Thursday, August 03, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR THURSDAY, August 3, 2006 Photo: Iraqis [Iraqi women, actually - zig] burn an American flag during a protest march denouncing Israel's Sunday attack in southern Lebanon, Monday, July 31, 2006, in the Shiite area of Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq's Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi on Monday accused Israel of carrying out 'massacres' in Lebanon in the strongest criticism of the Jewish state by a top official of the U.S-backed Iraqi government. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim) U.S. troops opened fire on a convoy carrying supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr at a checkpoint south of Baghdad, wounding at least 16 people. The U.S. military said it was checking the report and had no immediate comment. A Mahmudiya police source said the convoy, transporting Sadr supporters from the holy city of Najaf to Baghdad for a rally on Friday, had been passing by a U.S. base in the flashpoint town of Mahmudiya when the shooting took place. (See below "Thousands of Iraqi Shiites have converged on Baghdad…") Iraqi police came under attack and fought intense battles with gunmen overnight in the southern outskirts of Baghdad. In the first clash [in the town of Wahda], 30 kilometres (19 miles) south of the capital, gunmen attacked a police checkpoint killing 14 people, including six policemen.
A second battle erupted nearby between a joint military and police force and insurgents the prime minister's office announced. Iraqi forces chased the insurgents through a rural area [near Suwaiyah] 40 kilometres (25 miles) southwest of the capital and killed 15 of them, the statement said, adding that two policemen had also died.
Bring 'em on: Two Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died, in separate incidents, due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province today. Bring 'em on: A Wisconsin National Guard soldier who was about two weeks away from completing his tour of duty in Iraq was killed in action by a roadside bomb, his mother said Wednesday. Spc. Ryan Jopek, 20, of Merrill, was killed by an explosive device Tuesday somewhere near Tikrit, said his mother, Tracy Jopek, by telephone. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: (updated) Police said the death toll from Wednesday's twin bomb attack on a soccer pitch where children were playing in west Baghdad's neighborhood of Amil had risen to 16. A bomb strapped to a motorcycle exploded in the center of Baghdad, killing at least nine people and injuring 21. The attack near Rusafi Square in the Rashid Street shopping area apparently targeted vendors and commercial stalls. At least 10 people were killed in a roadside bomb in Al-Amin, an eastern district of Baghdad. A further 14 were wounded. Two civilians were wounded when a roadside bomb targeting police commandos exploded in the Zayuna district of Baghdad. A roadside bomb went off near a police commando patrol in a southern Baghdad district, wounding four commando members. A police vehicle was damaged and four commando members aboard were wounded in the blast. Kut: Police found the body of a former member of Saddam Hussein's ousted Baath party in Kut, 170 km (105 miles) southeast of Baghdad. Police in Kut reported finding 18 bodies in the Tigris river showing signs of torture. They had all been shot. Wajihiya: Gunmen stormed a house in Wajihiya killing four people and wounding a fifth. Wajihiya is about 50 miles (80 km) north of Baghdad. Latifiya: Gunmen snatched a car with its driver after wounding a man and a woman in Latifiya. A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol exploded in Latifiya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, wounding two policemen. Diwaniya: A guard was shot in Diwaniya, a town 180 km (112 miles) south of Baghdad. Samarra: A decomposed body was found in Samarra, 100 km (62 miles) north of Baghdad. Balad: Three Iraqi soldiers were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in Balad, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad. Dujail: Police found the bodies of three people shot dead on Wednesday in Dujail, 90 km (55 miles) north of Baghdad. Ishaqi: Gunmen kidnapped a food contractor for the Iraqi army on Wednesday. Mussayab: Three people were killed and 22 wounded on Wednesday night when gunmen attacked a wedding party with hand grenades in Mussayab, 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad. In Country: Gunmen shot to death three people in separate incidents in Amarrah, Mosul and Basra, police said. >> NEWS Thousands of Iraqi Shiites have converged on Baghdad ahead of a major demonstration: Shiite protesters were summoned to the capital by radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr Thursday in order to protest Israel's attacks on Lebanon but also as a show of force by a leading opponent of the US-led coalition force in Iraq. The protest is timed to begin after Friday prayers and could bring tens of thousands onto the streets. Britain's outgoing ambassador to Iraq has advised his government that the country is likely headed to "low intensity civil war": The network [BBC] said it obtained a diplomatic dispatch from William Patey to Prime Minister Tony Blair and top members of Blair's cabinet. The British government, which maintains troops in Iraq, has been supportive of the policies of the Bush administration in Iraq, making Patey's assessment all the more significant. Patey's views are shared by many other commentators, but few, if any, officials allied with the U.S.-led coalition have said so publicly. Patey's assessment was not made publicly either and the British government said it does not comment on leaked documents. "Iraq could move toward civil war" if the violence is not contained, Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I have seen it," he said, adding that the top priority in Iraq is to secure the capital, where factional violence has surged in recent weeks despite efforts by the new Iraqi government to stop the fighting. Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the panel, "We do have the possibility of that devolving into civil war." He added that this need not happen and stressed that ultimately it depends on the Iraqis more than on the U.S. military. "Shiite and Sunni are going to have to love their children more than they hate each other," Pace said, before the tensions can be overcome. "The weight of that must be on the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government." Four US soldiers accused of killing three Iraqi prisoners refused to give evidence as a military hearing heard that one of the captives' brains were blown out as he lay injured. The troops followed the lead of several of their superior officers Thursday, invoking their right not to incriminate themselves before a legal panel set up at their unit's base camp in the central Iraqi city of Tikrit. The investigation of the four men from the famed "Rakkasans" -- the 3rd Combat Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division -- is expected to spotlight the US military's controversial and opaque rules of engagement in Iraq. Civilian defence lawyers have said orders from the Rakkasans' commander, Colonel Michael Steele, called for troops to "kill all military age males" during a raid on May 9 on a suspected Al-Qaeda base. Civilian defence lawyers acting for Private Corey Clagett, Staff Sergeant Raymond Girouard, Specialist William Hunsaker and Specialist Juston Graber have argued that the defendants were following orders when they killed the Iraqis. >> REPORTS According to figures compiled from Iraqi security and health department figures, more than 1,000 civilians, 135 members of security forces and 143 insurgents were killed nationwide in July. In addition, 1,800 civilians were injured. The U.S. military is increasingly using air lifts instead of ground convoys to resupply troops to avoid the deadly roadside bombs that remain a major killer of American soldiers after more than three years of war. (...) "When we first got here, all of our stuff was shipped out by ground," said 1st Lt. Ted Mataxis [of the The 3rd Corps Support Command], 29, of Raleigh, N.C., whose unit is responsible for assembling Humvee tires, engines and other repair parts for air transport. Now "we're sending the majority of our stuff by air," he said. "The only stuff that goes out by ground are the big, bulky items." In October, the command moved about 6,500 pallets - the platform that items are loaded onto - by air each month. The monthly figure now stands at about 16,000. The increase of air shipments means about 33,000 vehicles and 71,000 troops who would have been driving convoys around Iraq's dangerous highways have been taken off the roads. (...) "Any time you go outside the wire, anything can happen," said Maj. Doug A. LeVien, 34, from Brooklyn, N.Y., with the 548th Logistic Task Force. "All battalion commanders try to minimize how often you have to go out. If you don't have to go out, that's a win. Those are numbers that don't show up in box scores." Moving cargo by air has its limits. Bigger, bulkier items such as fuel, drinking water or food weigh too much to make them practical to ship by air, and there's too much of it. The air effort has meant a greater role for the Air Force in Iraq. Working with Army engineers, the Air Force has improved runways around the country that were originally built for small Iraqi fighter planes. Now large cargo planes can fly directly from the United States or other staging points around the world and land at a number of bases instead of going first to Kuwait to offload supplies. IRAQ RESISTANCE GAINS STEAM Iraqi resistance fighters have stepped up attacks against US occupation forces over the past weeks, with some security sources linking the momentum to the US-based Israeli onslaught on Lebanon. "Attacks against US forces have increased, particularly since the Israeli military offensive on Lebanon began," Anbar police officer Yusuf al-Dailemi told the London-based Al-Quds Press news agency. "Dozens of attacks are being carried out every day against US troops in the Al-Anbar province, western Iraq." Dailemi further said in recent days attacks on the Americans forces hit a record high of 50. The US military admitted Tuesday, August 1, that nine marines have been killed in the past week in clashes with Iraqi fighters in Al-Anbar alone. The army also announced Wednesday, August 2, that another US soldier was killed in the province, a bastion of the Iraqi resistance. read in full... >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS CAN WE EQUIP THEIR RIFLE SCOPES WITH 20/20 HINDSIGHT? The U.S. war in Iraq has been dragging on for more than three years now, and it seems that with each year we see a batch of news stories about how our military/political geniuses running the show have just figured out that what we were doing a year ago was insanely stupid. (See, for instance, my gripe on Monday about the Iraqi constitution.) The Washington Post has another example today, describing the tactics of American soldiers in guerrilla-dominated Ramadi:
The outpost also blocks a main route that insurgents had used to bring explosives into the city. They would stash them at a train station in the south and pay teenage boys to ferry them north at night. Until recently, U.S. troops shot the youths -- fighting what [the local commander, Col. Sean] MacFarland suggests was a losing war of attrition. "We were killing these guys - kids. We could do that forever," he said. "Were we creating more insurgents that way?"
Gee, ya think so? I look forward to next year's installment, explaining how our current tactics are just as counterproductive. link ON FOOT PATROL IN FALLUJAH So you want to know what a foot patrol is like? Most days, the men from Plainville-based Charlie Company walk Fallujah. No armored Humvees. Nothing between them and the city. Maybe a dozen Marines counting on nobody but each other. No, there's no way to replicate it, but here's how you can give it a shot: Wait for the hottest day of summer, when the heat is pounding the earth, stealing the air from your lungs and sweat from your skin. Put on 82 pounds of gear. Heavy boots. A helmet, if you've got it. And a backpack jammed with stuff to make up the balance. Get three hours of sleep the night before. (You probably were on post or ran out to a roadside bomb attack just a few hours before dawn.) Find a place where it's hunting season, and stalk around the woods. (Though, unless the woods run with open sewers and are strewn with rotting garbage, it would be hard to get the smell right.) If you don't get hit after a few hours, walk back home, shoulders cramping, stomach tight from the weight and the heat and the tension. When you walk through the door, sweat running in tiny streams down your body, turn the air conditioner off, and the lights, too. (The generator got hit by a mortar today.) As you lie there, recovering in the dark, think about what it would have been like to have walked under a thousand black windows where snipers might hide, in narrow alleys where you brush against the people, walking past traffic stopped because of you, the drivers glaring as you pass. But if you want an even better idea what it's like for the Marines, do it all over again tomorrow. link to excerpt AS THEY STAND UP...OTHER IRAQIS RUN LIKE HELL I've written about the problem of counterfeit uniforms in Iraq many times--this post from April is the oldest we have in our database now, but I'd addressed the topic several times before then. And each time, officials assure the public something is about to be done about the fact that in Iraq, you've no idea if a man wearing a uniform is legitimate or not. And now, 4 months after that post, we get this feeble assurance:
Everywhere Iraqis in uniform go, from ice cream shops to checkpoints, people now flee. The mottled mix of green, blue and khaki camouflage, along with the blue shirts of the local police, have all blurred into a flag for alarm. "En eles," Iraqis in Baghdad now say when a friend has been taken; in traditional Arabic it means chewed up, but in the streets it has come to mean taken by mysterious men without explanation. American and Iraqi officials have been promising for weeks to address the problem. This week, the interior minister, Jawad Bolani, acknowledged that rogues were among his ranks. He told Parliament that new uniforms and identification cards would soon be supplied to hobble those "who carry out bad activities under the cover of this institution." The first 2,000 of 25,000 new uniforms are scheduled to be handed out later this month, officials said. Made with imported camouflage cloth and intricate patches and insignias, they are designed to be difficult to copy. Their source, as well as other details about them, is being kept secret in part to reduce the risk of counterfeiting. But only a small percentage of the 145,000 Interior Ministry officers - from the national police, public order brigades and other forces - will get them.
Our "grand plan" hinges on Iraqis taking over their own security--supposedly by the end of the year according to the Prime Minister. And yet, at best, the chances an Iraqi will know an Interior Ministery officer is legit will be about 1 in 6 by then...and only 1 in 73 this month. Boy, there's a feeling of security. link IS THAT AN ARROW IN YOUR POCKET, OR ARE YOU JUST HAPPY TO SEE ME? Iraqi President Talibani says that Iraqi forces will take complete responsibility for the security of the country by the end of the year. He also says that the current wave of violence is "the last arrows in their pockets" and that "We are highly optimistic that we will terminate terrorism in this year." He added, "Dude, I am so high right now." link "NO HEARTS AND MINDS WON HERE EITHER!" I have a soft spot for Lebanon. There was a time when many Iraqis spent their summer holidays In Lebanon. I was 13 when I first visited the country and immediately fell in love with it. I was struck by the friendliness of the people, their openness towards strangers and the wonderful lifestyle. The picturesque country and its pleasant cultural and geographic variety are also unique in the region: It is one of the few countries I know where you can move from warmth of sunny sandy beaches to the fresh coolness of mountain air in less than half an hour. I went back to Lebanon many times. I have fond memories of the country and its people. Some people have indicated that most Iraqis are too busy with their own misfortunes to follow what is happening in Palestine and Lebanon. This is not true. Despite their own misery and preoccupations, most Iraqis are following those developments very closely. Sunnis mostly do not look at Hezbollah as a 'Shiite' movement. The sectarian polarization, bad as it is, has not gone that far in Iraq... yet. In this respect, most Iraqis are united. Most 'Shiite' and 'Sunni' pro- and anti-Occupation political and insurgency groups declared their solidarity with Hezbollah and Lebanon and their outrage at Israel! Even the puppets and the stooges, have expressed their displeasure! Notable exceptions are the Kurdish 'leadership' and the Qaeda people. Furthermore, these people almost unanimously believe that the root cause of all that is taking place is America, not Syria and Iran! Odd? Not really! America and Israel keep saying that Hezbollah's weaponry comes from Iran. What most people here see is that Israel's superior weaponry that was killing innocent civilians comes from the US. There is a lot of anger at America and the way the administration is implicitly condoning those criminal acts and giving the Israeli war machine political and diplomatic cover until they have finished their business. No sir, no hearts and minds won here either!! What is the matter with these ungrateful people? read in full... >> BEYOND IRAQ Afghanistan: Taliban fighters killed three NATO soldiers in an attack in southern Afghanistan, a NATO spokesman said. The insurgents attacked the soldiers with rocket-propelled grenades near a school on the outskirts of the city of Kandahar, a NATO statement said. Six soldiers were injured, but their wounds were not life-threatening, it said. A roadside bomb killed a Canadian soldier on Thursday in Afghanistan's south, where NATO troops took over security from U.S. forces this week. Another soldier was wounded when the bomb hit a NATO vehicle in Kandahar province, a stronghold for Taliban insurgents, NATO said in a statement.
A second blast in the same area hit another NATO vehicle hours later, wounding three more Canadian soldiers, it said.
A roadside bomb possibly aimed at a NATO convoy wounded three civilians in the northern province of Baghlan. A suicide car bomb attack aimed at a convoy of NATO troops in Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar killed 20 Afghan civilians. There was no immediate word if there were any casualties among the NATO troops, Sayed Aziz told Reuters. "It was a suicide car attack, aimed at NATO, but killed instead 20 civilians and wounded 13 others," he said. No further details were immediately available. BUSH'S OWN ADVISOR LAUGHS IN HIS FACE haven't seen this bit circulated much, but then I've had some downtime today too. But a former member of Team Bush, Richard N. Haass, Bush's first-term State Department policy planning director, had this to say about how the crisis in Lebanon is "an opportunity" according to his former boss: Haass, the former Bush aide who leads the Council on Foreign Relations, laughed at the president's public optimism. "An opportunity?" Haass said with an incredulous tone. "Lord, spare me. I don't laugh a lot. That's the funniest thing I've heard in a long time. If this is an opportunity, what's Iraq? A once-in-a-lifetime chance?" Good thing he can still raise a chuckle about this. The latest knee-slappers seem like Adam Sandler movies to me--they open big, and then it's all downhill. read in full… TODAY YOU'VE GOT THE POWER TO TAKE IT, TOMORROW YOU WON'T HAVE THE POWER TO KEEP IT Several days ago at American Footprints, praktike offered a parable about the American/Israeli neocon desire to reshape the Middle East through military force:
There's a kind of raccoon trap where you drill or countersink a hole in a log, then nail a few nails pointing downward that are spaced just wide enough to allow a furry paw to enter. You put a shiny object, like a piece of tinfoil, in the hole and wait for the raccoon to discover it. So entranced by his treasure, he won't be willing to let go, and thus his balled little fist won't make it past the nails. Sound familiar?
I thought about this analogy when reading (via Billmon) the latest column by Tony Karon in Time magazine:
Israel's strategy is now premised on the arrival in the not-too-distant future of an international security force in south Lebanon. . . . But the terms on which an international force will be deployed is now the focus of an intensifying diplomatic fight. . . . [T]he U.S. is insisting that there be no demand for a halt to Israel's offensive until a mechanism is in place to disarm Hizballah. . . . But the French, who are currently the prime candidates to lead an international force, are making clear that the international community is not going to finish the job for Israel, and will only police a cease-fire when one has been agreed to by the Lebanese government, which includes Hizballah. In other words, it won't try to disarm Hizballah unless Hizballah has agreed to be disarmed. And the only formula likely to achieve that objective on the basis of the current battlefield situation would be an agreement among Lebanese parties to somehow incorporate Hizballah's fighting forces into the Lebanese Army - which may not be quite what the U.S., and certainly not Israel, had in mind. (...)
So here is Israel, its furry paw tightly gripping whatever shiny bits of Lebanese territory it's been able to hold (not much according to the latest from Billmon, whose coverage of this war has been extraordinary). It promises to let go and pull its paw out, if someone will volunteer to crawl between the nails and take custody of the tinfoil on its behalf. If not, Israel will just have to... stay caught in the trap. Which doesn't sound like much of a threat, when you think about it. LETTER FROM HIZBULLAH TO ISRAEL Recently received intelligence via my Hamas contact, Mel Gibson*, in which it was learned that Hizbullah has sent a "thank you" letter to Israel. Text follows. * Expelled for intoxication. Dear Isr--- Hated Zionist Enemy: Please accept our earnest thanks for making us the most powerful force in Lebanon, and rallying even many of the kuff--- Christians to our cause. We would also like to thank you for getting al-Qaeda to almost care about suffering Shiites. Although we do not like our children being killed and maimed by your stones-break-scissors airstrikes, who'd have thought that you could make an exercise in deadly mischief, like a soldier kidnapping, into an outpouring of pity for our constituents, even as we lob rockets willy-nilly into cities full of people and make intermittent anti-Jewish bigotted comments? And please accept our great thanks for being made to sound downright rational while your statements sound like Nasserist spiel in 1967 or the Arab states in 1948, or Russians in Chechnya. And thank you for blustering and not winning, at least right away. We're the big heroes now. Loved also the way the Iraqi leaders had to up-end the official line of their American sponsors too. And it is really a pleasure too to watch you push along the live-action drama: the Passion of the Rice. May God destroy you, Appreciatively, His Party link QUOTE OF THE DAY: "That's fine. He's the president of Iraq, and he can make his statements." -- Donald Rumsfeld responding to Iraqi President Talibani's claim that Iraqis could take charge of security in the whole country by the end of the year.


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