Sunday, May 14, 2006
A displaced Iraqi woman sits beside a bag of ration given to her by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society during a food donation in the city of Samarra, north of Baghdad.(AFP Photo) Bring 'em on: Two British soldiers of the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment killed, one wounded by roadside bomb north of Basra. UPDATE: Two Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb at approximately 8 p.m. May 14 in east Baghdad. Names withheld pending notification of next of kin. Thanks to Whisker for the update. 3:00 pm ET. SECURITY INCIDENTS Suicide bombing near Baghdad Airport and "Camp Victory" (U.S. military HQ) kills 14 Iraqis. Two bodyguards of Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari killed, three wounded when convoy bombed north of Baghdad. Zebari not present. Six Shiite shrines damaged by bombs near Baqouba. This AP story also has the killing of two Shiite bakery workers in Baghdad. An Iraqi soldier secures the site where a roadside bomb expolded in a busy market place in central Baghdad.(AFP Photo) Additional incidents from Reuters Alertnet: *NEAR KERBALA - Police found the bodies of five people, blindfolded, bound and with gun wounds, near the Shi'ite city of Kerbala, 110 km southwest of Baghdad, police said. *KERBALA - The bodies of four brothers who work in a humanitarian aid organization were found beheaded in Kerbala, police said. They were earlier abducted from their home. *KERBALA - Gunmen wearing police uniforms kidnapped a policeman in Kerbala, police said. The policeman was a former member in ousted Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. *FALLUJA - Iraqi police found the bodies of three people, bearing signs of torture and with gun wounds, south of Falluja, 50 km west of Baghdad, police and hospital sources said. MOSUL - Two civilians were killed and nine wounded when a car bomb went off near a U.S. forces in the northern city of Mosul, 390 km north of Baghdad, police said. RAMADI - Three insurgents were killed and four were detained during a U.S. forces raid and search operation on Saturday in the western city of Ramadi, 110 km west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said on Sunday. BAGHDAD - A bomb exploded near al-Mustansiriya University in northeastern Baghdad, killing one civilian and wounding 11 people, including three policemen, police said. BAGHDAD - Six people were killed, including three policemen, and 10 wounded when a roadside bomb went off near a police patrol in the capital's northern Adamiya district, police said. BAGHDAD - Three people were killed and 15 wounded when a roadside bomb went off in a crowded market in Zafaraniya in southeastern Baghdad, police said. BAGHDAD - Four civilians were killed and five wounded when a roadside bomb went off near a police patrol in northeastern Baghdad, police said. BAGHDAD - Two civilians were killed and five wounded when a roadside bomb went off near a police commando patrol in central Baghdad, police said. BALAD RUZ - Two bombs exploded in rapid succession killing a civilian and wounding a police officer late on Saturday in Balad Ruz, a town about 50 km (30 miles) southeast of Baquba, police said on Sunday. KIRKUK - Eight Iraqi soldiers were wounded on Saturday when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in the northern oil city of Kirkuk, 250 km north of Baghdad, police said on Sunday. As of 10:00 ET, NPR is reporting that the Baghdad morgue has received 70 bodies, many showing signs of tortureI haven't found a link to a written story as of yet POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS AP reports Parliamentarian loyal to Muqtada al Sadr threatens to withdraw from process of forming national unity government. Accuses U.S. of meddling in appointment of ministers. Sorry, this story is very sketchy, doesn't give names. I haven't been able to find a better explanation. It is likely that this is actually just a garbled version of the previously reported threatened pullout by the Fadila Party: From The Arab Times:
The Fadhila, or Virtue, party, from the Alliance bloc that has a near-majority in parliament, announced it would sit out the coalition talks. But a senior party official later told Reuters that the decision was not final, and Fadhila was still hoping to secure key posts. It currently runs the oil ministry. The Fadhila move may, however, indicate a greater chance that Hussain al-Shahristani, favourite of other Alliance parties, will be named oil minister. A nuclear physicist tortured and jailed by Saddam Hussein, he is a prominent Islamist politician. Maliki, whose nomination in April ended months of paralysis accompanied by a sharp increase in sectarian violence, said on Tuesday he hoped to complete a line-up this week. But he is also keen to pick carefully a team that can run Iraq for four years. “He’s taking his time to give a chance for more profound discussion,” his aide Salah Abdul Jabar told Arabiya television. Washington and Iraqi leaders hope that a grand coalition of majority Shi’ite Muslims, once-dominant Sunni Arabs and ethnic Kurds can stem sectarian and ethnic violence that has raised the prospect of an all-out civil war.Iranian Foreign Minister plans visit to Baghdad after completion of new cabinet
BAGHDAD, May 14 (KUNA) -- Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki is scheduled to start a visit the country following completion of the Iraqi cabinet line-up, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said on Sunday. The ministry said in a statement that Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari discussed with his Iranian counterpart, during a telephone contact on Sunday, bilateral relations between the two states and the forecast visit to the Iraqi capital.Barazani visits Kuwait. Hmm. Kurdistan appears to have its own foreign policy . . .
IRBIL, May 14 (KUNA) -- President of the Iraqi Province of Kurdistan, Masoud Barazani, returned to Irbil on Sunday after completing a successful two-day visit to Kuwait. Barazani's visit to Kuwait came to boost relations between the two sides and to encourage Kuwaiti investments in the province as part of the reconstruction process.Saddam said to calmly contemplate death, more concerned that U.S. invasion has strengthened Iranian military ambitions. Yeah, yeah, whatever. NEWS FROM THE OCCUPYING POWERS Pressure grows on Blair to quit Iraq.
Michael Smith and Ali Rifat, Sunday Times TONY BLAIR was under pressure to begin pulling troops out of Iraq last night amid claims their presence causes more problems than it solves. Lieutenant-General Sir Rob Fry, the deputy coalition commander and the most senior UK general in Iraq, said a phased withdrawal was likely to begin “in the pretty near future”. Fry said he believed the incoming Iraqi government would be “extremely keen” to see a withdrawal because this would show it was in charge. At the same time Mohammed al-Waili, the governor of Basra, said British control of security was preventing the provincial government from purging the security forces of militia members. He added that a boycott on co-operation with the British had been suspended last Sunday only after British commanders promised agreement on “a timescale for the execution of future plans”. His comments came as a senior member of the Mahdi army, the militia of the radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, claimed it was behind the shooting down of a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter in which five British service personnel died. He claimed the militia had bought “advanced” weapons from Iran to end British helicopter surveillance flights.Read all. Ex-WMD Inspector: Politics Quashed Facts
By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent Sat May 13, 11:49 PM ET A year after Bush administration claims about Iraqi "bioweapons trailers" were discredited by American experts, U.S. officials were still suppressing the findings, says a senior member of the CIA-led Iraq inspection team. At one point, former U.N. arms inspector Rod Barton says, a CIA officer told him it was "politically not possible" to report that the White House claims were untrue. In the end, Barton says, he felt "complicit in deceit." Barton, an Australian biological weapons specialist, discusses the 2004 events in "The Weapons Detective," a memoir of his years as an arms inspector, being published Monday in Australia by Black Inc. Agenda. Much sought after for his expertise, Barton served on the U.N. Iraq arms inspection teams of 1991-98 and 2002-03. After the U.S. invasion, he was an aide to chief U.S. inspector Charles Duelfer. The Washington Post reported last month that a U.S. fact-finding mission confidentially advised Washington on May 27, 2003, that two truck trailers found in Iraq were not mobile units for manufacturing bioweapons, as had been suspected. Two days later, President Bush still asserted the trailers were bioweapons labs, and other administration officials repeated that line for months afterward. Barton's memoir says that well into 2004, pressure from Washington kept the U.S. public uninformed about the true nature of these alleged WMD systems.Read all (also reviews the Curveball story) Fitzgerald filing ties VP to Plame leak. Hartford Courant reports that troops with severe psychological problems being deployed in Iraq, including combat.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - U.S. military troops with severe psychological problems have been sent to Iraq or kept in combat, even when superiors have been aware of signs of mental illness, a newspaper reported for Sunday editions. The Hartford Courant, citing records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews of families and military personnel, reported numerous cases in which the military failed to follow its own regulations in screening, treating and evacuating mentally unfit troops from Iraq. In 1997, Congress ordered the military to assess the mental health of all deploying troops. The newspaper, citing Pentagon statistics, said fewer than 1 in 300 service members were referred to a mental health professional before shipping out for Iraq as of October 2005. Twenty-two U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year, accounting for nearly one in five of all non-combat deaths and the highest suicide rate since the war started, the newspaper said. Some service members who committed suicide in 2004 and 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring, the Courant reported. Those findings conflict with regulations adopted last year by the Army that caution against the use of antidepressants for "extended deployments." snip The Army's top mental health expert, Col. Elspeth Ritchie, acknowledged that some deployment practices, such as sending service members diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome back into combat, have been driven in part by a troop shortage. "The challenge for us ... is that the Army has a mission to fight. And, as you know, recruiting has been a challenge," she said. "And so we have to weigh the needs of the Army, the needs of the mission, with the soldiers' personal needs."Read all. Jason Leopold reports that Karl Rove has been indicted. No confirmation. Commentary and Analysis Juan Cole trashes U.S. strategy in Iraq:
The NYT reports Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who teaches at West Point, as estimating that the US military should have a big presence in Iraq for 5 to 7 years, while partnering with and building up the Iraqi military. So in 5 years the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish battalions will like each other more than they do now? Will be more willing to fight against armed groups from their own ethnicities? My problem with that is that they seem to think that the Tal Afar operation was a success, whereas it is a political disaster, and if they are planning another 5 to 7 years of that sort of thing, then we are doomed. At Tal Afar they used Kurdish and Shiite troops to assault Sunni Turkmen, emptied the city on the grounds that it was full of foreign fighters, killed people and made them refugees, and then only took 50 foreign fighters captive. The Sunni Turkmen, not to mention the Turks in Ankara, will never forgive us. And the press reports show substantial disappointment in the city even among Shiites with the results. The Tal Afar operation is considered a "take and hold" or "oil spot" strategy, as opposed to search and destroy. But you can't just empty out one Sunni city after another, bring in troops of other ethnicities to level neighborhoods, force people into tent cities in the desert or into relatives' homes, and call that a counter-insurgency strategy. Every year the US military has been in the Sunni Arab heartland they have alienated more and more Iraqis.Read all Goes on to say that U.S. won't really build up the Iraqi military because they're afraid Iraqis will turn on them. So, Plan B: Military seeks more air bases: Authorities hope to replace troops:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - The U.S. military is preparing for the day when air power from bases along the Persian Gulf will help ensure that friendly governments in Iraq and Afghanistan survive without American ground troops, a senior U.S. general said. "We’ll be in the region for the foreseeable future," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Allen Peck, deputy air commander of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the region. "Our intention would be to stay as long as the host nations will have us." Agreements have been struck recently with Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates for long-term use of their bases. Already home to U.S. and allied fighter, transport and observation planes, the bases will become more critical if plans proceed to gradually withdraw ground forces from Iraq. A capable Iraqi air force is years away, and Iraqi infantry need the backup and surveillance provided by U.S. warplanes, Peck said. The bases also could help rush soldiers into Iraq in a crisis. The Pentagon has been keeping thousands of troops in reserve in Kuwait, on Iraq’s southern border. Not everyone is convinced. The Bush administration declines to say it won’t seek to keep bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the U.S. military is spending almost $1 billion this year for base construction in Iraq alone. The base at Balad, for example, has been expanded to host F-16 fighter and C-130 transport squadrons. A former Iraq intelligence chief for the Department of State, Wayne White, said he believes one of the administration’s unstated pre-invasion goals was to secure permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq after overseeing the installation of a pro-American government. Peck, however, said he knew of no current U.S. plans to maintain permanent air bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because of the Iraqi insurgency, experts say bases in the Persian Gulf nations are a better option, given the long relationships Washington has had with them. But there are risks even in those countries, where many people harbor suspicions of U.S. policy. Osama bin Laden and other Islamic radicals agitate against the U.S. military presence in the Muslim world. A huge U.S. air base and headquarters in Saudi Arabia was closed before the invasion of Iraq because of fundamentalists’ pressure on the Saudi government.Read all. Actually, of course, there is essentially no Iraqi air force of any description, nor does it seem likely that the U.S. wants there to be one. Frank Rich in the NYT says the real traitors are not newspapers that print the truth, but administration officials and their defenders in Congress. Yup, he uses the "T" word. Column is behind the subscription wall, so this is the E&P summary. WHISKER'S ROUNDUP OF WOUNDED Pvt. Christopher Fraser, of Windsor, Maine, of the 1136th Transportation Co. and attached to B Company, seriously injured in attack that killed two fellow soldiers. Army reserve Capt. Shane Mahaffee, of Lake County, IL, seriously injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq, his wife said Monday. Mahafee, a 36 year old attorney, was recovering in Germany after undergoing surgery that removed part of his collarbone and sternum, his wife said. Five Seabees suffered injuries in January when an improvised explosive device detonated on impact in the path of their armored Humvee during a routine convoy mission. Those awarded the Purple Heart were Construction Electrician 2nd Class Sean Sullivan of Lindenhurst, N.Y., Steel Worker 2nd Class Jody Allen of Marion, Ill., Steel Worker 3rd Class Christopher Moran of Bronx, N.Y., and Engineering Aide Constructionman Cody Cannon of Elko, Nev. Builder Constructionman Richard Fisher of Albany, N.Y. was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries he received in February when an incoming mortar round penetrated the hardened building he sought shelter in at a military operating base near Fallujah. Spc. Brandon L. Teeters, of Centerville, LA, of Bravo Company, 8/10 Cavalry Division, suffered burns on 85 percent of his body when an improvised explosives device detonated near him April 20 during a mission in Iraq. Brian Knigge of Plankinton, SD is one of two who were wounded in an attack on their convoy in Baghdad that killed Staff Sergeant Greg Wagner from Mitchell, SD. The soldiers are with Charlie Battery of the 1st Battalion of the 147th Field Artillery based in Yankton. Other injured soldier has not been identified. Sgt. First Class Marc Grandia of Otsego, MN, received an AK47 round in the unprotected part of his upper torso. The bullet entered the right front and exited under the shoulder blade inches from his spine. U.S. Army Sergeant Heath Newlan Berry of Monroe County, TN seriously injured in a roadside bombing in Iraq. Lost an arm, legs crushed. Sergeant Berry is a member of the Army Reserve's 489th Civil Affairs Battalion out of Knoxville. Navy Seaman Cody Cannon of northern Nevada injured when his vehicle hit by a bomb and he was literally thrown out of the hatch. Lance Corporal Richard Caseltine Aurora, IN barely escaped death when he was shot in the head by a sniper last month in Iraq. The bullet tore through his helmet, traced a path along the edge of his skull, and buried burning bullet fragments in his neck. Army National Guard Sgt. Randal Divel of Middletown, MD, was hit by a roadside bomb Christmas Eve in Iraq. The explosion left him burned and full of shrapnel wounds. After five months of hospitalization, the open wounds on his legs have finally closed, but as a whole, he's still fragile. Second Lieutenant Stephen Rice, of Bunker Hill, IL, has leg amputated after 13 months trying to save it. While responding to a sister unit that had been hit by a roadside bomb, a second bomb exploded just a few feet away from Lt. Rice. Scott Nimer of Weston, FL, to return home. He had been shot in the abdomen while clearing out houses near Balad. His father noted that Scott has described difficult conditions in Iraq, saying that there are 3-year-olds who sift through trash for food. Chang Wong, a recently retired Army sergeant who lost both legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq a year ago, demonstrates his prostheses for VA workers at Ft. Sam Houston, as does Army Sgt. Steven Robison's of Kansas City, who lost his left leg, and Spc. Brandon Burke, 28, an Army medic who lost a leg in a mortar attack last May. Burke is one of the first to try a new Power Knee, which uses a sensor attached to his other leg, and allows him to climb stairs. Marine Joel Klobnak of Norwalk, Iowa, was getting ready to leave Iraq, when an explosive device detonated in his lap. His mom said that technically Joel died, but doctors brought him back. They had to amputate his left leg. Quote of the Day I attempted in vain to describe to the audience what life in Baghdad is like. It was in vain, because how can anyone in the United States begin to imagine what it is like to be invaded, to have our infrastructure shattered, to have occupying soldiers photographing detained Americans in forced humiliating sexual acts and then to have these displayed on television, to have our churches raided and worshippers therein shot and killed by occupation troops? It is only when more people in the US begin to fathom the totality of the destruction in Iraq that one may expect to hear the public outcry and uprising necessary to end the occupation and bring to justice the war criminals responsible for these conditions. Until that happens, make no mistake: all of us participate in a new Iraq, our hands dyed in the blood of innocents. -- Dahr Jamail