Sunday, August 20, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 20, 2006 Iraqi Shiites pilgrims march toward the Imam Moussa Kadhim shrine, for the annual commemoration of the saint's death, in the Shiite district of Kazimiyah, in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday Aug. 20, 2006. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim) Sniper attacks on Shiite religious festival kill at least 20, injure 300. The attacks took place from rooftops of buildings and houses along the route of the procession as it wound its way to the shrine of Imam Moussa Kadhim, an 8th century saint, in Kazimiyah, north Baghdad. (Note: The reported casualty toll from these incidents has been rising steadily. These numbers are from Reuters as of approximately 9:00 am Eastern Time. At 9:40, NPR was giving the death toll as 21.) Police report making three arrests in attacks on pilgrims Iraqi Defense Ministry says 14 Iraqi soldiers injured, 30 suspects arrested in connection with the pilgrimage. These arrests by military presumably in addition to 3 arrests reported by police. Reuters also reports: AFP's Ammar Karim has a more detailed report on the violence surrounding the commemoration of Imam Musa Kadhim. OTHER NEWS FROM IRAQ A child walks past the graves of the victims of the so-called Anfal campaign, where tens of thousands of Kurds were killed in the north in the late 1980s, in the village of Sewsenan in Sulaimaniya, north of Iraq, August 18, 2006. Saddam Hussein, the ousted Iraqi president who is awaiting a verdict in his first trial for crimes against humanity, will be in the dock again on Monday for the so-called Anfal campaign. Picture taken August 18, 2006. REUTERS/Ceerwan Aziz (IRAQ) Second trial of Saddam to begin on Monday. Charges center on the so-called Anfal (spoils) campaign in 1988 against Iraqi Kurds. Excerpt:

By CNN's Joe Sterling, Sunday, August 20, 2006;

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein will go on trial Monday accused of genocide and crimes against humanity in the so-called Anfal campaign of 1988. The series of deadly assaults in the Kurdish region included the former regime's alleged use of poison gas.

The trial comes as sectarian violence plagues the country more than three years after Hussein was toppled, with gunmen targeting Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad on Sunday. Across the world, the court of public opinion watching the trial will be scrutinizing the much-criticized Iraqi High Tribunal.

Iraq's Kurds, who are seeking justice for the well-documented attacks, welcome the trial. But one major human rights watchdog group that has helped educate the world about the Anfal campaign worries that the tribunal won't do its victims justice. "Anfal" -- which means "spoils" in Arabic -- is a term from the eighth chapter, or sura, of the Quran, the sacred Muslim book. It is believed that about 100,000 Kurds were killed and 3,000 villages destroyed in the operation. Those who survived were illegally detained and later executed.

Human Rights Watch -- which has tracked, documented and decried the Anfal campaign for years -- warns that the Iraqi tribunal is "incapable" of handling the proceeding fairly, judging from its performance during the ongoing Dujail trial. On the other hand, U.S. officials say the tribunal officials learned a lot from their experiences during the Dujail proceeding and have improved their performance.

snip Hussein and six co-defendants -- including Ali Hassan al-Majeed, a former Iraqi general known as "Chemical Ali" -- are on trial in the Anfal case. All face charges of war crimes related to an internal armed conflict and crimes against humanity. Hussein and al-Majeed have been charged with genocide.

The other defendants in the Anfal case are Sultan Hashem Ahmed, the military commander of the campaign; Saber Abdel Aziz, the director of military intelligence during the campaign; Hussein Rashid, the deputy of operations for Iraqi forces at the time; Taher Ani, a former governor of Mosul; and Farhan Jubouri, former head of military intelligence in northern Iraq.

Iranian shells kill 2 in Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. Excerpt:
The New York Times By Edward Wong and Yerevan Adham. SULAIMANIYA, Iraq Artillery shells fired from Iran have landed in remote northern villages of Iraqi Kurdistan in the past four days and have killed at least two civilians and wounded four others, a senior Kurdish official said Saturday. Dozens of families have fled the region. The shells have been aimed at an area around Qandil Mountain, known as a base for militant Kurdish opposition groups seeking independence from Turkey and Iran, said the official, Mustafa Sayed Qadir, a senior member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which governs the eastern half of Iraqi Kurdistan. "A lot of homes have been damaged and livestock killed," he said. A shepherd was wounded Saturday, and two women were among the three people wounded on previous days, he added. The government of Iraq is aware of the shelling, which has taken place occasionally in recent months, but has not taken an official position, he said. The president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, is the head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. He has at times had a close relationship with Iran, especially when he sought Iranian support in the 1990's against rival Kurdish leaders and Saddam Hussein. But Mr. Talabani is also aware of the Iranian government's poor treatment of its Kurdish minority. Iranian officials could not be reached for comment Saturday evening.
NEWS FROM THE HOME FRONT Out-of-uniform troops called to serve in Iraq. Excerpt:
Rebecca Santana ASSOCIATED PRESS CAMP ANACONDA, Iraq — Spc. Chris Carlson had been out of the U.S. Army for two years and was working at Costco in California when he received notice that he was being called back into service. The 24-year-old is one of thousands of soldiers and Marines who have been deployed to Iraq under a policy that allows military leaders to recall troops who have left the service but still have time left on their contract. "I thought it was crazy," said Carlson, who found himself protecting convoys on Iraq’s roads as part of a New Jersey National Guard unit. "Never in a million years did I think they would call me back." Although troops are allowed to leave active duty after a few years of service, they generally still have time left on their contract with the military that is known as "inactive ready reserve" status, or IRR. During that time, they have to let their service know their current address, but they don’t train, draw a paycheck or associate in any other way with the military. But with active-duty units already completing multiple tours in Iraq, the Pentagon has employed the rarely used tactic of calling people back from IRR status. According to the U.S. Army Reserve, about 14,000 soldiers on IRR status have been called to active duty since March 2003 and about 7,300 have been deployed to Iraq. The Marine Corps has mobilized 4,717 Marines who were classified as IRR since Sept. 11, and 1,094 have been deployed to Iraq, according to the Marine Forces Reserve.
There appears to be a difference of opinion between the Commander in Chief and those subject to command. Excerpt:
WASHINGTON (AP) President George W. Bush is not frustrated about the slow progress in Iraq, the White House insists. But a lot of other Americans are apparently including U.S. troops. The Pentagon’s top general said 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 about Iraqi efforts, according to questions put to Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when he visited the country during 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."
News from the alternate universe. Bush says staying course helps keep America safe. Excerpt:
WASHINGTON (AP) - President George W. Bush said yesterday that his administration’s determination to remain in Iraq and its efforts to end violence in Lebanon are key to protecting the U.S. from future terrorist attacks. "It is no coincidence that two nations that are building free societies in the heart of the Middle East - Lebanon and Iraq - are also the scenes of the most violent terrorist activity," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "We will defeat the terrorists by strengthening young democracies across the broader Middle East." He acknowledged that "the way forward will be difficult." But, the president said, "America’s security depends on liberty’s advance in this troubled region." . . . Bush argued that his approach is working.
Ambassador Khalilzad explains the Administration's unique concept of liberty's advance. He also hurls the appalling accusation that there are "foreign agents" in Iraq. (At least 130,000 that I know of -- C.) Excerpt:
Despite the seemingly deadly spiral of violence, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said he sees a perverse sort of progress, in an exclusive interview with CBS News. "I see indications that both sides believe that a balance of terror has been established," Khalilzad told CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann. "They have demonstrated to each other that they can inflict pain on each other, and neither can get rid of the other." That "balance of terror" led to record levels of violence in Iraq last month — with nearly 3,500 Iraqis dying violently — and that was a trend that continued Saturday.
Community shows thanks to troops back from Iraq. (But not all duty is equally onerous.) Excerpt:
By GLEN BOLDUC, Blethen Maine News Service CHINA — They were gone for a year, and families back home waited and prayed. Although the Maine Army National Guard soldiers returned home three months ago, the community and families who supported them while they were gone wanted to show them how proud they are of them. "This is your day," said Command Sgt. David Smith. "This is all about you." On Saturday, about 150 soldiers gathered during a daylong family event hosted by the China Lake Conference Center. Most were members of the 152nd Maintenance Company who returned in April after a year in Baghdad. "It's nice to see everyone again," said Specialist Maghen Philbrook, 27, of Northport. Philbrook was glad to be home, but admitted that deployment in Iraq was not all that bad. "I came back with a really nice tan line," she said of the time spent near the swimming pool at one of Saddam Hussein's mansions.
WHISKER'S ROUNDUP OF WOUNDED Wesley Peck, 22, has been upgraded from his previous critical condition status, said a family spokesperson. He has started to walk again with the help of a walker. He is eating solid food, and his dangerously high body temperature (at one point as high as 107 degrees) has come down to normal levels. Peck, a private second class in the 101st Airborne, was participating in a July 16 building evacuation with other soldiers who were hunting for insurgents when his hand and lower stomach were hit by pistol fire. Initial reports had indicated that the hostile fire was a single shot, possibly fired from an assault rifle. When Marine Lance Cpl. Philip J. Schermer III of Mobile drove a Humvee over an anti-tank mine in Iraq's Anbar province two years ago, he didn't lose his life. His 20-year-old body filled with shrapnel, he underwent nine surgeries following the Oct. 12, 2004, incident. He had shrapnel wounds in his left leg, his left arm and his face. His right heel was shattered, and a hole was blown through his left eardrum. At first, the doctors thought he would never walk again. But with months and months of extensive physical therapy, the determined young Marine advanced from being bedridden to using a wheelchair and then to using a cane. The young [Australian] woman, Corporal Signaller S. Webster, sustained internal bruising and head cuts when a 122mm rocket landed close to an Australian accommodation block inside the international or green zone. Specialist Michael Parker, a Bedford County man serving with the 101st Airborne in Iraq, was wounded last week in fighting there. According to what her son told her, his unit came under fire. They were trying to find out what was behind the door of a building and Parker, as part of the effort to break it down, fired into it. One of his bullets ricocheted back, hitting him in the hand. The wound was serious enough that he was taken to an Army hospital for surgery. Jarod Behee, a brain-injured solider and Purple Heart recipient from Glendora, said he is fighting Army regulations forcing him to retire. The 27-year-old staff sergeant was shot by a sniper's bullet on May 25, 2005, while serving a second tour of duty in Iraq. The bullet entered one side of his helmet, whizzed around the back of his head, and came out of the side of his helmet, injuring his brain. Spc. Corey. D. Johnson, 20, a 2004 Tomah High School graduate, was injured while on duty with his unit in Iraq. According to his father, Dan Johnson, Corey Johnson, stationed out of Fort Sill, Okla., was injured July 23 or 24 when a truck from his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq. orey Johnson and two other soldiers in the Humvee were injured. Corey’s father said the three soldiers were propelled from the vehicle and others in the convoy did not even notice they were missing at first. an Johnson said fortunately their radio was still operational and they were able to call for assistance. NEWS FROM AFGHANISTAN (From the AP, Excerpted by Whisker) 1: Afghan police backed by NATO aircraft killed 71 suspected Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan. The 71 insurgents were killed when they attacked police in Panjwayi district in southern Kandahar province late Saturday, said Niaz Mohammad Sarhadi, the district chief. NATO troops used artillery and aircraft in the clash that lasted until early Sunday, said Maj. Toby Jackman, a spokesman for the force. #2: The slain American was identified by family members as senior airman Adam Servais, 23, of Onalaska, Wis. The four-year veteran was with Air Force Special Operations. #3: Meanwhile, a mine in the country's restive south killed a local police commander and an ambush by suspected insurgents left a spiritual leader wounded. The officer was killed when his vehicle hit a freshly planted mine in Sori district of southern Zabul province on Friday, said Noor Mohammad Paktin, the provincial police chief. #4: Separately, suspected Taliban militants wounded Mrich Agha, a spiritual leader in the southern Kandahar province on Saturday, said Dawood Ahmadi, the governor's spokesman. Agha's driver was killed in the ambush, Ahmadi said. Quote of the Day It is time for our senior officers, active and retired, men who understand war and cannot be daunted by the "cut and run" gimmick, to make it clear to the public and the politicians, perhaps through a joint statement, that the war in Iraq is lost, that we are squandering young lives, and that we must withdraw in short order. Having done this, they can help devise a thoughtful strategy to combat al Qaeda, a strategy based on military realities and regional knowledge, not on ethereal ideology or the schemes of think tanks. Brian M. Downing (Author of Paths of Glory)


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