DAILY WAR NEWS FOR THURSDAY, APRIL 13, 2006
Photo: The uncle (L) and father of Reuters journalist, Waleed Khaled, cry over his his body at Baghdad's Yarmouk hospital after he was shot in the Iraqi capital's Al Ghazalea district August 28, 2005. U.S. soldiers who shot dead Khaled in Iraq last year breached their rules of engagement and the killing was 'unlawful', an independent investigation commissioned by Reuters has found. (Ali Jasim/Reuters)
Bring ‘em on:
Gunman fired rockets and mortar rounds at US military base near the city of Fallujah. No. 2 in al-Qaeda network Dr. Ayman al-Zawahri praised resistance in Iraq, mainly Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and urged all Muslims to support them in a video posted Thursday on the Internet.
Bring ‘em on:
Roadside bomb missed a British military convoy and hit a minibus instead, wounding three passengers. Two Iraqi contractors who supply the army with food were killed by gunmen about 28 miles south of Kirkuk.
Bring ‘em on:
US soldier killed by roadside bomb southwest of Baghdad.
Bring ‘em on:
US soldier killed by suicide bomber in Rawah on April 11.
UPDATE TO YESTERDAY:
Car bomb in Howaydir killed at least 26. At least 70 were wounded.
Five bodies found east of Baghdad. Four people killed in Kirkuk. Update to Howaydir bombing says that 31 people died and many of the wounded still in critical condition.
Security Incidents from late Wednesday:
MOSUL - Gunmen shot dead three policemen just west of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad. Gunmen also shot dead one policeman in the city.
FALLUJA - Police said they found the bodies of five men with multiple gunshot wounds in the city of Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad. The identities of the victims were not clear. BAGHDAD - A source at the Yarmouk hospital said it had received the bodies of two truck drivers, who were shot dead by gunmen in Taji, 20 km (12 miles) north of Baghdad. RAMADI - Police said that two civilians were killed during clashes between insurgents and U.S. military forces in central Ramadi, 110 km (68 miles) west of Baghdad. The U.S. military said no casualties were reported among the coalition forces or the insurgents after rebels fired on American soldiers.
Member of Saddam’s family taken hostage and killed.
Attacks on government employees appear to be rising. A Foreign Ministry worker was kidnapped on Thursday and a Health Minister laborer was wounded in a shooting that killed her driver. Another government employee was wounded in a drive-by shooting. These attacks came a day after three government employees were killed. In the Dora district of Baghdad, a bystander was killed in a gunfight between assailants and Iraqi police. A soldier wearing civilian clothes was gunned down near his home in the same neighborhood, where police also discovered a body, shot in the head. Police found four other corpses in northern and western Baghdad. In Mosul, gunmen killed a policeman who was driving his sons to school. One of the sons was also killed and another wounded. In southern Iraq, the body of a barber who was kidnapped four days ago was found in Basra. An Iraqi police officer was killed by a roadside bombing in Mahmoudiya. A car bomb in Tikrit prompted a curfew to be imposed. Several pedestrians were wounded in roadside bombings and drive by shootings in Baghdad. Gunman killed the daughter of an oil company employee in Kirkuk. A doctor who heads a health center in Daqouq was abducted.
Car bomb explodes in a market in Baghdad on Thursday and at least 13 are reported killed.
Iraq Violence, Political Deadlock Continue
Meanwhile Wednesday, key Shiite politicians cast doubt on a plan to convene parliament next week, saying they still have not decided whether to replace their candidate for prime minister to break a deadlock over forming a new government. Parliament Speaker Adnan Pachachi, a Sunni Arab, said at a nationally televised press conference that he would call parliament into session Monday to push forward efforts to form a new government, which have been snarled for weeks over who will serve as prime minister. "It is my duty to the Iraqi people in order to preserve the credibility of the democratic process," Pachachi said. Iraqi voters chose the 275-member assembly Dec. 15, but the legislature met briefly only once last month because the country's ethnically and religiously based parties have not agreed on a new government of national unity. Talks stalled after Sunnis and Kurds refused to accept the Shiite nominee, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, to head the new government, which must be approved by parliament. (And that happened only after a lot of interference from the US authorities. – Susan)
BAGHDAD: Where No One is Safe
Murder, assassination and kidnapping are the words of the day. Blast walls rule all. Security is the growth industry in a city ravaged by bloodshed. From the rooftop of CNN's bureau, tracer fire rises over Baghdad's Sadr City on a nightly basis. More than 2 million people live in the poor neighborhood, which is run by militia loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. His followers are well-armed and as loyal as they come. These are the men who control the streets; they decide who comes and who goes through this section of the city. They answer only to the cleric, not the Iraqi security forces or American troops. Abdul Aziz Hakim, leader of the prominent Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, sits in his compound in Baghdad plotting his next move. "For three years, we've been bearing the slaughtering, killing, explosions attacking our scholars, our mosques, our facilities, our pilgrims, our barbers, our bakers ... our innocents," he said. Earlier that week he raised his arms in front of millions. The power he wields is palpable and unmatched. He called out to the masses for cooperation between Sunnis and Shiites. The crowd chanted back, "America out! America out!"
He said nothing in response. What could he say?
Iraqi Death Squads ‘Not Police’
Iraq's interior minister has admitted death squads and other unauthorised armed groups have been carrying out sectarian killings in the country. But in a BBC interview, Bayan Jabr denied allegations that these groups were linked to his ministry. Mr Jabr blamed the proliferation of civilian security companies and licensed protection agencies used by other government ministries. Sunni Muslims say government-backed Shia militias are behind many attacks. In his interview with the BBC, Mr Jabr said despite appearances, those involved in recent attacks were not genuine police officers. "Terrorists or someone who support the terrorists... are using the clothes of the police or the military," he said. Now you can go to the shop and buy it." He said problems also stemmed from the existence of non-governmental security agencies like the Facility Protection Service, an armed force set up during the US-led administration of Iraq in 2003 to guard official buildings. Mr Jabr called the 150,000-strong FPS "out of order, not under our control". He also implicated the involvement of about 30,000 civilian security guards operating in Iraq. (I would call this speculation also. No evidence of his claims has been presented. – Susan) A delay in reaching agreement on a new government is thought to be partly responsible for fuelling the violence. (And once the government is formed and the violence gets worse, what are they going to say then? Stay tuned. – Susan)
Iraq’s Refugee Problem Surges as Violence Rages
The number of Iraqis fleeing their homes to escape sectarian violence has doubled in less than a month reflecting a sharp worsening of the security situation across the country. About 11,000 families, or roughly 60,000 people, have now been forced from their homes, compared with just over 30,000 in late March, a government official said on Thursday. "Terrorism is still targeting Iraqis all over the country and this is the main cause behind the doubling in the number of displaced families," said Sattar Nawrouz, Sattar Nawrouz, spokesman for the Ministry of Displacement and Migration. "The number of displaced families is rising and we expect more families will flee their houses," Nawrouz said. About 3,600 families have moved to Baghdad -- ironically, the most dangerous province in the country -- to stay with friends or relatives or in camps or squat in deserted buildings. More than 5,000 fled to southern provinces and almost 2,500 to the north or west. The bloodshed between Shi'ites and minority Sunni Arabs has prompted a redrawing of some neighborhoods, with minorities moving out and going to places where they are part of the majority community. Militias roam the country warning families to leave or die and dozens of often mutilated bodies turn up every day.
Health Workers Decry Lack of Medical Supplies
Doctors in Anbar governorate, particularly those in the city of Ramadi some 100km west of the capital, are urging the government to tackle the issue of the lack of medicines and essential surgical materials available in local hospitals. "Most of our patients are being sent to the capital because we don't have enough supplies to proceed with surgical operations," complained Dr Ala'a Rabia'a of the Ramadi General Hospital. According to Rabia'a, hospitals in neighbouring cities too, including Fallujah and al-Qaim, are suffering similar shortages. "We have enough staff to help patients, but this is useless since we don't have enough material," Rabia'a explained. "We need supplies urgently to meet the needs of all hospitals and clinics in the area." The doctor went on to explain that Ramadi General Hospital was particularly in need of emergency materials such as syringes, pain killers, plasters, antibiotics and anaesthetics. "Local NGOs sometimes send us supplies, but most of them aren't appropriate to our needs," Rabia'a stressed.
Professionals Are New Targets of Kidnappers
Six-month old Salua Ahmed was kidnapped recently when four gunmen forced her mother to give her up while shopping in a crowded neighbourhood in the capital. "They put a gun to the head of my five-year old son and said that, if I didn't give Salua up, they would kill him," said Majida Sami, the girl's mother. "Three days later, the kidnappers phoned my husband and asked for US $100,000, saying that, since he's a doctor, he must have the money." "After a week of negotiations, my husband finally paid US $70,000 dollars to the kidnappers, who released my daughter," Sami continued. "Now my husband pays bodyguards to protect us and has forbidden us to leave the house." Amid ongoing violence throughout the country, kidnapping and intimidation have become commonplace. According to Ministry of Interior officials, kidnappers have especially targeted academics, intellectuals and their families.
We’re Helpless Says Iraqi Surgeon
Iraqi doctors are being stretched to their limit having to treat war casualties with little medical supplies, staff and time, says a top plastic surgeon. Iraqi consultant plastic surgeon Dr Zakaria Arajy, from Baghdad, said there were huge numbers of war casualties needing reconstructive surgery but due to the lack of medical resources and too few doctors, waiting lists were becoming longer and people of all ages were suffering. "The number of casualties is high and this means you can't give patients what they need, so you give them primary treatment and have to do the reconstructive surgery later," said Dr Arajy's, whose patient waiting list now stands at 14 to 15 months. "There are also severe shortages in pharmaceuticals, suturing materials and anaesthetics. We don't have a steady flow of medical supplies. Another problem is the experienced surgeons, scientists and medical brains have been killed, kidnapped and threatened and lots of people have left the country." Scientific Council of Plastic Surgery Studies head and Iraqi Society of Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons vice-president Dr Arajy said doctors in Iraq were doing their best with the resources available but it was below acceptable international standards.
Terror Stalking Doctors in Iraq
Doctors in Iraq are being killed by terrorists on a mission to bring down the country, says a top surgeon. They are in constant fear for their lives because their peers are being killed or threatened all the time, Iraqi plastic surgeon Dr Safwan Taha said in Bahrain yesterday. "Security is very difficult in Iraq, doctors are living very threatened lives," said the University of Basra College of Medicine, gastro-enterological surgery professor. Dr Taha was speaking on the sidelines of the Ninth Congress of the Pan Arab Association of Burns and Plastic Surgery (ArabiaPlast 2006) and the Sixth Congress of the GCC Association of Plastic Surgeons (GulfPlast 2006). "Doctors are being killed on a weekly basis," said Dr Taha. "Well-known expatriates are being threatened and told to leave the country or they will be killed, so lots of people are leaving. "I am frightened for my own life."
"What you see in the media is a fraction of the figures. You regularly see bodies in dustbins."
‘Our Childhood is Killed in Iraq. It is Killed.’
The question to the group of women delegates from Iraq was “What would you like to see come out of this meeting?” I was not prepared either for the answer or for its explanation: “What we need now,” one of the Iraqi woman said, “is the end of the blood-letting. Women are very necessary to this operation. Fifty-five to 60 percent of Iraqis are women. The minority is ruling ... Women must interfere in the affairs of men. We should take over.” It was hardly a statement I expected to hear in this place from these women. But I couldn’t forget it. “The minority is ruling.” Right. And not too well, it seems, either here or there. When men sit down to negotiate peace treaties -- when there’s even someone to negotiate with, which, given al-Qaeda, is not a luxury we seem to have anymore -- they disband armies and guard borders and hold military tribunals and form new governments and punish old ones. But they put no faces on the victims. When they tote up the cost of the war, they do not include the number of women raped, the number of families displaced, the number of schools bombed, or the number of babies without milk. The victors take their spoils, monitor the guns, forget the defenseless and leave the people to clean up the rubble. War becomes the daily dirge of the anonymous victims. But when you bring women together to discuss the effects of war, the things that need to be changed, the real problems of a war-torn society, the conversation takes a sudden turn. At the first Iraqi-American dialogue convened by the Women’s Global Peace Initiative in New York on March 29, the differences were plain. The women’s first agenda did not concentrate on who did what or who profited or lost by the doing of it. “Take the oil. We don’t care about the oil,” one woman called across the room. “We never got any value from it anyway,” she went on. “Never mind yesterday,” another woman said in answer to the Sunni- Shi’ite tensions. “Forget who did what to whom. We must turn the page now. We must rebuild the country.”
“And what is the first thing that must be done to rebuild the country?” we asked them. I sat with my hands over the keyboard, sure that the list would be long and varied. I was wrong.
To a woman, the call was clear: “Take care of our children.” It was a sobering moment. Take care of our children. “Oh, them,” I thought. “The tiny, the forgotten, targets of this war.” Take care of the ones who now carry within themselves the sour taste of fear that came as bombs dropped through the dark sky shaking their houses, destroying their streets. Take care of the children, the ones who went cold as stone at the loss of brothers and fathers and dead playmates. Take care of the ones who felt the sweat of terror when the doors of the homes in which they were sure they were safe broke down in the middle of the night or the lights went out or their mothers wrapped their shawls around their heads and cried. Take care of the ones who went into psychic paralysis at the sight of blood and bodies. Take care of the ones who woke up one morning to find their lives completely disrupted for no apparent reason. Take care of the ones to whom then Secretary of State Colin Powell was apparently referring when a reporter asked him how many Iraqis had been killed or injured at that point in the war and his answer was, “That is a number in which I have absolutely no interest whatsoever.”
SOS Over Iraqi Scientists
Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, an alarming number of the country's leading academics have been killed. A human rights organisation puts the number at about a thousand and has a documented list of 105 cases. These professors, it says, were not random casualties - they were assassinated. The first documented case is that of Muhamad al-Rawi, the president of Baghdad University, who was killed on 27 July, 2003, when two men entered his private clinic, one of them feigned severe stomach pain and was doubled over. Concealed against his stomach was a gun with which he shot al-Rawi dead. Assassination incidents continued after al-Rawi's shooting. Dr Majid Ali was assassinated in 2005, shot four times in the back. He had a PhD in physics and was one of the best nuclear energy experts in Iraq. The Paris-based Arab Committee for Human Rights (ACHR), an international NGO which has special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN, has issued an international appeal for help to protect Iraqi academics. The general perception is that scholars targeted are those who specialise in the sciences and who were, or might be, of use to weapons of mass destruction programmes. In your view, what is the explanation behind the assassination of scholars working in fields such as Arab literature and history? Daguerre: I think the target is intellectuals in general, regardless of their field of specialisation - they are all important to their country's renaissance. Iraq is known for producing high-calibre people not only in the scientific field but also in the humanities. I can mention here Jawad Ali, who is regarded as an authority on pre-Islamic Arab history, and Abdul Aziz al-Douri, an expert in Arab economic history. But there are many others. I think the role of Iraqis in Arab poetry, literature and jurisprudence goes without saying. Here I would like to notify you of another dangerous phenomenon growing in Iraq, the targeting of human rights activists and lawyers.
Report From Babil
Al-Sabah, the Iraqi semi-official paper, reported that the city council of Babil (Babylon) passed a binding resolution to suspend any cooperation with the Americans, citing American lack of seriousness about finishing the reconstruction projects. The paper quoted Qasim al-Jarrah, an engineer and a member of the city council as saying, "We did not sense any seriousness on the part of the Americans concerning the reconstruction." He told the paper that the Americans abandoned 12 projects they already promised to finish within the coming 90 days. US exit strategy as announced by Washington's officials rarely counts reconstruction as an important element. This is not prudent, because any exit strategy has to possess three legs: security, functional government, and reconstruction. Of course, in criticizing the exit strategy, we have to assume that these guys really want to exit.
US and Iraqi Forces Double Patrols to Quell Baghdad Bloodshed
US and Iraqi forces have nearly doubled patrols in Baghdad over the last two months to quell the outburst of sectarian bloodshed, US military said. From an average of 12,000 patrols in February in Baghdad, the US and Iraqi forces have raised the patrols to 20,000 "a jump of 45 percent," said US military spokesman Major General Rick Lynch. "The increase is to give more visible presence of the security forces inside the streets of Baghdad," Lynch told reporters Thursday. He said 3,700 troops have been added to the joint forces, which were 26,000 Iraqi troops and 10,000 US troops in February. "The enemy, the Zarqawis and the Al-Qaeda want to stop the formation of a national unity government by triggering sectarian violence like the one we saw at the Baratha mosque," he said accusing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Al-Qaeda frontman in Iraq of bombing the Baratha Shi’ite mosque. (And he accusations would be a lot more believable if the Pentagon had not admitted early this week to “villainize Zarqawi/leverage xenophobia response”. I wonder how the Zarqawi group had access to the shrine for over 12 hours to place the explosives, and who trained them so well in explosives anyway? And it sure does look bad that US forces were in the area for hours before the bombs went off, doesn’t it? – Susan)
"The enemy is still there, but we are taking the fight to the enemy, specifically in Baghdad," he said. Lynch said the increase in patrols has led to fewer attacks. "There has been a decrease in number of attacks, two attacks less per day, an IED less per day and a small-arms fire less per day," he said. The increase in US patrols, however, does not mean that US forces are taking back responsibility of areas handed over to Iraqi forces in the past few months. "No, we are not taking back any battlespace from the Iraqi forces. We have trust and confidence in them and they are the ones who actually get the human intelligence," Lynch said. Nearly 60 percent of Baghdad's security in currently under Iraqi forces.
Lynch also accepted that there has been a spike in violence against the US forces in the past few weeks across Iraq. But he denied that the pattern of insurgency had been reversed in any way, from attacks on Iraqi civilians back to coalition forces. "There has been a spike in violence against coalition forces, not in terms of attacks but casualties," he said. "It is not a reversal of trend, the enemy is still targeting innocent people and triggering sectarian attacks." (Who exactly is triggering sectarian attacks, when the Pentagon itself is saying that it is “leverage xenophobia response” among Iraqis? And how many innocent people did the US forces kill? If anyone in the military cared at all, they would keep public records. Who is the enemy of the Iraqi people? – Susan)
BEYOND MERE WORDS SECTION
The Al Qaeda Myth
We now know that Al Qaeda had nothing to do with the London bombings in July 2005. This is the conclusion of the British government's official inquiry report leaked to the British press on April 9. We now also know that the U.S. military is deliberately misleading Iraqis, Americans and the rest of the world about the extent of Al Qaeda's involvement in the Iraqi insurgency. This was reported in The Washington Post on April 10, on the basis of internal military documents seen by that newspaper. What do these revelations tell us about the arguments of President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Blair that in Al Qaeda the "Free World" faces a threat comparable to that of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, a world-wide terrorist network which seeks to build a radical Islamist empire over half the world? That they are threadbare, to say the least. But also that they are cynical, misleading and self serving. The London bombings, it turns out, were the work of four alienated British Muslims, with no links to "international terrorist networks", who had learned how to make bombs by trawling the Internet. They had been radicalized and motivated, according to the report, by British foreign policies in the Muslim world—a view Tony Blair has consistently sought to undermine and discredit. The role of the alleged "Al Qaeda mastermind in Iraq," Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, we are now told, was cynically misrepresented and exaggerated by the U.S. military's propaganda units in an effort to discredit and divide the Iraqi insurgency and to provide a retrospective justification for the Iraq war by suggesting a link between Iraq and 9/11. (However, someone claiming to be part of al Qaeda is still making videos for distribution on the TV news and internet. – Susan)
Second, the Long War is a distraction from the real issues which need to be addressed as a matter of urgency in order to reduce conflict, violence and injustice in the region and thus to reduce the radicalization of a generation of angry and alienated Muslim youth at home and in the diasporas. These include: ending the Israeli occupation of occupied Palestinian territories through negotiation; pursuing peaceful nuclear reduction throughout the region; and engaging seriously with political Islam. Talk of "democratization" without engaging with political Islam is nonsense. Third, on the grounds that it is fighting a "just war," the United States and its allies have justified using levels of violence, coercion and repression—including torture, collective punishment and the killing of large numbers of civilians—which are not only of questionable tactical efficacy, but have led to a collapse of U.S. prestige in a part of the world where it has long been seen as a necessary protector, stabilizer and arbiter. The fact that there was no operational link between the London bombers and Al Qaeda shows that its real danger lies in its ability to inspire terrorist attacks. In this it has no better allies and collaborators at present than the United States and Britain under their current leaders.
Al – Zawahri Urges Support for Insurgents
Al-Qaida's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri urged all Muslims to support insurgents fighting in Iraq "for the dignity of Islam" and said the "enemy has begun to falter," according to a video posted Thursday on the Internet. The video was dated with an Islamic month corresponding to November 2005 - and al-Zawahri mentions an Oct. 23 earthquake that hit Pakistan and Afghanistan. But it appeared to be the first time the 28-minute video has been made public. In the footage, al-Zawahri appears sitting, wearing a white turban and a gray robe with a microphone pinned to it. An automatic weapon is leaning against a brown backdrop behind him. "The Islamic nation must support the heroic mujahedeen (holy warriors) in Iraq, who are fighting on the very front line for the dignity of Islam," al-Zawahri said. And to my brother mujahedeen in Iraq, I say, Stay firm. Stay together. Your enemy has begun to falter, so don't stop pursuing him until he flees defeated," he said. He called on Muslims to support his "beloved brother" Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who heads al-Qaida in Iraq. "I have lived with him up close, and have seen nothing but good from him," al-Zawahri said.
Two U.S. counterterrorism officials declined immediate comment. It was not clear if the video was made before or after a Nov. 9 triple suicide bombing against hotels in the Jordanian capital Amman that killed at least 60 people, mostly Muslims. (Former residents of Fallujah - who had lost many family members, homes, business, jobs, and more, in the destruction of the city by US forces in November 2004 - did those suicide bombings. One would think that those bombers were simply recruited and brainwashed by Zarqawi by Pentagon reports – without anything else happening that prompted such violent and self-destructive behavior. We know all this because one of the suicide bombers failed to detonate. I think we can say, without any reasonable doubt, that these former Fallujah residents are suffering from PTSD and overwhelming grief at the loss of their loved ones, homes, businesses, jobs, neighbors, security and even the city itself. Violence begets violence, yet again. – Susan)
In Thursday's video, al-Zawahri did not mention the hotel bombings and, since the timing was unclear, it could not be known if the comments aimed to show support for al-Zarqawi amid the criticism. Al-Zawahri - an Egyptian who is Osama bin Laden's deputy in al-Qaida and is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan or Pakistan - said he was making the video to mark the fourth anniversary of the December 2001 battle of Tora Bora, in which U.S. forces besieged bin Laden and al-Qaida fighters in mountainous caves of Afghanistan. It was not clear why the video was not released soon after the date it was allegedly filmed. Al-Zawahri has appeared in at least three videotapes filmed since November, all of them aired on the Al-Jazeera news network. Thursday's video was posted on a Web forum used by Islamic militants to issue public statements and videos. On the tape, he denounced Bush as the "caesar of Washington" and accused him of lying about progress in the war on terror. "Bush, son of Bush, eliminating Israel is the duty of every believer," al-Zawahri said. "If we commit to peaceful action, they will demand we adhere to international laws and treaties that mean nothing to them. If we adhere to that, they will ask us to impose constraint on what they call terrorism and war on Israel. Then if we adhere to that, they will demand we recognize Israel and establish normal relations with it," he said. He pointed to Israeli opposition to the Islamic militant group Hamas' entering Palestinian elections. He did not mention Hamas' victory in the voting, a possible indication the video was made before the January elections. In the last al-Zawahri video to be aired - on March 4 - he congratulated Hamas on its victory and offered support. (Well, here we have an example of Zawahri accusing Bush of criminal acts and engaging in his own “villainize Bush/leverage xenophobia response” strategies, just like the Pentagon. Honestly, I would love to see all these murderous criminals locked up in the same psychiatric ward for the rest of their lives. They deserve each other. – Susan)
Surprise Turns Sour for Iraqi-born Woman
An Iraqi-born woman whose ex-husband was lauded by Gov. Jeb Bush as a symbol of progress in Iraq was detained at Tampa International Airport and is scheduled to be deported tonight. Safana Jawad, 45, who lives in Spain, said federal agents told her she was barred from the entering the country because she is connected to someone they view as suspicious. She was being held in the Pinellas County jail Wednesday night. Homeland Security Department agents refused to identify the suspicious person, Jawad said. "It's a nightmare," Jawad said in a phone interview from the jail Wednesday afternoon. "I don't know why I'm here. I don't know why this happened." It was Jawad's first trip to the United States, and she planned to surprise her 16-year-old son, Hany Kubba, who lives in Clearwater with her ex-husband, Ahmad Maki Kubba, 49. "I expected it to be a very happy visit, and now it's like hell," said Mr. Kubba, a real estate agent. "She has done nothing, and they sent her to jail with all these criminals." Kubba, who organized a trip to Nashville in January 2005 for about a dozen friends to vote in the Iraqi election, was recognized by Bush in his State of the State address last year. "People often talk broadly about the importance of the fight for liberty," Bush said. "Maki shows us what it means for our friends and neighbors, both here and abroad." Kubba, now a U.S. citizen, spent 40 days in an Iraqi prison for speaking out against Saddam Hussein and left in 1979 after he was sentenced to death. Kubba's father died during a beating by Hussein's regime, Kubba said. "It's frustrating that innocent families are torn apart because of these types of campaigns," Bedier said Wednesday night. "It seems on the surface of it to be racial profiling rather than for security. It sends the wrong message and it hurts everything we are doing overseas." Kubba believes his ex-wife was singled out because she wears a head scarf. Jawad was being held in a maximum security wing of the jail, where she was booked around 8 a.m. Wednesday after she was questioned at the airport for more than six hours, Bedier said. Zachary Mann, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the Southeastern U.S., declined to comment about Jawad. He said it is standard procedure to hold someone denied entry at a jail if a return flight cannot immediately be booked. Kubba said his ex-wife, a devout Muslim, should not be held in jail, where she had to strip naked for a full body search. "I believe that this does not represent American values at all," Kubba said. (Well, buddy, you would be wrong. They believe in “leverage xenophobia response” here at home too. – Susan)
Shi’ites: No Point in Parliament Meeting
A top Shiite lawmaker said Thursday that names of selections for top posts in the new Iraqi government must be agreed upon before parliament can meet next week, casting doubt on whether the legislature will convene as announced. The next session of parliament was called for Monday to push past a long-standing political stalemate over who should be the next prime minister. But members of the dominant Shiite alliance questioned holding the meeting without first designating all top posts. ''If we don't agree on the key posts, then why should we go to parliament?'' Khudayer al-Khuzai asked Thursday. The move indicated the Shiites don't want to be steamrolled into an assembly meeting until they've internally resolved the issue of the prime minister nomination. The alliance has so far stood behind its candidate, current Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, but cracks in support have begun to show. Sunnis and Kurds have refused to accept the nominee. Pressure was on the Shiites to pick a new candidate ahead of the session, called by acting parliament speaker Adnan Pachachi on Wednesday to break the deadlock. Demanding that all the top government positions be determined first, however, in turn puts pressure on the Sunnis and Kurds, whose leaders will be up for such posts.
British Serviceman Sentenced For War Refusal
A military court found a British air force doctor guilty Thursday of disobeying orders after he challenged the legality of the war in Iraq, and he was sentenced to eight months in prison and dismissed from the service. Flight Lt. Malcolm Kendall-Smith, who said U.S. actions in Iraq were on par with those of Nazi Germany, was convicted by a panel of Royal Air Force officers after a three-day court-martial. Kendall-Smith, 37, had served twice in southern Iraq with British forces, but refused to return a third time in June because he said he was not prepared to take part in an "act of aggression." He had pleaded innocent to five charges of failing to comply with a lawful order after refusing to deploy to the southern city of Basra last year. Kendall-Smith's lawyer, Philip Sapsford, had argued that since Iraq had not attacked Britain or one of its allies, there was no lawful reason to invade. The officer was entitled to disobey the "unlawful" orders, the attorney said. The Pentagon says more than 5,500 servicemen have deserted since the war started in Iraq. It is unclear how many have challenged the legality of the war.
US Ambassador: No Promise to Remove PKK Camps in Iraq
Ross Wilson, United States’ Ambassador to Ankara, says that he cannot remember any American promise to remove the PKK’s terror bases in Northern Iraq. Ambassador Wilson also argued that the US had no soldier in Northern Iraq. Iraq has been under American occupation since the 2003 Iraq War. President George W. Bush and some other high-ranked Americans had promised to remove the PKK camps three years ago, yet no concrete step has been taken. The PKK uses the Northern Iraq bases to attack Turkey’s southeastern provinces. Mr. Wilson discussed the matter with CHP parliamentarian Sukru Elekdag. Mr. Elekdag told Mr. Wilson that the US’ indifference policy in Iraq encourages the PKK terrorist organization. “When you did nothing to destroy the PKK camps, they increased their attacks against Turkey” Mr. Elekdag added. An argument erupted over the PKK (Kurdish Workers' Party) terror network at a dinner last night hosted by the Turkish Grand National Assembly for the guest of honor, Turkish-American Friendship Group co-President and US Congressman Robert Wexler. Some experts in Turkey argue that Turkey should intervene Northern Iraq if the US cannot remove the PKK camps and terrorists in Iraq. It is reported in Turkish media that Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit, head of the Turkish Forces, defended a Turkish military intervention in Iraq aganist the PKK camps. PKK is a terrorist organization according to the American laws. (So, does the US government fight terrorists or help terrorists? Does this help to "leverage xenophobia response? - Susan)
Six Month Window – Forever Open or Already Closed
For some reason, I've been thinking lately that the expression "six month window" to describe getting it right in Iraq has been floating around for awhile. A little Lexis Nexis search found numerous examples of same. And, apparently, Dana Milbank at Washington Post
had the same idea, and cobbled together a bunch of quotes to that effect, published in November 2005. His list extends from Senator Pat Roberts (R-KN) in June 2003: I think the next few months will be crucial, to Senator Joe Biden, November 21, 2005: You only have about the next six months. Also including John Bolton, Steven Hadley, Sens. Clinton, McCain, Warner, various generals & administration officials, & so on. I've assembled a few more. Is the American attention span approximately the same length as the season for a typical television show? Is that why everything's framed as a six-month window?
Daily Telegraph, London, February 6, 2006, reminding us of an earlier time: Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld put the figure at about $66billion, but told Congress that no one could be sure. ''It's not knowable what a war or conflict like that is going to cost. You don't know if it's going to last two days or two weeks or two months. It's certainly not going to last two years, but it's going to cost money,'' Mr. Rumsfeld said six months before the invasion in March 2003. (More at the link.)
New Italian PM to Pull Iraq Troops
Romano Prodi, the leader of the Union coalition, which won the latest elections in Italy, said on Wednesday that he will withdraw the Italian troops from Iraq when he takes office, claiming there was no justification for the US-led invasion of the Arab country. In an interview with the French Le Monde daily, the Italian Prime Minister Elect said that he will fulfill his election promise of withdrawing his country´s troops from Iraq. Following the pullout, an Italian civil contingent will be sent to Iraq to help in the reconstruction of the infrastructure and institutions, asserted Prodi. The also former president of the European Commission reiterated that he always opposed the war against Iraq and thought there were other ways to solve differences with Baghdad.
Bush Must Be Shocked: He’s The Leaker
What concerns me is, why didn't President Bush just come out and say that he was the leaker? Instead, when this leak first became public, the president said that anyone in his administration involved in the leak would be fired. Is he going to fire himself now?
Iraq’s UN Envoy Moves to Washington As Ambassador
Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Samir Sumaidaie, said on Wednesday he was moving to to Washington shortly as Baghdad's first ambassador to the United States in 15 years. Sumaidaie presented his credentials to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday and said in an e-mail he expected to meet President George W. Bush "in the coming days." Sumaidaie became Iraq's first post-war ambassador to the United Nations in July 2004. He had been an interior minister in the post-Saddam Hussein government after returning to Baghdad from exile in London where he was involved in opposition groups. In June 2005, Sumaidaie accused U.S. Marines of shooting to death his 21-year-old unarmed cousin, an engineering student, during a raid in his home in western Iraq.
US Reporter’s Kidnap a Mistake; Ransom Paid: Iraqi Insurgent
An Iraqi businessman linked to Saddam Hussein told a US television network the kidnapping of US journalist Jill Carroll was a mistake and a ransom was paid for her release. Sheikh Sattam al-Gaood, a middleman behind Carroll's release on March 30 and self-proclaimed insurgency leader, told ABC News in an exclusive interview how her release was arranged and why he supports the insurgency in Iraq. "They are defending their country," he said in an interview at his summer house outside Amman, Jordan. "They are an honest resistance. And sometimes they do mistakes." One of those mistakes was kidnapping Carroll, a 28-year-old freelance journalist mainly working for The Christian Science Monitor, Gaood said. Carroll was abducted in Baghdad on January 7 by an armed group, which shot dead her Iraqi translator and was held hostage for 12 weeks. Gaood, once one of Saddam Hussein's closest business associates, said he used his influence to help free Carroll, even refusing kidnappers' demands for a huge ransom. He did not say how much was given, but says he was willing to arrange payment for as much as one million dollars. Within a few weeks, the kidnappers contacted him saying she was going to be released, and 10 hours later she was freed. Gaood, captured by US forces after the March 2003 invasion of Iraq and freed last December, openly supports attacks on US soldiers, but not on civilians. "They are criminals," he said of those who attack civilians. "The Iraqi resistance are not criminals." (They killed her Iraqi translator, and he was a civilian. This story came from the Turkish Press, and one has to wonder if it is another psych-ops by the US military. Either that, or this guy who paid the ransom is a liar. – Susan)
Iraqi Dreams Gone With the Winds….
On the third anniversary of the American invasion, I wanted to compare our sentiment toward the American soldiers. After the invasion we used to drive our cars behind the troops to feel safe and secured from those who may steel our cars, because of the absence of the police at that time. The soldiers were very nice and gentile with every one, specially the children. I still remember the throngs of poor children around the soldiers, who used to give them candies. we used to feel embarrassed because of them .Because we wanted to give good impression about the Iraqis. I remember how I wished that I can shake hands with all the soldiers to show them my gratitude. I used to stand near my kitchen's windows to see the troops coming, I used to pray for their safety. Although we were not having any signs of good,and secured life. But I had hope and belief that we will have good life and that it was only a matter of time. My daughter Sunshine was amazed by their courageous, especially when they liberated our neighborhood few months after the invasion from a group of terrorists who attacked the mosque and the nearby police station. She bought a uniform similar to theirs as well a military boots and eye pieces. She tried to look like a soldier. I remember a friend of mine when she went to a store, and the soldiers who were shopping at that store stepped back to let her do her shopping first.
I also remember sunshine's friend when she told us about her brother when his leg was scratched during playing in the children city, and how the soldiers were very kind to him and first aid his simple injury. She begrudged her brother, because he got all the attention. I also remember the very very long queue of Iraqi young men, in front of the Americans' cantonments, looking for jobs. My mother described the feelings toward the soldiers' debuting In Baghdad as a mixture of astonishment because of the quick collapse of sadams' regim, and a feeling of shame because an extraneous army reverted the regime and not the Iraqis, and because of presence of an invaders on our land. She said "all the neighbors were out side their houses watching the soldiers walking through the neighborhood, with a sight of bewilderment. Some of the neighbors gave them flowers but not all of them; others offered juice to the soldiers. But the majority was only watching".
From the first day the discomfort started when the Americans did not stop the depredation, my father's friend tried to defend one of the official institutions, when he went to the American soldiers asking them to stop the robbers. But the soldiers asked him to go home, if he is not interested to have some of Saddam's booty. He asked other soldiers, but they told him that they did not have orders to stop them. At once he phoned my dad and told him that this army is an invader and not a liberator. Suddenly after the peaceful relationship between us and the soldiers, things began to completely change dramatically, we started to witness explosions in the streets either cars loaded with bombes, or mines left in the middle of the roads, and the Americans reaction is usually random shooting toward the walkers and many many civilians died since then. As well as robberies, and murders became the usual day threats. In other words "Complete absence of safety measures". We started to live in absolute chaos, and that badly affected the confidence between the two, and what made things worse is that the American overstated promises, were not ascertained. We were misled, that we will have freedom, justice, sumptuous life, and we will see renovated Iraq soon. I remember we were promised to be astonished by the difference within 6 months only!
Now I can't find anyone optimistic about our coming days, every one is disillusioned. We live without electricity, fuel, gasoline, no jobs, no security, absence of all the priorities, the worst medical situation, although we all have high chance to be subjected to injuries or physical and psychological illnesses. I always wonder what happened. Why? Who is murdering every Iraqi that work as translator, or pressman, or contractor? Who is behind relegating the doctors and the educated Iraqi citizens? Is it not possible for America to have power over that? Who is behind the assassination of many Iraqis every day? Why we became under the same as the Iranian governance? Why we are under an unversed government? We deserve to have peace after all the misery we had under Saddam's regime….don't you think?
The Anti-War Movement?
Being a so-called anti-war movement leader (at least to the MSM), brings much responsibility and so much love for the people and the groups who are working hard to end this insane occupation, but is this enough? Recently, a blog written by an aquaintance, Scott Ritter, on AlterNet was called to my attention, where Scott, who is a self-proclaimed Republican, conservative who courageously opposed this war from the beginning, is predicting the eminent demise of the anti-war movement. At first, I was highly offended and defensive at what I thought was Scott's arrogant attack on the movement that I am so intimately and overwhelmingly involved in. But then after my knee-jerk reaction, I realized that for all of the wrong reasons, Scott was partially correct. The anti-war movement is not on the "verge of collapse" because we are not organized, or because we don't take a "warriors" view of attacking the neocons and the war machine using the tactics of Napoleon, or Sun Tzu—but because the two-thirds of Americans who philosophically agree that the war is wrong, BushCo lied, and the troops should come home, will not get off of their collective, complacent, and comfortable behinds to demonstrate their dissent with our government.
Some, like Casey and almost 2400 other Americans and their families give all, while some, like the people of Iraq, have everything stolen from them by unlawful war; some, like myself, give a lot; some give some, by writing letters, attending an occasional vigil or march; but the majority of Americans give nothing—except an occasional vote, which we all know counts practically for nothing with our electoral process being so corrupted and almost rendered meaningless by paperless voting machine, no instant run-offs, and exploitation of the religious right by such contrived issues as gay marriage and teaching evolution in our public schools.
Paying As We Go Would End This War Quickly
Please raise my taxes. I'm convinced that the best way to end the war in Iraq is for our elected representatives in Congress to show some of the courage that they like to talk about and present the American people with the bill. Let's not hide behind passing special appropriations and raising the national debt limit to cover those appropriations. Talk about taxation without representation -- how about making our schoolchildren and their children bear the financial burden for this misadventure in: finding weapons of mass destruction, capturing Saddam Hussein, fighting terrorism, creating democracy in the Middle East. Take your pick, I've lost track. The best and quickest way to end this war soon is for the administration and Congress to try to pay for it from current revenue. Do it through a tax increase or surcharge coupled with cuts in spending. First, and I include both political parties, our representatives would more easily find the reasons to bring the troops home than the backbone to raise taxes. Second, it's time for all supporters of the war to take a more personal stake in it. I believe that a call for a "war tax" will cause support for the war in Congress to evaporate in a hail of e-mails, letters and protests that will cause the members to rethink their patience with administrations in Washington and Baghdad.
The scenes of murder, destruction and terror we see every day can be summarized in a daily television program under the title: Killing off everyone.” Such a program will probably encourage publishers to issue a new book under the title: “Give up life and start with death.” In this book we will have an overview of the new philosophy of killing. That is, if you have not yet been killed by sword, you will certainly be killed by a car bomb, an explosive charge or a mortar attack. In antiquity, Greek philosophers used to say that life is the art of training how to die. Today, the Americans have succeeded in translating this philosophy into reality by training us on how to be ready to die round the clock. Thus, no Iraqi man today leaves home without reciting al-Fatiha (saying his prayers) over his own soul, the souls of his family and his neighbors. Our ancestors of the Mesopotamian era used to carry amulets around their necks as a charm against evil or injury. Amulets are no good for us, their descendents. No amulet or talisman has the power to protect the bearer from the evils and arrogance of an American cowboy or a terrorist emir (prince). We are today between two fires: the fire of occupation and the fire of terror. (And we know how started the first fire. - Susan)
Bush had good reason to believe there were WMD in Iraq.
Bush may have been misled by the information he had, but he did not lie. (Okay, he’s stupid. I figured it out in 2002 with a six-year-old notebook computer and a AOL phone connection. I think Bush must be dedicated to being stupid if he could not figure this out. – Susan) The Bush critics can argue that the president was too gullible in accepting the conclusion of his intelligence agencies. (Gullible and stupid. Just who we want running our country, right? – Susan)
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
When I consider these matters dispassionately, and ignore morality for simple analysis, I am stunned by the childishness of thinking required to even imagine that any of the neocon plans had a hope in hell of working. - Rafar