DAILY WAR NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, June 28, 2006
: An Iraqi girl washes her hands at a camp for displaced families in the Shiite al-Shaala district of Baghdad. Iraq has said it has captured a Tunisian Al-Qaeda militant allegedly behind the February bombing of a revered Shiite shrine that unleashed a massive wave of sectarian violence. (See below "Neocons Revisit The Askariya Shrine Bombing")
Unidentified militants killed Deputy General Manager of the customs department Dhiyaa Abdulhameed in the western part of Baghdad.
A police source said militants shot Abdulhameed after blocking his car in Al-Amiriya district.
A roadside bomb went off near a U.S. military patrol in western Baghdad, killing a civilian and wounding two others.
The blast prompted the U.S. soldiers and Iraqi security forces, who used to man a mobile checkpoint near the blast site, to open fire in all directions, the source said.
A bomb at a market in the Shi'ite Kadhimiya district of Baghdad killed one person and wounded eight.
Three civilians including two women were injured in an explosion near an apartment building in Baquba.
A car bomb killed three men in a group of Iraqis lining up for day labouring jobs in the city of Baquba.
A further 12 people, including children, were wounded in the early morning blast.
Mortars were fired at a Sunni mosque in Shahraban, a town close to Baquba.
There were no casualties but the mosque and some 20 shops and a bank were damaged by fire.
A bomb seriously wounded two policemen who had rushed to a Shi'ite mosque after another bomb had exploded without causing casualties in the same mosque in the city of Baquba
, 65 km (40 miles) north of the capital.
A policeman was killed and three wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in Mahaweel
, 75 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad.
One person was killed and seven others were injured in another explosion that occurred in a market in Al-Kathimiya
, north of Baghdad.
Gunmen killed two policemen in Falluja.
Clashes between gunmen and police broke out in Mosul, leaving a policeman wounded.
One militant was arrested.
Insurgents are demanding the withdrawal of all U.S. and British forces from Iraq within two years as a condition for joining reconciliation talks
, a senior Iraqi government official said Wednesday. (...)
Iraqi government officials involved with the contacts with insurgents told The Associated Press that several militant groups sent delegates from their regions and tribes to speak on their behalf.
One of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of demands for secrecy in the talks, said the insurgents have so far rejected face-to-face talks, saying they fear being targeted by Shiite militias, Iraqi security forces and the Americans.
The official said the insurgents have demanded a two-year "timetable for withdrawal" in return for joining Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's bid for national reconciliation.
The insurgents also said a condition for any future direct talks would be the presence of observers from the Arab League, Saudi Arabia and Iraq's influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars.
MOSCOW BLAMES U.S. FOR RUSSIAN HOSTAGES DEATH IN IRAQ
Russia intends to keep in contact with the coalition forces to determine their level of responsibility in the death of the Russian diplomats earlier kidnapped in Iraq, Russian presidential envoy for international cooperation in fighting terrorism and transnational organized crime Anatoly Safonov quoted by Interfax has said.
"We are saying openly that it is either governmental institutions or coalition forces that are responsible for order," Safonov told journalists in Moscow on Tuesday.
"First of all - and I hope this will be also said at the UN - we need to emphasize the uniqueness of the situation concerning security in Iraq, express our condemnation of what has happened, and call for drawing conclusions from this," Safonov said
First Vice-Speaker of the Russian State Duma, Lyubov Sliska, joined Safonov in blaming the coalition.
"We can see how the coalition forces are 'restoring order'," she said.
"Every day dozens of innocent people are dying, and now diplomats are geting killed, too. The responsibility for what is going on in Iraq lies upon those who sought mass destruction weapons here, but found nothing," she said.
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THOUSANDS OF FAMILIES FLEE RAMADI AS HOSPITALS RUN OUT OF MEDICINE
Doctors for Iraq has received reports that an estimated 3,250 families from the city of Ramadi have been forced to flee the city because of the threat of an imminent US/ Iraqi military attack on the city.
Ramadi is the capital of Anbar Province in the west of Iraq and is home to an estimated 500,000 people. Many thousands of people are now displaced trying to flee the city in fear of a military assault on Ramadi.
Residents described severe shortages of water and electricity in the past seven days especially in the Al Tameem and Al Azizia quarters of the city.
All entrances and exists to the city have been sealed off by the US/ Iraqi military with reports of only one passage remaining open through the Al Warar bridge that provides a route out of Ramadi.
Local shops and markets have remained closed for the past seven days causing a shortage in food as people are unable to buy provisions because the city is under an ongoing military curfew.
Eyewitness describes a large number of US military units surrounding the city with the formation of two US military bases towards the east and west of the city. Residents have told Doctors for Iraq that the main government building has been occupied by the US military.
Reports have been received of a large number of snipers in the centre of Ramadi impacting on the movement of civilians trying to escape the city and restricting the movement of doctors and medical units. Doctors for Iraq have received reports of casualties caused by sniper fire.
The presence of US/ Iraqi military snipers and checkpoints is severely restricting the movement of ambulances and medical personnel in the city. Ramadi has four main hospitals with the main general hospitals still functioning trying to meet the needs of patients and casualties.
This military activity and the threat of a US/ Iraqi military attack on the city along with checkpoints, curfew and an incursion of the city is having a major impact on delivery of health services for people. A Doctors for Iraq assessment team in Ramadi reports of a severe shortage of medicine and medical equipment such as IV fluids, surgical sutures, antibiotics and aesthetic drugs. Our teams described the situation in the city and the plight of displaced families as being desperate.
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BENCHMARKS: U.S. CASUALTIES RISING IN IRAQ
The striking lull in U.S. casualties we reported in our previous column did not last. Figures for U.S. troops killed and wounded in Iraq over the past week rose sharply and showed a remarkable statistical consistency with trends prior to the lull.
This suggests that the most active Sunni insurgent groups may have taken a breathing space in their operations to regroup and reassess following the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida's chief of operations in Iraq. However, Zarqawi's death and the seizure of what U.S. officials called "a treasure trove" of information following his death, don't seem to have had any appreciable impact on organization and military capabilities of the insurgency.
The total number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq through Wednesday, June 28, since the start of operations to topple Saddam Hussein on March 19, 2003, was 2,524, according to official figures issued by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Therefore, 24 U.S. soldiers were killed during the eight-day period from June 21 through June 28 at an average rate of three per day. This was 77 percent higher than the rate of 1.75 U.S. soldiers killed by in Iraq per day during the seven-day period from June 14 through June 20. It was also 20 percent worse than the eight-day period of June 6-13 when 2.5 U.S. soldiers were killed per day in Iraq. And those June 6-13 figures had been an increase of almost 39 percent on the rate of fatalities suffered during the previous six-day period of May 31-June 5 when some 11 U.S. troops died in Iraq at an average rate of 1.82 per day.
The latest figures, therefore, show a return to the steadily deteriorating trend in increasing U.S. fatalities in Iraq through the month of June. They were also significantly worse than the longer-term trend of the 48-day period from April 13 to May 30, when 107 U.S. troops died in Iraq at an average rate of just over 2.2 per day. And they were almost twice as bad as during the 68-day period from Feb. 4 to April 12, when 112 U.S. troops died in Iraq at an average of 1.65 per day.
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Majority of Americans say Congress should pass a resolution that outlines a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq
, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday. Half of those surveyed would like all U.S. forces out within 12 months.
The poll finds support for the ideas behind Democratic proposals that were soundly defeated in the Senate last week. An uptick in optimism toward the war after the killing of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi earlier this month seems to have evaporated.
>> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
NEOCONS REVISIT THE ASKARIYA SHRINE BOMBING
Now that the Pentagon has murdered the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi myth, it is time to roll up "al-Qaeda in Iraq" for propaganda purposes, especially considering the miserable condition of the Iraq occupation and the increasing demands of the Iraqi "leadership" that the United States leave the country.
"The Samarra shrine bombing, which set off waves of sectarian killing that are still plaguing the country, was the brainchild of an Iraqi member of Al Qaeda, and not a foreign terrorist, a senior Iraqi official said today," reports the "liberal" New York Times, the "newspaper of record" neocons are itching to prosecute for treason. "Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, the country's national security adviser, identified Haitham al-Badri as the planner of the February attack. He said that Mr. Badri, a member of a Sunni tribe from Salahadin province, which includes Samarra, was currently a member of Al Qaeda in Iraq, but earlier had belonged to a different Iraqi insurgent group, Ansar al-Sunna." All of this supposedly came to light after Yousri Fakher Mohammed Ali, a Tunisian also known as Abu Qudama and allegedly an "al-Qaeda in Iraq" member, fingered al-Badri.
It is amazing the way slavish corporate media tools, essentially stenographers for the Pentagon and the neocons, report the "news" (engineered propaganda) without reference to past events, sort of like Winston Smith feeding evidence of news recalibrated into the memory hole.
Haitham al-Badri's "confession yielded several new details about the shrine bombing, Mr. Rubaie. He said it was the work of a team of two Iraqis, four Saudis and Abu Qudama, under the direction of Mr. Badri," the New York Times continues. "The group took advantage of a handoff in security at the shrine, when the Iraqi turned it over to a local facility protection service. 'The terrorists entered the shrine the night before the bombing, and they jailed the guards in one of the rooms and had the whole time-several hours-to install the equipment of crime,' Mr. Rubaie said."
No mention here of Iraqi reports that the bombing was pulled off by the Iraqi National Guard and that according "to reports appearing on the humanitarian Iraqi League organization's Iraqi Rabita website and translated into English by the Iraqi blogger Baghdad Dweller ... at least two witnesses saw 'unusual activities by the ING [Iraqi National Guard] in the area around the mosque.' Two mosque guards reported four men in ING uniforms had blindfolded them and planted explosives. A second witness, Muhammad al-Samarrai, the owner of an internet cafe in the area, was told to stay in his store and not leave the area. From 11 pm until 6:30 am, ten minutes before two bombs were detonated, the area surrounding the mosque was patrolled by 'joint forces of Iraqi ING and Americans,' according to al-Samarrai" (see my February 23 blog entry, Pentagon-Controlled Iraqi National Guard Implicated in Samarra Mosque Bombing).
In addition to apparently facilitating the mosque bombing, Iraqi National Guard troops provided assistance to "more than a dozen masked Shia gunmen" attacking the Sunni al-Quds mosque in western Baghdad in the wake of the Samarra attack, according to the Times Online. In addition, "gunmen arrived [at the Maakel prison in Basra] in a fleet of cars and showed documents which claimed that they were from the Interior Ministry... and lynched at least eleven Sunni inmates, among them at least two Egyptians."
"The bombing of the Golden Dome shrine, regarded by Shiites as one of their holiest sites, was followed by the deaths of hundreds of Iraqis in reprisal killings, as the country teetered on the verge of a full-blown civil war," the New York Times continues. "Killings on the basis of ethnicity or religion have become routine in Baghdad and other mixed areas of Iraq, and a report issued Tuesday by the International Organization on Migration, a London-based advocacy group, estimated that more than 100,000 Iraqis had fled their homes since the bombing of the shrine, primarily out of fear of assassination."
In short, "al-Qaeda in Iraq" has accomplished its mission-touching off a "civil war," as the corporate media deems it, in fact an engineered effort to balkanize the country. Once again, cui bono comes into play: the United States and Israel benefit from the social and cultural destruction of Iraq, not the Iraqi people and certainly not some fantastical entity called "al-Qaeda," who we are expected to believe runs the resistance in Iraq. How exactly an alleged fanatical Muslim organization benefits from killing fellow Muslims and blowing up mosques while ignoring the occupation is not explained.
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THE OCCUPATION RENDERS RECONCILIATION IMPOSSIBLE
The "Prime Minister" in occupied Iraq, Nouri Al-Maliki, has put forward a "reconciliation plan" that will give amnesty to those, who have not committed any "terrorism", and try to absorb certain armed resistance groups in the US-controlled political process. The Iraqi puppets of the US have made these desperate cries for "reconciliation" many times - without any result.
Al-Maliki is not talking on his own behalf, but on behalf of his protector and master, the US, which is facing big difficulties. While the coalition is suffering big losses and quickly shrinking - recently with the withdrawal of Italy and Japan - the armed resistance is being strengthened proportionally. It is hard to see why the Iraqi Resistance should give up its successful armed resistance struggle.
The occupation renders reconciliation impossible because it has divided the Iraqis into the few profiting from the occupation and the many suffering under it. A genuine reconciliation can only come with the liberation and the post-occupation justice facing traitors like Al-Maliki.
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ABOUT MALIKI'S RECONCILIATION PLAN
There is no doubt that the Maliki's project of 'national reconciliation' is a political manoeuvre planned by the Pentagon and the State Department's circles in order to pretend, before the American congressionnal elections taking place in November, that there is some progress taking place in the so-called Iraqi "political process ", whose aim is to implement the US project for Iraq.
The essence of this initiative is to give the impression that the danger overshadowing Iraq is Iran and the death squads controlled by it directly or indirectly. And, as a consequence, that the Arab resistance should cooperate with the US and the occupation's government to stand against this danger.
No patriotic sane and conscious individual can fall into this trap, whether he is involved in the armed national resistance or outside it. All are aware that the "political process", whatever disguise they might apply to it, can be resumed as follows : Power to collaborators and Oil to the US.
Changing collaborators doesn't alter the plan.
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REINTERPRETING IRAQ: US PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN UNDER WAY
Considering the devastating outcome of Bush's military adventurism in Iraq, one would imagine that sincerity and transparency are required now more than ever before; after all, there seems to be no particular enemy to baffle: Saddam Hussein is in prison, the so-called insurgency has no central command, thus no central strategy - a fact that renders state propaganda ineffective, if at all necessary. Moreover, the campaign of lies and deceit cannot possibly be targeting the Iraqi people for they were never even taken into consideration since the systematic campaign of sanctions started in 1991, which killed - according to the most modest estimates, nearly one million persons, mostly children. The daily and wholesale murder, organized torture and Haditha-like executions since then are further illustrations.
It's clear that the US state propaganda - which has been achieved with the willing cooperation of the mainstream "liberal" media - has one prime target: The American public, for without their full acknowledgment and support, military adventurism can be a huge political burden; coupled with a dwindling economy and mounting debt, it could sway the political pendulum to unfavorable directions. (...)
What began as a focused campaign of misinformation aimed at defeating Saddam's forces, has turned into a much more intense campaign of deceit and trickery aimed at salvaging Bush's political reputation and that of his Republican Party. Thus, what has really changed in Iraq is that the administration and the media have suddenly decided to re-interpret the ongoing conflict for political ends.
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A DESPERATE LETTER
The fearsome nights are stifling us and we now have come to hate the Fall [of Baghdad]; we hate Liberation; we hate Sunnis; we hate Shiites; we hate turbans and sidaras [Baghdadi head gear - a reference to Adnan al-Dulaimi a 'Sunni' politician]; we hate Jihad and Jihadists, resistance and resistors; we hate concrete; we hate streets and sidewalks; we hate the Ministries; we hate Establishments; we hate news channels and news and communiqués; we hate the Parliament that has now become a venue for swearing-in ceremonies and nothing else; we hate songs; we hate commercials; we hate newspapers; we hate cars and car-depots; we hate conferences; we hate 'surprise visits'; we hate neighboring countries; we hate the 'multinational forces; we hate the night; we hate the day; we hate Summer; we hate the sun that sends hell; we hate sleep; we hate water and electricity; we hate petrol and corruption and theft; we hate sectarianism; we hate sectarian 'allocations'; we hate Reconciliation; we hate the government of national unity; we hate committees and Commissions of Integrity, Trash, Rehabilitation and Silliness; we hate [political] parties and organizations; we hate assemblies, demonstrations, banners and chants; we hate laughter; we hate crying; we hate work; we hate study; we hate each other. And we hate ourselves. But (and this is our problem) we still love something that was called Iraq.
-- by blogger Shalash al Iraqi, a resident of Sadr City
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As much as the American people would like to deny their cruelty or extreme brutality, the photos and the stories of Iraqi people clearly show the truth.
Americans have gotten used to the role of entitlement and elitism. We value one American life at a far greater rate than any other human's life. Obviously the going death exchange rate in Iraq is close to 20:1. And still the American people wouldn't care if there were twenty innocent Iraqis killed by our forces if two American soldiers were brutally decapitated.
Clearly the two deaths will plant a seed in the minds of the people. Unfortunately it will be justification for our occupation of Iraq. They will now see how we must fight the terrorist over there rather than here. And if not justification there will be the revenge factor. The killing of the few dozen in Haditha and elsewhere doesn't look quite as bad now that we have two soldiers killed in such a barbaric way.
We've already slapped the wrist of an officer who stuffed an Iraqi general in a sleeping bag, taped his mouth and hands and sat on him. The general "inadvertently" died.
I truly mourn the deaths of the three American soldiers killed that dreadful day. I abhor the way in which the two captured soldiers were killed. It's not a case of you're either with us or you're with them as the President once said about terrorism. Children are not terrorists. And it isn't only American children dying.
I'm just demanding the next time a five hundred pound bomb hits a house full of Iraqi children the media labels it as what it truly is.
-- Wm. Terry Leichner, RN, Denver VVAW member, USMC combat infantryman in Vietnam
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THE MYTH OF ZARQAWI
I have said all along that the poll figures showing Americans to be overwhelmingly against the war in Iraq were illusory. Only 28 percent of Americans were against the war when we invaded Iraq. The ranks have swelled to over 60 percent not because there has been an awakening of social conscience and responsibility, but rather because things aren't going well in Iraq, and there is increasing angst in the American heartland because we seem to be losing the war in Iraq, and no one likes a loser. So when the word came that the notorious terrorist, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, was killed by American military action, the president suddenly had a "good week," and poll numbers adjusted slightly in his favor. However, the facts cannot be re-written, even by a slavish American mainstream media. Zarqawi was never anything more than a minor player in Iraq, a third-rate Jordanian criminal whose exploits were hyped up by a Bush administration anxious to prove that the insurgency that was getting the best of America in Iraq was foreign-grown and linked to the perpetrators of the 9/11 terror attacks nonetheless. The reality of just how wrong such an assessment is (and was) has been pounded home in blood. Since Zarqawi's death, the violence has continued to spiral out of control in Iraq, with Americans continuing to die, Iraqis still being slaughtered, and Zarqawi and his organization, successor and all, still as irrelevant to reality as ever. The war against the American occupation in Iraq is being fought overwhelmingly by Iraqis. The insurgency is growing and becoming stronger and more organized by the day. This, of course, is a reality that the Bush administration cannot afford to have the American people know about in an election year, as a compliant media, having sold its soul to the devil in hyping of the virtues of an invasion of Iraq back in 2002-2003, continues to dance with the party that brought them by supporting the Republican position, by and large, that the conflict in Iraq is a winnable one for America. Good ratings, more dead Americans (and Iraqis, but who is counting?) and a war that will never end until the United States finally slinks out, defeated, its tail tucked firmly between its legs.
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ALL TOO QUIET
Where were the doctors and nurses at Abu Ghraib, Qaim, Bagram, and the other islands of the United States prison archipelago abroad when prisoners were being beaten, suspended, and degraded? Defense Department policies set the stage for the abuses, but the silence of prison clinicians allowed them to continue. Some medical staffers witnessed the brutality. Others saw the injuries that resulted from the abuse.
Most of what we know about the role of prison doctors and medical staffers comes from tens of thousands of pages of government documents released pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. These papers include criminal investigations, FBI notes on debriefings of prisoners, interviews with witnesses, sworn recollections of conversations, e-mails from soldiers and intelligence personnel, autopsy reports, military base policies, and prisoners' medical records. Here are some of the incidents they reveal.
Abed Hamed Mowhoush voluntarily surrendered to American military authorities in Qaim, Iraq, in November 2003. He died of torture 16 days later. According to testimony at the trial of the intelligence officers responsible for the abuse, Mowhoush was repeatedly beaten with fists, hose, sticks, and a rifle butt under the supervision of Army, Special Forces, and CIA personnel. Six of his ribs were broken. Then he was stuffed head first into a sleeping bag and wrapped in 20 feet of electrical wire. A soldier briefly crouched over Mowhoush's chest. A few minutes later, he was found to be dead. Dr. Ann Rossignol, an Air Force physician, joined the resuscitation. She was told that Mowhoush was being interrogated, lost control of his urine, and collapsed. The trial transcript shows that she did not ask for more details. A Pentagon press release stated: "Mowhoush said he didn't feel well and subsequently lost consciousness. The soldier questioning him found no pulse, then conducted CPR and called for medical authorities. According to the on-site surgeon [Rossignol], it appeared Mowhoush died of natural causes."
Somehow Dr. Rossignol missed seeing that Mowhoush's body was bruised on the arms, legs, head, neck, pelvis, and front and back of the torso. These injuries were apparent to the criminal investigators and the pathologists who conducted an autopsy. She kept silent as the inaccurate report circulated that he had died by natural causes. The military has not granted interviews in relation to Mowhoush's death. The official explanation is that the death was an unintentional homicide. (...)
In summer 2004, an Abu Ghraib prisoner described being beaten, slammed against the wall, having his head dunked in water, and being sodomized with a baton until he bled from his rectum. An Army investigator told a physician of the allegation and requested a "medical examination specifically for trauma due to sodomy." The physician did not examine the prisoner's rectum but nonetheless reported no signs of anal tearing. The investigation was closed with a note by the investigating officer, "If there isn't medical evidence then this terrorist lied and you should find a way to charge him with perjury, filing a false statement and anything else available."
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>> BEYOND IRAQ
For the first time, a suicide bomber has targeted German Bundeswehr troops in northern Afghanistan.
No soldiers were killed in the attack, although two civilians were killed, in addition to the bomber, and eight injured. The attack took place on Tuesday in the northern city of Kunduz, according to a spokesman for the German military forces. The troops were on patrol in a Dingo armored vehicle when an explosive device was detonated. Among those injured were four children, reported the news agency Pajhwok.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
: "I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression. My oath of office is to protect and defend America's laws and its people. By refusing unlawful orders for an illegal war, I fulfill that oath today." -- U.S. Army First Lt. Ehren Watada