DAILY WAR NEWS FOR MONDAY, August 14, 2006
: Do you suppose any of these guys are still on the job? (See below "Fallujah's Police Force Disappears"; original caption at Defend America: “Iraqi Police gather together after the opening ceremony of the Fallujah Police Station, in Fallujah, Iraq, April 13, 2006. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ramona Marie G. Peñala”)
(update from 8-13-06) 47 people were killed and another 100 injured when a neighborhood in Baghdad was pounded by a barrage of rockets, bombs and mortars
last night. A municipal official puts the death toll at 62. The discrepancy was not explained.
The death toll after a string of explosions in the southern Zafaraniya district of Baghdad has risen to 64, police and hospital sources said Monday. Another 160 were injured Sunday.
The US military Monday said a series of blasts that killed at least 47 people in a mostly Shi'ite neighborhood was caused by a gas main explosion, but the Iraqi government insisted the area was hit by rockets and car bombs. US ordnance experts found "no evidence" of anything other than a "significant gas explosion," US spokesman Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said. "There is nothing that we have been able to find that would attribute to anything other than gas main explosion and subsequent explosions associated with that one," he said.
Bring 'em on
: Four Australian soldiers, including a woman, were injured in a rocket attack in Baghdad. The soldiers, part of Australia's security detachment, were injured when three rockets were fired into Baghdad's fortified international zone. Two fell harmlessly in the river but a third exploded near the soldiers' accommodation. Three male soldiers were discharged after treatment but a female soldier tonight remained in Baghdad's combat support hospital. "She has got injuries consistent with blast and lacerations to the head, internal injuries, bruising and obviously some shrapnel injuries as well," Air Chief Marshal Houston said. The attack is thought to have involved 122mm rockets.
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
Two car bombs exploded near a passport office in Zaiyounah neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, killing two people and wounding four others.
A car bomb detonated in the Attebaa Street in Baghdad's southern neighborhood of Karradah, killing a civilian and wounding three others.
A roadside bomb exploded next to a bus carrying police recruits escorted by a U.S. patrol, killing one recruit and wounding 10
on the main road between Baghdad and Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of the capital.
A civilian was shot dead in Abu-Saida near Baqubah.
An important Shiite shrine was damaged by explosives near Baquba.
An explosive device targeting an Iraqi police patrol was detonated in northern Baquba critically injuring three policemen.
An explosive device targeting a police patrol was detonated at an intersection in central Baquba resulting in the injury of two policemen.
Attacks by unidentified gunmen claimed the life of an Iraqi civilian in the western Mafraq district of Baquba
, while one Iraqi was shot dead near a grain silo in the south of the city.
Unidentified gunmen shot dead one trader in a Baquba marketplace then fled the scene.
Unidentified gunmen opened fire on civilians in the town of Muqdadiyah to the north-east of Baquba, resulting in the deaths of two Iraqi civilians.
Three people including a tribal chief were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the northern town of Baiji.
Two civilians were killed and three others wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their car in a village near the town of Khalis
, 80 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad.
Pro-Saddam gunmen shot dead three women in the southern town of Amara
, police said.
Gunmen killed a civilian on Sunday in the northern city of Mosul
, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad. A property developer called Adel Sulaiman was shot and wounded in a separate attack.
Gunmen killed a tribal leader and wounded his son in Mosul.
Gunmen killed three civilians in Mosul.
A tribal chief was murdered in Kirkuk.
The body of a man was found in a village near the town of Hawija
, 70 km (43 miles) southwest of Baghdad.
Gunmen kidnapped the son of a tribal leader in Falluja.
Gunmen killed a civilian in Falluja.
Nine Iraqi soldiers were wounded on Sunday night by a suicide car bomb near their checkpoint in Tal Afar
, about 420 km (260 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
Eight civilians were wounded when a mortar round landed in the town of Tal Afar.
A group of Iraqi fighters has admitted attacking U.S. forces just outside Baghdad by detonating explosives which were attached to a dog
, according to disturbing images posted on the Internet yesterday. The grainy footage, issued by the group, appears to show a dog sitting at the side of a road. As an American military vehicle slowed down, a large explosion originating from the dog occurred.
FALLUJAH'S POLICE FORCE DISAPPEARS
One day the vaunted Iraqi security forces that we are training to stand up so we can stand down were more than 2,000 strong in Fallujah.
The next day -- poof! Gone with the wind. Hasta la vista baby!
This is from the Los Angeles Times.
Sorry, it's not online yet:
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Hundreds of newly recruited police officers in Fallujah failed to show up for work Sunday after insurgents disseminated pamphlets threatening officers who stayed on the job, according to police officials in the restive western Iraq city.
"We will kill all the policemen infidels," read the pamphlets, "whether or not they quit or are still in their jobs."
Fallujah Police Lt. Mohammed Alwan said that the force, which he estimated had increased to more than 2,000, has now shrunk to only 100. Alwan said that insurgents have killed dozens of policemen in their homes and also attacked family members in a weeks-long intimidation campaign.
A Fallujah police major, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to a fear of reprisals, said that at least 1,400 policemen had left their jobs since Friday, 400 of them police officials above the rank of officer.
read in full...
>> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
DC'S 'OPEN SECRET'
It is an "open secret" in Washington US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "wants to extricate himself from Iraq" but President George W. Bush "remains resolute," thus the US hangs on, a US investigative reporter has written.
The result is a military posture in limbo somewhere between aggressiveness and withdrawal that could bog the US down in Iraq for years. Tragically, it opens the door to escalation of the horrific violence which in Baghdad on kills around 50 people daily and wounds many times more.
The Pentagon has largely switched from rooting out and killing insurgents, as in the first two years of the war (2003-4), to hunkering its troops down in "isolated mega-bases," said George Packer, a staff writer for The New Yorker
magazine and author of The Assassins' Gate
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux). This approach, known in Washington as an "exit strategy," has put the much victimized Iraqi public at increased risk.
"Commanders are under tremendous pressure to keep [military] casualties low, and combat deaths have been declining for several months, as patrols are reduced and the Americans rely more and more on air power," Packer wrote in the magazine April 10 in words that sound prescient four months later as civilian killed and wounded overflow Iraqi morgues and hospitals.
"The retreat to enduring FOBs [forward operating bases] seems like an acknowledgment that counterinsurgency is just too hard," Packer wrote. He quoted Kalev Sepp, a retired Special Forces officer, who stated, "If you really
want to reduce your casualties go back to Fort Riley. It's absurd to think that you can protect the population from armed insurgents without putting your men's lives at risk."
Concentrating forces at large bases, Sepp added, "is old Army thinking - centralization of resources, of people, of control. Counterinsurgency requires decentralization." (…)
A State Department official told Packer, "Certain people in the Pentagon want to get out of Iraq at all costs" and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Rumsfeld have battled over how best to protect Iraq's infrastructure. Rumsfeld has rejected assigning soldiers to provide security for the small reconstruction teams US Ambassador Zalmay Khalizad wants to establish in provincial capitals. Rumsfeld prefers to use contractors.
"Insurgents have become so adept at hitting pipelines, power stations, and refineries that fuel and electricity shortages have become nationwide crises; meanwhile, some Iraqi army units and tribes that are being paid to guard these facilities are collaborating in their destruction," Packer writes. (…)
As for the Pentagon policy of turning the fighting over to the Iraqi army, a sergeant in Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, observed, "We'll be here for 10 years in some form, but boots-on-the-ground-wise? We're really almost done." A field-grade officer in the 101st Airborne described the policy as "handing a shit sandwich over to someone else."
read in full…
JUAN COLE: ONE REASON RUMSFELD HASN'T BEEN CHEERING ON THE LEBANON WAR
Seymour Hersh says that sources knowledgeable about Israeli and Bush administration planning maintain that the Israelis laid out last spring in Washington and gained administration support for a plan for a bombing campaign against Hizbullah in Lebanon based on the Kosovo campaign. Moreover, the exercise was intended as a demonstration project and a preparation for a Bush administration war on Iran. The campaign against Hezbollah would have two major benefits. It would remove Hezbollah's rocket capability, which was a form of deterrence against Israeli or American bombing of Iran. And, what Israel learned from attacking Hezbollah would be useful in formulating tactics in the American assault on Iran.
Let me say this loud and clear, drawing on Pat Lang. Any US attack on Iran could well lead to the US and British troops in Iraq being cut off from fuel and massacred by enraged Shiites. Shiite irregulars could easily engage in pipeline and fuel convoy sabotage of the sort deployed by the Sunni guerrillas in the north. Without fuel, US troops would be sitting ducks for rocket and mortar attacks that US air power could not hope completely to stop (as the experience of Israel with Hizbullah in Lebanon demonstrates). A pan-Islamic alliance of furious Shiites and Sunni guerrillas might well be the result, spelling the decisive end of Americastan in Iraq.
Shiite Iraqis are already at the boiling point over Israel's assault on their coreligionists in Lebanon. An attack on Iran could well push them over the edge. People like Cheney and Bush don't understand people's movements or how they can win. They don't understand the Islamic revolution in Iran of 1978-79. They don't understand that they are playing George III in the eyes of most Middle Eastern Muslims, and that lots of people want to play George Washington.
By the way, Hersh maintains that US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has at least some inkling of all this, which is one reason he hasn't been enthusiastically cheering on the Lebanon war.
read in full...
GENERAL PACE: NO STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS FOR HIM
Doncha love it when a leader will stand up and answer the tough questions directly, plainly and clearly? Well, if the troops in Fallujah thought they'd get any of that from Gen. Peter Pace when he visited them recently, then let's just say they didn't have a Patton moment with the General:
• How much more time, one Marine asked, should the Iraqi government be given to achieve the political unity necessary to stabilize the country?
''I guess they have as long as it takes,'' Pace replied, quickly adding, ''Which is not forever.'' [Boy, there's a plan of action for you!]
Pace argued that setting a deadline by which the United States would withdraw its support would risk pushing the Iraqis into political decisions that are unviable. On the other hand, he said, ''You do not want to leave it open ended.''
• Another Marine wanted to know if U.S. troops would stay in Iraq in the event of an all-out civil war. Pace repeated what he told a Senate committee last week: A civil war is possible, but not expected. He did not say what the United States would do if it actually happened.
• One Marine wound up his question about the pace of U.S. troop deployments to Iraq by asking, ''Is the war coming to an end?''
Pace didn't answer directly. He said Pentagon officials and military leaders are trying to keep enough troops in Iraq to achieve the mission of training Iraqi troops to take over the security mission, while avoiding having so many that it creates a dependency.
Gen. Pace: tellin' it like it is...er, could be, umm perhaps, in some cases, if ya know what I mean, but um yeah, we're workin' on it...
>> BEYOND IRAQ
Four French soldiers of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were wounded in a roadside bomb in Kabul Monday.
Three Estonian soldiers were wounded when militants attacked their unit in Helmand
, apparently with anti-aircraft guns, the Estonian military said.
THE DE-ZIONIZATION OF THE AMERICAN MIND
Americans are constantly told that they have to defend themselves against people who "hate them", but without understanding why they are hated. Is the cause our secular democracy? Our appetite for oil? There are lots of democracies in the world that are far more secular than the United States (Sweden, France...) and lots of places that want to buy oil at the best possible price (China) without arousing any noticeable hatred in the Middle East.
Of course, it is true that, throughout the Third World, Americans and Europeans are often considered arrogant and are not particularly liked. But the level of hatred that leads a large number of people to applaud an event like September 11 is peculiar to the Middle East. Indeed, the main political significance of September 11 did not derive from the number of people killed or even the spectacular achievement of the attackers, but from the fact that the attack was popular in large parts of the Middle East. That much was understood by Americans leaders and infuriated them. Such a level of hatred calls for explanation.
And there can be only one explanation: United States support for Israel. It is indeed Israel that is the main object of hatred, for reasons we shall describe, but since the United States uncritically supports Israel on almost every issue, constantly praises it as "the only democracy in the Middle East" and provides its main financial backing, the result is a "transfer" of hatred.
read in full...
QUOTE OF THE DAY
: "The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the alliterative Peter Pace, says, twice, that 'if we were to come home, the war would simply follow us home.' Well, maybe it would go away again if you just didn't feed it." -- Whatever It Is I'm Against It blog