basra, two injured. (Note: AP story calls these people "foreign civilians." Apparently UK citizens are "foreigners" in Iraq, but U.S. citizens are not. Bizarrely, althoughthe Foreign office has confirmed this, the British Ministry of Defence now denies it.) Bring 'em on: Multi-National Division -- Baghdad soldier killed by roadside bomb southwest of Baghdad at 4:00 pm, April 29 (Confirmed) Bring 'em on: U.S. Humvee destroyed by bomb in Tikrit. AP reports there are casualties, but U.S. command has not issued any info as of this writing. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Attacks on Iraqi police: CentCom claims 20 "foreign insurgents" killed in raids near Youssifiyah. Bomb planted in minibus in Sadr City kills 2, wounds 6. One of two major export pipelines in southern Iraq in flames. Fire extinguished, impact on exports not yet described. Also, two civilians wounded by bomb in Amriya neighborhood of Baghdad, two people found tortured and shot in head in Amil, police find 12 other bodies in Baghdad, according to CNN. Also, a government worker and a businessman were killed in drive-by shootings in Baghdad, while a policeman was killed in Ramadi, according to this AP report. Also, mortar shells land in Al-Yayji, apparently targeting U.S. base, no report on casualties, and explosions in Kirkuk kill one civilian, injure another, according to this KUNA report. THE DANGEROUS NEIGHBORHOOD Iraqi defence ministry says Iran shelled Kurdish forces, encroached 5 miles into Iraqi territory in Kurdistan. OTHER NEWS FROM IRAQ Note: Much of this news from "sovereign" Iraq is actually about the United States. Funny thing about that. U.S. military and foreign policy functionaries debate merits of petitioning Iraq. Ahh, whose country are we talking about here?
By Thomas E. Ricks Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, April 30, 2006; Page A18 As the U.S. military struggles against persistent sectarian violence in Iraq, military officers and security experts find themselves in a vigorous debate over an idea that just months ago was largely dismissed as a fringe thought: that the surest -- and perhaps now the only -- way to bring stability to Iraq is to divide the country into three pieces. Those who see the partitioning of Iraq as increasingly attractive argue that separating the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds may be the only solution to the violence that many experts believe verges on civil war. Others contend that it would simply lead to new and dangerous challenges for the United States, not least the possibility that al-Qaeda would find it easier to build a new base of operations in a partitioned Iraq. One specialist on the Iraqi insurgency, Ahmed S. Hashim, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College who has served two tours in Iraq as a reservist, contends in a new book that the U.S. government's options in Iraq are closing to just two: Let a civil war occur, or avoid that wrenching outcome through some sort of partition. Such a division of the country "is the option that can allow us to leave with honor intact," he concludes in "Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq." snip The fundamental fact of Iraq is that insurgent attacks on Iraqi police and army troops continue essentially unabated, said Jeffrey White, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst of Middle Eastern security issues. "There are peaks and valleys," he said Friday at a seminar of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "It goes up and down, but it seems to grow over time." Also, he said, lately there has been a spate of worrisome, large-scale direct attacks on Iraqi police stations and army outposts, some involving as many as 50 fighters. The goal of U.S. foreign policy right now, said former ambassador James Dobbins, a Rand Corp. expert on peacekeeping, should be to prevent the country from sliding into a large-scale conventional civil war. "Our economic leverage is already essentially gone," he said at a recent discussion at the American Enterprise Institute, and "our military leverage is also a waning asset." So he is calling for a much more intense campaign of regional diplomacy by U.S. officials. Others say it is too late to go shopping for help in a region whose governments are generally hostile to U.S. goals in Iraq. "I agree with Ahmed," said retired Marine Col. T.X. Hammes, a counterinsurgency expert who has worked in Iraq on training security forces there. "The Iraqis are positioning for civil war," and so, he said, the United States should be contemplating a "soft partition" of the country by design, rather than through violence. An all-out civil war would not only endanger U.S. troops more but also would be more likely to spill over into neighboring states and so wreak havoc on the international oil market, Hammes said. On the other side of the debate are many military insiders who believe steady progress is being made in Iraq, despite violence and setbacks. "I do not agree that there are only two options, especially these two options" of civil war or breaking the country apart, said Army Lt. Col. James A. Gavrilis, a Special Forces officer who participated in the invasion of Iraq and now works on Iraq issues for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gavrilis said that allowing a civil war or a partition of Iraq would be an admission of failure that is not required by the current situation. "The potential for civil war is there, certainly, but it is not as far as many are claiming. We have not seen indicators of full-scale civil war or mass mobilizations or a collapse of politics," said Gavrilis, noting that he was expressing his personal views. He argued for continuing to emphasize the democratic revolution that he believes is changing Iraq. Likewise, Gary Anderson, a retired Marine colonel who in the past advised the Pentagon on the Iraqi insurgency, thinks that the administration should stay the course: "I think drawing down our participation . . . and continuing to grow security forces that are loyal to the central government rather than to sects is the way to go, but that is obviously easier said than done."
This isn't exactly "new" news but this story has a lot of interesting details US Building Massive 104-Acre Embassy in Baghdad
Barbara Ferguson, Arab News WASHINGTON, 28 April 2006 — Three years after a US-led invasion ousted Saddam Hussein’s regime, only one major US building project in Iraq is on schedule and within budget: The massive new American Embassy compound. The fortress-like compound rising beside the Tigris River will be the largest of its kind in the world — the size of Vatican City, or 80 football fields, or six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York — on about 104 acres. With the population of a small town, it is designed to be entirely self-sufficient; it will have its own defense force and self-contained power and water plants. The high-tech compound will have 21 buildings reinforced to 2.5 times usual standards. Some walls as said to be 15 feet thick or more. Scheduled for completion by June 2007, the installation is touted as not only the largest, but the most secure diplomatic embassy in the world. The $592 million facility is being built inside the heavily fortified Green Zone by 900 non-Iraqi foreign workers who are housed nearby and under the supervision of a Kuwaiti contractor, according to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report. Besides two major diplomatic office buildings, homes for the ambassador and his deputy, and the six apartment buildings for staff, the compound will offer a swimming pool, gym, commissary, food court and American Club, all housed in a recreation building. Security, overseen by US Marines, will be extraordinary: Setbacks and perimeter no-go areas that will be especially deep, structures reinforced to 2.5-times the standard, and five high-security entrances, plus an emergency entrance-exit, the Senate report says. Work for the embassy was quietly awarded last summer to a controversial Kuwait-based construction firm, First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting (FKTC). FKTC has been accused of exploiting employees and coercing low-paid laborers to work in Iraq. . . . State Department spokesman Justin Higgins defended the size of the embassy, saying it is indicative of the work facing the United States here. “It’s somewhat self-evident that there’s going to be a fairly sizable commitment to Iraq by the US government in all forms for several years,” he recently told journalists. The current US Embassy in Iraq has nearly 5,5,000 Americans and Iraqis working there, more than at any other US embassy. Almost half listed as security, are far more numerous than at any other US mission worldwide. They rarely venture out into the “Red Zone,” that is, violence-torn Iraq.
Dexter Filkins, with reporting by Khalid al-Ansary, sees political process in Iraq as largely irrelevant to realities "on the ground." This is an overview of the situation. I'll excerpt it very briefly.
The Iraqis who gathered last week around the newly chosen prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, said they saw a fresh chance to bind the communities back together and put the country on a path toward normalcy. Indeed, a sense of relief pervaded the offices of Iraqi officials, who had finally broken a deadlock over results of popular elections that took place more than four months ago. But the question hanging over the parliamentary votes last weekend was whether the elected leaders, most of them now barricaded inside the protected Green Zone, could do anything to stop the slide toward anarchy and civil war. Two years' worth of dealmaking by Iraq's elites has proved largely irrelevant to the realities unfolding on the ground. snip According to the Iraqi government, about 14,000 families — probably close to 100,000 people — have been displaced by the violence. More than 80 percent, the government said, are Shiites. About 2,000 Iraqis have been killed since the Askariya Shrine, a holy Shiite mosque in Samarra, was destroyed in a bombing two months ago. There is no way to verify such figures, but a similar despair pervades conversations with Sunnis. Omar al-Jabouri, who runs the Iraq Islamic Party's human rights office, keeps a photo album by his desk. It contains picture after picture of Sunni men who have been executed and tortured to death by, Mr. Jabouri says, Shiite death squads and their comrades in the Interior Ministry. snip Full-fledged civil war, with widespread ethnic bloodletting and mass migrations, has not yet come to Iraq. But a week's worth of conversations with ordinary Iraqis leaves one wondering if the government, even with American help, can any longer prevent this from happening. In casual discussions, Iraqis already express the view that their country will be split three ways, with a Kurdish state in the north, a Sunni one in the west, and a Shiite one in the south. The Tigris River would form the border where the new Sunni and Shiite states would meet in central Baghdad, and the capital's mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods would be cleansed on each side of the river.
SKIP THIS IF YOU HAVE A WEAK STOMACH U.S. military death toll now at 2,400. Round numbers are only meaningful because we have ten digits on our hands and count by powers of ten, but people do notice them. Maybe people will notice that the counter turns over as we reach the anniversary of one of the most appalling political events in memory. This is a day early, but Zig doesn't deserve to be contaminated by posting this link. This is the Commander in Chief's speech on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. Count the lies, if you can. Mission Accomplished May 1, 2003. The snips are not misleading -- mostly empty rhetoric.
Thank you all very much. Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. (Applause.) And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country. snip Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision and speed and boldness the enemy did not expect, and the world had not seen before. From distant bases or ships at sea, we sent planes and missiles that could destroy an enemy division, or strike a single bunker. Marines and soldiers charged to Baghdad across 350 miles of hostile ground, in one of the swiftest advances of heavy arms in history. You have shown the world the skill and the might of the American Armed Forces. This nation thanks all the members of our coalition who joined in a noble cause. We thank the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland, who shared in the hardships of war. We thank all the citizens of Iraq who welcomed our troops and joined in the liberation of their own country. And tonight, I have a special word for Secretary Rumsfeld, for General Franks, and for all the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States: America is grateful for a job well done. (Applause.) snip In the images of falling statues, we have witnessed the arrival of a new era. For a hundred of years of war, culminating in the nuclear age, military technology was designed and deployed to inflict casualties on an ever-growing scale. In defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Allied forces destroyed entire cities, while enemy leaders who started the conflict were safe until the final days. Military power was used to end a regime by breaking a nation. Today, we have the greater power to free a nation by breaking a dangerous and aggressive regime. With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy from war; yet it is a great moral advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent. (Applause.) snip We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We're helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. (Applause.) The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq. (Applause.) The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 -- and still goes on. That terrible morning, 19 evil men -- the shock troops of a hateful ideology -- gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions. They imagined, in the words of one terrorist, that September the 11th would be the "beginning of the end of America." By seeking to turn our cities into killing fields, terrorists and their allies believed that they could destroy this nation's resolve, and force our retreat from the world. They have failed. (Applause.) In the battle of Afghanistan, we destroyed the Taliban, many terrorists, and the camps where they trained. We continue to help the Afghan people lay roads, restore hospitals, and educate all of their children. Yet we also have dangerous work to complete. As I speak, a Special Operations task force, led by the 82nd Airborne, is on the trail of the terrorists and those who seek to undermine the free government of Afghanistan. America and our coalition will finish what we have begun. (Applause.) From Pakistan to the Philippines to the Horn of Africa, we are hunting down al Qaeda killers. Nineteen months ago, I pledged that the terrorists would not escape the patient justice of the United States. And as of tonight, nearly one-half of al Qaeda's senior operatives have been captured or killed. (Applause.) The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more. (Applause.) Any outlaw regime that has ties to terrorist groups and seeks or possesses weapons of mass destruction is a grave danger to the civilized world -- and will be confronted. (Applause.) And anyone in the world, including the Arab world, who works and sacrifices for freedom has a loyal friend in the United States of America. (Applause.)
THE WOUNDED, WHO DoD WANTS US TO FORGET As usual, thanks to Whisker for this contribution Sergeant Brent Bretz lost most of both legs after a makeshift bomb blew up his truck outside Mosul. Mesa, Arizona soldier was up for the promotion before the December 2004 incident. Wisconsin Sergeant Phillip Schladweiler describes his experiences in Iraq, culminating in severe injuries:
The day that I was injured with two other soldiers Specialist Perry and Specialist Fisher. I remember seeing an explosion about 5 to 10 feet to the west of our position. The next thing that I remember is gagging on a respirator tube and seeing nothing but black. My injuries are severe brain trauma, which they had to crack my skull to relieve pressure, loss of sight in the right eye, complete facial reconstruction to my right face, random shrapnel to the face, shrapnel in my left shoulder and right middle finger. SPC Perry receives severe brain trauma, worse than mine, to the point where he didn’t remember going to Iraq, larger amounts of shrapnel to the left side of the face, and left eye damage, but still useable. About a week later, I find out that Fisher was fine and back home at Fort Campbell, Ky., going through recover for left body burns and shrapnel. All three of us can still not remember what exactly happened.
Private First Class Michael Manning of southern Arizona has serious injuries to his legs. Arkansas City soldier Scott Metz, 31, was struck in the upper hamstring muscle by sniper fire as he patrolled in Baghdad April 3. 24-year-old specialist Luke Abbott of Hobart, Indiana, gets blown up twice. Second time leaves him severely disabled. He now wants to enter the ministry. Quote of the Day: We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war. --Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front


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