Saturday, August 19, 2006


Photo: The Medhi Army controls Shoula, with its armed guards stationed at checkpoints around the area. The militia is one of the biggest in Iraq and is allied to the radical cleric Moqtada Sadr. There is suspicion that some of its members have been involved in sectarian killings. Many Shia families fleeing - or fearing - sectarian strife have moved to Shoula in recent months. They are drawn by the militia's protection, but its presence has made the area the target of several bombings.

Security Incidents on August 19, 2006

Bring ‘em on: US soldier killed by IED in Baghdad on August 17, 2006.

Bring ‘em on: US soldier killed in Anbar province on August 19, 2006 from wounds sustained from enemy action.

In Country:

Two more contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers center in Huntsville died in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq Friday, the third and fourth contractors for the Huntsville center to die in bombings in Iraq this week. The names of the latest victims, killed when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device, were not immediately released. Two other contract employees were injured in the same incident, according to the Corps of Engineers. A contractor killed Sunday was Rogelio Saraida, 47, from the Philippines. Saraida worked as a security specialist and was employed by the AIM Group, headquartered in Houston, Texas. A contractor killed Thursday was identified Friday as Richard Todd Rhodes, 40, from Wilmington, N.C. Rhodes worked for Cochise Consultancy, based in Tampa, Fla.

Two Iraqi civilians were killed on Saturday and three others were wounded when Iranian artillery shelled a number of villages near Qandeel Mountain at the Iraqi-Iranian border, an Iraqi Kurdish source told reporters.


Gunmen killed at least 12 civilians in Baquba and nearby towns including two university professors, students and farmers, a security source in the town said. It was not clear whether the attacks were co-ordinated.


On Saturday, four Iraqi soldiers were killed and four wounded when a roadside bomb struck their convoy in Diwaniyah, 80 miles south of Baghdad, police 1st Lt. Raed Jabir said.

A former member of Saddam Hussein's Baath party was shot dead near Diwaniyah.


Several mortar rounds targeted a market in the town of Mahmudiya, just south of Baghdad, wounding 10 people, police said.


Meanwhile in al-Maqdadiya, 110 kilometers north-east of Baghdad, gunmen opened fire on a mini-bus that was carrying civilians on Sunday, said security sources. The sources added that one Iraqi civilian was killed and four others injured in the attack.


Iraqi police said they found the body of a civilian in the town of Ishaqi, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, with gunshot wounds to the head and chest.


Also Saturday, a police officer was gunned down in Amarah, 180 miles southeast of Baghdad


and a sniper killed another policeman in the northern city of Mosul.


And in Kirkuk, a police source told KUNA that an Iraq civilian was killed and five others were wounded when an explosive device blew up in front of one of the shops in Huwaija Market.


A roadside bomb killed a civilian and wounded five others, including two children, in the town of Hawija, 70 km (43 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, Iraqi police said.


Elsewhere in the country, members of a US army patrol shot dead one civilian and injured another after coming under an Iraqi insurgent attack in central Fallujah on Saturday, said security sources. The sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that insurgents launched rockets at a US army patrol in the city. The US troops then opened fire arbitrarily in the vicinity resulting in the death of one civilian and the injuring of another, they said. An Iraqi police patrol rushed the two casualties to the Faluja General Hospital, said the sources. The US army's Hummer patrol vehicle was seriously damaged, said the sources.



IRAQ VIOLENCE: Facts and Figures

Shi’ite Pilgrims Pour Into Baghdad a Year After Deadly Stampede

Security forces were on high alert as hundreds of thousands of Shiite devotees marched into Baghdad to mark the death of a revered imam, a year after a stampede killed nearly 1,000 pilgrims. Men, women and children carrying green and yellow flags and Korans walked into the capital from across Iraq Saturday -- many of them barefoot -- defying fears of sectarian attacks and vowing not to be intimidated by Sunni insurgents. Seven pilgrims were shot dead late Friday as they walked through a Sunni suburb, a reminder of Baghdad's sectarian tension at a time when police expect more than a million devotees to gather for the annual ritual. Last year at least 965 pilgrims were crushed or drowned in the Tigris River when a stampede broke out after rumours that a suicide bomber was in the midst of the crowd heading towards the shrine of Imam Musa Kadhim. Musa Kadhim was the seventh imam of Shiite Islam. He was poisoned in prison in Baghdad 12 centuries ago and his tomb has become a place of pilgrimage. Last year's tragedy did not seem to have scared off the members of Iraq's majority Shiite community as they arrived in Baghdad to attend Sunday's march. "I do not care if I die. I would come here at the risk of having my head chopped off. It would be a great honour to die on the day Musa Kadhim died" said Kadhim Handel, 50, from Baghdad's Sadr City district, a Shiite bastion. Another survivor of last year's disaster, Ismail Qassem from Al-Hussainiyah on the outskirts of Baghdad, said: "I expect more people this year as the tragedy has strengthened our determination."

Vehicle Ban In Baghdad Imposed

The Iraqi government Friday imposed a two-day vehicle ban in the capital, an effort to avoid bloodshed during a major Shiite festival this weekend. The vehicle ban, which includes most of Baghdad, will be in effect until Monday at 6 a.m. During the festival last year, pilgrims crossing a bridge over the Tigris River stampeded after rumors spread that a suicide bomber was among them. About 1,000 people -- many of them women and children -- drowned or were trampled to death in what remains the bloodiest day since the American-led invasion. This year, authorities estimate that more than 1 million people may attend the festival, which marks the death in AD 799 of Imam Musa Kadhim, one of 12 major Shiite saints. Friday, as pilgrims arrived in the city, they found the capital locked down with ubiquitous checkpoints, concrete blast walls separating neighborhoods and thousands of soldiers patrolling the streets. As they walked toward a blue-domed shrine in eastern Baghdad where Kadhim is buried, violence continued in and outside the capital.

Al Qaeda Seen Gaining Strength in Sunni Region

In the dusty plains of western Iraq, Al Qaeda is gaining strength. Daily attacks against US and Iraqi forces are on the rise, and there is little sign of progress in persuading the population to support the national government. US commanders acknowledge they are locked in struggle with insurgents for the allegiance of Iraq's youth. ``We're in a recruiting war with the insurgency," said Brigadier General Robert Neller, the deputy Marine commander in western Iraq. US commanders have said privately that a military solution to the insurgency in Anbar is impossible, and that what is needed is a political deal between the Sunni Arabs and the other religious and ethnic communities. ``This country needs a political solution, not a military solution," one government worker told Marines who stopped by his home in Haditha. ``Are we going to stay in this situation where you shoot them, they shoot you? We are the victims." ……. In Ramadi, the province's capital and largest city, several prominent tribal leaders who had approached the military earlier this year were promptly slain. Commanders say several key Sunni leaders have fled to Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. Even in calmer Fallujah, which remains under tight US and Iraqi control, several prominent leaders have been killed, including the city council chief, a senior cleric, and the deputy police chief. The mayor recently fled the city. The war has eroded the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Sunni Arabs, many of whom have been steadily abandoning the area. In the cluster of riverside homes that make up Haditha, Haqlaniyah, and Parwana, US commanders estimate that about two-thirds of the population have fled their homes since the war started in March 2003.


Civilian Distrust of Iraqi Soldiers Runs Rampant

A three-day tour with U.S. and Iraqi troops aiming to stop Baghdad’s plunge toward civil war showed one thing clearly: Iraqi forces remain unprepared to police the capital city alone. The joint operation’s neighborhood searches illuminated the growing distrust that the average Iraqi has for the security forces in the midst of sectarian warfare that’s claiming more Iraqi lives each month. Many members of the Shiite Muslim-dominated security forces are suspected of siding with death squads that target Sunni Muslims. During an operation in the Baghdad neighborhood of Amariyah, a majority Sunni area that’s been a hotbed of insurgent activity, resident after resident said they opened their doors to Iraqi forces only when they saw American troops with them. U.S. forces tried to assure them that not all Iraqi troops are bad. [Of course, the American troops have NO WAY of knowing which of their Iraqi recruits are loyal to the US-backed Iraqi government and which ones are insurgents looked for free training and weapons. – dancewater] The U.S. soldiers watched their Iraqi counterparts, observing such things as how many showed up for work. On the first day there were 85. By day three they were down to 64. [Just to prove my point. – dancewater]

An Army of Some

The rules posted on the wall of the Marine base in Barwana concisely summed up the American predicament in Iraq: Be polite, be professional, have a plan to kill everyone you meet. Barwana was a way station for a joint Iraqi and American convoy as it traveled to a stretch of hard-packed sand overlooking the Euphrates in the Haditha triad, one of the more challenging areas in Anbar, the most dangerous province in Iraq. The convoy’s goal was to inspect a company of Iraqi soldiers who had been involved in an American-directed operation to round up insurgents. With Iraq engulfed in bloody turmoil, any prospect of establishing a modicum of order depends heavily on the new Iraqi Army and the small cadre of Americans that is training it. The rules at Barwana hinted at one rationale. For all of the U.S. military’s fighting skills, the Iraqi troops are better able to differentiate among the welter of tribes, self-styled militias, religious groupings, myriad insurgent organizations and militant jihadists who populate Iraq. But there are other important rationales as well. With American forces stretched perilously thin, the development of Iraq’s armed forces is the best hope for putting more boots on the ground. Fielding an Iraqi military — along with the parallel effort to build up the Iraqi police — is also the closest thing the Bush administration has to an exit strategy.

…..This lethal game would be more manageable if the insurgency were weakening. Instead, it is stronger than ever. In July, 2,625 I.E.D.’s (improvised explosive devices) were found throughout Iraq, almost double the January number and the highest monthly total to date. (Of these, 1,666 exploded, while 959 were discovered before they detonated.) And by now the entire nation is caught in a vicious circle: terrorist attacks have encouraged the development of Shiite militias, which have carried out assaults against Sunnis, who have in turn provided support for insurgents.

……The American military has a four-tier system for rating the Iraqi military. Level 4 designates a newly formed unit. Level 3 means that the Iraqi unit is capable of participating in counterinsurgency operations if an American unit is in charge. Level 2 indicates that the Iraqis can assume their own battle space and conduct their own operations with the support of an American team of military advisers. Level 1 signifies that they can operate without U.S. support. The Iraqi battalion at Haditha was somewhere between Level 3 and Level 4 when Colonel Lovejoy took over and is now hovering between Level 2 and Level 3. But even at its best, the Iraqi military faces severe constraints. It has no helicopter-assault capability, indeed no air force to speak of. It mostly relies on the Americans for medical care and reconnaissance. And it has had no tradition of entrusting its sergeants and other noncommissioned officers with important responsibilities. In the evenings at Haditha, I would sometimes wander over to visit the Iraqi camp. The jundi prayed in a plain wooden mosque. Many of them came from Basra, Nasiriya and the Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad, reflecting the largely Shiite composition of the military. The line from Iraqi officers is that the differences between Sunni and Shiite are not important in the new national army. But for many of the Shiite jundi, Anbar is a hardship post — a Wild West region, hostile and far from home.


Jordan Sends Ambassador

Jordan has become the first Arab state to send a fully accredited ambassador to Iraq, a major display of political support for the U.S.-backed government. The United States has long urged Iraq’s Arab neighbors to upgrade diplomatic relations to the ambassadorial level, rather than maintain missions headed by lesser-ranking diplomats, as an affirmation of support. But the Arabs had been stalling because of violence and concern about the Shiiteled government’s dealings with the Sunni minority, which forms the foundation of Iraq’s insurgency, and the government’s ties to Shiite-dominated Iran. Most Arab governments are led by Sunnis; the majority of Iraqis are Shiite. Ambassador Ahmed al-Lozi presented his credentials Thursday to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a presidential statement said yesterday. The German ambassador also presented his credentials. Al-Lozi came to Baghdad with Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit, who arrived Tuesday for a three-day visit. Egypt agreed last year to send an ambassador, Ihab al-Sherif, but he was kidnapped in July 2005 and assassinated before presenting his credentials. Two Algerian diplomats were kidnapped in the same month and killed. In October 2005, two Moroccan Embassy workers were abducted and killed. Two months later, Sudan closed its embassy in return for the release of six embassy employees who had been kidnapped. Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for all the kidnappings and killing, and warned Arab and Muslim countries against establishing relations with Iraq’s Shiitedominated government.

Two of Iraq’s Shi’ite Parties Denounce Iran

wo Shiite Muslim parties on Friday accused Iran of instigating violence in Iraq and attempting to destabilize the country, exposing a growing rift within Iraq's largest sect that many fear will exacerbate the nation's slide into full-scale civil war. "All of this violence is because of the Shiism in Iran," Adnan Aboudi, head of the Islamic Allegiance Party, said in a telephone interview. "There are external infiltrating fingers playing now throughout the Iraqi arena." The party is the political wing of cleric Mahmoud Abdul Ridha al-Hassani, who is virulently anti-Iranian and anti-American. The denunciations of Iran, among the most public attacks to date by Iraqi Shiite groups, echoed the recent concern expressed by President Bush and military officials over Tehran's burgeoning influence in the Middle East. Iran, which is governed by Shiite Persians, has close ties to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia that has been warring with Israel, as well as to several of the largest parties in Iraq's Shiite-led government. The pointed criticism of Iran followed a spate of violent clashes this week in southern Iraq between rival Shiite factions. The unrest served as a reminder of the bitter divisions between various parties in the governing coalition, made up of some factions closely tied to Tehran and others that bitterly criticize it. A senior official with the Fadhila bloc, a powerful Shiite religious party that controls the oil-rich city of Basra, said Friday that "Iranian individuals are trying to depose Fadhila from the government. Iran has many tools and individuals in the country who are doing the things that are wanted by Iran," said the official, Abdul Wahab Razouti, who declined to name those individuals or the groups they belong to.

Juan Cole, a professor of the modern Middle East at the University of Michigan, said the recriminations toward Iran were directed at two of the largest Shiite blocs in parliament, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Dawa party. The Supreme Council was founded in Iran during Saddam Hussein's rule, and it and Dawa retain strong ties to Iran. "Those groups are often coded as Iranian puppets," said Cole, the author of the book "Sacred Space and Holy War: The Politics, Culture, and History of Shiite Islam." He said many Iraqis believe that the Supreme Council and its militia, the Badr Organization, receive substantial monetary support from Tehran. "It's obviously in the interest of Iran that parties that are friendly to it remain in power in Iraq," Cole said. He said the hostility among Shiite factions can be traced to the gap between wealthy members of parties tied to Iran, such as the Supreme Council and Dawa, and impoverished cadres of groups critical of Iran, such as followers of Hassani. “The Shia-on-Shia violence is, in my view, to some extent a class conflict," he said.


Fragile Peace in Iraqi Shi’ite Cities a Boon for Local Gunsmiths

The threat of violence in Iraq’s Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala has become a boon for local gunsmiths as residents fish out their old weapons for repairs. Although calmer than other restive regions of Iraq, notably the capital Baghdad, the cities of Najaf and Karbala have had their share of bombings and clashes. On August 10, a suicide bomber struck in Najaf at the last checkpoint outside the shrine of Imam Ali -- one of Shiite Islam's holiest sites -- and killed 35 people. And Karbala was virtually locked down this week after clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and militiamen loyal to a local Shiite cleric.

Fearful Iraqis Avoid Mosques

Haider Ali communes with God through his CD player. That is how he listens to the lectures of Shiite imams these days, for he rarely sets foot in a mosque anymore. Even on Fridays, the Muslim Sabbath, he prefers to pray at home, kneeling on a rug in a room adorned with posters of green-robed Shiite martyrs slain centuries ago. “We’d go a lot to mosque before, but it’s too dangerous now,” Mr. Ali, 42, said as he watched his 9-year-old son stack boxes in his downtown convenience store. “Now, you feel a little empty inside.” Exploding sectarian violence has undermined the mosque’s traditional role as a gathering place, further unraveling the country’s communal fabric. Mosque attendance has plummeted, according to clerics and government officials, as tens of thousands of Iraqis like Mr. Ali choose to pray at home out of safety concerns. Gatherings at Friday Prayer are sometimes one-tenth the size of what they once were, and parents no longer send their children to mosques for spiritual lessons.

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.

News From Mosul

On 15 August, I took my Daughters Najma, and Aya's mother with me to the hospital, in order to make the medical examination for Najma prior to present her paper to the college. About 10 AM we hear a loud sound of explosion, but we can check each other by cellphone we didn't know where the explosion. On returning home we have to cross the bridge to the other side of the city, we did so, but ofter that we face a block in all the roads leading home. I became an expert in the side ways and detours, but all the efforts failed to take us home. We took our lunch in an popular restaurant and then spend the time in one of my brothers house. The problem was with my older daughter who is still breast feed her second baby Mo'men, three months old Aya's brother. Later and before the dark we managed to go home. The reason for this problem is in the following report.

15 August 2006 via INA A major explosion in Mosul this morning just before noon. This was the result of a car bomb in a trailer driven by a suicide bomber before noon today targeting the headquarters of the Kurdish National Union in Al-Ta'meem district east of Mosul. This resulted in heavy casualties with some 20 to 30 people injured in addition to a large number of dead. The severity of the explosion, which hit a nearby petrol station, led to the collapse of several nearby buildings in the neighborhood, hence the large numbers of bodies, many are still under the rubble. At least 17 cars were burnt whilst queuing at the petrol station, queues now are a normal occurrence given the fuel crisis which has been biting hard over the last few months in Mosul.

Next day I went to the hospital as usual, but this time all the five bridges of Mosul were closed in front of vehicles, so we have to cross the bridge on feet, it was very hot day and the distance was to long but we did it. Again there was a reason for that and it is in the following report.

16 August 2006 - Several parts of the right bank of Mosul witnessed arm confrontation between gunmen and the police this morning. The clashes lasted about 2 hours in Al-Amel, Mosul Al-Jadida, Souq Al-Ghanem and other areas. A source in Nineveh police constabulary stated that the local authority closed the 5 bridges across Tigris in Mosul as a precaution. The police was able to kill 5 gunmen and arrest 6 others in addition to destroying several of the gunmen cars and confescating large amount of arms and ammunitions. - In Al-Nabi Younis (Profit Jona) district, left bank of Mosul, an explosive device went off targeting an American Convoy. The area was soon surrounded by US forces sealing the area, hence the inability to know the number of causalities and the amount of damage caused.

Today afternoon A Doctor whose clinic are opposite of mine, are kidnapped in the middle of the day from his clinic. The kidnapper put him in the rear luggage box of the car and run a way, fortunately the door open accidentally while the car was very fast, he jump from the car and injured his head and may be some of his ribs. Those are not a typical days of our life, but samples of what the Americans Freedom and Democracy brought to us.


Officer Called Haditha Routine

The Marine officer who commanded the battalion involved in the Haditha killings last November did not consider the deaths of 24 Iraqis, many of them women and children, unusual and did not initiate an inquiry, according to a sworn statement he gave to military investigators in March. "I thought it was very sad, very unfortunate, but at the time, I did not suspect any wrongdoing from my Marines," Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, commander of the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marines, said in the statement. Chessani's statement, provided to The Washington Post by a person sympathetic to the enlisted Marines involved in the case, helps explain why there was no investigation of the incident at the time, despite the large number of civilian deaths, and why it took several months for the U.S. military chain of command to react to the event. It also provides a glimpse of the mind-set of a commander on the scene who, despite the carnage, did not stop to consider whether Marines had crossed a line and killed defenseless civilians. It suggests that top U.S. commanders have been unsuccessful in urging subordinate leaders to focus less on killing insurgents and more on winning the support of the Iraqi people, especially by providing them security. Chessani told investigators he concluded that insurgents had staged a "complex attack" that began with a roadside bomb, followed by a small-arms ambush that was intended to provoke the Marines to fire into houses where civilians were hiding.

Thanks, Joe Darby

The pictures of naked men cowering before guard dogs or arranged in a pig pile in front of two smiling American guards shocked the world.It also made Abu Ghraib prison synonymous with American wrongdoing in Iraq. If not for one American soldier, we may never have seen them. “The first one that opened was the — the pyramid of people. And it didn’t strike me that it was Iraqis at first,” former Army Reserve Spc. Joe Darby said. “It was more like something you’d see a fraternity do at a college. It was amusing at first, and I laughed and then as I went further into the pictures, I realized exactly what, what these pictures were. After I’d looked at all the pictures. … I realized I had a decision to make.” In January 2004, Darby gave a CD loaded with incriminating photos to the Army Criminal Investigation Division. The photos exposed abhorrent treatment of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. Army prison guards. Soon, revelations of beatings, torture, and the sexual humiliation of prisoners at the hands of Army guards became public knowledge. [And let’s hope the day comes where it is routine for US troops to do the right thing, not something exceptional. – dancewater]


PEACE ACTION: Take the voters’ peace pledge. "I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."


Iraq Violence Feeds Funeral Businesses

Back in 1982, Radhwan Mizaal Ali opened a tiny shop offering funeral supplies. Now he runs six shops, and business is booming. "Whenever they beat war drums, our business flourishes more," Ali said as he puffed on a hookah waterpipe in one of his shops. From coffin makers to professional mourners who weep and wail at ceremonies, a wave of killings in Baghdad is fueling a boom in the funeral industry. Ali offers everything a grieving family needs for a proper burial: chairs for the mourners, tape recorders and speakers to transmit Quranic verses, plates for traditional foods and a generator — all rented out for about $100 a day. According to Muslim and Iraqi tradition, bodies should be buried quickly, if possible on the very day of death. But tradition also calls for three days of mourning. Families rent a tent near the deceased's home and receive visitors. On the final day of mourning, the deceased's family throws a big feast, where mourners and the poor in the neighborhood can partake. That's where Ali and other funeral suppliers come in. And demand for their services is up.

US Troops Express Worries About Iraq

The Pentagon’s top general says troops suggested to him during a recent trip to Iraq that they are among those who are worried. White House spokesman Tony Snow took pains to deny a report Wednesday that Bush had privately expressed frustration with the Iraqis for not appreciating American sacrifices made there and with the Iraqi people and their leaders for not supporting the U.S. mission. "We don't expect ... an overnight success," Snow said when asked Bush's opinion on the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Just when success might come — and whether it is even possible — are key questions for war-weary Americans. And the latest setbacks in Iraq come as congressional elections approach. Troops are also disgruntled over Iraqi efforts, according to questions put to Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when he visited the country over the weekend. One asked how much more time the Iraqi government should be given to achieve the political unity needed to stabilize the country. Another wanted to know whether U.S. forces will stay if Iraqis descend into all-out civil war. And a third ended a question about continued U.S. troop deployments to Iraq by asking, "Is the war coming to an end?" Pace said his talks with troops reassured him that they are proud of what they're doing and satisfied with what they've accomplished. But he also said he detected among them "some frustration at the Iraqis for not yet grasping the opportunity that's in front of them." [War means a big pile of dead bodies – and that is all it is good for. So, at least some Iraqis are ‘grasping the opportunity’ – see story above about the funeral business. – dancewater]

"There's a certain irony if military and political leaders seem to be losing patience with the Iraqis," said Charles Pena, a fellow at the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy and George Washington University's homeland security institute. "We're the ones who created this situation." [Indeed. – dancewater]

Strife Moving Out From Baghdad to Villages

Telba Khalif was in the vineyard when the mortar shell crashed down, sending her running terrified toward her house. Day and night, similar explosions had rocked her village -- on the road, by the canal, in the fields -- in what U.S. and Iraqi military officials call a bleeding of sectarian strife out from Baghdad. "We can't sleep every night because this is happening," Khalif said in her stucco home, surrounded by other veiled women and girls. "We're very scared." Mortar attacks that erupted last month between Sunni and Shiite villages around Khan Bani Sad are part of a complex power struggle in the demographically mixed province of Diyala, a contested area stretching from Baghdad to Iran. Sunni fighters are trying to push Shiite families out of the region, while Shiite militiamen from Baghdad are moving in aggressively to attack Sunnis and expand their turf, the officials say. U.S. commanders had planned on withdrawing hundreds of American troops from this province, but instead this month they ordered an increase in troop levels to help stem the spread of sectarian violence. The Iraqi army has grown more capable in Diyala, and took over a large portion of the province last month. But the decision to add American troops underscored the limitations of their Iraqi counterparts, particularly the police, who must overcome mistrust fostered by the sectarian tensions.

……. U.S. and Iraqi officials acknowledge that Iraqi police in Khan Bani Sad are heavily infiltrated by Mahdi Army militiamen and that some soldiers also are sympathetic to the group. "They could be doing it as a matter of survival," Tansey said. "If you're Shiite, you cooperate with them or they'll kill you in the middle of the night." Unsure of the loyalties of Iraqi forces, U.S. officers sometimes lie to Iraqi army commanders about where they are going on joint missions and require Iraqi soldiers to give up their cellphones before leaving camp. Police are distrusted even more.

Displaced Iraqis: Sunni Family’s Story

Jamal Anour, 51, his wife and two children are among tens of thousands of Iraqis who have fled sectarian violence in recent months. The Sunni musician had lived in the Shaab area of Baghdad since the 1980s. Once a mixed district, it is becoming increasingly Shia dominated as Sunni families move out. I woke up one morning at 6am in early April. I went to get my car started and I found an envelope. The note said: 'We will cut your throats within 24 hours. Leave this area you Sunni pigs'. I woke my children up immediately. I put them in the car, locked the house and drove to Adhamiya. I left everything, my house, my work. The good people of Adhamiya took us in and gave us this place to live. I had lived in Shaab since 1982. My uncle had been there since the 1950s. We have never seen anything like this, neither when Saddam was in power, nor since he fell. We have never differentiated between Sunni and Shia. But after the Samarra incident, they started just going to people's houses. People we know - people from our neighbourhood - would come with their faces covered, with 10 cars, and kidnap the men. The next day the body would be found in a dump somewhere.

Displaced Iraqis: Shia Family’s Story

Jasim Adnan, 36, and his family fled their home in the mixed Baghdad neighbourhood of Amiriya after his brother was killed and his shop blown up. The family are now living in a tent in a government camp on the outskirts of Baghdad in Shoula, an area protected by the Mehdi Army, one of the two biggest Shia militias in Iraq. There were many incidents targeting Shia. They killed only Shias - Shia sheikhs [religious leaders] were killed, the Shia grocer was killed, even the baker. They left no Shia people in Amiriya - they targeted and killed them all. We were threatened. First we found an IED [improvised explosive device] planted outside our shop. We went to the local police authority and told them about it. Then we got another threat, saying they would blow up our shop and take the men who work for us. Then suddenly they came after my brother. It was the Qadr Night [a special night during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan] and he was fasting that morning.

Suicide Bombings By Women In Iraq

Since 2003, the report cites at least five suicide bombing cases in Iraq, including an Iraqi woman who traveled to Jordan but failed in her mission. It also includes a Belgian woman who converted to Islam, then went to Iraq.

April 3, 2003: Two women blew up a car at a checkpoint, killing themselves and three US Army Rangers in western Iraq.

Sept. 28, 2005: An Iraqi woman disguised as a man stood among job applicants before detonating an explosive belt outside a US military facility in the city of Tal Afar. Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack, calling her a "blessed sister" affiliated with the Malik Suicidal Brigade.

Nov. 9, 2005: A failed car bombing of US troops killed a female suicide bomber and injured one soldier. The bomber was later identified as Muriel Degauque from Belgium, who had converted to Islam after marrying a Moroccan man.

Nov. 13, 2005: Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, an Iraqi from the city of Fallujah and a would-be suicide bomber, was arrested. She confessed on Jordanian TV that she had participated in a suicide bomb plot the previous week that killed 57 people at three hotels in Amman, Jordan. She said her explosives belt failed to detonate.

May 4, 2006: A female bomber removed an explosives-laden vest when she was denied access to a Baghdad courthouse and left it in a bag outside the building. It exploded and killed at least nine people and wounded 46.

HUMOR: The Daily Show’s New Correspondent


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?