DAILY WAR NEWS FOR THURSDAY, August 24, 2006
: U.S. Marines guard a hallway at the Ramadi General Hospital in this July 2006 file photo in Iraq. The Marine Corps will soon begin ordering thousands of its troops back to active duty because of a shortage of volunteers for Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Jacob Silberberg, File) (See below "Is The Next Step A Draft?")
Bring 'em on
: A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died of wounds after his patrol was attacked by terrorists using small-arms fire at approximately 12:15 p.m. today in Baghdad. (CENTCOM)
Bring ‘em on
: A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died at approximately 8 a.m. today when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by an improvised-explosive device south of Baghdad. (MNF-Iraq)
Bring 'em on
: A U.S. Army Soldier was killed Aug. 23 while conducting combat operations south of Baghdad when his unit came in contact with enemy forces. (CENTCOM)
Bring ‘em on
: Chief Petty Officer Paul J. Darga, 34, of Lansing, Mich., died Aug. 22 when his Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team was struck by an improvised explosive device while responding to a previous strike. His unit was conducting combat operations against enemy forces in the Al Anbar province, Iraq. (DefenseLink)
British troops abandoned their base in Iraq's southern Maysan province on Thursday
, which has been under almost nightly attack, and prepared to head deep into the marshlands along the Iranian border to hunt gun smugglers. The 600 combat troops are giving up their Challenger tanks and Warrior armoured fighting vehicles in favour of stripped-down Landrovers armed with machineguns. The units will remain constantly on the move and be resupplied by air drops. The Hussars were until Thursday stationed at Camp Abu Naji near Amara, the capital of Maysan province which also has a large presence of Mehdi Army militia fighters loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. While dismissing suggestions the British had been forced out of Amara, he acknowledged the attacks had been one reason for the decision to withdraw, the second being that a static base did not fit with the new operation.
(update from 1 wounded) Four British soldiers were wounded in an insurgent mortar attack on their military base near the Iraqi city of Amara in the Missan governorate on Wednesday, British military sources said. The sources told the Iraqi news agency al-Dar that the attacks was on the Abu Naji military base, which British forces use as a regional headquarters.OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
A car bomb in the neighborhood of al-Mashtal in eastern Baghdad killed two civilians and injured five others.
The explosion occurred about 100 yards from a police station.
A car bomb targeting a police patrol in the neighborhood of Azamiyah - killed two civilians and wounded four people, included two policemen.
Two civilians were killed and four were wounded, including two policemen, when a parked car exploded in the district of Adhamiyah.
Five day laborers were wounded when a bomb hidden in trash exploded outside a paint shop in downtown Tayaran Square, while a roadside bomb exploded next to an Iraqi police patrol, wounding two policemen.
Gunmen opened fire on a police patrol, killing one policeman and wounding another, in the Azamiyah neighborhood.
Gunmen killed at least three people, two of them in the area Amariyah
that has been part of the new security strategy.
Two policemen were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in central Baghdad.
A parked car went off against the convoy of a senior police officer as he passed through central Baghdad's Zayuna neighbourhood.
Five policemen were wounded.
Two civilians were killed and nine wounded when a parked car full of explosives blew up in the neighbourhood of Baghdad Jadida
, near Sadr City.
The head of police patrols in eastern Baghdad escaped an assassination attempt when a car bomb exploded near his motorcade in the eastern district of Zayouna.
He was unharmed but five of his bodyguards were wounded.
Four civilians were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in central Baghdad.
The target of the bomb was not clear.
Gunmen killed four people, three of them from Saddam Hussein's ousted Baath party, in different attacks in Kerbala
, 110 km (68 miles) southwest of Baghdad.
A bomb in a minivan killed three policemen and wounded a minivan driver in Baqouba
, about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.
A roadside bomb struck an Iraqi army convoy, killing three soldiers and destroying their armored vehicle, on the outskirts of Baqouba.
A civilian was wounded when a roadside bomb went off near a shop selling alcohol in Baquba.
Police found the body of an Iraqi near the town of Baiji
, 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad, after earlier finding its severed head in the same town on Wednesday.
Police retrieved a body from the Tigris river in the city of Tikrit
, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad.
Gunmen killed three policemen on Wednesday at a checkpoint in Balad
, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad.
Police retrieved a body, handcuffed, blindfolded and with gunshot wounds, from a river near Latifiya
, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad.
Police found a body, handcuffed and with gunshot wounds, in the town of Suwayra
, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad.
Police found four handcuffed bodies dumped separately in the streets of Kut
, a city 100 miles southeast of the capital. All had been shot.
Gunmen in army uniforms kidnapped two truck drivers in the Amara-Kut highway.
A hospital in Mosul received the bodies of seven people with gunshot wounds
, including five from the same family.
Police found a body with gunshot wounds in the city of Mosul.
Two policemen were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in Mosul.
Kanimasi and Snaht regions:
Turkish jet fighters have commenced air strikes against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PPK) bases in northern Iraq.
F-16 jets carried out air strikes against targets in the Kanimasi and Snaht regions in northern Iraq. Army officials stated that the F-16 jets which took off during the night had inflicted serious casualties on the PKK.
In the thick of an election campaign, President Bush has revived and retooled his argument that the U.S. must fight terrorists overseas or face them here. Despite the unpopularity of the Iraq war, some GOP candidates are borrowing Bush's line.
"We leave before the mission is done, the terrorists will follow us here," Bush warned at a news conference this week.
Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., locked in a tight Philadelphia-area re-election race, went a step further. "We either fight them there, or we fight them in the supermarkets and streets here
," he said Wednesday in an interview with CNN. (…)
The fight-them-there theme has been part of Bush's national security stump speech since 2003. But the "follow us here" part is a relatively new twist.
A majority of Americans no longer see a link between the war in Iraq and Washington's broader anti-terrorism efforts
despite President George W. Bush's insistence the two are intertwined, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll released on Tuesday.
Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said the war in Iraq was separate from the U.S. government's war on terrorism. The findings were a considerable shift from polls taken in 2002 and early 2003, when a majority considered the two to be linked, The New York Times said.
Sikorsky Aircraft helicopters made for the U.S. Navy and Canada could reinforce a battered and shrinking U.S. Marine Corps helicopter fleet
, according to a pair of Washington-area think tanks - if only the Marines could afford them.
The Marines need $12 billion to replace equipment that has grown unreliable due to age and heavy use in Iraq, including helicopters, says a joint report issued Wednesday by the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress and the more conservative Lexington Institute. (…)
"I think the helicopter situation is dire," said Max A. Bergmann, a co-author of the report, called "Marine Corps Equipment After Iraq."
Whether Congress and the Marines will act on the report, and how Sikorsky will try to capitalize on it, are yet to be seen.
>> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
MANUEL VALENZUELA : DEAR "TERRORIST" CHILD
What must it be like to have your home searched, rummaged and eventually destroyed? What must occupation be like for the young, who are forced to confront death, destruction and violence on a daily basis? What must it be like to have your family humiliated, dehumanized, robbed of its few possessions and amounts of money, your room ransacked in the middle of the night by American patrols designed to intimidate and scare more than anything else? To be an Iraqi child during this most criminal and malevolent act of premeditated aggression is to be condemned to live life in hell on Earth, with destruction and death all around, bullets whizzing by and improvised explosive devices booming in the distance, with buildings you once recognized now turned to rubble and a normal life you once knew suddenly turned upside down, an unrecognizable nightmare that you cannot wake from, no matter how hard you try to escape the reality of what you are witness to.
Friends you once knew and loved are either dead or missing, ethnically cleansed from your neighborhood because they are Sunni or Shia, forced to leave rather than die at the hands of death squads. You visit cousins in the hospital, their limbs shredded and/or torn off thanks to American ordnance or cannon fire, their eyes having become a vacuum of darkness, a vastness of nothingness inside their pupils, unable to comprehend how a game of football could lead to broken arms and amputated feet. The empty void of rage you must feel inside knowing that your older sister has been raped by American soldiers, humiliated in front of her parents, now castigated and banished from what was once a normal life, her life apparently over.
You see the valiant resistance waging guerilla war against the Americans, they with tanks and fighter jets, the resistance with IEDs and mortar fire. You most likely know members of the resistance, some might be friends of the family, others might be relatives, still others your father or older brothers. They are waging a relentless battle with the weapons they have, slowly bleeding the American military, knowing the city better than anyone, blending into buildings, hiding amongst shadows, becoming experts at guerilla warfare and at placing IED's throughout the city streets.
They are fighting for your freedom and for Iraqi independence, freedom fighters destined to proclaim victory, if not soon then after patient determination, for morality and justice are with them, as is the population and the parameters of guerilla warfare. They fight occupation and the pillaging of Iraq's resources by the Empire; they fight to expel the American military from your land, knowing full well that if not forced to leave by the resistance the armies of the Empire will never depart; they fight both to make right and bring a sense of justice to the myriad American war crimes, torture, murder, dehumanization, false imprisonment, destruction and the taunts the American military, ignorant of history or of alien cultures, has imported into Iraq. They fight for vengeance, for honor, for Iraq, becoming a valid resistance against illegal occupation.
They are called terrorists by the American military and its propaganda machine, the corporate media. You know better. Anything and anyone against the American government and its imperial ambitions gets labeled a terrorist. Any group that does not bow down to honor the Empire and lick its stained boots becomes an evildoer. Any entity that fights the injustice and the devastating policies of America is smeared as an insurgent. Terrorist is the term used to frighten and manipulate the gullible and brain dead American citizenry, making millions believe that if the government labels a group a terrorist organization, then that group or entity is evil and wicked and fighting America because they hate America for her freedoms and democracy and her way of life, and therefore must be defeated and fought in battle, in this charade called the "war on terror." With such an unthinking, ignorant population, willing to believe anything and everything told them, manipulation and propaganda serves to hide truths better left unknown.
No, you don't fall for the bull manure of lies and propaganda and manipulations, you are smarter than that, with a mind that thinks on its own. You know your friends and neighbors and relatives and fathers are freedom fighters, interlocked in a war of resistance, much like those in Vietnam and in the American War for Independence. You are proud of the resistance, for they fight in your name, for your land and your resources, fighting to remain free of American hegemony, with its vast arsenal of plundering policies and pillaging techniques. You know very well Bush does not care for the Iraqi people, or for bringing freedom and democracy to your country. He wants your oil, your slave labor, your wallets and your strategic location. You know that your people must fight the Americans, for if not then you will become an American colony, occupied into perpetuity, a nation oppressed inside its own borders, a people robbed of their freedom.
And so you imitate your elders, brave freedom fighters that they have become, abandoning jobs as taxi drivers, teachers, construction workers and managers, forced into armed conflict by the brutal oppression and occupation of Iraqis by the American military. You have no AK-47, no IED's or mortars, and so you and your remaining friends imitate the poor Palestinian children, reaching down and around the rubble of destroyed buildings, creating the rocks thrown at American tanks and Humvees. The tanks have become the symbol of occupation, of the hatred and the rage you feel against America, for what it has done to you and your land. You throw and throw rocks at these mighty iron beasts, knowing that you can do them no harm, that your rocks don't even dent the iron. Yet you throw until your arm is dead, for such is the bitterness and the rage inside your tiny body, wishing your rocks were bombs, wishing the American scourge could finally be expelled from Mesopotamia.
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THE MURTHA MODEL
We all know how the antiwar movement fell silent in 2004 so as not to jeopardize the bloodthirsty campaign of John Kerry who promised to kill more Iraqis faster and cheaper than George Bush. Last week some of us experienced a similar phenomenon in Washington, DC and in other cities around the nation. When a demonstration was held to protest Israel's vicious attack on Lebanon, the antiwar movement, especially those associated with the Coalition for Peace and Justice did not participate. In fact, locally they have offered no response at all to the actions of Israel.
The hero du jour of the Democrats is John Murtha -- shades of Wesley Clark. Murtha is the Democratic Party's chief militarist who says verbally that we have to bring our troops home from Iraq but whose actual proposal calls for their redeployment to Kuwait so that they can be ready to invade Iraq or to stage an invasion against Iran or Syria.
Here is the exact wording of Murtha's proposal:
• To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
• To create a quick reaction force in the region.
• To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
• To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq.
When you remove the rhetoric, Murtha's actual proposal says 'redeploy' instead of 'withdraw' the troops from Iraq. When Murtha says 'redeploy' -- instead of withdraw -- the troops from Iraq, he makes clear that -- despite his rhetoric -- he doesn't want to really bring them home, but to station them in the Middle East. Murtha told Anderson Cooper of CNN:
"We ... have united the Iraqis against us. And so I'm convinced, once we redeploy to Kuwait or to the surrounding area, that it will be much safer. They won't be able to unify against the United States. And then, if we have to go back in, we can go back in."
Murtha's resolution calls for the U.S. to create 'a quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines' to be 'deployed to the region'. To make matters worse, John Murtha indicated in a press conference that it would take six months even to redeploy our troops.
We are killing 100 Iraqis each day. That's 3,000 innocent Iraqis dead each month. Why do these Democrats want to kill 18,000 more Iraqis before they even redeploy to Kuwait?
read in full...
THE AGONY OF IRAQ
The past couple of days have been relatively peaceful in Iraq - for example, only a couple of dozen people have been reported killed each day in and around Baghdad, about half the recent average. Of course, it's taken extreme security measures to achieve even that modest goal, as the New York Times
Rooftop snipers and mortar fire killed 20 people and wounded 300 others as they walked through religiously mixed neighborhoods in Baghdad on Sunday to commemorate the death of one of Shiite Islam's holiest figures, an Iraqi Health Ministry spokesman said.
American and Iraqi officials had been planning security for the pilgrimage for months, trying to avoid the huge loss of life during the pilgrimage last year, when more than 950 died after rumors of a suicide bomber caused a stampede on a bridge packed with pilgrims.
. . . But by early Sunday morning, rival groups were exchanging gunfire on Baghdad's streets, officials and residents said, as processions of pilgrims, segregated by sex, ran into apartment blocs and under highway overpasses for cover.
. . . The American military released a statement late Sunday that seemed to play down the deaths. "Iraqi military and civil leaders provided a comprehensive security plan to ensure there would be no recurrence of violence that marred last year's event," the American statement said. "As a result, there were no major attacks."
That's the kind of chaos that Iraq has developed into three and a half years after Dubya decided to bring them the gift of freedom and democracy, where a score of murders in broad daylight can be written off as minor.
read in full…
IS THE NEXT STEP A DRAFT?
An Iraq War veterans group says the call-up of thousands of Marines from the Individual Ready Reserve, announced by the Pentagon today, is "one of the last steps before resorting to a draft."
"This move should serve as a wake-up call to America," said Jon Soltz, an Army captain who served in Iraq and heads the group VoteVets.org, which raises funds for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans running for Congress. "Today's announcement that thousands of Marines in the Individual Ready Reserve will be called back to go to Iraq is proof that our military is overextended, and there is no plan for victory in Iraq."
While the Pentagon has repeatedly maintained the armed forces have met their recruiting and retention goals, Soltz says, "Today's actions speak louder than words."
The IRR are reservists, who have returned to civilian life, don't drill on a regular basis and prior to the Iraq war were rarely called to active duty. The Army has been dipping into their IRR pool since shortly after the beginning of the war, but today the Marine Corps said they also planned to call thousands of these traditionally last resort troops back to active duty.
"If this call-up directly fed into a plan for victory and bringing our troops home, we could take some solace. But there is no plan. We must demand a detailed, military victory strategy in Iraq, which will get our troops out of harm's way and relieve the strain on our active duty troops," said Stolz.
The Bush administration has stated that the reinstatement of a military draft is unlikely. Earlier this summer, Vice President Cheney told reporters he is supporter of an all volunteer military.
"We keep the provisions for the draft in case circumstances should arise where it might be needed," he said, "but I don't foresee the development of those kinds of conditions any time in the future."
SUNNI, SHIA AND US ME POLITICS
Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, this theme of "democratisation" has become a major topic in American political discourse and in fact accompanies nearly all discussions of the Arab-Muslim world and America's so-called role in it.
The Bush administration's response to the current conflict in southern Lebanon, reveals the hypocrisy and true ideology of this administration in aiming at provoking sectarian tension in the region.
Western analysts continue to discuss an alleged "historic" hostility between Sunni and Shia in the region. Dexter Filkins, an Iraq based New York Times
journalist claimed in a recent radio interview that the Sunni in Iraq have now "realised that the Shia are their true enemy, not the Americans."
But the fact is that this statement contradicts history, Iraq Sunni and Shia have been living together for centuries. Modern history books are free from any reference to war between them, but not until the US-led invasion of Iraq.
Martin Peretz claims that the most virulent social conflict in Middle Eastern history "is the Sunni hatred of the Shia, and vice versa," another groundless claim seems to suggest that Muslims somehow cause more harm to one another than the illegal occupations of their land. Western analysts and journalists newfound enthusiasm for sectarian history in the Muslim world needs to be contextualised.
The danger in baseless claims made by western journalists, become even greater when policy makers and American voters begin to rely on them to assess appropriate action in the Muslim and Arab regions. (...)
American policy in the Middle East has two major components: First, the Bush administration has an absolute disdain for true democracy in the Middle East and, secondly, this administration is in great need for civil war throughout the entire region.
These observations may appear bold to western reader-it is a common perception amongst Arab and Muslim readers_-when we examine US behaviour, however, it becomes difficult to conclude otherwise.
Firstly, the major targets of US criticism and Israeli aggression in the current crises-Hamas and Hezbollah are widely popular resistance groups who have democratically elected representative.
President Ahmednijad of Iran, who came to office elected by Iranian people himself, is a target of international criticism because of his hard stance against Israel.
Yet Mr. Bush who often says he is a leader of a state belongs to the "free world" supports unelected rulers in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. The Bush administration's cosy relationship with those rulers should serve as fair warning to green eared reformers in the Arab and Muslim world who seek out this administration's alliance in the hope for political change.
Furthermore, analyzing US policy in this regard should shed some light on the recent political history of Iraq and help explain why events have taken that turn in that country.
These Arab leaders have justified their unpopular alliance with the United States by invoking sectarianism, while the US has justified its alliance with kings and dictators in the name of "protecting" the mainly Sunni Muslim world against alleged sectarian threat posed by Iran and Hezbollah who are Shia Muslims.
Let us be clear-this threat cannot be detected amongst the Arab public, it exists largely as an abstract idea that conveniently serves those in power.
When one takes a step back and looks at the broad picture of the current conflict it becomes apparently and ironically clear that the elected officials and regimes of the Muslim world are the targets of American and Israeli hostility. (...)
Most western observers have conveniently ignored widespread Sunni support for Hezbollah throughout the Arab and Muslim world. In Iraq the US employed a formula of sectarianism in order to entrench itself all the more deeply into Iraqi politics; we now find this formula being extrapolated across the greater Muslim world.
read in full...
HOW MANY INNOCENT PEOPLE DO YOU GET TO KILL IN THE NAME OF PRESERVING YOUR OWN LIFE?
report today on the Haditha massacre says in as many words that the Marines involved didn't think that anything unusual had taken place, quoting the statement of a sgt in a "Marine human intelligence exploitation team" who walked the scene and talked to the Marines a few hours later. The Post
writer suggests that the Marines "viewed the civilian deaths as accidental rather than the result of a vengeful rampage." 24 accidental deaths. Oops. Certainly their colonel didn't consider those deaths to be anything remarkable, much less worthy of investigation. What these stories leave out is the attempted cover-up. As I've said before, when the first story the Marines told was a blatant lie (that they were all killed by an IED), it behooves you to look fairly carefully at their next story. Also, I'm not sure how exonerating it is if they killed dozens of civilians calmly following procedure rather than in a furious rage after the death of a Marine, directed not at those responsible but at the nearest available Iraqis. Even had they thought themselves under attack, which they claim and which I don't believe, how many innocent people do you get to kill in the name of preserving your own life? In the last scene of "Saving Private Ryan," Ryan wonders if his life had been worth the lives of the men who had been killed "saving" him. How is that question changed if you're the one who pulled the trigger?
>> BEYOND IRAQ
ARE FOX NEWS EMPLOYEES REALLY "NONCOMBATANTS"?
Are FOX employee's innocent bystanders or an integral part of the American war machine? That may turn out to be an important question now that 2 FOX workers have been captured by a group of Palestinian militants.
It would be hard, if not impossible to draw a line of separation between the US military and FOX News. Their anchors may shun the camouflage fatigues and jack-boots, but that is where the difference ends. FOX is a fully-integrated cog in the corporate/state media apparatus; faithfully reiterating the official statements of Pentagon Big-wigs and administration powerbrokers. Their "embedded" news team provides the splashy graphics and right wing chatter which energize their base and marshal public support for American aggression. They carefully create a narrative which makes deliberate acts of unprovoked warfare appear necessary and (even) humanitarian.
No one has violated the basic standards of journalistic integrity more consistently than FOX News. Their unwavering support for the war in Iraq demonstrates their blatant disregard for professional evenhandedness and neutrality. Dissenting opinions are scrupulously scrubbed from their broadcasts while the vulgar displays of jingoism and xenophobia are presented as "Fair and Balanced" coverage. On some FOX web sites it's still possible to find articles which claim that Weapons of Mass Destruction were actually found in Iraq. No wonder nearly 50% of the American people still believe that Saddam posed a threat to our national security and that Bush's illegal invasion was justified.
If FOX is an essential part of the state propaganda-system which facilitates the war, then how can we absolve their employees from accountability? Doesn't that make them legitimate targets for resistance organizations?
read in full...
QUOTE OF THE DAY
: "I am convinced that the occupying forces are seeking to destroy the Iraqi people with the help of certain domestic powers. I think the solution lies in disbanding the Iraqi army and security forces and forcing the U.S. forces to withdraw from my town. " -- Mohamed Jassim, a 45-year-old teacher from Fallujah speaking to BBC Arabic.com