Monday, August 21, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR MONDAY, August 21, 2006 Photo: Iraqi Kurd survivors and relatives of victims of the Anfal campaign shout anti Saddam Hussein slogans, and carry photographs of their killed relatives, during a demonstration, in the northern Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah, 260 kilometers (160 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday Aug. 21, 2006. (AP Photo/Yahya Ahmed) (See below “Saddam Hussein shouted at prosecutors…”) Bring 'em on: Two Marines and one Sailor assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province August 20. (MNF-Iraq) Bring 'em on: A Multi-National Division - Baghdad service member died at approximately 1:30 p.m. today when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by an improvised-explosive device north of Baghdad. (MNF-Iraq) OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: Insurgents in two cars sprayed automatic fire on a military patrol in the al-Yarmuk neighbourhood, a Sunni area of western Baghdad, killing three soldiers and wounding two more. Gunmen killed a civilian in northern Iraq near Kadhimiyah, the scene at the weekend of a major Shiite pilgrimage. It was not clear if the shootings were carried out by the same gang, the official said. Gunmen opened fire on a crowd in Aden Square in northern Baghdad killing at least one person and wounding five others. Baqubah: Two civilians were killed in separate shootings near Baquba, northeast of the capital and a police officer was injured by a roadside booby-trap. Gunmen shot two people to death, including a woman, and wounded two others in two separate incidents in Baquba. Gunmen shot an Iraqi civilian to death near a market In southern Baquba. Baquba is in Diyala province, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Khalis: Gunmen shot dead an Iraqi civilian in Khalis town about 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) north of Baquba. Balad Ruz: Two people, including a teacher, were killed by gunmen in Balad Ruz, about 31 miles (50 kilometers) east of Baquba. Iskandraiya: Two policemen were wounded when a roadside bomb went off beside their patrol in Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad. Basra: Gunmen killed a colonel in the Facility Protection Services (FPS), in the southern city of Basra, 550 km (340 miles) south of Baghdad. Gunmen killed two off-duty members of the Interior Ministry Intelligence Service in Basra. Kirkuk: U.S. forces killed a 10 year-old boy accidentally on Sunday when they fired at a car approaching their patrol in Kirkuk, 250 km (150 miles) north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said on Monday. A bullet ricocheted and struck the child, who was standing nearby. >> NEWS Bush has said he was worried that Iraq might slip into civil war but forcefully rejected calls for an immediate US withdrawal, saying that would be a "disaster." At a hastily arranged press conference Monday, Bush also flatly denied that the US-led invasion had stirred up a "hornets' nest" in the Middle East but said the US death toll in Iraq was "straining the psyche of our country." Saddam Hussein shouted at prosecutors and refused to enter a plea at the opening of his second trial, where he faces charges of genocide and war crimes connected to his scorched-earth offensive against Kurds nearly two decades ago. The trial begins a new legal chapter for the ousted Iraqi leader, who once again faces a possible death penalty for the killings of tens of thousands of Kurds during the Iraqi army's "Operation Anfal" - Arabic for "spoils of war." (...) Saddam became furious Monday when prosecutors spoke of Kurdish women being raped in prison during the campaign. "I can never accept the claim that an Iraqi woman was raped while Saddam is president," he shouted, banging on a podium in front of him and pointing a finger at the prosecutors. "How could I walk with my head up?" "An Iraqi woman raped while Saddam is the leader?" he bellowed over and over in a rage. He said that during the 1990 Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, he heard a soldier raped an Arab woman, so he ordered him tried and then hanged "for three days at the site of the crime." (...) Saddam, wearing a black suit and white shirt, was the first defendant called into court as the trial's first session began Monday morning. When Chief Judge Abdullah al-Amiri asked Saddam to identify himself for the record, Saddam retorted: "You know me." Al-Amiri said it was the law that defendants identify themselves. "Do you respect this law?" he asked Saddam. "This is the law of the occupation," Saddam replied, then identified himself as "the president of the republic and commander in chief of the armed forces." The judge told Saddam, "This trial is on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Are you innocent or guilty." Saddam replied, "That would require volumes of books." Al-Amiri ordered a plea of innocent entered. >> REPORTS READING WRONG NEWSPAPER IN BAGHDAD CAN BE DEADLY Mohammed Shakir has been selling newspapers from his stall on the right bank of the Tigris River in Baghdad for 20 years. He used to offer a selection from all of Iraq's political movements and parties - but no more. In his majority Sunni neighborhood that has proved simply too dangerous. Two months ago a group of masked men showed up at his stall and ordered Shakir to stop selling papers printed by Shiite groups or government officials, saying that he would be killed if he did not comply. "They even threatened people who buy these papers in the neighborhood," said Shakir, who took the threat seriously and closed down because most papers he carried dealt with Shiites and Shiite issues. And it appears that these were not idle threats. Two paper sellers were killed in the last two months in Baghdad's Adhamiya neighborhood, a Sunni area. Another three lost their lives in Dora, a district south of the capital that used to be mixed but is rapidly becoming purely Sunni. Paper sellers say that no one dares to sell newspapers in these areas since they fell under the control of Sunni militants. Banned titles include SCIRI's Al Adala; Al Baya from the Dawa party; and the Sadrists' Ishraqat. And it is not just paper sellers and their customers who have been caught up in this latest form of sectarian violence sweeping the Iraqi capital. Cafés with televisions have been threatened with bombing unless they stop showing Shiite stations. Several bookshops have also been burned down or targeted by bombers. The attacks come against a backdrop of a seemingly vibrant media environment in Iraq. read in full... >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS JUAN COLE: "A WORRISOME TURN FOR AMERICANS" Narratives of what happened on Sunday, when snipers targeted Shiite pilgrims as they passed through Sunni Arab neighborhoods of Baghdad, killing 20 and wounding nearly 300, are confused. What is clear is that there were two follow-ups to this violence. One came from US helicopters. The other from Shiite militiamen, who attacked Sunni mosques. al-Hayat reports [Ar.] that Lt. Gen. Rashid Fulaih, commander of the 1st Division of the Iraqi army, told al-Iraqiyah television, "The most serious attacks were registered in al-Rusafah, when some armed elements issued from some of the buildings on Jumhuriyah St. and Fadl district, and opened fire indiscriminately with light weapons on pilgrim processions." He said 14 policemen had been wounded in pitched battles with the guerrillas. Al-Hayat adds that some of the Shiite pilgrims were killed by mortar fire. The Iraqi security forces intervened late in the day. They were followed by American helicopters, which targeted the sources of (Sunni Arab guerrilla) fire and destroyed a number of buildings on Waziriyah Street and in Fadl district. (…) In what should be a worrisome turn for Americans, the article explicitly blames US military helicopters for bothering Shiites in Sadr City while circling around uselessly allowing Sunni guerrillas to shoot down Shiite pilgrims at will. (This latter characterization is not, as we have seen, correct, but a lot of Shiites will believe it.) read in full… IRAQ'S GATED COMMUNITIES As the bloodshed continues in Iraq despite curfews and vehicle bans, the Los Angeles Times describes the shrinking lives of Baghdad residents:
The shoes of Akram Mustafa tell the story of a dividing city; the orange dust from the clay tennis courts is fading on them. One of his country's top-ranked tennis players, Mustafa seldom plays these days. Getting to his club along the Tigris would mean crossing from his eastern neighborhood of Sadr City into streets guarded by Sunnis. "I haven't been out of Sadr City in five or six months," Mustafa said. "Each day we stand in the same place talking the same talk to the same people. We have nothing." . . . Although Shiites and Sunnis still live side by side in some places, about 200,000 Iraqis, most of them from Baghdad, have left their mixed neighborhoods and taken refuge in communities where they can live among their own. In July, the Baghdad morgue reported more than 1,800 violent deaths. A widening war would strike at the city's religious complexities, which have grown over time: Each sect has holy sites in the other's territory, and neighborhoods such as Kadhimiya, a Shiite stronghold in west Baghdad, and Adhamiya, a Sunni pocket in the east, would be surrounded by enemies. . . . Baghdad has become a sinister parlor game of unmasking affiliations with subtle and not so subtle questions: Where does your family come from, north or south? Who is your uncle? What tribe do you belong to? It is a place where death squads call the family of someone they've kidnapped and ask: Is he a Shiite, or a Sunni? A wrong answer can mean a trip to the morgue to identify a body streaked with acid burns and drill holes. A BBC photo essay of a mostly Shiite neighborhood includes this remark by a volunteer guarding a Sunni mosque: My life is basically between the house and guarding the mosque. You can't go anywhere else. If you go down that street, it's almost guaranteed a car will stop, pick you up, and you'll disappear.
And to think they're only about halfway through the downward spiral. The overwhelming odds are that things will get worse from here. link WHY DO THE SHIAS AND SUNNIS FIGHT? 8/16/2006 4:00:00 PM GMT Dear Sheikha, I have a post I would like to hear your answer for. Why do the Shias and Sunnis in Iraq fight? I am a Christian and I know what happened in northern Ireland when the British occupied but the Protestants did not kill hundreds of Catholics and vice versa. Why because the U.S. is occupying Iraq are the Shias and Sunnis killing each other in great numbers? It is not condoned by the Qur'an, and will only cause more deaths and destruction. Paul USA Dear Paul, Islam does not in anyway allow for the killing of any innocent soul. And as manifested in many verses of the Qur'an, Islam prohibits killing of non-combatants, instead it advocates kindness to people, even those of other faiths who do not have open hostilities with Muslims. (...) But the current bloodshed Iraq's witnessing is simply as a result of the political vacuum the occupation created, by ousting the country's leader who skillfully handled the sectarian diversity of his nation and prevented its people from the disaster of civil war. The Iraqi constitution crafted by Bush's admin's officials and aimed at dividing Iraq and its ethnic groups, the Sunnis and Shias, who differ in doctrine, ritual, law, theology and religious organisation, according to the country's oil wealth helped fueling animosity and tension between Iraq's main ethnicities, leaving the three communities fighting to gain control over the richest areas in the country. The U.S. has helped the current incompetent government to rise to power, regardless to the heavy price Iraqis, of all sects, are paying. Neither Sunnis, nor Shias or Kurds are safe now in Iraq. However we can't blindly believe that the daily attacks, many of which are targeting worshipers, are mere sectarian attacks by Sunnis against Shias and Shias against Sunnis. As explained by many experts. The occupation is using criminal gangs from both communities to instigate civil war, and then throw the blame on the Iraqi Muslims, portraying them as "fighting and killing each other" instead of fighting the occupiers. The fragile security situation in Iraq is being perfectly used by the occupation authority with the aim of tarnishing the image of the Muslims on one hand, and justifying an extended military presence of the U.S. in the country on the other. Sheikha Sajida read in full... BUSH'S PLAN FOR DICTATORSHIP IN IRAQ It seems that all the bells and whistles signifying 'democracy' in Iraq are to be shorn. According to the New York Times, Bush is planning an outright dictatorship for Iraq. The spirit of Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson is proving too much for Iraqis, so we're told, and so the plan is to revert to the standard procedure of implanting a client dictatorship:
"Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are considering alternatives other than democracy. Everybody in the administration is being quite circumspect, but you can sense their own concern that this is drifting away from democracy."
The news and commentary around this revelation have tended to accept the assertion that what presently persists in Iraq is anything like democracy. Hence, we are told by some that the US must not give up the fight for democracy (blah) or by others that it must not entertain such unrealistically high aspirations for such people. The real story here is that the US initially hoped that such opposition as would appear among Sunnis would be drowned out by the pro-US euphoria among Shi'ites: their strategy from the start was marked by the deepest sectarianism, as Hashim discusses in that book I referenced the other day. When that did not obtain, they relied on the idea of bolstering conservative and sectarian-minded Shi'ite groups like the SCIRI against nationalist Shi'ites. The SCIRI would work alongside the Kurdish leadership who have been effectively coopted by the United States for some years. This has served its purpose for a while, averting the serious risk of a pan-Iraq resistance movement forming in 2004. However, this resulted in a serious diminution in the stature of the SCIRI, while the PUK-KDP leadership has seen some erosion in support even though it remains the main player in the Kurdish north. As the opposition to the occupation started to translate into passive, then increasingly active support for armed resistance even in the Shi'ite areas of Iraq, the US started to pursue a strategy of promoting violent sectarian conflict through the Special Police Commandos and the Badr Corps. The sectarian death squads would both kill resistance fighters and divert energies to either pursuing or averting inter-communal violence. However, with increasing dissent among the domestic population toward the puppet government which resulted in Maliki being forced to criticise the occupiers, the dramatic growth in attacks directed at troops (still, after everything, the bulk of attacks are directed at US troops and not civilians), and the growing connections between Sadr's movement and the Sunni resistance: with all of that, the US is considering toppling its man, the guy it pressed to be put in the role of PM in the first place, and putting in place an open dictator. This is the beginning of the end for the occupiers. Such a step would catalyse the growing national unity of the resistance movements, and its development of a pan-Iraqi political structure. It would require a drastic increase in troop commitments at a time when domestic opinion in the imperialist countries tends in the opposite direction. They may not, on account of its obvious pitfalls, opt for such a drastic scenario - but the fact that they are tending in this direction and countenancing such options is indicative of the dire straits they are in. link FOX NEWS: "DON'T MENTION THE WAR!" News Hounds, a Fox Newswatch site, caught this revealing remark from Bill Hemmer today. After spending almost all of his noon hour on Jon Benet and the escaped Virginia prisoner, he talked with Brit Hume about Bush's news conference that morning:
While he was talking to Brit Hume, Hemmer posed the question, "I was surprised that so many questions came back to Iraq."
Brit assured him that Bush remained "unyielding" on the issue, but the fact he'd ask the question is mind boggling. But then, with Hemmer it always seemed like you could make out the straw stuffing there just behind his eyes. I guess now that its generally agreed that Iraq has been a disaster, there's no need to beat it into the ground at the expense of their Jon Benet coverage, eh? link >> BEYOND IRAQ DITCH US IN TERROR WAR, SAY 80PC OF BRITONS A majority of British people wants the Government to adopt an even more "aggressive" foreign policy to combat international terrorism, according to an opinion poll conducted after the arrests of 24 terrorism suspects last week. However - by a margin of more than five to one - the public wants Tony Blair to split from President George W Bush and either go it alone in the "war on terror", or work more closely with Europe.... ....While there was strong support for a hard line on terrorism at home, the survey exposed deep-seated distrust of the foreign policies championed by Mr Bush since September 11, 2001. Only 14 per cent believed Britain should continue to align itself with America. link WAR NERD: LESSONS FROM LEBANON (…) You know what "Mainstreaming" is, don't you? That's when they put retards in schools for normal people. And that's what the Mainstream Media is: a bunch of retards who don't know a damn thing about contemporary war, don't even want to know. It's Affirmative Action for fools, not just giving them jobs but shoving them in front of a camera to tell all the suckers back home how the good guys are gonna win, sleep tight, don't worry. The funniest bit is the way desperate suckers are trying to spin total defeat of the IDF into some kind of victory. What's impressed me is that no Israelis are saying that. All the Israeli commentators I've read have faced up to the fact that they got hosed. It's the Americans, totally out of touch with reality and desperate to stay that way, who are finding lame excuses for the IDF, like "Hezbollah didn't really WIN, since they didn't wipe out Israel." The best answer to that comes from an Israeli columnist I read, who said, "If a lightweight boxer fights a heavyweight and gets a draw, the lightweight won." Except I'm not sure it was even a draw. I think Hezbollah flat-out won, not just in PR/Propaganda terms but by anybody's standards. They're in total control of the field of battle, Southern Lebanon -- I hope none of you are dumb enough to think that this "International Peacekeeping Force" is going to actually try to disarm Hezbollah after the Israelis couldn't do it by force of arms. And I'll throw y'all a little curve by arguing that Hezbollah may even have had a smaller casualty count than the IDF. I can't prove it, and I'm not sure, but because Hezbollah fought smart and played defense most of the time, they may actually have had fewer KIA than the 118 the IDF is admitting. The IDF isn't even claiming to have killed more than about 500 Hezzies, and that in itself is shocking. It means that the kill ratio, conventional army to guerrillas, is less than five to one. It should be ten to one at least. The Israeli Air Force tried to fudge those stats by blasting a lot of Lebanese civvies, about 900 or so, but that was just dumb, and it's probably going to cost the IDF C-in-C, Dan Halutz, his job. (…) Of course all these moves would've been wasted if the Israelis had caught on to what Hezbollah was up to, which leads to another lesson, one I'm always preaching: in asymmetrical warfare, Intelligence is everything. Or in this case, counterintelligence. Israeli intel, Shin Bet and Mossad, has been the real strength of the IDF for a long time. They're the best and most ruthless intelligence agencies since the USSR went bankrupt. But they had no idea what was waiting for them over the border. That's incredible, the most shocking news of all. Remember, the IDF has instant access to all US military satellite intel, so this means that our tech intel was just as ineffective as Mossad's more traditional infiltration methods. That means Hezbollah, a huge organization with branches in every street in South Beirut and South Lebanon, has a scary effective counterintelligence branch. We all know the CIA is useless, but when Mossad and Shin Beth can't even penetrate the lower levels of a mass movement like Hezbollah, then the world has turned upside down. And it has, folks. That's why this is such a huge, huge war. No matter what the waterheads on CNN try to tell you, the IDF lost totally, and every force configured like it -- such as, oh, the US Army or Air Force -- lost too. The Gophers are beating the shit out of the gardeners on this course. The gophers just kicked the shit out of Tiger Woods. read in full… QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Senator Chuck Hagel admitted that US influence is slipping in Iraq. I fear it is worse than that. The level of popular vitriol against the US is frightening. 90% of Iraqis would not want an American even to live next to them!. I think of that statistic every time I hear Bush come out and talk about the new Iraq.” – Juan Cole


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