DAILY WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY, August 18, 2006
: Iraqi children play with a soccer ball on a deserted street during the prayer day vehicle ban, in Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Aug. 18, 2006. The number of roadside bombs directed against U.S. and Iraqi forces increased sharply last month, U.S. officials said Aug.17, 2006. The increase dramatizes the threat posed by the Sunni-led insurgency despite attention directed to sectarian violence in the capital.(AP Photo/Mohammed Adnan)
Iraqi media Friday reported what was believed to have been the first-ever attack by a female suicide bomber, an attack which targeted joint Iraqi-US forces
: The Iraqi news agency al-Dar cited eyewitnesses as saying the attack took place Wednesday in Maqdadiya, 110 kilometres north-east of Baghdad.
The woman, wearing an explosives belt, approached a joint US-Iraqi forces patrol positioned near a bus stop and blew herself up, the report said.
At least seven were killed and more than another 20 wounded, including civilians and military personnel, al-Dar said. The US and Iraqi military did not specify the number of casualties inflicted upon their forces in this attack.
Eyewitnesses said that joint Iraqi and US forces moved in to seal off the site of the blast while US helicopters hovered overhead. One of these helicopters reportedly landed in order to evacuate wounded US soldiers. Iraqi and US military vehicles also moved in to evacuate their injured personnel.
Iraqi military spokesmen have declined to comment on the incident beyond stating that Iraqi forces had suffered casualties in the attack. Further details were not available.
Bring 'em on
: Capt. John J. McKenna IV, 30, of Brooklyn, N.Y., died Aug. 16 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Albany, N.Y. (DefenseLink)
Bring 'em on
: Sgt. John P. Phillips, 29, of St. Stephen, S.C., died Aug. 16 at Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas, from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq, on March 7. He was assigned to 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan. (DefenseLink)
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
Iraqi security forces, supported by U.S. military forces, killed one insurgent and detained another
in an early-morning operation in Rasheed district, southeast of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement.
Gunmen killed a policeman in the al-Rashdiya district, north of Baghdad.
Four bodyguards working for a Baquba city council member were wounded in a mortar attack on his home.
Two civilians were killed and seven others wounded today in a string of attacks around Baquba
, a restive provincial capital just north of Baghdad.
A former Baath Party member was assassinated in Diwaniya
, 180 Km (112 miles) south of Baghdad.
Unidentified gunmen attacked a convoy of civilian trucks Friday, killing one guard.
The convoy carrying unspecified goods had just left Baghdad for the northern city of Irbil when it came under attack in Taji, 20 kilometres north of the capital, said police Lt. Ahmed Al-Qaisi. He said one guard riding alongside in an SUV was killed and one guard was injured.
Iraqi police found five bodies with gunshot wounds in Mahmoudiya
, about 30 kilometres south of Baghdad.
A roadside bomb killed one person in Balad Ruz
, 70 kilometres northeast of Baghdad.
A greengrocer was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Yarmuk.
Three men were killed in Mosul, north of Baghdad
, including one believed to be a member of the Kurdish Peshmerga militia.
Two women, one of whom was pregnant, were gunned down about 10 km northeast of Mosul.
The commander of the fifth brigade of the Iraqi army escaped injury when a roadside bomb exploded near Kirkush
, wounding three of his guards.
The British military base near Amarah, some 380 kilometres south of Baghdad, came under mortar fire Friday morning
, Iraqi security sources said. The sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that unidentified insurgents fired five mortar rounds on Abu Naji base, five kilometres to the south of the city at dawn on Friday. The sound of explosions could be heard echoing near the base. The mortar attack was confirmed by the British military, but they did not comment on the extent of material damage or casualties inflicted by the attack.
77 people were detained in the last 24 hours including 31 people with strong evidence of terrorist activities against them
. It said the 31 included four Iraqis who were caught planting a roadside bomb south of Baghdad, five Egyptians and a man who had obtained a security clearance pass for the highly protected Green Zone, an enclosed area in Baghdad containing government headquarters and the U.S. facilities.
Two contractors working in Iraq for the Army Corps of Engineers' center in Huntsville have been killed by roadside bombs in Iraq this week.
One was killed Sunday and another Thursday, according to a news release from the Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of storing and destroying captured munitions in Iraq. There have now been 28 contractors associated with the Huntsville center killed in Iraq.
Turkey and Iran have dispatched tanks, artillery and thousands of troops to their frontiers with Iraq
during the past few weeks in what appears to be a coordinated effort to disrupt the activities of Kurdish rebel bases. Scores of Kurds have fled their homes in the northern frontier region after four days of shelling by the Iranian army. Local officials said Turkey had also fired a number of shells into Iraqi territory.
Iraqi authorities ordered all vehicles off the streets in much of the capital Friday
in an effort to avoid car bombings during a Shiite religious gathering. (...)
A government statement said the ban would run until 6 a.m. Monday. The ceremony, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of Shiites from across the country, reaches its high point Sunday.
About 1,000 people died during last year's commemoration when rumors of suicide bombers triggered a stampede on a bridge over the Tigris River.
Iraqi authorities in Karbala said they had reached a peace deal with a dissident cleric to end three days of clashes with his militiamen
: The violence between police and loyalists of Ayatollah Mahmoud al-Hasani had erupted on Tuesday with a raid on his headquarters that left six people dead and prompted the governor's office to slap a three-day curfew on the city.
"A decision to restore peace and initiate dialogue to protect lives and property has been taken," a statement from the governor's office said.
It said an investigation would be launched into the arrests of more than 200 of Hasani's militiamen and "those who are not guilty will be released".
Hasani's spokesman Dhia al-Musawi had said that his followers had been arrested "with no justification".
The governor's office said that in return the cleric had been called on to break links with people "targeting government buildings".
"Nobody is allowed to carry arms openly in the city," it said.
The curfew will nonetheless remain in force until Friday evening.
WELCOME TO BAGHDAD; HAVE A NICE BOMB
Since arriving two weeks ago, two Strykers have been hit by roadside bombs, causing no major damage, and several others have been shot at, soldiers said. The unit's base has also been rocketed and mortared.
link to excerpt
ON THE BRINK OF COLLAPSE
The [fuel] shortage could have more far-reaching consequences than creating misery for Baghdad's car owners.
It is the latest sign that the economy may be on the brink of collapse. Inflation is running at 50 per cent, corruption is rife and, most importantly, the end of next month will bring to a close the American-funded reconstruction programme, even though electricity in Baghdad remains on for one hour in three at best.
"I have been here since yesterday afternoon and still I am not at the line," said Abu Omar. "The officials are lining their pockets so they can pay to live abroad while we rot here." Others dismissed everyone in the government as "thieves".
The latest report from the oil ministry inspector-general supports their claims. It is estimated that about $4 billion worth of oil was smuggled out last year.
A report this month by the US special inspectorate general for reconstruction found that only 38 per cent of oil and gas projects had been completed and that nearly a third of planned electricity projects had not even started.
A crucial oil pipeline predicted to bring the government nearly $15 billion in revenue remains two years behind schedule. There is doubt whether it will ever be finished.
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ZOGBY: BUSH JOB APPROVAL-34%
President Bush's job approval rating dipped two points in the last three weeks, despite the foiling of an airline terror plot and the adoption of a cease-fire deal between Israel and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, a new Zogby International telephone poll shows. (...)
Pollster John Zogby: "President Bush's numbers mainly reflect the country's thinking on the war in Iraq, and most people have made up their minds that the war overall has not been worth the loss of American lives. Terrorism is an important issue to Americans, but when it comes to judging Bush's presidency, their decision is based largely on Iraq."
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>> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
BURYING THE INSURGENCY IN IRAQ
(…) the BBC has used a focus on sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni groups to bury the insurgency out of sight. In an August 15, BBC online article titled, 'Iraq's spiralling sectarian strife,' the BBC's Mike Wooldridge explained:
"The Americans, working with Iraqi forces in a new drive to reclaim parts of the Iraqi capital from gunmen and bombers, call it Operation Together Forward.
"It is key to establishing the authority of Iraq's still relatively new government, to the coalition's handover of full responsibility for security to the Iraqis and - more importantly - to averting what even US officers now acknowledge is the risk of outright civil war." (…)
What of the insurgency?
"Meanwhile the Sunni-led insurgency that erupted after the ousting of Saddam Hussein continues despite a reconciliation initiative launched by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki."
That was all Wooldridge had to say on the matter before returning to the theme of sectarian violence. The Americans and Iraqis "have declared themselves to be hunting 'death squads' that have left many residents of the city living in fear of a knock on the door or of being gunned down in the street". (…)
The American aim, then, really is to improve the lives of ordinary Iraqi people, not to crush an insurgency resisting their invasion and occupation. The "underlying problem" is not the illegal foreign military presence, nor even resistance to it - barely mentioned - but the sectarian strife that appears now to preoccupy Iraqis.
One might almost imagine that Iraqis had grown weary of fighting the "coalition", or that perhaps their hatred of each other has taken precedence as they have become reconciled to the occupation. (…)
A senior US Defense Department official, speaking anonymously, was quoted as saying:
"The insurgency has gotten worse by almost all measures, with insurgent attacks at historically high levels. The insurgency has more public support and is demonstrably more capable in numbers of people active and in its ability to direct violence than at any point in time."
This is far removed from the BBC's version of events.
While the number of Americans killed in action per month has declined slightly - to 38 killed in July, from 42 in January, in part reflecting improvements in armour and other defences - the number of Americans wounded has soared, to 518 in July from 287 in January. Explosive devices accounted for slightly more than half the deaths.
According to a spokesman for the military command in Baghdad, an analysis of the 1,666 bombs that exploded in July shows that 70 per cent were directed against the American-led military force. Twenty per cent targeted Iraqi security forces, up from 9 per cent in 2005. And 10 per cent of the blasts struck civilians, twice the rate from last year.
Again, this starkly contradicts the assessment provided by the BBC's Mike Wooldridge, specifically his comment:
"The sectarian violence has come to overshadow all other kinds."
It is not just bomb attacks against American forces that have increased - attacks with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and small-calibre weapons against American and Iraqi military forces have also increased, according to American military officials.
As so often before, the BBC version of 'balanced reporting' acts to justify and normalise US-UK mass violence, no matter how illegal, no matter how extreme it might be. Opposition to that violence and criminality is consistently presented as illegitimate, mindless, or as simply non-existent.
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PURE PUNK STUPIDITY
Tom Lasseter: "When L. Paul Bremmer, then the top U.S. representative in Iraq, appointed an Iraqi Governing Council in July 2003, insurgent attacks averaged 16 daily. When Saddam Hussein was captured that December, the average was 19. When Bremmer signed the hand-over of sovereignty in June 2004, it was 45 attacks daily. When Iraq held its elections for a transitional government in January 2005, it was 61. When Iraqis voted last December for a permanent government, it was 75. When U.S. forces killed terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al Zarqawi in June, it was up to 90." [Miami Herald, Aug. 16, 2006]
Bush's early response was to suggest, "the insurgency's escalation was a sign of progress."[Thomas Ricks, Fiasco, p. 248]. Such pure punk stupidity made the evening news, notwithstanding its unadulterated contempt for the public's intelligence. Not to be outdone, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld referred to the insurgents as "dead enders" -- not realizing the high probability that insurgents would be fighting Americans in Iraq long after the Bush administration became "dead enders."
Moreover, simply recall the alacrity with which President Bush and his spin operatives seized upon each of these so-called "milestones" to fling Panglossian excrement into the collective eyes of America's dupes, in order to rationalize away a lost war and all the unnecessary blood on his hands. More than 3,400 Iraqi civilians were killed just last month and all those deaths are the result of the whirlwind our punk president unleashed when he authorized the illegal, immoral invasion.
Has he learned anything? Simply consider the latest example of his punk petulance: On August 16, 2006, the Boston Globe
reported on two secret Pentagon studies devoted to correcting the many mistakes - such as excessive use of force, delays in establishing a working relationship with local allies and failure to make security and safety for the Iraqi people an early priority - which caused much of the alienation that fueled the insurgency roiling Iraq today.
Yet, on that same date, as the New York Times
reported, "the president expressed frustration that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had made in Iraq." Moreover, Mr. Bush "was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in support of Hezbollah could draw such a large crowd." [NYT
, Aug. 16, 2006]
Poor petulant punk! Mr. Bush just can't understand why he continues to get punked in Iraq. Yet, unlike America's military leaders, who utilize "lessons learned" debriefings to avoid being punked in future insurgencies, Mr. Bush learns nothing -- except for new ways to fling more Panglossian excrement. Even punks can fake it as men of conviction.
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YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP
"Bush Said to Be Frustrated by Level of Public Support in Iraq
By THOM SHANKER and MARK MAZZETTI
WASHINGTON, Aug. 15 - President Bush made clear in a private meeting this week that he was concerned about the lack of progress in Iraq and frustrated that the new Iraqi government - and the Iraqi people - had not shown greater public support for the American mission, participants in the meeting said Tuesday.
Those who attended a Monday lunch at the Pentagon that included the president's war cabinet and several outside experts said Mr. Bush carefully avoided expressing a clear personal view of the new prime minister of Iraq, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.
"I sensed a frustration with the lack of progress on the bigger picture of Iraq generally - that we continue to lose a lot of lives, it continues to sap our budget," said one person who attended the meeting. "The president wants the people in Iraq to get more on board to bring success."
More generally, the participants said, the president expressed frustration that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had made in Iraq, and was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in support of Hezbollah in Baghdad could draw such a large crowd. "I do think he was frustrated about why 10,000 Shiites would go into the streets and demonstrate against the United States," said another person who attended.
One participant in the lunch, Carole A. O'Leary, a professor at American University who is also doing work in Iraq with a State Department grant, said Mr. Bush expressed the view that "the Shia-led government needs to clearly and publicly express the same appreciation for United States efforts and sacrifices as they do in private."
One of the participants at the Monday lunch, Eric Davis, a Rutgers University political science professor who previously served as director of the university's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, released a text of his remarks.
Mr. Davis said he discussed the regional upheaval that could follow if Iraq descended into chaos or was allowed to divide along ethnic lines. "I believe that the American people do not fully understand the potential domino effects that the collapse of Iraq into disorder and anarchy would have on the Middle East and the global political system," he said.
Vali R. Nasr, an expert on Shia Islam, said the Pentagon meeting appeared to be an effort to give White House, Pentagon and State Department officials better insight into Iraq's religious and ethnic mix.
You just can't make this stuff up. The president of the country responsible for starving the country to the extent that hundreds of thousands of children died, who bombed the place to bits, who's troops have committed atrocity after atrocity, such as gang rape, shooting pregnant women, fomenting civil war, is "frustrated" that the people subject to this treatment aren't properly grateful to massah. Mind you Bush isn't the only American politician who complains about American "sacrifices" in Iraq. So ungrateful those brown people ... ... ...
AMERICANS DO NOT WANT AN IRAQI HEZBOLLAH
Amid all these problems, there is the danger of the "Hezbollah model" being adopted in Iraq. Muqtada, who has been a nightmare for the Americans since they invaded, has all the credentials to create such an organization in Iraq, modeling himself after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Muqtada is young. He is well connected in the religious establishment, he hails from a prominent Shi'ite family and he has a large following among Iraqis. Like Nasrallah, he is opposed to both the US and Israel. Like Nasrallah, he is an Arab nationalist at heart who does not want to see Iraq divided. The only difference is that Muqtada wants to establish a theocracy in Iraq.
He lacks Nasrallah's charisma, however, and the flow of money and arms from Iran. If he pulls the right strings, though, and makes wise alliances, he could receive strong support from the mullahs of Tehran - something that the Americans wish to avoid at any cost.
If it happens, and Muqtada decides to end all restraint, he could immediately bring down the Maliki cabinet. Or he could withdraw his ministers from the government and replace them with non-entities, and transform the cabinet into a political dwarf unable to make any real decisions. In this event, what would govern the state of affairs under Muqtada would be the power of the sword on the Iraqi street.
One of the things cemented in the minds of the Americans after the war in Lebanon - because of the stunning strength of Hezbollah - is that they do not want an Iraqi Hezbollah.
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>> BEYOND IRAQ
Militants attacked a coalition patrol, killing a coalition soldier and wounding another in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan
, a coalition statement said. The nationalities of the soldiers were not disclosed. Most of the coalition troops in Kunar are American.
Biometric testing is set to be introduced at European airports under plans for stringent new security measures
revealed yesterday in the wake of last week's alleged terror plot.
Passengers would have their fingerprint or iris scanned under the measures proposed by EU interior ministers, which would also use passenger profiling to try to identify potential terrorists.
The move to beef up relaxed security procedures in Europe came as John Reid, the Home Secretary, warned that human rights would have to be balanced against the threat from terrorism and that the current terror threat was Europe-wide and needed to be tackled on an international level.
Britain is in danger of "selling out to fascism" in the way it is dealing with the threat of terrorism
, according to John Mortimer, the QC and popular author.
Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which is sponsored by The Herald
and Sunday Herald
, the creator of the Rumpole of the Bailey
series of books criticised the government's response to terrorism. (...)
"They've cancelled the Magna Carta, they've stopped trial by juries, and removed the presumption of innocence just because the terrorists are around, which is a certain way of changing our life - which is what the terrorists want to do. (...)
"The changes have put us back way before 1215 AD, Mr Blair has removed us back to the Dark Ages. God knows who advises him on legal matters: although he is very near to God apparently."
"A PICTURE OF VICTORY"
(...) why was it decided, at the last moment, to carry out this operation [the Israeli army reaching the Litani river] after all--well after the UN had already called for an end to hostilities? The horrific answer: it was a cynical--not to say vile--exercise of the failed trio. Olmert, Peretz and Halutz wanted to create "a picture of victory", as was openly stated in the media. On this altar the lives of 33 soldiers (including a young woman) were sacrificed.
The aim was to photograph the victorious soldiers on the bank of the Litani. The operation could only last 48 hours, when the cease-fire would come into force. In spite of the fact that the army used helicopters to land the troops, the aim was not attained. At no point did the army reach the Litani.
For comparison: in the first Lebanon war, that of Sharon in 1982, the army crossed the Litani in the first few hours. (The Litani, by the way, is not a real river anymore, but just a shallow creek. Most of its waters are drawn off far from there, in the north. Its last stretch is about 25 km distant from the border, near Metulla the distance is only 4 km.)
This time, when the cease-fire took effect, all the units taking part had reached villages on the way to the river. There they became sitting ducks, surrounded by Hizbullah fighters, without secure supply lines. From that moment on, the army had only one aim: to get them out of there as quickly as possible, regardless of who might take their place.
If a commission of inquiry is set up--as it must be--and investigates all the moves of this war, starting from the way the decision to start it was made, it will also have to investigate the decision to start this last operation. The death of 33 soldiers (including the son of the writer David Grossman, who had supported the war) and the pain this caused their families demand that!
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BE SKEPTICAL ... BE VERY SKEPTICAL
"Bombs ... plots ... al-Qaeda ..." The authorities have spoken, from Washington to New Delhi, and so it's time to willingly suspend disbelief once again. The sky is definitely falling.
One of the significant contributions to the "war on terror" by Britain's home secretary David Blunkett before his abrupt departure from the Tony Blair cabinet last year was his statement on terrorism in the House of Commons that specifically flagged the possibility of a "dirty bomb" being planted in Britain by terrorists.
That was in November 2002, when preparations were already in an advanced stage for the march to Baghdad. We are still waiting for the dirty bomb and its lethal radiation. The dirty bomb genre, however, provoked two years later a brilliant television series on BBC2 by acclaimed documentary producer Adam Curtis, titled The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear.
Curtis's argument was that much of the threat of international terrorism turns out to be in actuality "a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians ... In an age when all the grand ideas have lost credibility, fear of a phantom enemy is all the politicians have left to maintain their power." (...)
The London plot itself is becoming curiouser and curiouser. Reports have appeared that the British security agencies were feeling increasingly uncomfortable that their American counterparts rushed to make out that the alleged plot was linked to al-Qaeda. More importantly, it appears that sources in London have begun distancing themselves from the plot by claiming that the British side was pressured from Washington to go public with the plot despite a lack of evidence and clear and convincing facts whether any conspiracy in fact existed at all.
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ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TODAY'S EAVESDROPPING RULING
Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, ruling the warrantless wiretapping program both illegal and unconstitutional: "There are no hereditary kings in America".
The White House, responding: "We couldn't disagree more with this ruling".
QUOTE OF THE DAY
: "It's like pushing on a water balloon, if you will. When you apply pressure to Fallujah, they squirt elsewhere. Wherever you do not apply a significant amount of pressure, that's where the enemy is going to go." -- Lt. Col. Norm Cooling, Marine commander stationed in Fallujah