Tuesday, July 25, 2006


“We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.”


Four mortar bombs fell in the southern Baghdad suburb of Abu Dshir, killing two civilians and injuring seven more. Earlier, one civilian and one soldier were killed in a series of bomb attacks which injured seven people.

The final death toll from an explosion and clashes which erupted between gunmen and the police on Monday on Haifa street in central Baghdad is four policemen killed and 36 wounded.

One policeman was killed and three wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in the Zayouna district of the capital.

Gunmen killed a policeman in a drive-by shooting in southwestern Baghdad.

Five civilians were killed and four others were wounded Monday evening when mortar shells crashed into a southern Baghdad neighborhood.

A Youth Ministry employee in Baghdad was gunned down in a drive-by shooting.

Monday afternoon gunmen shot a civilian in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood.

In north Baghdad, four bodies were found, all killed execution-style.

On Sunday gunmen killed one man in the Baghdad suburb of Dawra.

On Sunday a volley of mortars in western Baghdad killed one and wounded 12, including 5 children and 2 women.

On Sunday three policemen were killed in the Qadasiya neighborhood in western Baghdad after gunmen opened fire on their car.

On Sunday in Adhamiya, a Sunni neighborhood, four unidentified bodies were found in the Tigris, bound and with gunshot wounds to the head.

On Tuesday, two roadside bombs exploded in Baghdad, killing two civilians and wounding two bystanders and a policeman.

A family of Shiite civilians who had been threatened by a sectarian death squad were ambushed by gunmen as they fled a mainly Sunni neighbourhood south of Baghdad. Two of the family were killed and one was wounded when their removal van was sprayed with bullets.

Four civilians were shot dead around the capital, two of them in drive-by shootings, while the corpses of two tortured murder victims were also found by the roadside, police said.


Gunmen set fire to food ration stores run by the Ministry of Trade at midnight in Mosul.

Three Iraqi soldiers were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near a joint Iraqi-U.S. patrol in Mosul.

A policeman in Mosul was gunned down in a drive by shooting


A suicide bomber targeted a police checkpoint in the southern city of Samarra, killing himself and a male bystander and wounding seven police officers, four civilian women and six children. Two of the children and four policemen were in a critical condition. (This may be one of the bombings reported in yesterday’s summary)


Three bodies, identified as Sunnis, were found behind a factory in Taji, all shot in the head.


A former policeman was shot dead in Baquba.

The bodies of five people were found shot dead on Monday night in a village near Baquba after being abducted hours earlier.

On Sunday gunmen killed at least two people near the city of Baquba.


A Multi-National Force statement announced that troops killed one insurgent and wounded and arrested two others Monday in Balad.


The bodies of two people were found with gunshot wounds near Falluja.


The U.S. military killed two civilians on Monday after a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol in Saqlawiya. The U.S. military said they did not have information on the incident.


Gunmen fired rocket propelled grenades at two fuel trucks, killing two drivers and abducting the third on the main road between Kirkuk and Baghdad. One of trucks was set on fire.


Gunmen wounded four people working for a private Iraqi company which deals with the U.S. military near the town of Daquq, 45 km (20 miles) south of Kirkuk.


Gunmen killed a police officer while he headed to work in the town of Ishaqi, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad.


Gunmen killed a former member of Saddam Hussein's ousted Baath party on Monday in the city of Diwaniya, 180 km (112 miles) south of Baghdad.


On Monday, the city morgue in Kut, a mostly Shiite city southeast of Baghdad, reported receiving 19 bodies - blindfolded and some showing signs of torture. They were believed to be victims of sectarian death squads.


Gunmen killed four men selling construction materials in Ramadi.

On Monday the U.S. military announced that two soldiers assigned to the 1st Brigade of the 1st Armored Division, based in Ramadi, had been killed. Although the military released no more details, a witness reported that a roadside bomb had exploded near a Humvee at about 5 p.m., apparently killing the U.S. troops.

Four civilians were killed during a clash between an American military patrol and gunmen in Ramadi.

On Sunday night, the mayor of Ramadi, Muhamed Ahmed Al-Dulami, was killed around 9 p.m. by a group of gunmen. Three policemen were also killed.

On Sunday near Ramadi gunmen attacked three trucks carrying fuel, killing the drivers.


On Sunday near Suwayra Iraqi police officers retrieved the bodies of seven people who had been handcuffed, blindfolded and shot in the head and chest.


On Sunday one person was killed when a mortar hit a house in Mussayib.

Anbar Province

On Sunday an American soldier was killed “due to enemy action” in Anbar province.

Too little too late: The US is planning to deploy thousands of extra troops in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, in an attempt to combat the deteriorating security situation.

US President George W Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki are to meet at the White House to discuss details.

US officials said the extra troops would be sent from other areas of Iraq.

They’re going to combat death squads? What are they going to do, attack the Interior Ministry?: American troops are stepping up operations in the Baghdad area to combat death squads and dampen down the violence threatening the new unity government, a U.S. general said Monday. U.S. and Iraqi forces conducted 19 operations last week targeting death squads, U.S. spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell told reporters. All but two were in Baghdad, he said. "Clearly Baghdad is the center that everybody is fighting for," Caldwell said. "We will do whatever it takes to bring security to Baghdad."

It’s Bin Laden’s fault!: What explains the persistent and spiraling sectarian strife? Now that Shiite death squads, which infiltrated Iraqi forces, are doing as much killing as their militant Sunni Arab counterparts, Sunni Arabs no longer have a monopoly on the insurgency. Both camps include powerful well-organized, militant forces that want a divorce, and not a unified, multiethnic state. By carrying out a campaign of systematic sectarian killings and redrawing the map of Baghdad, armed Sunni and Shiite militias have pushed the country closer to full-scale civil war. This analysis might be dismissed by Iraqis as academic because they say they are living in the midst of civil war.

It was widely assumed that Mr. Zarqawi's death would herald a shift in Al Qaeda's strategy, as it was also assumed that Zarqawi had acted against the will of his senior bosses, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, in targeting Shiites and their religious shrines. Mr. bin Laden's recent rhetoric clearly shows otherwise. In an apparent, dramatic shift of strategy, bin Laden, in two audiotapes posted on an Al Qaeda website, called on Sunnis everywhere to punish the Shiites whom he referred to as "rejectionists," "traitors," and "agents of the Americans." Believing that Sunni Arabs are experiencing "annihilation," bin Laden warned Iraq's majority Shiite Muslims they were not safe from Al Qaeda's new leader in the country, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer (his real identity still unknown), whom he endorsed as Zarqawi's successor.

Designed to gain Al Qaeda new recruits and stature among Sunni Arabs, bin Laden's call complicates the efforts by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to end the sectarian bloodletting that is tearing the country apart.

No, it’s the Iraqi government’s fault!: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's visit to Washington starting today comes as the mood about the war in the capital outside the Bush administration is increasingly somber and fearful that the Iraqi leader's new government has not acted forcefully enough to stem the growing insurgency and sectarian violence.

With midterm congressional elections just over three months away, with U.S. casualties mounting and with al-Maliki conceding that some 100 Iraqis a day are being killed daily, the pressure is on President Bush to show progress in Iraq. But hopes for one indicator of such progress, a significant drawdown of the 130,000 U.S. forces in Iraq before the Nov. 7 election, are fading.

(WTF? Now we’re calling a drawdown of US forces before November a metric? Gee, and here I thought it would just be a cheap ploy for electoral advantage...)

Well, whoever’s fault it is, let’s not tell Bubble Boy: I reported in May that despite the deteriorating situation in Iraq, no National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has been produced on that country since the summer of 2004. The last NIE, a classified document that the CIA describes as “the most authoritative written judgment concerning a national security issue,” was rejected by the Bush Administration (after being leaked to the New York Times) as being too negative, though its grim assessment subsequently proved to be highly accurate.

The situation has gotten even darker since my initial story—a United Nations report cited in Wednesday's New York Times found that an average of more than 100 Iraqi civilians were killed each day in June—and I've learned from two sources that some senior figures at the CIA, along with a number of Iraq analysts, have been pushing to produce a new NIE. They've been stonewalled, however, by John Negroponte, the administration's Director of National Intelligence, who knows that any honest take on the situation would produce an NIE even more pessimistic than the 2004 version. That could create problems on the Hill and, if it is leaked as the last one was, with the public as well.

“What do you call the situation in Iraq right now?” asked one person familiar with the situation. “The analysts know that it's a civil war, but there's a feeling at the top that [using that term] will complicate matters.” Negroponte, said another source regarding the potential impact of a pessimistic assessment, “doesn't want the president to have to deal with that.”

Or maybe Maliki can just tell him it’s not really happening: Iraq's morgues are overflowing and 100 civilians a day are killed in communal violence, but official statistics tell only part of the story of a slide into civil war -- for the rest, just listen to ordinary Iraqis.

President George W. Bush will hear the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, in Washington on Tuesday tell him of plans for stemming bloodshed in Baghdad and repeat assurances he gave on Monday that Iraq is not at war with itself.

But talk to people at random in the capital and a picture quickly emerges of a city where virtually everyone has a friend, relative or neighbour who has fallen victim to the sectarian shootings and death threats that Washington accepts are now an even bigger threat than the 3-year-old Sunni insurgency.

Every one of 20 people who spoke to Reuters around their workplace in central Baghdad, from a variety of sects and ethnic groups, had a horror story of conflict touching their lives.

Japan’s outathere: The last contingent of Japanese ground troops based in Iraq came home on Tuesday, completing the military's riskiest overseas mission since World War Two without firing a shot or suffering any casualties.

The dispatch was a milestone in Japan's shift away from a purely defensive posture towards a bigger international role for the nation's military, no member of which has fired a shot in combat or been killed in an overseas mission since 1945.

But Wait – There’s Good News From Iraq!

They found something they can agree on!: Though embroiled in a bloody war over the future shape and identity of their country, Iraq's Sunni Arabs, Shiites, Kurds and even Christians have unified in condemning Israel over its fighting in Lebanon against the Hezbollah militia. Condemnation of Israel's actions in Lebanon and of the United States as the Jewish state's backer has emerged as a rare bridge issue, cutting across political, ethnic and religious lines.

Demonstrators loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr marched through the city center of Najaf on Sunday evening in support of Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, chanting "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!" Across the city, more moderate Shiite clerics loyal to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani issued a statement urging support for the Islamist militia in Lebanon and condemning the U.S. and Israel.

Heck, they’re practically working together: U.S. forces in Iraq were attacked last week by insurgents claiming revenge for Israel's war on Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, the Daily News has learned.

Both Sunni and Shiite Muslim insurgent groups have released Internet videos depicting "revenge" attacks on U.S. tanks and Humvees south of Baghdad, in Ramadi, Karbala and Hilla, according to the SITE Institute.

"These operations are retaliation for the attacks by the Zionist forces on our brothers in Lebanon," a voice on one video shouted over a scene of a Humvee getting blown up in Hilla.

"If the [Israeli offensive] continues, the reverberations of the Lebanon crisis will likely be heard in the streets of Baghdad and southern Iraq," said Fawaz Gerges, a Carnegie scholar in Beirut who studies Islamic militants.

The Professionals Who Didn’t Flee

Could get much worse: Najla Muhammad, 34, is a biologist who graduated from one of the best universities in the capital. Unfortunately, however, rising unemployment has forced her to seek work as a housekeeper in order to support her family.

"I didn't have a choice. My family was going to starve if I didn't find a better job," says Najla. "For years I worked in a scientific laboratory in Baghdad, but they couldn't pay all their employees. I was left with three children and a mother to look after."

Najla now works as a housekeeper to make ends meet, receiving between US $100 and US $120 dollars a month. Her husband, meanwhile, holds a degree in economics but has been unemployed for nearly a year and has few prospects for work.

National unemployment figures have risen ever since the occupation of the country by US-led forces three years ago. Local NGOs say this has led to increasing numbers of female professionals being driven to search for work as domestic servants.

"In most cases, they seek work as housekeepers," says Mayada Zuhair, vice-president of the Women's Rights Association of Iraq. "But you can also find doctors working as hairdressers, dentists working as chefs and engineers working in Laundromats. They're desperate, and with poverty increasing, the situation could get much worse."

American Values

What have they become?: The torture of prisoners in US custody in Iraq was authorised and routine even after the Abu Ghraib scandal came to light, a US-based rights group says.

Soldiers' accounts show that detainees routinely faced severe beatings, sleep deprivation and other abuses for much of 2003-2005, Human Rights Watch says.

Soldiers who tried to complain about the abuse were rebuffed or ignored.

But a Pentagon spokesman said 12 reviews had found there was no policy condoning or encouraging abuse.

What they should be: "Simply put, I am wholeheartedly opposed to the continued war in Iraq, the deception used to wage this war, and the lawlessness that has pervaded every aspect of our civilian leadership." These were the impassioned, defiant words of Army First Lt. Ehren K. Latada, 28, in a letter he sent in January "with deep regret" to his brigade commander, Col. Stephen J. Townsend, asking to be allowed to leave the army "with honor and dignity" on Constitutional grounds. The Army's charged him under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with one count of missing movement, for not deploying, two counts of contempt towards officials and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. For taking this rare stand, he faces an Article 32 hearing and possible court-martial this Fall. He would be the first Army officer to be court-martialed for refusing to serve in Iraq. To be sure, Lt. Watada is no coward, and he is fundamentally not opposed to war. To the contrary, after the attacks on 9/11 he enlisted in the Army "out of a desire to protect our country," even paying $800 of his own funds for a medical test to prove he qualified for duty despite having asthma as a child. He served in South Korea, and has been lauded by fellow officers and commanders with praise of his "exemplary" service and "unlimited potential."

Support Lt. Watada!


NY Times Editorial: People who have seen “The War Tapes,” a documentary film focused on three National Guardsmen serving in Iraq, will remember them grousing at the assignment of riding shotgun on Halliburton’s lucrative supply convoys, then complaining later in the mess hall about the obvious overpricing of Halliburton chow-line utensils. The Pentagon, on the other hand, has insisted that stories of the $45 cases of soda, double-billed meals and $100 bags of laundry are largely myth and that Halliburton has done far better than a heckuva job. And a company official described its work in Iraq and Afghanistan as “nothing short of amazing.”

Yet now it turns out that military brass have been quietly making plans to end Halliburton’s regal status as the single contractor of so much. The Pentagon’s new plan is to split the work among three companies to be chosen by competitive bidding. And for good measure they’ll pick a fourth to keep an eye on the other three, according to The Washington Post. The reasons for the change were described by an Army official as the search for better prices, more accountability and protection against having all the logistical eggs in one basket. This strangely echoes what critics of the Halliburton deal have been saying for the last four years.

Casualty Reports

A Marine from Oregon is one of the latest casualties in the Iraq war, officials said Monday. Capt. Christopher T. Pate, 29, who was listed from Portland, died Friday during combat in the Anbar province of Iraq, according to the Marine Corps. Pate was stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and assigned to the 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, Command Element, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, his unit said in a release.

A Cedarburg man says his son -- a Wisconsin National Guard member in Iraq -- was killed in an explosion. Stephen Castner says his namesake -- 27-year-old Steve Castner -- died only days after being sent to the Middle East. He says his family was informed of the death just after noon Monday (July 24, 2006). A 101st Airborne Division soldier from Texas was killed in Iraq when he was hit by enemy fire, the Army said yesterday. Capt. Blake H. Russell, 35, of Fort Worth, died Saturday. Russell was killed while investigating a possible mortar cache during combat operations in Baghdad.


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