Tuesday, August 01, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, August 1, 2006 Photo: U.S. troops take their positions as shots are fired after a suicide car bomb attack in the northern city of Mosul July 30, 2006. (Khaled al-Mousily/Reuters) Bring 'em on: A service member assigned to the 16th Corps Support Group was killed in action by an improvised explosive device while conducting a convoy south of Baghdad, Iraq July 31. A second service member from the unit was wounded in the same attack. (CENTCOM) Bring ‘em on: A British soldier has been killed in a mortar attack on a base in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. A bus carrying many Iraqi soldiers was struck in Beiji, killing everyone on board. Police earlier said that 20 Iraqi soldiers were killed on the bus. Al-Askari confirmed that many of the passengers were soldiers, but said he did not know how many. He said the bus was not being escorted by U.S. troops, as earlier believed. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: A car bomb exploded during morning rush hour near a bank in the Karradah neighborhood, killing at least 14 people and injuring 37. The target was well chosen because Iraqi security forces draw their salaries from the bank on the first day of every month. Gunmen attacked two minibuses carrying civil servants in the electricity department of Baghdad, killing four and wounding seven. Gunmen kidnapped the spokesman of a political coalition including Shiite, Sunni, Kurdish and independent parties. The kidnappers demanded a ransom for the spokesman, said Hatam Hattab al-Janabi of MARAM, the Arabic synonym for the Conference for Rejecting the Forged Elections. He did not elaborate. A roadside bomb narrowly missed a car belonging to the Ministry of Electricity, killing one civilian and wounding another in eastern Baghdad. Gunmen in two cars raided a mosque west of Baghdad, killing a cleric and his brother. A suicide attack was foiled when soldiers fired at a car trying to slam into an army convoy in Baghdad. The car exploded, killing the driver but nobody else. A car bomb went off near a joint U. S. and Iraqi patrol in eastern Baghdad, wounding seven people including three Iraqi police commandos. An explosive-laden car parking by the side of a road in the Zaiyounah neighborhood detonated at about 12:20 p.m. A suicide car bomber struck an Iraqi army checkpoint in eastern Baghdad on Tuesday, wounding two soldiers. The suicide bomber detonated his explosive-packed car at the checkpoint on the Palestine Street shortly after 11:00 a.m. (0700 GMT)." A roadside bomb went off outside the Iraqi Ministry of Culture in eastern Baghdad, killing a guard and wounded two civilians. Gunmen shot at an army checkpoint in the northern outskirts of Baghdad, wounding five, including one civilian. Baqubah: The bodies of three people were found in Baquba, 65 km north of Baghdad. Kut: A roadside bomb exploded beside a fuel truck wounding its driver in an area near Kut, 170 km southeast of Baghdad. Muqdqdiya: A car bomb targeting a police patrol killed one policeman and six civilians in Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. Ruwayshid: A roadside bomb struck an American convoy early on Tuesday in the northern village of Ruwayshid, destroying a military bus, witnesses said. No casualties were reported. Mosul: Gunmen killed a student in the college of Islamic law and wounded another in Mosul, 390 km north of Baghdad. A drive-by shooting killed one civilian in Mosul. Kirkuk: A roadside bomb killed two police and wounded a third as they conducted a patrol in the northern oil city of Kirkuk. Iraq's northern oil pipeline to Turkey was hit by a sabotage attack, delaying the restart of exports, industry sources said. A member of the Arab Consultative Assembly, a gathering of Arab tribes and political parties, was gunned down in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad. Karma: Two “insurgents” were killed when a roadside bomb they were planting on a highway detonated prematurely in Karma, 25 miles west of Baghdad. >> NEWS A provincial governor said that 45 people from his region have been kidnapped in western Iraq while en route by bus out of the country: Asaad Abu Kilal, governor of Najaf, said the victims were traveling in six buses when they were waylaid near the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi — the main land route to both Syria and Jordan. "Now we have 45 people from Najaf whose whereabouts are unknown," he said. "We have informed the officials (in Baghdad) about the crimes on that highway." He said that if the Interior Ministry cannot find the victims "we will send special troops from Najaf" to help find them. A senior Interior Ministry official, Saadoun Abu al-Ula, confirmed that more than 45 people from the Najaf area had been seized on the highway but said the abductions occurred over the last two weeks. "It's been going on for the past two weeks," he said. "Like two or three people snatched a day." A group of prominent US defense and national security experts sounded an alarm about the strain on US combat forces of lengthy deployments to Iraq, saying the problem has reached crisis levels. The National Security Advisory Group, chaired by former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, alleged in a letter to top congressional Democrats that the US administration's underfunding of the army represents "a serious failure of civilian stewardship of the military." "Two-thirds of the army's operating force, active and reserve, is now reporting in as unready," the group wrote in their letter to lawmakers. "There is not a single non-deployed Army Brigade Combat Team in the United States that is ready to deploy. The letter continued: "The bottom line is that our army currently has no ready, strategic reserve. Not since the Vietnam era and its aftermath has the Army's readiness been so degraded." >> REPORTS U.S. ACCUSED OF KIDNAPPINGS IN IRAQ Congress has demanded that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld hand over a raft of documents to Congress that could substantiate allegations that U.S. forces have tried to break terror suspects by kidnapping and mistreating their family members. Rumsfeld has until 5 p.m. Friday to comply. It now appears that kidnapping, scarcely covered by the media, and absent in the major military investigations of detainee abuse, may have been systematically employed by U.S. troops. Salon has obtained Army documents that show several cases where U.S. forces abducted terror suspects' families. After he was thrown in prison, Cpl. Charles Graner, the alleged ringleader at Abu Ghraib, told investigators the military routinely kidnapped family members to force suspects to turn themselves in. (...) In a hearing before [Connecticut Republican Christopher] Shays' Government Reform subcommittee last February, [Army Spc. Samuel Provance, a whistle-blower] testified that the Army had retaliated against him. Provance also made the disturbing allegation that interrogators broke an Iraqi general, Hamid Zabar, by imprisoning and abusing his frail 16-year-old son. Waxman was shocked. "Do you think this practice was repeated with other children?" he asked Provance. "I don't see why it would not have been, sir," Provance replied. Zabar's son had been apprehended with his father and held at Abu Ghraib, though the boy hadn't done anything wrong. "He was useless," Provance said about the boy in a phone interview with Salon from Heidelberg, Germany, where he is still in the Army. "He was of no intelligence value." But, Provance said, interrogators grew frustrated when the boy's father, Zabar, wouldn't talk, despite a 14-hour interrogation. So they stripped Zabar's son naked and doused him with mud and water. They put him in the open back of a truck and drove around in the frigid January night air until the boy began to freeze. Zabar was then made to look at his suffering son. "During the interrogation, they could not get him to talk," Provance recalled. "They said, 'OK, we are going to let you see your son.' They allow him to see his son in this shivering, freezing, naked state," Provance said. "That just totally broke his heart and that is when he said, 'I'll tell you what you want to know.'" Provance said the boy was timid and afraid. "He was so skinny and so frail, and he was scared out of his mind," Provance remembered. "He was so skinny the handcuffs would not fit securely on his wrist. I had to put this green sandbag on his head. I just felt like a horrible person doing this." read in full... >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS “DELAYING DEFEAT” Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq - the title alone of Thomas E. Ricks's book is enough to make it shoot to number one on Amazon.com. Ricks has twice been a member of a reporting team that won the Pulitzer; he has been covering the military for over 20 years. His recent book is a brutal look at the bundle of failures in conception, operation and execution that are the American involvement in Iraq. On Friday, he was at the New America Foundation along with Colonel Larry Wilkerson (retired), former chief of staff at the State Department, at a gathering hosted by Steve Clemons, the director of the American Strategy Program at NAF. His conclusion is that Iraq is in a "civil war," and that the occupation has reached a point where it is "delaying defeat." The situation of ground troops has become a defensive one in which they, in the soldier's own words, "embrace the suck" as a way of dealing with the unstable personnel situation, the siege mentality, and the complete lack of real progress. Col. Wilkerson notes that he has not received a single positive email from anyone on the ground in Iraq. When asked about what "victory" would mean in Iraq, both Ricks and Wilkerson denied that military victory was even possible. link to excerpt
Reading "Fiasco," Thomas Ricks's devastating new book about the Iraq war, brought back memories for me. Memories of going on night raids in Samarra in January 2004, in the heart of the Sunni Triangle, with the Fourth Infantry Division units that Ricks describes. During these raids, confused young Americans would burst into Iraqi homes, overturn beds, dump out drawers, and summarily arrest all military-age men-actions that made them unwitting recruits for the insurgency. For American soldiers battling the resistance throughout Iraq, the unspoken rule was that all Iraqis were guilty until proven innocent. Arrests, beatings and sometimes killings were arbitrary, often based on the flimsiest intelligence, and Iraqis had no recourse whatever to justice. Imagine the sense of helpless rage that emerges from this sort of treatment. Apply three years of it and you have one furious, traumatized population. And a country out of control. (…) At one point we burst into a small hotel, or hostel, whose guests were said to be Iranian-influenced insurgent sympathizers. Finding none, we moved onto a house supposedly occupied by the Iraqi hostel owner, arresting him and his three sons. One son, I remember, protested that he was a medical student, and the soldiers riffled through what were clearly English-language medical textbooks surrounding his bed. No matter, the youth was shoved to the floor. Another, by appearance the youngest, was hyperventilating and coughing incessantly, obviously feverish and ill with some respiratory ailment. On the floor he went, an American boot to his back. On the ride back to base, I sat next to one detainee in a Bradley fighting vehicle. Blood was oozing from his nose, which appeared to be broken, but he could not wipe it away because his hands were tied. He was whimpering. Many like him ended up at Abu Ghraib prison. And there, even if they weren't insurgents before-most weren't-many became supporters of the insurgency. read in full…
ENDGAME IN IRAQ? A SIX-MONTH EQUATION Here's an Iraq war math problem: What do you get by adding "timetable for pulling our troops out" to "staying as long as it takes?" To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how anyone would make such a calculation. But if you guessed the answer is six months, you'd be in agreement with a number of high-ranking officials. The six-month time frame is like a political pressure-release valve that helps keep public debate about US policy from building up to explosive levels. The first example I noticed was in a Reuters news story Nov. 28, 2005. Virginia Sen. John Warner (R) had just appeared on a TV talk show and was quoted as saying, "We have got to stay firm for the next six months. It is a critical period ... in this Iraqi situation, to restore full sovereignty in that country." A few paragraphs later, a quote appeared from Delaware Sen. Joe Biden (D), who had also been interviewed on TV. Senator Biden said he didn't believe the war was lost but added, "I think we have a six-month window here to get it right. But I have to admit that I think the chances are not a lot better than 50-50." (…) Using the six-month gambit to keep morale from slipping during wartime isn't a new tactic. In a brilliant memoir entitled "Those Who Fall," World War II aviator John Muirhead recalled a visit from an intelligence officer who exhorted the squad of B-17 pilots to improve their bombing by saying, "Keep your formation tight. Hit your aiming point. Be sure and pick up your IP, clean and fast. You do that, gentlemen, and you'll shorten the war by six months." So I wasn't surprised to see a story in the July 20 issue of The Washington Post that included a quote from Minnesota Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R), a onetime backer of the war. He now favors a partial troop withdrawal as a way of prodding the Iraqi government. "If we don't take the training wheels off," Mr. Gutknecht said, "we will be in the same place in six months that we're in today." All of which brings up this question: How many of these six-month units can we keep adding to the Iraq timeline? I know that's another tough calculation. Does anyone want to take a wild guess? read in full… LABNANA OR ARQANA? During the early days of the sectarian polarization under the auspices of the American occupation, numerous people started warning about the "Labnana" (Lebanonization) of the internal conflict in Iraq. During the first and second weeks of the Israeli assault on Lebanon, several times I heard analysts and politicians warning against the "Arqana" (Iraqization) of the situation in Lebanon. Perhaps "Amraka" (Americanization) of the conflict would be a better description. link >> BEYOND IRAQ Afghanistan: Three British soldiers were killed in an ambush in southern Afghanistan the day after NATO forces took over the violence-plagued region from U.S. troops. A British convoy was attacked on Tuesday by rebels using rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns in Helmand province -- one of the most dangerous in the country -- a British Defense Ministry spokeswoman said in London. "Two U.K. soldiers have died. One is missing presumed killed and another is seriously injured," she said. British officials later confirmed a third soldier had died. read in full… Lebanon: Some 110,000 barrels of oil poured into the Mediterranean two weeks ago after Israeli warplanes hit a coastal power plant [in Lebanon]. One tank is still burning, sending thick black smoke across the country. Compounding the problem is an Israeli naval blockade and continuing military operations that have made any cleanup impossible. And environmental officials say the longer the problem is allowed to go unchecked, the greater the lasting damage. (…) Sarraf said Israeli planes "purposely hit the tanks which are the closest to the sea," and knocked out the berms designed to prevent any ruptured tanks from sending oil flowing into the waters. "Chances are, our whole marine ecosystem facing the Lebanese shoreline is already dead," Sarraf said. "What is at stake today is all marine life in the eastern Mediterranean." Israel's Environmental Affairs ministry declined comment, referring questions to the Foreign Ministry, which did not immediately return phone calls. FROM THIS TAP "Condoleezza gives us All the time we need To continue the war." "Condoleezza will stop The war In a week." Condoleezza and her boss Open and close The tap - According to their Own interests, Of course. From this tap There flows Blood. -- Ad published in "Haaretz" [Israel], July 31, 2006 AL QAEDA'S ARABIC DISCOURSE: AMERICAN WITH A HEBREW ACCENT? Ayman Al-Zawahiri (or the character that plays him on videotape) could not have chosen a more opportune time to suddenly announce Al-Qaeda's support for Arab resistance against Israel. Opportune for the plans of the Tel Aviv-Washington axis, that is. It is amazing how protean "Al-Zawahiri "and his "Al Qaeda" are in their supposedly immutable goals: they promote sectarian slaughter in Iraq (against the "infidel" shias), but they also wish to help the same "infidels" in Lebanon. The Zionist propaganda machine in Washington hastens to dispel the confusion and patch over the strange inconsistency: the Sunni extremists of Al Qaeda, they tell us, have overcome their hostility towards the shias in the interest of their jihad against Israel. Not just against Israel but, according to this Al Zawahiri TV character, against all the countries of the "crusader's coalition." That is a neat packaging of the new Al Qaeda product, meant to put on notice any western country that might have some qualms about Israel's destruction of Lebanon that they are at risk too and that Israel is in fact fighting "terror" on their behalf as well. (…) I am an Arab, who happens to be a Sunni, and I am enraged by Al-Zawahiri's unwarranted and uninvited ranting intrusion into the legitimate Shia-led resistance against Israel in Lebanon, and the Hamas-led Palestinian resistance in Gaza. As Lebanese casualties reached the 800 mark on Sunday, Israeli casualties continued to climb, and Hezbollah's resistance efforts continued to become more and more effective in thwarting the Zionist thrust. That is not a good sign for those parties interested in the elimination of any will to resist the colonisation and breakdown of Lebanon. The more casualties there are in Israel, the more the Israelis pound Lebanon, and look for other outlets. From the start, leaflets dropped by Israeli aircraft on Lebanon prior to bombings have borne a key message, urging the Lebanese to push for the disarmament of Hezbollah. And in spite of disagreements in opinion in Lebanon, no one has yet heeded that insidious call. (…) The American plan is clear: to destroy all popular resistance in the Arab/Muslim world against militant Zionism building its "realm," to break up the entire region along religious/ethnic lines into small fiefdoms to be ruled by appointed submissive satraps. Lebanon's dissolution has been a Zionist goal from the very beginning of the Zionist state, ever since Ben Gurion spoke in 1957 about the plan to "create in its place a mini-Christian state and annex part of its territory. The dissolution in Iraq (and now on the agenda for Lebanon) is accomplished by a physical destruction of the country so profound that the people's very existence at the most basic level is threatened, morale is weakened, and increasingly the resistance itself -by provoking more aggression-- begins to be seen as yet another aggravating factor in a hellish life, at which point submission remains the only option. The Hamas- and Hezbollah-led resistance, however, have complicated the American plan to crown Israel as the sovereign of the Middle East. The plan is not working as it was supposed to! So at this point these two -officially labelled "terrorist organizations" by the US, are the focus of the American-Israeli aggression efforts. Therefore, quick, bring Al Qaeda to the rescue! We know who WE are: the Arab nation under extreme duress, clenched in battle for our very lives, whether we are Lebanese or Palestinians or Iraqis, Sunnis or Shias, all Arabs under the Zionist and American fire. We also know who our friends are: those who keep us united and strong, not those who try to put a wedge between brother and brother, or instigate fratricide, not those who call our struggle "adventurism," not those who hide and make special appearances when the enemy is about to shout "Fire!" but those we have elected and accepted as our leaders in battle for our defence and freedom in Lebanon and Palestine, who stand with us, not those who accept arms from our enemies to turn them on us so they can cling to their perches of power on top of our ruin, or arm our enemies with weapons or even with words. (…) Who is "Al Qaeda" really? For whom do they speak and who benefits from what that say and from the timing of their statements? While the incorrigibly corrupt regimes of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan are at the forefront of the promotion of US-cum-Israeli foreign policy in the Middle East, the powers-that-be had to think of something, a wild-card with which they could taint their lackeys before world public opinion, a joker they could save for a rainy day, just in case. I once had a history teacher who told my class: "Beware, for in politics, there is no such thing as a coincidence." Let's go through that list again: Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. Come again? Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. Uncanny coincidence! read in full… IS LEBANON THE GREAT UNRAVELLING? I contend that the Lebanese 'adventure' is a sign of increasing desperation on the part of the Wolves. Some on the left (and not so left) contend that this is a portent of a coming invasion/attack on Iran but again, I caution against this interpretation, not that 'taking out' Iran isn't an objective, the question is, is it a realistic objective? But how is it to be realised short of nuking the country? Invasion is obviously out of the question in spite of all the ominous talk (fight the 'war on terror' on four fronts?). What it does reveal I think, is the bankruptcy of the 'war on terror' as a sustainable basis for a foreign policy. Once again, it reveals that the power elite have fooled themselves into confusing propaganda with real policies and real situations. So has the 'war on terror' run out of road? I think the 'war on terror' must be viewed from two positions; the first is as a rationale for projecting imperial power and the second, and I contend far more important, as a rationalisation for the control of domestic populations who they view potentially at least, as a real opposition to their plans for world domination. After all, when all is said and done, it will be US and UK soldiers who will have to do the dying and in increasing numbers if their objectives are to be realised. And without domestic support, the global plans of the USUK are almost impossible to realise unless all pretence at democratic government is abandoned and all the actions of our governments reveal this to be the case. However, it's not as simple as it first appears for without an enemy, whether within or without, justifying increasing repression becomes all the more difficult. Eventually, all pretence of a free society will have to completely abandoned. Some are predicting an even more dramatic 9/11-type scenario as the basis for the establishment of an out-an-out fascist state and I don't rule it out but unlike earlier periods where such options could be realised, we now live in a completely inter-connected world. So for example, how would the rest of the countries of the EU react to the creation of a fascist state in the UK? 9/11-type events can be pulled off only under very specific circumstances and I contend that the Wolves have no more wolves left to cry over. read in full… SO WHAT IS THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT UP TO? Yesterday when the Israeli 48-hour aerial ceasefire was announced by Condi, it looked like she was being given credit she didn't deserve. But less than an hour after she got on her plane and left, the prime minister and defense minister said, "Ceasefire? What ceasefire?", resumed their bombing raids, and within a few hours the cabinet voted to expand the war. It looks very much like Condi was played. Did they really lie to her face about their intentions? Did they do so just to make her go away, thinking she'd accomplished something? And how can she return to the region now? I don't know what will happen next, and where we'll be a month from now or a year from now. Haven't got a clue. I suspect even the Israelis are surprised that they've gotten away with wreaking so much havoc on Lebanon for so long without being reined in. But they also haven't accomplished nearly as much as they expected: Hezbollah can still fire rockets into Israel more at less at will and still holds the two Israeli soldiers Israel seems to have forgotten about. And Olmert et al have ratcheted up their rhetoric, and the Israeli public's expectations, so far that anything less than the complete destruction of Hezbollah and the complete elimination of danger to all Israelis will seem like a failure, for which the Israeli public, who have shown no signs of sympathy for the Qana dead, no embarrassment over the deaths of children, will punish Olmert and the fledgling Kadima Party severely. read in full… JOHN PILGER: THE WAR LOVERS How many men, women, and children will be killed, maimed, or sent mad if Bush attacks Iran? The prospect of an attack is especially exciting for those war lovers understandably disappointed by the turn of events in Iraq. "The unimaginable but ultimately inescapable truth," wrote Gerard Baker in the Times last month, "is that we are going to have to get ready for war with Iran. ... If Iran gets safely and unmolested to nuclear status, it will be a threshold moment in the history of the world, up there with the Bolshevik revolution and the coming of Hitler." Sound familiar? In February 2003, Baker wrote that "victory [in Iraq] will quickly vindicate U.S. and British claims about the scale of the threat Saddam poses." The "coming of Hitler" is a rallying cry of war lovers. It was heard before NATO's "moral crusade to save Kosovo" (Blair) in 1999, a model for the invasion of Iraq. In the attack on Serbia, 2 percent of NATO's missiles hit military targets; the rest hit hospitals, schools, factories, churches, and broadcasting studios. Echoing Blair and a clutch of Clinton officials, a massed media chorus declared that "we" had to stop "something approaching genocide" in Kosovo, as Timothy Garton Ash wrote in 2002 in the Guardian. "Echoes of the Holocaust," said the front pages of the Daily Mirror and the Sun. The Observer warned of a "Balkan Final Solution." The recent death of Slobodan Milosevic took the war lovers and war sellers down memory lane. Curiously, "genocide" and "Holocaust" and the "coming of Hitler" were now missing - for the very good reason that, like the drumbeat leading to the invasion of Iraq and the drumbeat now leading to an attack on Iran, it was all bullsh*t. Not misinterpretation. Not a mistake. Not blunders. Bullsh*t. The "mass graves" in Kosovo would justify it all, they said. When the bombing was over, international forensic teams began subjecting Kosovo to minute examination. The FBI arrived to investigate what was called "the largest crime scene in the FBI's forensic history." Several weeks later, having found not a single mass grave, the FBI and other forensic teams went home. In 2000, the International War Crimes Tribunal announced that the final count of bodies found in Kosovo's "mass graves" was 2,788. This included Serbs, Roma, and those killed by "our" allies, the Kosovo Liberation Front. It meant that the justification for the attack on Serbia ("225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59 are missing, presumed dead," the U.S. ambassador-at-large David Scheffer had claimed) was an invention. To my knowledge, only the Wall Street Journal admitted this. A former senior NATO planner, Michael McGwire, wrote that "to describe the bombing as 'humanitarian intervention' [is] really grotesque." In fact, the NATO "crusade" was the final, calculated act of a long war of attrition aimed at wiping out the very idea of Yugoslavia. For me, one of the more odious characteristics of Blair, and Bush, and Clinton, and their eager or gulled journalistic court, is the enthusiasm of sedentary, effete men (and women) for bloodshed they never see, bits of body they never have to retch over, stacked morgues they will never have to visit, searching for a loved one. Their role is to enforce parallel worlds of unspoken truth and public lies. That Milosevic was a minnow compared with industrial-scale killers such as Bush and Blair belongs to the former. read in full... QUOTE OF THE DAY: "In the area of Baghdad I stayed in, I constantly heard gunfire and explosions. Yet an American colonel told me that my neighborhood was deemed 'secure.' I think that really meant that U.S. troops could drive through it while heavily armed--say, with a .50 caliber machine gun atop a Humvee--and usually not be attacked." -- from an interview with Fiasco author Thomas E. Ricks at Amazon.com


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