DAILY WAR NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, May 24, 2006
I Am Iraq
: In the last half of the preceding century, the great Iraqi poet, Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri, himself the son of a Shia cleric and born in the holy city of Najaf, could express his detachment from religious sectarianism and affirm his faith in an Iraqi nationalism: ana al-Iraqu, lisani qalbuhu, wa dami furatuhu, wa kiyani minhu ashtaru
(I am Iraq, her heart is my tongue, my blood her Euphrates, my very being from her branches formed). It seems a very long time ago.
Bring 'em on
: A U.S. soldier was killed when his patrol was attacked by small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades south of the town of Balad on Tuesday, the U.S. military said on Wednesday.
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
A drive-by shooting killed a college student riding a minibus and wounded three other passengers in Baghdad.
The attackers then stopped the bus and kidnapped another college student, the officer said.
In western Baghdad, gunmen in a speeding car shot two brothers who were selling gasoline at the side of a street in the Iskan neighborhood.
Many Iraqis buy gas that way to avoid waiting in long lines at petrol stations.
Gunmen also dead a grocery store owner in his shop, a police officer heading to work and a taxi driver.
In Baghdad, eight separate drive-by shootings killed nine people: a university professor, two taxi drivers, and a builder.
Two roadside bombs wounded nine Iraqis, including two soldiers in Baghdad.
The deputy chief of special protection forces in Baghdad municipality was shot dead while on his way to work by unknown militants.
No other details on the incident were available.
The bodies of eight people who apparently had been kidnapped and tortured by death squads also were found in Baghdad and another area.
A bomb exploded near the Ministry of Culture causing the injury of three civilians and damaging a car.
A bomb exploded in eastern Baghdad injuring three women, and a third one blew up near a shop close to Al-Shuhada square in Bakuba without causing any damage.
Militants shot university professor Ahmad Hussain in Palestine road in Baghdad leading to his death.
A bomb exploded close to a crowd of Iraqi workers gathered to seek day labouring jobs in a Shi'ite district of Baghdad on Wednesday, wounding a number of people.
The blast in the Kadhimiya area, in the north of the capital, was the second such attack in the past few days that has targeted crowds of mainly Shi'ite men looking for work. Police said it did not appear as if the blast had caused any deaths.
In Baghdad, 10 drive-by shootings killed 14 people.
The victims included a member of Iraq's national tennis team and two of his friends.
(Near): Gunmen opened fire on an Iraqi military highway checkpoint near the Taji U.S. military base north of Baghdad, killing an Iraqi soldier and wounding two.
In Dayera, a rural area about 35 miles south of Baghdad, police found seven bodies of Iraqis who had been shot in the head.
Another body, also shot in the head, was found in the Iskan neighborhood of western Baghdad.
A bomb explosion set fire to an oil pipeline in Latifiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad.
The pipeline carries oil from a storage area to the Dora refinery in Baghdad, which often is bombed by insurgents.
In Kirkuk, a militant, was injured as he was trying to attack an Iraqi Army vehicle using a hand grenade.
A source from the Iraqi Army told KUNA the militant threw the grenade at the vehicle but it bounced back at him after hitting the car and then exploded injuring him seriously.
Militants riding a civilian car kidnapped an Iraqi civilian, a brother of a famous doctor, while Iraqi Army arrested a convict in Kirkuk city.
A drive-by shooting killed a member in Diyala provincial council, and two of his bodyguards in their convoy in northern Iraq.
(Near): Clashes between two rival tribes south of Baghdad have killed around 16 people.
Eighteen people were wounded in Tuesday's fighting in a village close to the town of Suwayra, about 40 km south of the capital. One police source said the violence was linked to land disputes between the two feuding tribes. Another source said it may have been a clash between a Shi'ite and a Sunni tribe.
A car bomb near a joint Iraqi/U.S. checkpoint in Falluja wounded four Iraqi policemen.
Lake Thar Thar:
A gunbattle between U.S. forces and insurgents killed four militants and detained two, one of whom was wounded
, northwest of Baghdad near Lake Thar Thar, the U.S. command said Wednesday. It said one of the detained insurgents was Sudanese.
(Near): In a separate operation Tuesday near Youssifiyah, 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Baghdad, U.S. forces searching for a wanted al-Qaeda in Iraq insurgent killed three members of the group who were riding in a vehicle equipped with grenades, small arms, a suicide bomb vest and foreign passports
, the U.S. command said.
Iraq's new VP says Blair assured him he and Bush would discuss timetable for withdrawing troops
when the British prime minister flies to Washington on Thursday.
Though Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi conceded that Blair did not agree to set a timetable, the Sunni politician told Reuters on Wednesday that the British leader agreed to consider a suggestion that would go some way to satisfying demands from Sunni insurgents that the occupiers set a firm date for leaving. (...)
"Iraq is witnessing a new era," [Tareq al-]Hashemi said. "What is needed now is the U.S. administration should announce it is serious about withdrawal by setting a timetable."
Iraqi kidnappers have freed a Lebanese man abducted two weeks ago
. Carlos Michel Dakkash, 43, was scheduled to arrive in Lebanon later Wednesday after travelling through Jordan, the ministry said in a statement.
Seven people arrested while protesting the delivery of military vehicles to the Port of Olympia for shipment to Iraq
U.S. riding roughshod over human rights by outsourcing key anti-terror work in Iraq to private contractors
, who operate beyond Iraqi law and outside the military chain of command, Amnesty International said Tuesday.
It called for tighter rules on the use of contractors in a statement released with its 2006 annual report detailing human rights violations in 150 countries around the world. The rights watchdog said contracting for military detention, security and intelligence operations had fueled violations.
"We're concerned about the use of private contractors in Iraq because it creates a legal black hole of responsibility and accountability," Amnesty's Secretary-General Irene Khan told AP Television News.
"These contractors are protected from being prosecuted under Iraqi law, but they're not part of the U.S. military command. So when they commit crimes, or when they abuse human rights, they're accountable to no one."
>> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
THERE WAS AN EXCUSE UP UNTIL NOW?
The Iraqi government I keep hearing described bears little resemblance to the one that actually exists. Blair said it was "directly elected by the votes of millions of Iraqi people." A directly elected government would have taken office immediately after the elections, not after five months of haggling. Bush said today, "Although Iraq's new leaders come from many different ethnic and religious communities, they've made clear they will govern as Iraqis." Again, five months of haggling about which sects would get which ministries.
Blair says that with this directly elected government, "There is now no excuse for people to carry on with terrorism and bloodshed." So he thought there was an excuse up until now?
read in full...
ESCAPING FROM THE IRAQI HELL
Perhaps the most important reason behind the welcoming of this government by Mr Bush, is the exploitation by his regime and that of his British ally of the formation of the Iraqi government to escape from the Iraqi hell, as indicated by the emerging reports stating that majority of the invading forces will withdraw from Iraq within a year at most.
In the past, Mr Bush had also used the same welcoming sentences and expressions to the previous Iraqi governments under his occupation of Iraq, which were also preceded by the Iraqi Governing Council, the illegitimate-child of the invasion-turned-occupation, all of which staffed by shady characters, some of which are known interlational criminals, who had supported the invasion and continue to promote the occupation. It is noted that Mr Bush did not remind us, on this allegedly historical day, that Iraq is in a better state that it ever was before, and that the world is safer than ever before after the occupation of Iraq, both of which are indeed the greatest failures of the American-Anglo invasion-turned-occupation of Iraq. On the contrary, Mr Bush has marked this allegedly historical day with predictions of further violence, death, killing, torture and terror.
read in full...
MEDIA MISCONCEPTIONS OF RAMADI CONTINUE
Todd Pittman has been reporting from Ramadi for the AP over the last month or two. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that the falsities he's been writing lately are based more on misunderstanding than malice. (...)
Mr. Pittman's account of the civilian toll appears to be diametrically opposed to everything I've heard from the residents of Ramadi:
When U.S. and Iraqi troops question civilians, insurgents follow in their footsteps to visit and sometimes kill the suspected informants.
After U.S. troops use residential rooftop walls as observation posts, insurgents have been known to knock them down.
Ramadi is dangerous not only for combatants, but for civilians caught in the crossfire.
"It's getting worse. Safety is zero," Col. Hassan said. (…)
According to Qasem and others, many residences have been abandoned, because the families were killed or fled the increasing violence. Despite his own home being used as a sniper's nest by the Americans, while he was locked in a closet downstairs, he doesn't fear reprisals.
He informed me that such things have happened before, and if the Americans decide they particularly prefer a certain home for this use, resistance members have contacted the family and asked them to leave, possibly providing them some support to find a new residence.
Qasem and Sheikh Majeed both assured me that the resistance has rarely, if ever, targetted civilian buildings with residents inside. The same cannot be said for the US troops, who are so desperate to "win" that they seem to subscribe to an increasingly liberal interpretation of the Geneva conventions, setting up residence in civilian buildings, destroying civilian infrastructure, and allegedly guilty of negligence in the sniper deaths of several civilians.
read in full...
Today, Centcom announced that an Iraqi court sentenced to death one Iraqi "insurgent" and charged a few others with violating Coalition Provisional Authority Order 3.
CPA Order 3? Wait a minute. Wasn't the CPA dissolved? Who is really running Iraq? Who is drafting the laws? The CPA or Iraqi officials?
Hmmm ... sovereignty indeed.
read in full...
FRUSTRATIONS OF AN ANGRY IRAQI IN USA
I'm in a very bad mood tonight. I just got home from a protest in Dearborn, Michigan, largest home to Arabs outside the Middle East. My throat is a bit sore, but not as sore as my spirits. I was one of six people who protested outside the Arab-American Museum this evening. You see, the museum, unwittingly of her crimes, I'd like to think, granted the Arab-American Institute venue to host Madeline Albright. The Clinton administration's Secretary of State was to speak about her new book "The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs."
I was there with one other Arab, two other protesters were Caucasian, one was Jewish, and one cute baby whose delightful smile made the rainy weather easier to protest in. We stood at each of the museum's two entrances with our signs. "Madeline Albright, 500,000 kids' lives do matter," "The 'price' is not worth it," "Uncle Scum kills kids," "Remember the Nakba [the refugee flight of Palestinian Arabs during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, meaning "disaster" or "cataclysm"]"
On this night that I will never forget, I was excluded from an Arab museum although I'm an Arab, and I was excluded from a mosque although I'm a Muslim. This was so that I don't disrupt the otherwise harmonious visit of a child killer who was generously received at both places. Forget about the misjudgments of the event's organizers. Where was the Arab community of Dearborn? Why were there only two Arabs protesting her presence while the rest of us competed for photos with her? Does our obsession with survival in the United States of America so aggressively trump our concern for our people, our homelands, and our identities?
Remember what happened the last time a war criminal visited a mosque? The entire Palestinian population rose up. The second intifada started in 2000 because a warmonger dared to set foot on Muslim holy property. How exactly is Madeline Albright any different from Ariel Sharon? If she's not, then are occupied peoples the only ones with a duty to resist?
read in full...
SEARCHING FOR A SCAPEGOAT FOR THE IRAQ WAR
Q: In a
Los Angeles Times op-ed, you said the revolt of the retired generals against Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld represented the beginning of a search for a scapegoat for the Iraq War. I wondered whether you also considered it a preemptive strike against the Bush administration's future Iran policy.
The answer is yes. It's both really. Certainly, it's become incontrovertible that the Iraq War is not going to end happily. Even if we manage to extricate ourselves and some sort of stable Iraq emerges from the present chaos, arguing that the war lived up to the expectations of the Bush administration is going to be very difficult. My own sense is that the officer corps -- and this probably reflects my personal experience to a great degree -- is fixated on Vietnam and still believes the military was hung out to dry there. The officer corps came out of the Vietnam War determined never to repeat that experience and some officers are now angry to discover that the Army is once again stuck in a quagmire. So we are in the early stages of a long argument about who is to be blamed for the Iraq debacle. I think, to some degree, the revolt of the generals reflects an effort on the part of senior military officers to weigh in, to lay out the military's case. And the military's case is: We're not at fault. They are; and, more specifically, he is -- with Rumsfeld being the stand-in for [Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense] Robert McNamara.
Having said that, with all the speculation about Bush administration interest in expanding the Global War on Terror to include Iran, I suspect the officer corps, already seeing the military badly overstretched, doesn't want to have any part of such a war. Going public with attacks on Rumsfeld is one way of trying to slow whatever momentum there is toward an Iran war.
-- Andrew Bacevich is a former contributor to the Weekly Standard and the National Review and a former Bush Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. He is the author of "American Empire" (2002) and "The New American Militarism, How Americans Are Seduced by War" (2006)
read in full...
WHY THIS PART FROM AZIZ'S TESTIMONY IN COURT, NOT TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH?
From Tariq Aziz testimony in the court today [in Saddam's trial]
a significant part, you cannot find any translation by western media.
Deliberately not mentioned by the media because its touch a sensitive issue (the US), while everything else mentioned (Iraq's internal affairs) because it's not very interesting for westerners.
On the accusation issue of razing the farms in the village of Dujail, Tarik Aziz said the following:
The American razed the trees on the both sides of the Airport road, farms around Fallujha and Ramadi why they are not in court for trial.
Link in Arabic here.
Tariq Aziz is right.
US military in some parts of Iraq changed the whole geography of the area, destroying farms, razing trees and building sand fences around cities and villages.
>> BEYOND IRAQ
In Ted Koppel's New York Times
column, he isn't afraid to ask the tough questions:
So, if there are personnel shortages in the military (and with units in their second and third rotations into Iraq and Afghanistan, there are), then what's wrong with having civilian contractors? Expense is a possible issue; but a resumption of the draft would be significantly more controversial...
So, what about the inevitable next step - a defensive military force paid for directly by the corporations that would most benefit from its protection? If, for example, an insurrection in Nigeria threatens that nation's ability to export oil (and it does), why not have Chevron or Exxon Mobil underwrite the dispatch of a battalion or two of mercenaries?
Really: why not have Chevron or Exxon Mobil underwrite the dispatch of a battalion or two of mercenaries? Seriously, what possible problems could arise?
read in full...
WAR PARTY FABRICATION FACTORY REVVING UP ITS MOTOR AGAIN
The world was horrified to learn the other day, courtesy of Canada's National Post
, that a law supposedly passed by the Iranian Parliament would require non-Muslims to wear special clothing identifying their religious affiliations: Zoroastrians were assigned blue, Christians red, and Jews - in a public relations faux pas so enormous as to defy belief - were to be fixed up with a yellow stripe.
You know, like the yellow badges Jews in Nazi Germany were required to wear.
There was only one problem with this "news" story - it wasn't true. According to Reuters:
"A copy of the bill obtained by Reuters contained no such references. Reuters correspondents who followed the dress code session in parliament as it was broadcast on state radio heard no discussion of proscriptions for religious minorities.
"Senior parliamentarian Mohsen Yahyavi described the Canadian report as 'completely false.' 'The bill aims to support those designers that produce clothes that are more compatible with Islam, but there will be no ban on the wearing of other designs,' he told Reuters.
"Iran's Jewish MP Moris Motamed also agreed the bill made no attempt to force special garments on the minorities. 'There is no single word in the bill about a special design or color for the religious minority groups,' he said. 'Our enemies seek to create tension among the religious minorities with such news and to exploit the situation to their benefit,' he added."
Iran has a Jewish member of Parliament? Who knew? This seems highly unusual, given the portrait painted by the warmongering media - of which the National Post is one - of an Iranian state that is the closest thing to the reincarnation of Hitler's Germany. But then again, perhaps the depiction of Iran as the new Fourth Reich has little, if anything, to do with reality - and is, instead, part of a campaign to gin up another war in the Middle East.
read in full...
IT'S COME TO THIS--WORLD LEADERS LAUGH IN OUR FACES
I wrote on Saturday how Egypt's Hosni Mubarak opened the World Economic Forum on the Middle East by responding to State Department criticism of his respect for democracy. Basically he threw the criticism back in the Bush administration's faces for their unilateralism and sets of double standards. It didn't get any better when U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick attended a panel on Sunday where he attempted to defend the administration's position on Iran's nuclear program:
Zoellick was forced to defend the American position on Iran several times, citing the hard-line Tehran leadership's denial of the Holocaust and its calls to destroy the Jewish state. During a panel Sunday with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister, talks devolved into interruptions and accusations.
"What about Israel's nuclear program?" Moussa demanded at one point.
"It does not have a declared program. I don't know for sure what it may or may not have," a visibly flustered Zoellick responded. Guffaws rippled through the audience.
Folks, there's a lot of positions one could take over Iran's nuclear ambitions, but leave it to this crew to pick the one that's so patently absurd that it gets laughed out of the room.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
: "Had the Shia parties decided to give up their own struggles to resist the occupation, it would have been over long ago " -- Tariq Ali