Saturday, May 27, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY, May 27, 2006 Photo: Celeste Zappala, center, and her son Dante Zappala, right, protest against the war in Iraq, as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld spoke at a luncheon for the World Affairs Council, in this May 25, 2005 file photo, in Philadelphia. Celeste is holding a photo of her oldest son who was killed in Baghdad, Iraq. Celeste Zappala of Philadelphia has become a peace activist since her 30-year-old son, Army Sgt. Sherwood Baker, was killed by an explosion in Baghdad while deployed with the Pennsylvania National Guard. (AP Photo/H. Rumph, Jr., File) Bring 'em on: A U.S. Marine was killed in clashes in Iraq's restive Anbar province on Friday, the U.S. military said on Saturday. Bring 'em on: Marine Adam Lucas, of Greensboro, was killed by enemy fire early Friday morning while serving in Iraq. Bring 'em on: A U.S. Marine AH-1 Cobra helicopter crashed in an insurgent stronghold in western Iraq on Saturday, and two crew members were missing, the U.S. military said. Hostile fire was not suspected as the cause. Seven civilians were killed and ten others injured by US troops over the last 24 hours in Ramadi. Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA) reported on doctor Ahmed Dhiya in Al Ramadi Hospital as saying that children and women were among the victims of a US blitz that targeted their houses under the pretext of striking armed groups. Dr. Ahmed added that autopsies and medical examinations revealed that some of the injured were targeted by snipers. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: At least four people were killed and 15 wounded when a mortar round landed in a crowded market in southern Baghdad. Hospital sources had earlier said it was a bomb. A roadside bomb went off near a police patrol in western Baghdad on Saturday, killing an Iraqi policeman and wounding three others. Three policemen were wounded when gunmen ambushed a convoy of Interior Ministry commandos in the southern neighbourhood of al-Bayaa in the capital. A bomb in a parked car exploded today near a busy bus station in Baghdad, killing at least four civilians and wounding seven others. In the Abu Ghraib area west of Baghdad four people were hurt when a roadside bomb exploded. Clashes between insurgents and an Iraqi army patrol in the capital's western Al-Jamia area left a soldier and a civilian wounded. Gunmen broke into a gardening store in Baghdad and killed the owner. A Palestinian refugee living in Iraq was abducted and and shot dead by unknown gunmen in Al Dawra area. A group which calls itself "Kata'eb Ahrar Al Iraq" (The Brigades of the Liberals of Iraq) distributed a leaflet on Friday at night giving the Palestinians in Iraq a ten-day period to leave the country. In southern Baghdad, a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt blew himself up in the middle of a popular marketplace, killing 2 Iraqis and injuring 11, witnesses said. Baqubah: Gunmen killed five people -- two sets of brothers -- in Baquba. First they stormed an ironsmith workshop and shot dead three brothers working there, then they attacked a nearby tyre repair shop and killed two brothers from another family. A police colonel and his bodyguard were killed when gunmen ambushed their car near the city of Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. Two other bodyguards were seriously wounded. Gunmen killed a former Baath-era police officer and a relative in Baqubah as they traveled in their car. Three police officers were wounded in a roadside bombing west of the city. The director of the Baquba branch of the Iraqi Association for the Defense of Human Rights, was wounded in a gun attack on his vehicle north of the city. Gunmen opened fire on a checkpoint, seriously wounding three policemen. The head of the press office at a human rights body was wounded after he was shot at while driving in his car in central Baquba. Muqdadiya: An Iraqi groom celebrating on the dance floor was dragged off and later found beheaded in a field after uninvited guests showed up at his wedding. Gunmen took 26-year-old merchant Khudair al-Tamimi away along with his father, uncle, cousin and a guest at the party on Thursday in Muqdadiya, 90 km (50 miles) northeast of Baghdad. Their bodies were discovered on Friday, beheaded and dumped in farmlands just north of the town. Dinwaniya: A Police Colonel was seriously wounded when a roadside bomb went off near his house in Diwaniya, 180 km (112 miles) south of Baghdad. Samarra: A merchant in the city's central Bazaar was killed by gunmen. Tikrit: Two police officers were shot dead in separate incidents in Tikrit. Gunmen attacked a police patrol, killing a Lieutenant and wounding two policemen. Baiji: A roadside bomb killed two oil truck drivers and wounded another near a refinery in Baiji, 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad. Kirkuk: One police officer was shot dead in Kirkuk. An Iraqi army major was killed and three soldiers were wounded when gunmen in a car blocked their patrol and opened fire on a main road 40 km (25 miles) south of Kirkuk. Unknown men assassinated an officer in the center of Kirkuk. Many checkpoints were set up at city exits following the incident. Kirkuk witnessed a number of explosions. One bomb exploded in front of a gas station and two others blew up. No damage or casualties were reported. A bomb targeting an Iraqi patrol blew up on the road leading to Kirkuk and Tikrit. No damage or casualties were reported. >> NEWS Iranian FM met al-Sistaniin Najkaf and thanked him for promoting unity between Iraq's groups: [Manouchehr] Mottaki, who had talks with Iraq's new, Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad on Friday, also visited another Shi'ite shrine city, Kerbala, before going to Najaf, home to the shrine of Imam Ali, whose descendants founded Shi'ite Islam. (...) After meeting Sistani, Mottaki thanked the Shi'ite religious establishment, or Marjaiya, which Sistani heads. "I presented my gratitude to the Marjaiya for working for the unity of the Iraqi people," he told reporters. He also noted Iranian willingness to invest up to $1 billion in projects to help Iraqis, mentioning seven possible projects in the oil, electricity and health fields in five cities in northern and southern Iraq. Mottaki also held talks in Najaf with Moqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shi'ite cleric who gained popularity by leading two armed revolts against U.S. and Iraqi forces. An oil pipeline exploded after a breakdown in the control network. According to a source at the southern Iraq oil company, the accident was causing a loss of 10,000 barrels a day. >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS THE HADITHA MASSACRE
IN HADITHA, MEMORIES OF A MASSACRE Witnesses to the slaying of 24 Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines in the western town of Haditha say the Americans shot men, women and children at close range in retaliation for the death of a Marine lance corporal in a roadside bombing. Aws Fahmi, a Haditha resident who said he watched and listened from his home as Marines went from house to house killing members of three families, recalled hearing his neighbor across the street, Younis Salim Khafif, plead in English for his life and the lives of his family members. "I heard Younis speaking to the Americans, saying: 'I am a friend. I am good,' " Fahmi said. "But they killed him, and his wife and daughters." The 24 Iraqi civilians killed on Nov. 19 included children and the women who were trying to shield them, witnesses told a Washington Post special correspondent in Haditha this week and U.S. investigators said in Washington. The girls killed inside Khafif's house were ages 14, 10, 5, 3 and 1, according to death certificates. (...) In Haditha, families of those killed keep an ear cocked to a foreign station, Radio Monte Carlo, waiting for any news of a trial of the Marines. "They are waiting for the sentence - although they are convinced that the sentence will be like one for someone who killed a dog in the United States," said Waleed Mohammed, a lawyer preparing a file for Iraqi courts and the United Nations, if the U.S. trial disappoints. "Because Iraqis have become like dogs in the eyes of Americans.'' read in full... HADITHA: THE "M" WORD HITS THE MEDIA I was actually shocked to read the headline in the Washington Post: "In Haditha, Memories of a Massacre." 24 Iraqi civilians were killed in cold blood by U.S. Marines in Haditha last November, and for once this slaughter is being called by its right name: "massacre." Just last week, 16 Afghan civilians and a larger number of alleged Taliban fighters were killed by U.S. bombing in Kandahar, and not one corporate media source joined me in calling that a massacre, just as they wouldn't call the aerial murder of 45 people at an Iraqi wedding party a massacre either. Does it have to be a face-to-face confrontation, murder "in cold blood" before it qualifies as a "massacre"? Does that antiseptic, you can't see the whites of their eyes aerial bombing never qualify? read in full... THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE MURDERERS I keep remembering that Bob Herbert column in the Times last May, relating the story of Aidan Delgado, a U.S. soldier who served in Iraq: "He wasn't happy when, even before his unit left the states," Herbert wrote, "a top officer made wisecracks about the soldiers heading off to Iraq to kill some ragheads and burn some turbans. "He laughed,' Mr. Delgado said, "and everybody in the unit laughed with him.' The officer's comment was a harbinger of the gratuitous violence that, according to Mr. Delgado, is routinely inflicted by American soldiers on ordinary Iraqis. He said: "Guys in my unit, particularly the younger guys, would drive by in their Humvee and shatter bottles over the heads of Iraqi civilians passing by. They'd keep a bunch of empty Coke bottles in the Humvee to break over people's heads.' He said he had confronted guys who were his friends about this practice. "I said to them: "What the hell are you doing? Like, what does this accomplish?' And they responded ju! st comp letely openly. They said: "Look, I hate being in Iraq. I hate being stuck here. And I hate being surrounded by hajis.'' "Haji' is the troops' term of choice for an Iraqi. It's used the way "gook' or "Charlie' was used in Vietnam. Mr. Delgado said he had witnessed incidents in which an Army sergeant lashed a group of children with a steel Humvee antenna, and a Marine corporal planted a vicious kick in the chest of a kid about 6 years old. There were many occasions, he said, when soldiers or marines would yell and curse and point their guns at Iraqis who had done nothing wrong." The banality of evil doesn't have to rise to the level of genocide to find its stage. To the contrary. Evil at its most routi ne is localized affair, the more debased for being either completely out of sight and accountability, or for being tacitly, happily condoned by its execut ioner's posse. The Haditha massacre stands out only because in its case someone was there to report it. But who doubts that these atrocities aren't routine, or that a soldier's swift kick in the chest of a six year old boy is any less of an atrocity, considering what that soldier would do to an adult if can be such a brute toward children? read in full...
WHY EXITING IRAQ IS NOT THAT HARD In These Times has published an article by Chris Toensing called "Why Exiting Iraq Won't Be Easy." Dahlia Wasfi, an Iraqi-American doctor who testified last month before a Congressional hearing on exiting Iraq, has drafted the following reply: It will be a blessing for Iraq when the last American soldier, mercenary, and businessman leave Iraq. It will not be a "noble course of action" for after invading a country illegally and killing hundreds of thousands in a textbook case of colonialism, we've lost the right to even think the word "noble." And I agree that it won't be a "panacea for Iraq's ills." But it will be the first step in the right direction. And it is easy. Ask anyone who's been in Iraq, and I don't mean the Green Zone. I visited my family in southern Iraq for 3 months between December 2005 and March 2006. I thought I knew what was going on there, but people who have lived their entire lives there don't know what's going on. There are at least 11 militias operating throughout the country. Iranians have flooded into Iraq, home to the 2 holiest Shiite shrines in Najaf and Karbala, under the banner of Islamic parties (and maybe one saying "Mission Accomplished"). Occupation forces are there. American CIA agents are there. And Israeli Mossad and military are operating from a heavily guarded base in northern Iraq. And we are training death squads as we did in Vietnam and El Salvador. Iraqis know that every day may be their last, and while any number of sources may pull the trigger, responsibility lies with the United States. The concept of civil war and sectarian strife is well-described by Iraqi Sami Ramadani, a political refugee from Saddam Hussein's regime and senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University:
"It is not withdrawal that threatens Iraq with civil war, but occupation...The occupation's sectarian discourse has acquired a hold as powerful as the WMD fiction that prepared the public for war. Iraqis are portrayed as a people who can't wait to kill each other once left to their own devices. In fact, the occupation is the main architect of institutionalised sectarian and ethnic divisions; its removal would act as a catalyst for Iraqis to resolve some of their differences politically."
Toensing describes the "insurgency" as "roughly 20,000 Sunni Arab[s]." However, no uprising can last without popular support, and three and a half years after Baghdad fell, the legitimate resistance to our illegal occupation is alive and well. Toensing describes that sectarian violence worsened after the bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra in late February, but the reality I saw on the ground didn't substantiate that. read in full... CHANGING HISTORY A letter I received from a Palestinian reader prompted me to write today's column. He had responded to an article written by Jack Random in which the author called for the U.S. to leave Iraq. But, he also denigrated Saddam Hussein. The Palestinian wrote to Random and said: The "dictator" you talk about was right in each and every sense of the word. That "dictator" could have kept the country that was looted intact, united and in the process of becoming a first rate country. The Palestinian then told me: There is a funny notion that each and every writer has to demean Saddam in order for him/her to have their pieces published or read. Is it a taboo or a given norm that Saddam must by cursed in order for an intellectual to show his/her credentials and "objectivity?" read in full... WAR OUTSOURCING FACILITATING IMPUNITY "The United States has become a world leader in avoiding human rights accountability; a case in point is the reliance of the United States government on private military contractors, which has helped create virtually rules-free zones sanctioned with the American flag and firepower," said Larry Cox the executive director of Amnesty International's US Chapter. He further said, "Business outsourcing may increase efficiency, but war outsourcing may be facilitating impunity. Contractors' illegal behavior and the reluctance of the U.S. government to bring them to justice are further tarnishing the United States' reputation abroad, hurting the image of American troops and contributing to anti-American sentiments." read in full... "VICTORY"? FORGET IT Newsweek reported this week that the U.S. military, in fact, is no longer pursuing a strategy for "victory." "It is consolidating to several 'superbases' in hopes that its continued presence will prevent Iraq from succumbing to full-flown civil war and turning into a failed state. Pentagon strategists admit they have not figured out how to move to superbases, as a way of reducing the pressure -- and casualties -- inflicted on the U.S. Army, while at the same time remaining embedded with Iraqi police and military units. It is a circle no one has squared. But consolidation plans are moving ahead as a default position, and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has talked frankly about containing the spillover from Iraq's chaos in the region." Yet Bush continues to declare as his goal (with encouragement from his polling expert on the NSC) the victory that the U.S. military has given up on. And he continues to wave the banner of a military solution against "the enemy," although this "enemy" consists of a Sunni insurgency whose leadership must eventually be conciliated and brought into a federal Iraqi government and of which the criminal Abu Musab al-Zarqawi faction and foreign fighters are a small part. [the author is certainly excluding the untold number of Zarqawi lieutenants -- zig] (…) Bush doesn't know that he can't achieve victory. He doesn't know that seeking victory worsens his prospects. He doesn't know that the U.S. military has abandoned victory in the field, though it has been reporting that to him for years. But the president has no rhetoric beyond "victory." read in full... "IT IS A PUPPET GOVERNMENT NOTHING MORE OR LESS" You have said that the series of interim governments that have occurred over the last few years, since the invasion, have been a total disaster. What about the latest attempt at a government? The new government of national unity? Hardly anything has changed really. What we are witnessing in this new government is almost the cloning of the same people, or the same sectarian and ethnic divide they were establishing under Paul Bremer, the ex-ambassador of Iraq. Will it work as a government? You're making it sound like a puppet government. It is a puppet government nothing more or less. I don't think it is going to accomplish anything different than the previous one. All they are receiving They are on the receiving end of orders from the unexpected visits by Condoleezza Rice, Jack Straw previously, and to orders from Bush and Blair. So you don't see it as a true attempt at an Iraqi government at all? It isn't at all. It is not even a government even. It is a government of the green zone. It is an occupation government. An occupation government, no matter what it does, it doesn't represent people and their aspirations. People have the right to rule themselves. -- Haifa Zangana is an Iraqi, she is also a writer and an activist for women's rights in her savagely battered homeland. She was an opponent of Saddam Hussein and his regime; indeed, she was imprisoned and tortured by the dictator. Video interview with transcript >> BEYOND IRAQ THE BUSHEVIKS The Busheviks are not conservatives -- they are neo-fascists with an agenda aimed at protecting a privileged elite and using the unbridled power of an authoritarian government to enhance and protect their wealth. They're not wearing black shirts, boot-stomping down Pennsylvania Avenue in the style of the more theatrical of their ilk. But their insidious threat is real and chilling. Doug Olson, a reader from Madison, Wis., provided me with an important analysis of what the Busheviks are doing. Doug says when he brands them fascists, he doesn't mean it as a "barstool put-down." Doug has a good grasp of what fascism historically is. "I mean it quite literally," he says. "Most people have no idea what fascism is. They think you need to have a bunch of swastika-wearing thugs out rounding up the Jews. This is completely wrong. The Bush people fit my definition of fascism to a T: They are radical, conservative, corporate, authoritarian, nationalist supremacists. "Their supreme 'master race' is not racial but economic -- the top 10th of a percent of wealth-holders in America. They have no respect for human rights. They have no respect for democracy, except as a cover and propaganda tool. They pervert language -- for them, language is merely a tool of deceit." read in full... QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The biggest reason Iraq has been so difficult is the determination by our opponents to defeat us'' – Tony Blair in a news conference at White House with Bush, May 25, 2006


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