Sunday, June 25, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, JUNE 25, 2006 Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, far right, announces a 24-point national reconciliation plan. (AP Photo/Ali Abbas, Pool) A US helicopter fires thermal balloons as it hovers over black smoke billowing from the site where a bomb exploded in Baghdad. (AFP/Marwan Naamani) Bring 'em on. Soldier from the Third Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division, killed in a roadside bombing south of Baquba. Bring 'em on. Army Pfc. Devon Gibbons of Port Orchard, Washington, died of injuries sustained on April 11 in a bomb attack on his armored vehicle. SECURITY INCIDENTS Bombing in Central Baghdad kills six. Al Jazeera also reports: Clashes erupted on Sunday between militias and armed groups in several streets north and east of the capital. Iraqi police sources said "heavy clashes erupted in Bab Al-Mutham, Al-Fadhil, Al-Jameh, and Al-Alzameyah areas." Last night an Iraqi police source said similar clashes occurred which left three houses burned and several people injured on both sides. The source did not mention causalities of today's clashes, adding only security forces are trying to control fighting areas. Gunmen shot dead police General Hussein Abdul-Rahman, a lieutenant-colonel and a third officer in their car in a market in the town of Baquba 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. Reuters also reports: A statement for the joint coordination center said that unidentified armed men shot dead an Iraqi police officer in the western suburbs of Baqouba. KUNA also reports: In Bartilla, southeast of Mosul, a car bomb near the office of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, killed two members of the Shiite organization and wounded four. AP also reports that a former military officer was gunned down outside his home in Mosul, according to police Col. Abdul-Karim Ahmed. As usual, thanks to Whisker for assistance with the news roundup. POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS AND IN-DEPTH REPORTING Maliki presents reconciliation plan to parliament. Ambiguous about amnesty; sets no timeline for withdrawal of foreign troops.
icWales Prime Minister Nouri Maliki presented his 28-point national reconciliation plan to parliament today, a document that calls for setting a timeline for Iraqi troops to take control of security throughout the country. The plan would also include an amnesty for insurgents and opposition who have not been involved in terrorist activities. Maliki declared however, that insurgent killers would not escape justice. 'The launch of this national reconciliation initiative should not be read as a reward for the killers and criminals or acceptance of their actions. No, one thousand times no. There can be no agreement with them unless they face the justice.' snip Maliki said the general amnesty would exclude 'those who committed crimes against the Iraqi people'. The most controversial section of the amnesty plan was left ambiguous. Initially it was said to have excluded only those who had killed Iraqi people. But in parliament today, Maliki spoke of refusing amnesty to those who had committed terrorist acts, believed to include attacks on American military personnel as well. The plan also seeks compensation for former detainees 'and those who were killed by Iraqi and American forces'and said their time spent in prison would be considered as part of their mandatory military service. An early draft of the plan also called for a general pardon for thousands of prisoners who are determined not to have committed 'crimes and clear terrorist actions.' Hundreds of prisoners have been pardoned and released in recent months in what is seen as a bid by the Shiite-dominated government to appease Sunni Arab anger over allegations of random detentions and maltreatment. The proposal also would set rules of engagement for military offensives, requiring military leaders to take into consideration and special conditions that might argue against an attack. That was seen as a bid to alleviate Sunni anger over the alleged killing of innocent civilians and bystanders by US and Iraqi forces. The reconciliation plan also would call for a reconsideration of policies against supporters of former President Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party. The plan said a dialogue should be opened with all organisations willing to participate in the political process 'except al Qaida'and hard-line supporters of Saddam.
Read in Full Insurgent groups reject Maliki's proposal.
BAGHDAD, June 25, 2006 (UPI) -- Iraq's prime minister plans to offer up a peace plan aimed at ending the insurgency but most Sunni insurgent groups say it doesn't meet their concerns. Nouri al-Maliki is set to unveil a 28-point plan that will offer amnesty for prisoners and provide a place for insurgents in the political process if they disarm and end the campaign of violence, The Sunday Times reports. It also calls for U.N. watchdogs to implement a withdrawal of foreign troops. But a spokesperson for the 11 largest Sunni insurgent groups said they can't accept the plan because they don't recognize the current Iraqi government. They want a quick end to foreign troops in Iraq, Iraqi prisoners released from all Iraqi and U.S. jails and the United States and other coalition countries to allocate money to rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure destroyed by war. They also want all negotiations to be monitored by the United Nations or Arab League.
LA Times reports that at least 50,000 Iraqis have died in violence since the U.S. attack on Iraq. Note: Perhaps this will finally put a stop to Iraq Body Count. Excerpt:
By Louise Roug and Doug Smith, Times Staff Writers. June 25, 2006 BAGHDAD — At least 50,000 Iraqis have died violently since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, according to statistics from the Baghdad morgue, the Iraqi Health Ministry and other agencies — a toll 20,000 higher than previously acknowledged by the Bush administration. Many more Iraqis are believed to have been killed but not counted because of serious lapses in recording deaths in the chaotic first year after the invasion, when there was no functioning Iraqi government, and continued spotty reporting nationwide since. The toll, which is mostly of civilians but probably also includes some security forces and insurgents, is daunting: Proportionately, it is equivalent to 570,000 Americans being killed nationwide in the last three years. In the same period, at least 2,520 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq. Iraqi officials involved in compiling the statistics say violent deaths in some regions have been grossly undercounted, notably in the troubled province of Al Anbar in the west. Health workers there are unable to compile the data because of violence, security crackdowns, electrical shortages and failing telephone networks. The Health Ministry acknowledged the undercount. In addition, the ministry said its figures exclude the three northern provinces of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan because Kurdish officials do not provide death toll figures to the government in Baghdad. In the three years since Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled, the Bush administration has rarely offered civilian death tolls. Last year, President Bush said he believed that "30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis." Nongovernmental organizations have made estimates by tallying media accounts; The Times attempted to reach a comprehensive figure by obtaining statistics from the Baghdad morgue and the Health Ministry and checking those numbers against a sampling of local health departments for possible undercounts. snip At the Baghdad morgue, the vast majority of bodies processed had been shot execution-style. Many showed signs of torture — drill holes, burns, missing eyes and limbs, officials said. Others had been strangled, beheaded, stabbed or beaten to death. The morgue records show a predominantly civilian toll; the hospital records gathered by the Health Ministry do not distinguish between civilians, combatants and security forces. But Health Ministry records do differentiate causes of death. Almost 75% of those who died violently were killed in "terrorist acts," typically bombings, the records show. The other 25% were killed in what were classified as military clashes. A health official described the victims as "innocent bystanders," many shot by Iraqi or American troops, in crossfire or accidentally at checkpoints. With the entire country a battleground, it is likely that some of the dead may have been insurgents or members of militias. "The way to think about the violence is that it's not just the insurgent attacks that matter," said David Lake, a member of the Center for Study of Civil War, an international group of scholars who study the causes and effects of internal strife. "What we should be concerned about is the sense of security at the individual level…. If the fear has gotten out of control." Societies fall apart when people stop believing the government can keep them safe them and instead turn to militias for protection, said Lake, who is a professor of political science at UC San Diego.
Read in Full Japan begins pull-out of troops from Iraq. A convoy of more than a dozen military vehicles and engineering equipment left the Japanese base in the southern province of Muthanna for Kuwait, an AFP photographer reported from the Kuwaiti border. Japanese military officials in Samawa confirmed that the withdrawal of its 600 troops from Iraq had begun with the dispatch of military trucks and other equipment to Kuwait. U.S. announces charges in killing of Iraqi civilian near Ramadi on Feb. 15 AP reports
Spec. Nathan B. Lynn was charged with one count of voluntary manslaughter for allegedly shooting an unarmed man on Feb. 15, the military said. Lynn and Sgt. Milton Ortiz, Jr., both of the 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry (Mechanized) of the Pennsylvania National Guard, were each charged with one count of obstructing justice for allegedly conspiring with another soldier who allegedly put an AK-47 near the body of the man in an attempt to make it look as though he was an insurgent. Ortiz also was charged with one count of assault and one count of communicating a threat for a separate incident on March 8 when he allegedly placed an unloaded weapon against the head of an Iraqi man and threatened to send him to prison, the military said. Both soldiers are being held in Baghdad while awaiting Article 32 hearings to determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed to a court-martial.
Gen. Casey presents plan for reducing U.S. troop levels by end of 2007. Classified briefing is leaked to the New York Times. Plan is contingent on "continued progress, including the development of competent Iraqi security forces, a reduction in Sunni Arab hostility toward the new Iraqi government and the assumption that the insurgency will not expand beyond Iraq's six central provinces." Excerpt:
But critics of the Bush administration's handing of the war question whether the ambitious goals for withdrawing troops are realistic, given the difficulties in maintaining order there. If executed, this plan could have considerable political significance. The first reductions would take place before this fall's congressional elections, while even bigger cuts might come before the 2008 presidential election. In Casey's briefing, the future American role in Iraq is divided into three phases. The next 12 months was described as a period of stabilization. The period from the summer of 2007 through the summer of 2008 was described as a time when the emphasis would be on the restoration of the Iraqi government's authority. The period from the summer of 2008 though the summer of 2009 was cast as one in which the Iraqi government would be increasingly self-reliant. In line with this vision, some cuts would begin soon. The United States has 14 combat brigades in Iraq, plus many other support troops. Under the plan, this force would shrink to 12 combat brigades in September. This would be done by not replacing two brigades that are scheduled to be withdrawn: the 1st Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division and the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. A combat brigade would be kept on alert in Kuwait or elsewhere in case American commanders needed to augment their forces to deal with a crisis. Another brigade would be kept on a lesser state of alert elsewhere in the world, but still prepared to deploy quickly. As a result of these arrangements, the plan to bring the combat force down to 12 active brigades in Iraq is being called 12-1-1. Still further reductions might be made by the end of the year. By December, the number of American combat brigades in Iraq would be 10 to 12. As with the September reduction, a brigade would be kept on alert and another brigade would be ready to deploy. According to the projections in Casey's briefing, the number of combat brigades would shrink to seven or eight brigades by June 2007 and to five to six brigades by December 2007. At the same time, the number of bases in Iraq would decline as U.S. forces are consolidated. By the end of the year, the number of bases would shrink to 57 from the current 69. By June 2007, there would be 30 bases, and by December 2007 there would be 11. By the end of 2007, the United States would have three principal regional military commands: in Baghdad and the surrounding area, in Anbar Province and the west, and in northern Iraq. The reduction and consolidation of the American force is contingent on the growth and expansion of the Iraqi forces. According to the plan, the Iraqis are to have five army divisions that will control their own swaths of territory by September. By December, that number is to grow to nine. A 10th Iraqi division is to take on an operational role in the dangerous Anbar Province in western Iraq in the spring of 2007.
Read in Full COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS Juan Cole on Maliki's reconciliation plan:
Al-Hayat reports that Malik views this initiative as a privilege of the executive and that he does not intend to have parliament vote on it. A Shiite parliamentarian said ti was outrageous to by-pass parliament in this way. Also, significant elements within al-Maliki's own United Iraqi Alliance (Shiite) are disturbed by the idea of granting amnesty to Sunni Arab guerrillas. The problem is quite the other way around. The amnesty is not extended to anyone who has "shed Iraqi blood," and the Bush administration made al-Maliki back off the idea of granting amnesty to guerrillas who had killed US troops. But if the point of the amnesty is to bring the guerrilla leadership in from the cold, this amnesty is useless. What Sunni Arab guerrillas worth their salt have killed no Iraqis and no US troops? As for the rest, why would Sunnis who had not killed anyone need to be amnestied? And wouldn't they be rather pitiful guerrillas? This is like Kissinger saying he would talk to the North Vietnamese but not to any of them who helped the VC kill ARvN and US soldiers. There wouldn't have been any round table talks (not that that whole thing went very well anyway. Just saying.) It appears that the main point of the "reconciliation" is not in fact to reconcile with the guerrilla movement. It is an attempt to draw off support from it by rehabilitating the Sunni Arabs who had been Baath party members. Those who had not actively killed anyone would now be brought back into public life and deep debaathification would be reversed, as I read it. (Ironically, al-Maliki led the charge for deep debaathification in the past 3 years!) Sunni Arabs would be compensated for losses inflicted on them by Iraqi and US troops (this is key to settling clan feuds against the new order). Shiite militias are to be disbanded. Militia influence in Iraqi police to be curbed. etc. The plan also hopes to separate out the ex-Baathists from the Qutbists, who style themselves "Salafi Jihadis" but actually are just violent vigilantes, who, in the tradition of Sayyid Qutb of Egypt, blithely brand as non-Muslims worthy of death anyone who disagrees with their version of Islam. The Qutbists are coded as mainly foreigners. My reading is that large numbers of Iraqi Sunni Arabs have swung to fundamentalist religion, and that the ex-Baathists use them in various ways, and it won't be easy to break up this alliance of convenience. I do not think this plan goes far enough. It is too little too late. But, well, reversing Ahmad Chalabi's deep debaathification, in which school teachers were punished for joining the Baath Party in 1994 to get a promotion, would be a positive step, if that is what is envisaged. But then there is the question of implementation, and the question of what economy or government is left for the ex-Baathists now to join. Moreover, there is a lot of anger that can't be dampened down so easily.
Iraqi "person on the street" interviews also reveal skepticism over reconciliation plan. Excerpt:
By Michael Georgy BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's national reconciliation plan is a hard sell on Karrada Inner street, where a roadside bomb left Akram Jabaar with a painful limp and little faith in his government. "If you really want the truth, Maliki won't succeed and I really don't think he or his government are serious about reconciliation," said the 23-year-old clothes vendor, who struggles to walk with shrapnel in his knee. "He says he wants to end sectarianism but his government is full of sectarians. It is logical to think there will be a civil war." Maliki, a Shi'ite Islamist whose government was sworn in on May 20, presented his much-heralded blueprint for stability to parliament on Sunday. It was long on promises and short on details of how his Shi'ite-led administration intended to ease communal violence, disband militias and tackle a Sunni Arab insurgency that has killed many thousands of security forces and civilians. Victims of the violence ravaging Iraq will be especially hard to convince that the plan will turn their lives around.
Read in Full NGO reports on the oppression of Iraqi women by militias. (Also via Juan Cole) Excerpt:
Woman's Rights Observatory on Retreat of Women's Role in Political Process Organized acts of oppression against Iraqi women The National Observatory for the Iraqi Woma's Rights: The militias prevent women from going to the market in Karbala Al-Ittijah al-Akhar Wednesday, June 21, 2006 T13:06:41Z Document Type: OSC Translated Text In a memorandum addressed to the United Nations and a number of embassies in Baghdad, the National Observatory for Iraqi Woman's Rights said that it has received bitter complaints from Iraqi female activists and defenders of women's rights in Iraq indicating that there has been a retreat in what the observatory described "woman's role in political life". The number of female ministers has dropped from six to four, the memo added. The memorandum drew attention to the fact that the Unified Iraqi Coalition, which is the largest bloc in the new government, has refused to nominate any woman for a ministerial position. The four appointed female ministers are all from other political blocs. Two of them are from the Kurdish Alliance; one is from the Iraqi al-Tawafuq Front and the fourth one is from the Iraqi List. The memorandum stated that Iraqi activists have demanded that the positions of deputy prime minister and the deputy chair of the parliament be given to women. However, instead of improving their status in the political life, Iraqi women have lost more than one third of their ratio of representation. The Observatory said that the position of Iraqi woman was deteriorating and the situation was becoming more serious. Woman's political role is being confiscated. She is exposed increasingly to threats and dangers as a result of the spread of violence in the country. The Observatory denounced the new measures the gunmen are using against women in Karbala. They prevent women from going to the market to shop. This has created a state of resentment among shop owners. They used to receive thousands of female shoppers during religious occasions. Visitors come to Karbala for pilgrimage during such occasions and visit the shrines of Imam al-Husayn and his brother al-Abbas. The two shrines are situated in the center of Karbala and are surrounded by many markets, especially the gold and clothes markets. Large numbers of women used to go for shopping after the pilgrimage.
Read in Full AFGHANISTAN Thanks again to Whisker. Two coalition soldiers were wounded during an operation on Saturday in support of Operation Mountain Thrust and later died at a hospital, the U.S.-led coalition said in a statement. Another coalition soldier was wounded. The nationalities of the soldiers weren't immediately released pending notification of next of kin. Coalition and Afghan forces killed about 45 Taliban militants during the fighting, the coalition said. The four-hour gunbattle began late Saturday in the Panjwayi district of southern Kandahar province, said Gen. Rahmatullah Roufi. Coalition forces initially engaged eight to 10 enemy fighters, the coalition said. The militants attempted to flee the but then joined other fighters in a nearby compound. Coalition forces attacked the compound, killing an estimated 45 militants, the coalition said. The bodies of two more Pakistanis, who were killed in Afghanistan by armed bandits, were brought to Quetta on Saturday. This is the second such incident in the past 10 days in which Pakistanis were targeted in that country. The two men, Jumma Khan Hazara and Ashfaq Hussain, worked as masons and had gone to Kandahar a few days ago to find jobs. They were on their way to Kabul from Kandahar on Thursday when their vehicle was stopped by a group of men, who looted them. They were killed after they offered resistance. Their driver was left alive. Quote of the Day "There is more respect to be won in the opinion of this world by a resolute and courageous liquidation of unsound positions than by the most stubborn pursuit of extravagant and unpromising objectives." -- U.S. diplomat George Kennan, arguing for U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February, 1966


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