Thursday, July 13, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR THURSDAY, July 13, 2006 Greetings from Germany: Spotted at University Square in Rostock. (Photo: AP) (See below "Not Welcome, Mr President") An Apache attack helicopter crashed during a combat patrol southwest of Baghdad, but both pilots survived, the U.S. military said. The statement did not say what caused the crash nor give a precise location. However, an Iraqi army official in the area said the helicopter was shot down in the village of Grakoul, located near the town of Youssifiyah about eight miles southwest of Baghdad. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to media. The names and the conditions of the two pilots were not released, but the statement said they were flown to a U.S. military facility north of the capital. Bring 'em on: A Sailor assigned to 9th Naval Construction Regiment died due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province on July 12. Bring 'em on: A Fort Wainwright soldier was killed Wednesday in Iraq, a military spokesman said. The soldier was killed by small-arms fire while conducting a mounted patrol in Mosul, said U.S. Army Alaska Public Affairs spokesman Maj. Kirk Gohlke. The identity of the soldier, who was assigned to the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team based at Fort Wainwright, has not been released. However, the next of kin have been notified, Gohlke said. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: Three Iraqis were killed and eight others were injured by a booby trapped car blast near a gas station on Baghdad. Five cleaning workers were killed by a bomb while performing their regular tasks in south-eastern Baghdad's Al-Ghadeer quarter. Police in Karbala announced on that the bodies of five missing policemen, who had gone to Baghdad for a training course, had been found. The men were returning to Karbala when gunmen ambushed them in the Sunni neighborhood of Dura in southern Baghdad, said Karbala authorities. Their bodies had lain in Baghdad city morgue for three days before being identified late on Wednesday. Three mortar rounds landed in the district of Shula, wounding two people. Clashes erupted between gunmen and Iraqi police in Ghazaliya, a neighbourhood in western Baghdad. The Association of Muslim Scholars, a leading Sunni religious group, said gunmen had attacked one its mosques in Ghazaliya. Police said two people were wounded in clashes. Purported Shiite militiamen drove the streets of the western Baghdad neighborhood of Ghazaliyah and called on Sunnis to leave. Clashes broke out after police arrived, supported by U.S. forces in the air, with one policeman killed and two injured. A postal policeman also was killed in a drive-by shooting in southwestern Baghdad. Karbala: Gunmen attacked a minivan that was coming from the holy city of Karbala to Baghdad, killing the driver and wounding four passengers. Gunmen at a fake checkpoint killed four policemen from Karbala after stopping their car in the Baghdad neighborhood of Dora. Diyala Prv: Gunmen killed a member of a provincial council in Diwaniyah, some 80 miles south of Baghdad. Gunmen opened fire on a minibus carrying Shiite commuters in the northern part of the province, killing one and wounding three. Baqubah: Gunmen attacked a police patrol, killing a police officer and wounding another in the city of Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad. Muqdadiya: (Near) The bodies of three brothers were found shot dead near the town of Muqdadiya, 100 km (60 miles) northeast of Baghdad, police said. They had been seized from their home a day earlier, police added. Abu Saeda: A bicycle fitted with a bomb exploded inside the town hall of Abu Saeda village just northeast of the provincial capital Baquba, killing three people and wounding three. The head of the local council Raed Israwi and one of his sons were among the wounded, while another son was killed. The three were just entering the building when they were caught by the blast. Kirkuk: A car bomb targeting a police patrol near the Northern Oil Company in Kirkuk in northern Iraq killed three policemen and wounded six civilians. Al Abasi: Three Iraqi soldiers were killed and three wounded when gunmen attacked a checkpoint at the entrance of al-Abasi, a small town 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Kirkuk. Mosul: A suicide car bomber struck a police patrol in the northern city of Mosul on Thursday, killing five people and wounding five. The attack, which occurred about 8:15 p.m., also damaged some shops. Police Col. Abdul Karim Ahmed said two policemen and three civilians were killed, and two policemen and three civilians were wounded. Five Iraqi soldiers were wounded by a roadside bomb in the northern city of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad. Gunmen killed a policeman wearing civilian clothes while he was getting his car repaired in Mosul. Gunmen killed a policeman in Mosul. Karabilah: A suicide car bomb struck a U.S. checkpoint in Karabilah, near the Syrian border, but no casualties were immediately reported. >> NEWS British and Australian forces handed over security responsibility for relatively peaceful Muthanna province to Iraqi forces in the first such transfer of an entire province. Saddam Hussein and three of his co-defendants have been on a hunger strike for five days, the United States military said on Wednesday, confirming a statement from the former Iraqi president's lawyer, but insisting he was in good health. The four had refused meals since Friday evening in protest at court procedures in their trial for crimes against humanity and over security for their defence lawyers, a third of whom was killed last month. Iraqi police arrested several oil smugglers and confiscated an oil tank prepared to be smuggled from southern Iraq, a government statement said today. Iraqi security forces in Thi Qar governorate, southern Iraq, confiscated the tank along with 30 barrels of oil and a number of cars used by the smugglers who are residents of Basra governorate. >> REPORTS ROAD TO VICTORY IN IRAQ 'UNCLEAR,' US AUDITORS CONCLUDE The investigative arm of the US Congress has openly questioned if victory in Iraq can be achieved without a significant overhaul of President George W. Bush's strategy, arguing the outcome of the war was presently "unclear". The findings by the Government Accountability Office mark the first time a non-partisan US government agency publicly doubted whether the geo-strategic undertaking that Bush made the defining element of his presidency, could be successful. "It is unclear how the United States will achieve its desired end-state in Iraq given the significant changes in the assumptions underlying the US strategy," the GAO wrote in its report unveiled Tuesday at a hearing in the House of Representatives. The review focuses on the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq," a glitzy document released by the White House with great fanfare last November. The strategy charted what was described at the time as a sound course for overcoming the Iraqi insurgency and turning the country in the first true democracy in the Arab world. (...) All of these factors have prompted the GAO to issue a dire forecast: "Security, political, and economic factors will hamper US efforts to stabilize Iraq and achieve key US goals." The report is certain to add fuel to a growing debate in Congress over the future US course in Iraq, which President Bush says should remain unchanged and Democrats insist is in need of a thorough re-evaluation. In the meantime, the State Department rejected the congressional findings, saying in its response that the GAO report "rests on a flawed understanding of the strategic architecture guiding United States policy in Iraq." read in full... >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS LETTER TO SENATOR CLINTON Ma'am, I came across this two days ago and thought it might be of interest to you. In a few weeks I will be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. My oath is to defend the Constitution of the United States. It is not to collaborate in a neoimperial enterprise or forceful market acquisition. I cannot conscience taking life or allowing the lives of my troops to be taken while my country's political leaders loot and pillage another nation under the guise of democratization. This is criminal, plain and simple. I would appreciate it if you or one of your staff would follow the link below to the report titled "Crude Designs" and respond to my email within the next week. ["Crude Designs" is reprinted at the end of this letter. T] I will attempt to contact Senator Kerry and others if I do not receive a response from this office. Good luck to your party in November- the future of two nations depends on your success. Sincerely, Dissenting Patriot link RIVERBEND: THEY LET THE MASSACRE HAPPEN The day before yesterday was catastrophic. The day began with news of the killings in Jihad Quarter. According to people who live there, black-clad militiamen drove in mid-morning and opened fire on people in the streets and even in houses. They began pulling people off the street and checking their ID cards to see if they had Sunni names or Shia names and then the Sunnis were driven away and killed. Some were executed right there in the area. The media is playing it down and claiming 37 dead but the people in the area say the number is nearer 60. The horrific thing about the killings is that the area had been cut off for nearly two weeks by Ministry of Interior security forces and Americans. Last week, a car bomb was set off in front of a 'Sunni' mosque people in the area visit. The night before the massacre, a car bomb exploded in front of a Shia husseiniya in the same area. The next day was full of screaming and shooting and death for the people in the area. No one is quite sure why the Americans and the Ministry of Interior didn't respond immediately. They just sat by, on the outskirts of the area, and let the massacre happen. read in full... ANOTHER FACE, ANOTHER RAID Early in the morning on Sunday, Jun. 18, U.S. military helicopters landed near the home of Sinan Abdul-Ilah al-Mashadani in the al-Jughaifi district of Fallujah. Within two minutes the doors of his home were blasted open and "a strange looking group of people" stormed inside, according to Said Walid Ahmed, a 40-year-old teacher who lives in the neighbourhood. "This force is not totally unknown to us here in Fallujah," Ahmed, who witnessed the incident from a nearby house told IPS.. "They are a special force of Americans that assassinates more people than it arrests." Ahmed described the force from the helicopters as "big men with long hair and beards, some wearing earrings, and others with little black caps on the top of their heads at the back." Sinan Abdul-Ilah al-Mashadani, who was a student at al-Mustansiriya University and the sole supporter of his mother and younger brother and sister, was killed in the raid, apparently by a special operations team supported by the U.S. military, according to witnesses. "Their (special forces troops') dogs were biting everybody including children and women in the neighbourhood," Um Amar, a 63-year-old woman who lives three houses away from Sinan told IPS. "They killed the poor boy in cold blood and arrested his little brother." She burst into tears and began to pray. Another neighbour, Jassim al-Jumaily, said Sinan's father Najim Abdul-Ilah al-Mashhadani was killed during Operation Phantom Fury in November 2004 when his house was bombed by U.S. warplanes. The U.S. military assault on Fallujah then destroyed most of the city and killed between 4,000 and 6,000 people, according to Monitoring Net of Human Rights in Iraq (MHRI), an Iraqi non-governmental organisation based in Fallujah. Sinan took responsibility for his family after the death of his father, Jumaily said. "He had to work and study at the same time. We did not notice any abnormality in his behaviour at all. When the helicopters came, we never thought Sinan would be the target, because we realise they only come after big personalities from al-Qaeda or leaders in the Iraqi resistance." Jumaily said the long-haired bearded men from the special force "blasted the doors of Sinan's house open as if they were attacking an army headquarters." People in the neighbourhood said they heard some of what was going on. "The screaming of Sinan's mother and sisters was frightening," Jumaily said. "All we could do was pray for their safety, trying to comfort each other that the worst possibility was that they would arrest Sinan." After the men had been inside the house for three hours Jumaily and other witnesses said they heard Sinan's mother wailing, and saw the men leave with Amin, her 13-year-old son who was being beaten by the men and bitten by their dogs as he was taken away. Many of the neighbours then went to Sinan's home, and found his body, covered with sheets and mattresses. There was a pool of blood on the floor, some was splattered on the walls. "Three days after his detention, Amin was released," said Muhamad al-Deraji, director of MHRI. "The left hand of this orphaned child was bitten three times, and is now scarred and deformed." The U.S. forces also raided other homes in the area, Deraji said. "One of the dogs attacked a woman who tried to protect her baby. The dog bit the mother's hand." Deraji said the forces looted money and jewellery from several of the houses they raided. IPS sent an email to Major Douglas Powell at the Combined Press Information Centre for the Multi-National Force in Iraq to request comment on the incident. There was no reply. Later, IPS phoned the U.S. military spokesperson in Baghdad to request information on the incident. The spokesman, who declined to give his name, said "we have no information confirming this event ever took place." (END/2006) link TAKING OUT THE COUGARS AND BRADLEYS Three U.S. soldiers scouring the treacherous roads of western Iraq for remote-controlled explosive devices were killed by a massive roadside bomb that destroyed their heavily protected vehicle, U.S. military officials said. The three soldiers were part of the U.S. Army 1st Armored Division's Task Force Dagger, which sweeps major roads in Ramadi for bombs under the command of the U.S. Marines. They were riding in a heavily armored Cougar, a vehicle designed to withstand unexpected roadside bombs and used in mine sweeping operations. The Pentagon last year ordered 122 of the mine-sweeping Cougars worth a total of $87 million from Force Protection, Inc., the Ladson, S.C. firm that makes the vehicle and its spare parts. The Cougars "feature armor-plated V-shaped bottoms designed to deflect the upward explosive power of roadside bombs," said the company's website. But since the 1st Armored Division units moved into the area, some Marines say they believe insurgents have been placing larger roadside bombs to take out the Germany-based unit's fleet of armored tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles. link to excerpt THE DAY IRAQ'S MUSIC DIED Canadian independent journalist Hadani Ditmars's first glimpse of Baghdad wasn't hunkered in a Humvee full of terrified American soldiers. She'd been there off and on since 1997, reporting for the New York Times and other papers on the effects of the Hussein regime and U.N. sanctions on the Iraqi people. What she found was a humanitarian disaster, but a still-flourishing culture of music and theater; when she went back to Baghdad just after the invasion to finish her recent book, "Dancing in the No-Fly Zone: A Woman's Journey Through Iraq," that culture was gone. The country had spiraled even further downward into "criminal anarchy and de facto theocracy," and the country's music had died. Being of mixed French and Lebanese heritage, and speaking Arabic, Ditmars could penetrate layers of Iraqi society other Western reporters could not -- especially the private world of Iraqi women and now-persecuted artists. Though "Dancing" covers some of her hard news assignments, including a tour of Abu Ghraib, the book's greatest achievement is in taking the reader where no other reporter has dared: into the hearts of the Iraqi people themselves. (...) Kuipers: What happened to all your artist friends in Baghdad? Ditmars: A terrible combination of criminal anarchy and de facto theocracy has killed that old secular culture which existed in pre-invasion Iraq, where you had theater and the Baghdad Philharmonic. All my musician friends have left. The orchestra's been getting death threats. The cellist in the book has become a mercenary. All my playwright friends have left. The theater scene in Iraq was wonderful. Beckett was actually really popular, because "Waiting for Godot" plays so well in police states. It's like Iran after the revolution. Live music is banned in public, in a lot of places. You go to a wedding, it's just DJs. All the educated people are leaving. There's a campaign, now, of assassination against doctors and professors. It's like the Khmer Rouge. The kinds of people that could actually be leaders and help the situation have all left or been killed. Kuipers: The music has died? Ditmars: Maqam, which is the essential Iraqi poetic form, it's like tragic, unrequited love songs, sung and played on oud; there's no more maqam in the cradle of civilization. Live music has been banned. Iraq has weathered so many storms, but to think that now, this terrible combination of theocracy and criminal anarchy means that there's no more maqam in Baghdad? It's like no more Beach Boys in L.A. read in full... THE EDEN OF OUR TIME Britain invaded an Arab country led by a man the prime minister branded a dictator on a par with Hitler, who supported "terrorists" and was said to threaten vital western interests in the region. The invasion was based on a falsehood. That was 50 years ago. Yet Anthony Eden's response to Nasser's decision to nationalise the Suez canal has remarkable parallels with those of his successor, Tony Blair, in another Middle East crisis of the west's own making. Eden, who had been foreign secretary in the second world war, compared Nasser to Hitler (as did the Labour leader, Hugh Gaitskell). The situation was "the most hazardous that our country has known since 1940", Eden warned Eisenhower. Blair similarly evoked ghosts of the past. He could not endure the "shame" of appeasement, he said a few days before the Iraq invasion. Britain would face a "living nightmare" if it appeased Saddam Hussein. Blair, like Eden, had succumbed to that most dangerous affliction of political leaders - misreading history. Nasser was an Arab nationalist. Saddam was a dictator, but no Hitler. (...) Suez and Iraq both provoked fierce public controversy. They also caused trauma in the intelligence world. There was widespread unease in MI6 about how it was used to provide ammunition against Saddam. Eden's approach to MI6 to help him get rid of Nasser also caused deep concern, with the agency's senior officers - including its head, Sir Dick White - strongly disapproving. That was one reason why the Anglo-American intelligence relationship survived its unprecedented crisis. For there is one fundamental difference between Suez and Iraq. Fifty years ago Washington was opposed to military intervention. And that taught the British government a lesson. When Harold Macmillan succeeded an ill and thwarted Eden, he locked Britain into a deeper special relationship, with a mutual defence pact with the US - which Blair was to accept without question over Iraq. read in full... >> BEYOND IRAQ Afghanistan: Some 200 militants, driving four-wheel-drive vehicles, poured into the Helmand provincial town of Nawzad and set up positions around a police compound where Afghan soldiers and police, along with coalition forces, were based, spokesman Ghulam Muhiddin said. "The Taliban surrounded this area, including a nearby bazaar, and told all their shopkeepers to leave before attacking the compound with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades," Muhiddin told The Associated Press. Soldiers and Afghan forces inside the compound returned fire, said coalition spokeswoman Capt. Julie Roberge. Coalition warplanes launched several airstrikes, killing 12 militants in a vehicle and another seven near the compound, Muhiddin said. British spokesman Capt. Drew Gibson said coalition aircraft dropped two 500-pound bombs on two Taliban targets in Nawzad, including a machine-gun position that was destroyed. He had no details on militant casualties. In Musa Qala district, insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns at coalition troops, who returned fire and killed local Taliban commander Mullah Saeef, the U.S. military said. Two insurgents, including one who was wounded, were captured in the fighting Wednesday. Two coalition forces were slightly wounded in an ambush in Kunar province's Pech River Valley, said military spokeswoman Lt. Tamara Lawrence. `NOT WELCOME, MR PRESIDENT' Bush will (…) visit the [German] town of Stralsund where he will meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel, and he will tour the village of Trinwillershagen on July 13. Around 12,000 police will be assigned to protect Bush during his visit to Merkel's home state. German pacifist and leftist groups are planning to stage a major demonstration during the Bush trip. The demonstration -- titled `Not Welcome, Mr President' -- is expected to attract thousands of protestors from all over Germany. Several leftist parties and trade unions have also announced their readiness to take part in what peace groups have branded as an "anti-US war" demonstration. read in full… QUOTE OF THE DAY: "2003 - "'We can't leave Iraq. If we do, Sectarian violence will tear it apart'. 2006 - 'Sectarian violence is rife in Iraq. We can't leave'." -- Sectarian WMD in Free Iraq blog


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