DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY, May 6, 2006
: An Iraqi youth prepares to hurl a rock at British armored vehicles in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Saturday, May 6 , 2006. (AP Photo/Nabil Al-Jurani)
British military helicopter apparently hit by "shoulder-fired missile" crashes in Basra
: Iraqi police said four British crew members died in the crash in the southern city, and four Iraqi adults and a child were reported killed during the ensuing melee when Shiite gunmen exchanged fire with British soldiers who hurried to the scene. About 30 civilians were injured.
Police Capt. Mushtaq Khazim said the helicopter went down in a vacant lot between two houses after it was struck by a shoulder-fired missile — a weapon widely available among insurgent groups and armed militias in Iraq. He said the four crew members were killed.
British soldiers with armored vehicles rushed to the site and were met by a hail of stones from a crowd of at least 250 people, many of them teenagers, who jumped for joy and raised their fists as thick smoke rose from the wreckage.
As many as three armored vehicles were set on fire, apparently with gasoline bombs and a rocket-propelled grenade, but the troops inside escaped unhurt, witnesses said.
The crowd chanted "we are all soldiers of al-Sayed," a reference to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an ardent foe of foreign troops being in Iraq.
Calm returned by nightfall as Iraqi authorities imposed a curfew and hundreds of Iraqi police and soldiers set up checkpoints and patrolled the streets, residents said. Sporadic rocket fire could be heard throughout Basra, Iraq's second largest city.
Bring ‘em on
: A U.S. soldier was killed in a roadside bomb attack in Baghdad. The American soldier died Friday when the hidden explosive hit his vehicle in a military convoy, the U.S. command said.
Bring 'em on
: Four Polish soldiers were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their military convoy in the city of Diwaniya 180 km (112 miles) south of Baghdad.
Suicide bomber wearing Iraqi army uniform blows himself up on an Iraqi military base in Tikrit, killing at least three Iraqi officers.
The dead included a lieutenant colonel, a major and a lieutenant, and wounded a lieutenant colonel.
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
Two children killed when mortar shell falls in residential area in Baghdad.
Four other civilians were injured and taken to hospital, the source added.
Iraqi Police announces discovery of six so far unidentified bodies in the southern and western parts of Baghdad.
All bodies, it is reported, showed signs of torture and had the hands bound. It appeared the six victims were shot dead.
Three policemen kidnapped in Jibla town, southern Baghdad
, on their way to work in a taxi cab.
Roadside bombs hit two Iraqi police patrols in Baghdad, killing one officer and wounding two policemen and six civilians.
Drive-by shooting kills two brothers in Baghdad.
Police in Baghdad find bodies of 13 Iraqi men
, five of them relatives, who had been kidnapped and brutally killed.
Bomb in parked car explodes, killing two policemen and an Iraqi soldier and wounding four civilians
about 30 miles north of Baqouba.
Suspected “insurgents” kidnap seven Iraqis, including three paramilitary policemen
, near the town where a roadside bomb killed three U.S. service members the day before.
Gunmen wearing Iraqi army uniforms ambush and kidnap two truck drivers in Mahaweel.
Roadside bomb wounds two Iraqi policemen in Mosul.
Two policemen wounded when roadside bomb detonates near their patrol in Jurf al-Sakhar 85 km (55 miles) south of Baghdad.
Four civilians wounded when roadside bomb explodes near their vehicle in Yusifiya
15 km (9 miles) south of Baghdad.
Fighting between Iraqi military patrol and "insurgents" kills two soldiers and three militants in Youssifiyah.
Gunmen kill a civilian and wound two in Kirkuk.
Two policemen killed and another wounded when roadside bomb strikes their patrol in Samarra.
Japan may consider airlifting goods and personnel to Baghdad
, the Japanese Foreign Minister told local press, amid reports Tokyo is preparing for a complete withdrawal from Iraq by July.
Denmark to cut 80 troops from its 530-strong contingent in Basra.
Hundreds of Iraqi Shiites hold silent march after Friday prayers protesting against "forced displacement."
U.S, backs away from high-level peace negotiations with Sunni "insurgent" groups
after meeting with them regularly over several weeks in January and February, according to an insurgent leader.
Evidence of wavering by the George W. Bush administration over the negotiations came from the London-based Asharq al-Awsat
newspaper, which reported Tuesday that Sunni resistance organizations had just broken off secret talks with Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad because of the U.S. failure to respond to a peace proposal from the insurgents.
The Arab-language newspaper reported that the leader of a Sunni insurgent group had revealed in an interview that representatives of more than 10 prominent Iraqi insurgent organizations had met with Khalilzad seven times starting on Jan. 16.
However, the insurgent leader said that the United States had never responded to a memorandum of understanding presented to Khalilzad around Mar. 1, despite a promise to do so before the formation of a new government. He said the insurgents had decided to end the talks and had delivered a memo to the US Embassy on Apr. 29 informing the United States of the decision.
The story was carried by Associated Press Wednesday with a Dubai dateline. The US Embassy had no immediate comment on the report, which has not yet been published in major international media.
The insurgent leader indicated that the proposal included provisions for a US troop withdrawal, which Pres. Bush has repeatedly rejected in the past.
ZARQAWI TO BE BLAMED FOR MASS DISPLACEMENT?
The U.S. military on Thursday revealed parts of a memo attributed to Al Qaeda in Iraq that outlines plans to ignite sectarian war by targeting Shiite Muslims and to shift the battle toward the capital and religiously mixed parts of the country.
The memo, which the military said was seized during a raid last month, ordered followers to "make the struggle entirely between Shiites and the mujahedin," as the militants refer to themselves, and lambasted moderate Sunni groups. It included a call for insurgents to "displace the Shiites and displace their shops and businesses from our areas. Expel those black market sellers of gas, bread or meat or anyone that is suspected of spying against us."
The memo, if authentic, provides some of the strongest evidence to date to support an accusation U.S. officials repeatedly have made — that Abu Musab Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, has been deliberately trying to exploit the country's simmering sectarian and ethnic tensions to spark a full-blown civil war.
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NEW LOW FOR BUSH IN IPSOS POLL
Just 33 percent of the public approves of Bush’s job performance, the lowest of his presidency. That compares with 36 percent approval in early April. Forty-five percent of self-described conservatives now disapprove of the president.
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>> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
PARTY ON AT SADDAM'S PALACE
Tuesday night is karaoke night at Saddam Hussein's former Republican Palace in central Baghdad's fortified Green Zone. To the beat of the music, Iraq's latest conquerors triumphantly take to a stage that dominates the inner courtyard of what is today the temporary US Embassy in Baghdad and bawl out old rock 'n' roll and blues anthems to their heart's content.
A few meters away, soldiers take off their shirts to play volleyball, State Department contractors have a party on the lawn, and bikini-clad embassy workers splash in the swimming pool. All an awe-struck British journalist gazing over the scene for the first time can do is absent-mindedly mumble, "It's Saigon all over again."
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THE INVADERS ENJOYING OUR SOIL, SUN AND WATER, WHILE IRAQIS ARE DYING
Photo caption: U.S. soldiers prepare to swim at a pool run by the Australian military at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq, April 9, 2006. Top U.S. and coalition commanders and their staffs now enjoy an array of modern conveniences and amenities across the command center.
THE SALVADOR OPTION HAS BEEN INVOKED IN IRAQ
The lifts in the New York Hilton played CNN on a small screen you could not avoid watching. Iraq was top of the news; pronouncements about a "civil war" and "sectarian violence" were repeated incessantly. It was as if the US invasion had never happened and the killing of tens of thousands of civilians by the Americans was a surreal fiction. The Iraqis were mindless Arabs, haunted by religion, ethnic strife and the need to blow themselves up. Unctuous puppet politicians were paraded with no hint that their exercise yard was inside an American fortress.
And when you left the lift, this followed you to your room, to the hotel gym, the airport, the next airport and the next country. Such is the power of America's corporate propaganda, which, as Edward Said pointed out in Culture and Imperialism, "penetrates electronically" with its equivalent of a party line.
The party line changed the other day. For almost three years it was that al-Qaeda was the driving force behind the "insurgency", led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a bloodthirsty Jordanian who was clearly being groomed for the kind of infamy Saddam Hussein enjoys. It mattered not that al-Zarqawi had never been seen alive and that only a fraction of the "insurgents" followed al-Qaeda. For the Americans, Zarqawi's role was to distract attention from the thing that almost all Iraqis oppose: the brutal Anglo-American occupation of their country.
Now that al-Zarqawi has been replaced by "sectarian violence" and "civil war", the big news is the attacks by Sunnis on Shia mosques and bazaars. The real news, which is not reported in the CNN "mainstream", is that the Salvador Option has been invoked in Iraq. This is the campaign of terror by death squads armed and trained by the US, which attack Sunnis and Shias alike. The goal is the incitement of a real civil war and the break-up of Iraq, the original war aim of Bush's administration.
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From the New York Times
Funny how no one got around to mentioning this "trove" until after Zarqawi released his video, isn't it?
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THE SECOND LIBERATION OF BAGHDAD (OR LAST CHANCE, TAKE TWO)
Given that ruling the city-state of Baghdad, rather than just the citadel of the Green Zone, would be a giant step forward for this administration and its "partner," it has been reported that the American military is planning a "second liberation" of Baghdad. (At this point, you wouldn't think anyone would care to recall, even by implication, the first liberation, which proved grim indeed.) According to Sarah Baxter of the London Sunday Times, American military planners under Lieutenant-General David Petraeus, who put a good deal of effort into "standing up" the Iraqi army, are planning to launch this neighborhood by neighborhood campaign as soon as they have a government, however wobbly, "standing up" somewhere inside the Green Zone.
They will then "clear, hold, and build" -- think of the failed Vietnam-era "oil spot" strategy -- in a ground campaign supported by air power. "Helicopters suitable for urban warfare" will be brought to bear, possibly backed by "heavily armed AC-130 aircraft and F-16s. But close air support is more likely to be provided by Cobra and Little Bird helicopters to minimize casualties."
According to Baxter, this second liberation won't involve all-out combat like the November 2004 campaign against Falluja in which approximately three-quarters of that city was turned to rubble, but a more precise set of operations modeled on the "successful" campaign in Tal Afar, near the Syrian border, where only part of the town was rubble-ized. As John Burns and Dexter Filkins reported recently in the New York Times, the Army has been practicing this sort of new-style warfare in twelve "virtual Iraqi villages" in the California desert with the help of Hollywood stunt extras and Carl Weathers, "best known for his portrayal of the boxer Apollo Creed in the Rocky films," giving acting tips to the "insurgents." Even there, our troops don't do all that well; but, oh my gosh, in the real Baghdad this will surely work! Even better, by "minimizing casualties" through air power in the heavily populated capital, hearts and minds galore can be captured.
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THE PROPER FORM OF ADDRESS
Speaking of the record speaking, the Pentagon has finally put up the transcript of Rummy's much-heckled speech yesterday. It's fun because they've actually transcribed the heckling, among other things:
HECKLER: How can you sit here and listen to this war criminal? -- AUDIENCE: Oh! No! -- HECKLER: You are a serial killer! -- AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Sit down! Sit down! -- HECKLER: This man needs to be impeached, along with George Bush. How can you sit here smiling and listen to this criminal? --- AUDIENCE MEMBER: Booo! --- AUDIENCE MEMBER: Get out of here! --- HECKLER: You're a war criminal, Mr. Rumsfeld! --- (Pause while heckler is removed by security.)Of course he or she was. The proper form of address is, "You're a war criminal, Secretary Rumsfeld!
>> BEYOND IRAQ
U.S. helicopter crashes while on combat operations in eastern Afghanistan, killing all 10 people on board, the U.S. military said on Saturday. The U.S. military said the crash was not a result of enemy fire although Taliban insurgents claimed they shot it down with a "new weapon".
A STRAW IN THE WINDS OF WAR
This week, Tony Blair reshuffled his Cabinet after the Labour Party took yet another hammering in local elections. This may seem like uninteresting political arcana to everyone outside the UK (and to most people inside it as well), but there was one move in the reshuffle that could have enormous ramifications for the rest of the world. For among the many sackings and switchings, Blair removed the most powerful Cabinet voice against joining the US in military action against Iran: Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
Straw has been making a nuisance of himself for the Bush Gang in Washington with his repeated insistence that military action against Iran is "unthinkable," even "nuts," as he described it recently. At every possible turn, Straw has ruled out an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities - a stance that has irritated Blair, a prissy, pampered man who, like his equally cossetted preppy comrade in the Oval Office, revels in the bellicose stance of a "War Leader." In fact, the Bushists called Blair on the carpet for Straw's statements, the Guardian reports; and Blair dutifully began pressuring the Foreign Office to stop Straw from speaking publicly about his resistance to an attack. Blair himself has repeatedly taken the he-man Bushist position that "all options are on the table." All options includes, of course, the nuclear option, which Bush and Blair pointedly refuse to rule out.
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Hadi may represent a generation of young Westernised Iranians who, he says, "like America though the government doesn't want us to". Yet he has also become increasingly sympathetic to a president he previously rejected -- and certainly didn't vote for -- because Ahmadinejad reminds him that "the US cannot attack Iran".
Whether Hadi's change of heart has been influenced by government propaganda, Ahmadinejad's defiant rhetoric or the justified belief in Iran's ability to fend off a US military attack is immaterial. What is important is that it is shared by a growing number of Iranians.
Mohamedi, a resident of a smart northern Tehran suburb, recalls how "proud" she felt on hearing Ahmadinejad's 11 April announcement that Iran had successfully enriched uranium. "I felt then that we were no less than any superpower," she said. "And every Iranian is prepared to endure hardship at this point for the sake of our country."
Confirming these sentiments to the world the impressive military parade marking Army Day on 18 April at the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini in south Tehran displayed, among the many massive placards, one with just two words, "WE CAN", written in English.
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RUSSIAN MEDIA WARN OF NEW COLD WAR
A Russian newspaper said Friday that Vice President Dick Cheney's harsh criticism of Moscow's human rights record signaled the start of a new Cold War. The Kommersant business daily compared Cheney's speech Thursday in neighboring Lithuania to Winston Churchill's famous "Iron Curtain" speech in Fulton, Mo., saying in that it "marked the beginning of a second Cold War."
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: " I believe that it was the first counter-attack to World War III." -- George W. Bush commenting on "the September 11 revolt of passengers against their hijackers on board Flight 93".