Friday, June 09, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY, JUNE 9, 2006 An Iraqi woman and her children sit in the shade of closed shops in Baghdad after the war-torn capital was placed under curfew to enhance security in the wake of two bombings that followed news that Al-Qaeda militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been killed.(AFP/Karim Sahib) Bring 'em On": Four contractors working for Army Corps of Engineers killed by roadside bomb The Huntsville, AL center where they were based operates the Coalition Munitions Clearing Program that is responsible for receiving, transporting, segregating and destroying captured or any other munitions posing a danger in Iraq, according to a Corps of Engineers news release. Bring 'em On: Second Lt. John Shaw Vaughan, 23, of Battle Mountain, Alaska, assigned to the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, killed in action in Mosul. Bring 'em On: The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on June 7, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV during combat operations. Both soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, Baumholder, Germany. Killed were 1st Lt. Scott M. Love, 32, of Knoxville, Tenn., and Pfc. David N. Crombie, 19, of Winnemucca, Nev. SECURITY INCIDENTS Three Fijian security guards working for ArmourGroup killed by roadside bomb attack. Gunmen kidnap Muthana al-Badri, Director General of Iraq's State Company for Oil Projects (SCOP, as he left work on Thursday. Reuters also has: AFP has these additional incidents: Australian mercenary killed by roadside bomb 300 km north of Baghdad. Note: this story says the Australian govt. has warned citizens against accepting work in Iraq, but that mercenaries can make $6,000 Australian dollars a day. OTHER NEWS Zarqawi said to be alive when Iraqi forces arrived on scene of U.S. air strike, died shortly afterwards. This seems to be the major news of the day as far as most news services are concerned, but it doesn't strike me as important. -- C Maliki bans all vehicle traffic in Baghdad and Baqouba during mid-day hours. Iraqi government officials express optimism following slaying of Zarqawi, U.S. military spokespeople are more restrained. Juan Cole provides summary in English of al-Hayat report:
Al-Hayat says that successors to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are vowing to fight on. One report disputed that Abd al-Rahman al-`Iraqi was killed along with him, and said he was organizing for reprisals. Another report, from the US military, suggested that he had an Egyptian successor. Al-Zaman adds, that sources close to the Sunni Arab resistance movements, among the the (neo-Baathist) Army of Islam and the Brigads of the 1920 Revolution and the Army of Mujahidin said that Zarqawi's organization, which had announced open war on the Shiites of Iraq, had distorted the motives of the Resistance and harmed its potiential. They consider him a martyr, but differ with him in their interpretation (ijtihad) of Islam. One big problem for the guerrilla movement has been that it has largely been ethnic Sunni Arabs, and Zarqawi's tactics made pan-Islamic alliances difficult. The resistance movements appear to hope that with him out of the way, a Sunni-Shiite joint resistance to US presence might become more plausible. Al-Hayat says that they pledged "to intensify their operations during the coming phase against the American forces, as a way of demonstrating the true weight of al-Qaeda." (I.e., the indigenous Iraqi movements are saying that Zarqawi's group is not that important, and they will show who has really been doing the fighting.)
Reactions in Anbar province to slaying of Zarqawi are varied. Some are skeptical of the official story. Excerpt:
By Fadel el-Badrani Jun 9, 2006 The residents of Iraq's eastern Anbar province have expressed mixed reactions to the killing of Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, ranging from optimism to disbelief to bereavement. A common thread however was a distrust of the US-led occupation forces.

Tareq Ramy, a 50-year-old cleric, said that following al-Zarqawi's death, he has become 'optimistic regarding improved security conditions throughout the country, although I believe that the killing of innocent civilians in Iraq's cities is a product of the US occupation of Iraq.'

'The US military had previously blamed al-Zarqawi for any and all acts of violence targeting their forces and civilians, now with al- Zarqawi dead all these accusations levelled against him have died along with him,' said Ramy.

Thirty-year-old professor Ahmad Yassin said 'the martyrdom of the jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi represents a grave loss for both the Arab and Islamic Worlds. We lost a great man who died defending the Islamic civilization from Zionist imperialism. I don't think this man can be replaced.'

Khaled al-Duleimi, a 42-year-old commercial trader, expressed disbelief over the hooplah surrounding al-Zarqawi's operations and death. A resident of Ramadi, 110 kilometres west of Baghdad, al-Duleimi said 'the US military has attempted to create a single imaginary foe/scapegoat out of al-Zarqawi for all the sectarian and ethnic violence taking place in Iraq.'

'The timing of al-Zarqawi's death has been orchestrated to coincide with the appointments of the ministers of defence, interior, and national security,' al-Duleimi said. 'The death of al-Zarqawi at this specific point of time is an American fabrication.' 'The US military has also lied regarding al-Zarqawi and his associates use of Anbar province, which comprises one-third of the area of Iraq, as a hideout and theatre for his operations' concluded the trader.

Salah Abdel-Karim, a 38-year-old trader, was skeptical about the circumstances of al-Zarqawi's death. 'I don't believe that al-Zarqawi was killed in the al-Anbar province, as there is such a high concentration of US forces in this area.' 'He was probably killed in Baghdad or near it. I expect that al- Zarqawi's associates are preparing themselves for a series of violent retaliation attacks against US forces so as to avenge his death.'

Read in Full COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS Death of Zarqawi may strengthen the nationalist Sunni resistance. Excerpt:
By Fredrik Dahl BAGHDAD, June 9 (Reuters) - The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of al Qaeda in Iraq, may boost other groups drawing support from the once-dominant Sunni Arab minority, including Saddam Hussein loyalists with more nationalistic aims. While equally opposed to the U.S. occupation and Iraq's Shi'ite-led government, their tactics are believed to be different from those of Zarqawi, who was notorious for beheading captives and killing hundreds of people in suicide bombings. "The other insurgent groups ... may become more powerful and benefit from the weakness of al Qaeda," said Professor Hazim al-Nuaimy of Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, who had a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head, was killed in an American air strike on Wednesday night in a village north of Baghdad. Sunni Arab militants loyal to Zarqawi were blamed for major bombings against Shi'ite targets in Iraq which sought to draw the majority Shi'ite community into a sectarian civil war. "Zarqawi's death may change the methods of the insurgents," Nuaimy added, predicting less attacks against civilians. "It may not be as brutal ... these other groups focus more on targeting U.S forces." U.S. and Iraqi officials hope that relatively moderate elements in the insurgency may eventually be lured into the U.S.-backed political process, pointing to Sunni participation in a unity government formed last month. New Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said after he took office last month at the helm of a grand coalition of Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds that his government would offer dialogue to insurgents who lay down weapons. But the no-nonsense Shi'ite Islamist has rejected any role for militants with "Iraqi blood on their hands", including followers of Zarqawi, who had declared war on majority Shi'ites. Maliki may soften his position, however, if leaders of other guerrilla groups show flexibility. The most powerful insurgents are former officers in Saddam's army and intelligence network, people with years of military experience who had formed alliances of convenience with al Qaeda but were alienated by Zarqawi's brutal methods. Al Qaeda militants from across the Arab world make up only about five percent of the insurgency, U.S. officials say, but their spectacular suicide bombings kill the most people. "If they (the U.S. military) succeed in eradicating al Qaeda in Iraq it would strengthen the main strand of the insurgency, which is nationalist in orientation," said Joost Hiltermann, of the International Crisis Group think tank. But, he cautioned, if that strategy failed, Zarqawi's followers could re-emerge as a strong threat. A recent ICG report described al Qaeda as one among a handful of "particularly powerful groups" in the uprising that erupted after U.S. forces invaded to overthrow Saddam in 2003. It is fuelled in part by perceived grievances among Sunnis, who make up roughly 20 percent of Iraq's 26 million population, that they are being marginalised in post-Saddam Iraq. Key to defusing the violence would be to revise a new constitution, which Sunnis fear will deprive them of oil revenue from Shi'ite and Kurd-dominated areas, Hiltermann said. The community's integration into Iraq's armed forces was another crucial factor. "These are very difficult requirements to meet," he said.
Read in Full Khalilzad tells Der Spiegel "Next six months will be critical." (Don't say it -- C.) Excerpt:
SPIEGEL: Shortly before the war began, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said to US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "I am not convinced." Who was right? Khalilzad: That isn't important anymore. We're dealing with such enormous problems today that we have no other choice but to work together. If Iraq fails, if a religious civil war breaks out and the neighboring states are drawn into this conflict, if the Kurds declare independence and al-Qaida takes over an entire province -- that's when the consequences will be dramatic. SPIEGEL: What poses the greater threat today -- the insurgency or religious strife? Khalilzad: It's a vicious circle. The terrorists want civil war. Al-Qaida is attacking Shiites. The Shiite militias are taking revenge on the Sunnis. And the Sunnis are become more extremist, with some joining al-Qaida. There's even evidence of splits within the ranks of the insurgents. Some are joining terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, some feel an urge to enter politics and others are taking a wait-and-see approach. All of these issues can only be addressed in context: the problem of the insurgency, the militias, internal reconciliation. I'm pleased to note that this is precisely what the new prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, has recognized as his greatest challenge. SPIEGEL: The Iraqis have heard these kinds of promises every time a new government has come into power. Khalilzad: This is different. This time the Sunni Arabs are cooperating. That's an absolute prerequisite, but it still doesn't guarantee success. SPIEGEL: How much time does Maliki have? Khalilzad: The next six months will be critical in terms of reining in the danger of civil war. If the government fails to achieve this, it will have lost its opportunity.
Read in Full Oil traders catch on to the fact that Iraq war is not over after all. FROM THE HOME FRONT Fort Sam Houston in Texas can't pay the light bills due to budget shortfalls resulting from the war. Excerpt:
Fort Sam is grappling with a $26 million budget shortfall partly because of congressional wrangling over a measure to fund wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But problems at Fort Sam and many of the Army's 179 posts worldwide won't be over even if Congress approves a $94.5 billion supplemental appropriations bill next week as expected. The war, rising military health care costs and Pentagon efforts to transform the armed services will make sure of that. The garrison has stared down a budget crunch since August. It sought $121 million to run operations on the post, which has 27,000 military and civilian workers.

But the Installation Management Agency, which provides funding to the garrison, reduced the post's budget to $65.9 million — $12.2 million less than last year and $26 million short of the absolute minimum that Martinson needs.

Fort Sam, the future home of IMA as it moves from Washington under the base-closure process, isn't the agency's only problem. IMA is responsible for 116 posts worldwide and is involved with many other Army installations in some way, spokesman Ned Christensen said, adding: "They are all affected." He said the Pentagon is asking Congress for $722 million in supplemental funding for posts worldwide. Of that, IMA's southwest region would get $105 million, Fort Sam spokesman Phil Reidinger said.

Read in Full

New AP-Ipsos poll finds majority of Americans think war crimes by U.S. troops are "isolated incidents," but majority also think the war was a "mistake."

QUOTE OF THE DAY Few people will, or should, feel comfortable about Tuesday's outcome of the court martial of three British soldiers who had been charged with the manslaughter of a teenage looter in Iraq. This is not because the accused were acquitted, but because the story is so ugly. Ahmed Karheem was pushed into a Basra canal. He could not swim. He drowned. The verdict seemed just, because the soldiers acted within a context created by circumstance and accepted by their superiors. But if they were not responsible, then who was? "Wetting" wrongdoers, with varying degrees of harshness, had become a commonplace sanction in the absence of legally enforceable ones. The British army, like the US military, was utterly at a loss about how to restore order amid anarchy for which its political leadership had refused to prepare. . . .It would have been monstrous to convict three guardsmen for actions that are overwhelmingly attributable to the circumstances into which they were thrust. By contrast, if George Bush, Tony Blair, Donald Rumsfeld and Lord Goldsmith had been in the dock, a guilty verdict would have been the only proper one. -- Historian Max Hastings, in The Guardian Note: This is a slightly abbreviated post today since I'm filling in for Zig on short notice. There's a lot going on, looking forward to the comments.


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