DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, August 15, 2006
: Somewhere in occupied Iraq [I presume, for there's no caption or info for the photo -- zig]
Fierce gunbattles broke out Tuesday between armed supporters of an anti-U.S. Shiite cleric and Iraqi security forces
after a raid on his office in this southern holy city, leaving many people injured, officials and witnesses said. The two sides exchanged gunfire near one of Iraq's holiest shrines containing the mausoleum of Imam Hussein, a revered figure in Shiite history. The fighting, which began early Tuesday, spread to at least four other parts of Karbala by afternoon in violation of a curfew. Gunmen in civilian clothes could be seen firing AK-47 rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades at army patrols and running away.
A Karbala Health Directorate official said six people were killed and five people were wounded in the clashes in Karbala. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.
The fighting spread over at least five neighborhoods of Karbala around the office of Mahmoud al-Hassani, a cleric who came into prominence after the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The fiercely anti-American al-Hassani is believed to have several thousand followers. His whereabouts have remained unknown since his office was raided in 2004 by Polish soldiers, part of the U.S.-led coalition force.
But his followers were out in force Tuesday, wielding AK-47 rifles, heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades that they fired at army patrols before running away. Soldiers fired at groups of gunmen roaming the streets.
The trouble started after Iraqi soldiers raided al-Hassani's office before dawn, apparently in search of weapons. Ahmed al-Ghazali, an aide to the cleric, said the raid resulted because al-Hassani's supporters taking over a field behind the building for security reasons.
The raid set off the gunbattles, which raged for several hours despite an indefinite curfew in Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad.
[cleric Mahmoud al-Hasani ]'s office said the raids took place because of "the nationalist attitude of this cleric opposing the (U.S.) occupation." Hasani's Web site identifies him as a grand ayatollah, the highest clerical rank among Shi'ites.OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
(update) Car bombs triggered gas explosions in a Shiite neighborhood two days ago
, the U.S. said Tuesday, acknowledging that the attack was due to a hostile act.
At least 63 Iraqis were killed and 140 wounded in the series of explosions Sunday night in Zafraniyah. Iraqi officials said the blasts were due to car bombs and a rocket attack from a Sunni neighborhood under U.S. control.
But U.S. military spokesman, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, insisted Monday that American experts had concluded that there was "no evidence" of anything other than a "significant gas explosion."
That implied that the blast may not have been due to a hostile act.
However, a U.S. statement Tuesday said the blasts were triggered when two car bombs detonated near a residential building, "causing a gas explosion" that collapsed the structure.
It said the blast was among four car bombs that took place within a 30-minute period and within two miles of one another.
(update from Saturday) An Iraqi policeman was killed after being wounded in one of three bomb attacks in and around Baghdad on Saturday.
Eyewitnesses told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that an explosive device planted near an Iraqi police checkpoint on a Baghdad highway injured four policemen and two civilians.
Then, while an ambulance was carrying one of the wounded policemen, it was fired on by a US helicopter, resulting in the death of the injured policeman and the wounding of the ambulance's driver and doctor, said the eyewitnesses.
One policeman was killed and three people were wounded, including one civilian, when a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol exploded in a bus garage in Baquba
, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad.
Gunmen shot dead police lieutenant Fadhil Uthman while he was boarding a car in the town of Baquba.
Demonstrators in Basra protested persistent electricity blackouts in triple-digit temperatures.
The protesters burned tires and clashed with police. Residents said ambulance sirens could be heard throughout the city.
One civilian was killed by gunmen in the southern city of Amara.
Gunmen killed three bakers supplying bread for the Iraqi army and wounded a passerby in the town of Muqdadiya
, 90 km (50 miles) north east of Baghdad.
A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol exploded in Huwayder, north of Baquba, wounding three policemen.
Two roadside bombs targeting police commandos exploded near the spiral minaret of Samarra, north of Baghdad, wounding three police commandos and destroying one vehicle
, a joint U.S. and Iraqi policing centre said.
Five civilians were wounded when gunmen in a car shot at shoppers in a market in central Samarra
, 100 km (62 miles) north of Baghdad.
Two Katyusha rockets landed in Samarra near the Askariya shrine
, also known as the Golden Mosque, revered by Shia Muslims, overnight Tuesday. The mosque was said not to have been damaged in the attack, in which six people were injured.
Gunmen shot dead a former Iraqi army officer on Monday night on a highway near Dujail
, 90 km (55 miles) north of Baghdad.
A suicide bomber detonated a truck rigged with explosives outside the offices of a top Kurdish political party in Mosul, killing nine people and wounding 36.
Five Kurdish peshmerga militiamen were among the dead, police said. The blast outside the office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, also wounded 24 militiamen. The rest of the victims were civilians.
(not confirmed) Iraqi residents said they saw a roadside bomb destroy an American Humvee In Ramadi.
Four U.S. soldiers died in a firefight that followed the explosion, residents said. The U.S. military would not confirm the report.
An Australian security contractor has died from injuries he sustained in a roadside blast in Iraq.
Shiite and Kurdish parties are organizing a bid to oust the Sunni parliament speaker
whose comments about the insurgency and regional self-rule have angered and embarrassed key political groups.
The ouster of Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, which could be done by a vote when the parliament returns from its summer recess Sept. 1, would be the first major shake-up in the government of national unity that took office last May. (...)
Since taking office in May, al-Mashhadani has spoken out against regional self-rule, strongly supported by Shiites and Kurds but opposed by many Sunni Arabs.
He told reporters last month that if the government refused to grant amnesty to Sunni insurgents who killed Americans, "we should punish the American soldiers who killed an Iraqi who fought against occupation."
"In my point of view, the person who killed Americans in defense of his country, in other countries, they would build a statue for him," al-Mashhadani added.
He also told reporters that "the Jews" were financing acts of violence in Iraq in order to discredit Islamic religious parties that control parliament and the government.
"Some people say, `We saw you beheading, kidnappings and killing. In the end we even started kidnapping women who are our honor,'" al-Mashhadani said. "These acts are not the work of Iraqis. I am sure that he who does this is a Jew and the son of a Jew."
Wael Abdul Latif, spokesman for the secular bloc of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, said his group also opposed al-Mashhadani because he "is disrespectful."
"His presence does not help the security situation in Iraq," Abdul Latif said. "He wants to dismiss the will of the people, which has been expressed by the Iraqis through their support to federalism in the constitution."
The U.S. military unveiled a new uniform Monday for Iraq's national police that will be difficult to copy
- a move aimed at preventing insurgents, death squads and common criminals from impersonating officers.
The new bluish-gray uniform, presented to reporters by Maj. Gen. Joseph Peterson, is similar to that worn by U.S. soldiers but with the Iraqi flag embedded in the fabric's print. It will be issued beginning in October.
"This one is very hard to duplicate. It is very distinctive," said Peterson, who is in charge of training the Iraqi national police.
The current uniforms are easy to copy and are widely available in Baghdad. As a result, many attacks and kidnappings have been carried out by gunmen disguised as police.
However, both the authorities and the public believe some of the abductions and killings are carried out by police, whose ranks have been infiltrated by sectarian militias and insurgents who would have access to the new uniforms.
Some 300 US troops are being sent back to Iraq from Alaska
to rejoin an army brigade whose tour of duty was extended by four months to quell sectarian violence in Baghdad, army officials said.
The 172nd Stryker Brigade was in the midst of returning to its home base at Fort Wainwright, Alaska July 27 when US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld decided to keep them in Iraq for another 120 days.
Army officials said about 300 of the 380 troops who had already returned to Alaska have been notified that they will be going back to Iraq in the next couple of weeks.
Iraq has signed new contracts with Syria to supply it with oil products in a bid to alleviate the fuel crisis
, a senior Oil Ministry official said. Mohammad al-Zaibari, head of the Northern Fuel Distribution Company, said Damascus has agreed to ferry "huge quantities" of fuel to Iraq. The country is now passing through its worst fuel crisis since the U.S. invasion. Lack of gas and kerosene is so severe that many families go now with cooking. But Zaibari said he hoped the deals with Syria will "solve the crisis." It is not clear how Syria, a country with hardly enough refining capacity to meet domestic needs, will help. Prior to the U.S. invasion Iraq used to have excess refining capacity which helped it export fuel products to neighboring states among them Syria.
>> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
WE HAVE LOST BAGHDAD
By any rational reckoning, we have lost the war in Iraq, unless there is some plan to escalate it to World War Three, mobilizing the US economy and returning to the draft. (...)
We have an Army with broken down equipment and burned out soldiers, and we no longer have a US strategic reserve for ready deployment. Civil war is erupting in Iraq.
We have lost Baghdad , the city whose capture we boasted about as our Cheerleader-in-Chief, George Bush, urged Iraqi Resistance to "bring it on" back on July 4th, 2003.
Thousands of US troops are being drawn from other places in Iraq, many of them embattled, to retake the capital. In short, we're back to square one, and we're worn out.
As I watched the glittering generals hem and haw, bob and weave and make excuses for themselves I remembered my enlisted days, when we grumbled that officers were nothing but politicians.
Rumsfeld, who never pretended to be anything other than a politician, sat between his puppet generals, and from time to time put in a forceful word of distortion. Brazenly, he admitted no problems at all, and argued tirelessly that two plus two really do make five.
All you have to do, he assures us, is understand that we're in a global war, Iraq is the central front in that global war and Baghdad is the key to Iraq.
To the Bush League this is called geopolitics, but to me it still seems like quicksand.
link to excerpt
WHICH ONE DO YOU BELIEVE?
The same article written in different ways.
No evidence Iran active in Iraq - Aug 14, 2006
"There is nothing that we definitively have found to say that there are any Iranians operating within the country of Iraq," Major General William Caldwell, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, told a news conference.U.S. says Shiite extremists in Iraq receiving arms, training from Iran - August 14, 2006
The U.S. military has evidence Shiite extremists in Iraq are receiving arms and training from Iran, but it is not clear if the Iranian government is involved, a U.S. spokesman said Monday.link
IS JILL CARROLL LYING?
Adnan was gone. The rotund man was in the driver's seat now. Other men jumped in sandwiching me between them. We sped away, out onto the main road, then turned right.
"Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!" my abductors shouted, excited and joyful. "Jihad! Jihad!"
My captors peppered me with questions in Arabic. I played dumb, fearful they would think I understood too much and kill me.
This from the first of many interviews with freelance reporter Jill Carroll.
I find this very strange. Yelling Jihad over and over sounds out of touch with Arab mannerisms. Have you ever seen videos of Iraqi fighters downing Apache helicopters or Abrams tanks or even blowing up US armored vehicles?
Listen to the audio. They never shout Jihad, Jihad, Jihad.
You call someone to Jihad, you embark on a Jihad, but you do not scream Jihad as if it were an offshoot of Hooray, Yipee, or Alright.
Jihad is not meant to sound like woooohaaa.
If she had said they started shouting Allahu Akbar, it would have made a little more sense.
Even if we are to take their "joyful" expression as being satisfied they killed poor Alan Enwiya, they would still not yell Jihad. You simply do not shout Jihad when you have accomplished something, if that is what she is trying to convey here.
In fact, the shouting of Jihad sounds like something out of a bad Hollywood movie where non-Arabs don Arab garb and shout a word familiar to Hollywood audiences.
I'm sorry, but it is just incorrect for an Arab to shout Jihad in such a situation. It does not fit.
So, I have to come to the following conclusions:
1) Jill Carroll is lying
2) Jill Carroll misunderstood
3) Her captors were not really
read in full...
THE CONTRADICTION OF U.S. OCCUPATION
(...) returning troops report that none of their training prepared them for what they experienced in Iraq. "You can train up all you want, but you're not going to be prepared until you get here and mingle with the culture," explained Spc. Travis Gillette, an Army infantryman who served in Iraq.
Gillette's advice reveals the contradiction of U.S. occupation. Indeed, learning about Iraqi culture and its people might, on the one hand, improve relations between U.S. soldiers and the civilian population. Yet on the other, the danger is that, as a result, soldiers may sympathize with the Iraqi people and turn against U.S. war aims and its justifications.
In fact, keeping a greater distance between troops and the civilian population is one of the lessons the military learned from the Vietnam War, a war in which large numbers of troops turned against the war and discovered that the real enemy was the military itself, particularly from 1968 to 1973.
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>> BEYOND IRAQ
SEYMOUR HERSH INTERVIEW: “CHENEY'S IDEA WAS THIS…”
(...) our military, our Air Force has been trying for a year to get plans for a major massive bombing assault on Iran pushed through the Pentagon, pushed through the process. And there's been sort of an internecine fight inside the Pentagon over just basically the idea of strategic war against Iran. They're very dug in Iran. The Persians have been digging in for -- what? -- centuries and centuries. And the Marines and the Navy and the Army have said, No way we're going to start bombing, because it will end up with troops on the ground. So there's been a stalemate. I've written a lot about it.
And in this spring, as part of the stalemate, the American Air Force approached the Israeli Air Force, which as you know is headed by General Dan Halutz, who is an Air Force -- I think the first IDF commander, the commander of the Israeli Defense Forces, to be an Air Force guy, and another believer of strategic war, and the two had a lot of interests. And so, out of these meetings in the spring became an agreement, you know, sort of we'll help you, you help us, and it got to Cheney's attention, this idea of Israel planning a major, major strategic bombing campaign against Hezbollah. And for -- I can't tell you where Bush is, but you have to assume he's right with him. Obviously everything he's done makes that clear.
Cheney's idea was this, that we sort of -- it's like a three-for. We get three for one with this. One, here we're having this war about the value of strategic bombing, and the Israeli Air Force, whose pilots are superb, can go in and -- if they could go in and blast Hezbollah out of their foxholes or whatever they are, their underground facilities, and roll over them, as everybody in the White House and I'm sure everybody in the Israeli Air Force thought they could do, that would be a big plus for the ambitions that I think the President and Cheney have for Iran. I don't think this president, our president, is going to leave office with Iran being, as he sees it, a nuclear threat.
The second great argument you have, of course, is if you are going to do Iran, you're going to need -- you can't attack Iran without taking care of the Hezbollah missiles or rockets. They're really rockets. They're not independently guided. Even their long-range rockets that go a few hundred kilometers, you cannot attack Iran without taking them out, because obviously that's the deterrent. You hit Iran, Hezbollah then bombs Tel Aviv and Haifa. So that's something you have to clean out first.
And thirdly, of course, is if you get rid of Hezbollah and Nasrallah, why, you get rid of a terror -- a man who's considered to be, as somebody famously said, Richard Armitage, the "A-Team of terrorism."
So on that basis, there was a tremendous interest in Israel going ahead. There were meetings. There were an enormous amount of contacts. I should add, Amy, that of course -- and this is reflected in the story -- Israel doesn't need the United States to know they have a problem with Hezbollah. And so, they were going to do something anyway. But it's a question of timing, and that's one of the big issues.
This summer, earlier this summer, there was -- and late, I guess after the Israelis began their reoccupation -- occupation of Gaza, after the first Israeli soldier was captured, a soldier named Shalit, I think, June 28th, after he was captured, the traffic, the signals traffic that the Israeli signals community gets showed an enormous amount of talk about doing something on the northern border. That is, on the border between Syria -- I mean between Lebanon and Israel.
And so, on that basis, it was clear this summer, the next time Hezbollah made a move, and there's been a cat-and-mouse game between Israel and Hezbollah for about six years, since the Israelis were kicked out or driven out by Nasrallah in 2000. It's been cat-and-mouse. Both sides have been going against each other, nickel-dime stuff. And the next time Hezbollah made a move, the Israeli Air Force was going to bomb, the plan was going to go in effect. The move came very quick. It came about ten days after or twelve days after the first Israeli soldier was captured.
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GET USED TO IT
Three important points to bear in mind as you read coverage of the aftermath of Israel's failed invasion of Lebanon:
1. By their own propaganda Israel lost to a "rag tag" army. That's got to hurt. I don't exptect them to learn the lesson. I do expect Israel's politics to swing hard right and fairly soon too. I also expect a lot of the corruption endemic in Israeli politics to come to light. In fact that's already started.
2. The day before the ceasefire the Hizb mounted a rocketry barrage. Unlike the Israelis they haven't fired since. In other words they're a highly disciplined force and they're still in possession of the field.
3. Hizbulla planned for victory. As you read the reports of people streaming back to their homes from which the brutal (and illegal) Israeli tactics drove them keep in mind that much of the transport infrastructure has been shattered. What does their return mean? It means that the Hizb have some very effective logistics people. The return of the populace is going to dramatically weaken Israel's strategic position vis a vis Southern Lebanon.
Who won? Well we know who lost in military terms, and yes I feel vindicated, I've been saying for years that the IDF are overrated and the Hizb underrated. I also feel more than a little schadenfreude a savage invasion was repelled and as the scale of their looming defeat became ever clearer the invaders squealed ever louder "unfair unfair" - they couldn't even hold Marjoum! And that was despite their using human shield tactics.
Who lost terribly were civilians the brutal Israeli tactics meant massive loss of Lebanese civilian life. Nor should it be forgotten that some Israeli civilians were killed. Who should be blamed for those deaths? The Israeli government which started the war and the American government who wanted them to are who should be blamed.
The victory is for all of us who are opposed to arrogance and brutality. The loss, the biggest loss, is to those who still believe that they can recolonise the Middle East. The Middle East and its resources belong to those who live there. It's their home, not yours, not mine, theirs and other than as guests "we" are not welcome there. The people who live there have the right, the duty, and increasingly both the will and the means to defend their homes and their children. Get used to it.
HOW TO ORGANISE A MAJOR TERRORIST SCARE
How easy is it to organise a major terrorist scare like the one that's currently gridlocking the world's airports? Dead easy. If you follow a few simple points you can panic the populace and stampede the media with virtually no risk of getting caught. All it takes is a little confidence. Here's a simple "how-to" for aspiring top-level spooks:
1. The politicians don't want to know
Have confidence that the government really doesn't want to know what it is you're getting up to, as long as the effect benefits them. By their very nature, secret police intelligence and espionage organizations operate in secret and often do, "in the national interest", illegal things or stuff which ordinary folk would regard as grossly unethical - things that would embarrass the government if they were to be exposed. If anything goes wrong the politicians want to be able to "plausibly deny" they were involved. This relationship hands enormous, uncontrolled, power to your small, ultra-secretive, self-governing elite clustered at the top of the nation's security "service". Your colleagues are invariably drawn from the upper reaches of the political and economic elite and of course you know better than anybody what's in "the national interest" and you have a God-given right to rule. Breaking ranks and talking isn't in your colleagues' class nature.
2. Keep things on a need-to-know basis
Keep your security organization compartmentalised and discourage specialist sections from talking to each other. You can plausibly plead security reasons for this. Make sure all information gets passed up the line to your small group at the top who compile and "assess" the overall threat and decide when to act. Thus you control the "narrative" and the timing of the scam. The foot soldiers may shake their heads and wonder at some of the things you come up with, but they'll be in no position to contradict you. And if they do, it's a very serious offence. It'll ruin their careers and could land them a very long stretch in gaol.
3. At the right time, get the president or prime minister involved
When you've decided on the optimum time for your security scare and sorted out who your "plotters" will be, it's important to involve the head of the government. He'll want to broadcast to the nation, taking credit for keeping the people safe from the terrible plot. He'll automatically be followed by the leaders of the mainstream opposition parties, all eager to prove their credibility, responsibility and patriotism. As soon as you've made the official line clear, the media and the state apparatus will fall into line.
4. "Prove that we lie"
Always remember: it's breathtakingly easy to claim you've "thwarted" something horrible and almost impossible for sceptics to prove that you haven't. This applies especially if you "thwart" the plot in its early stages. Invariably you're acting against individuals from a group that's already been demonised and will be scared to speak up or fight back. The majority will be inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt. Questioning the government in a time of "national emergency" isn't an easy gig.
5. Don't worry, they'll all play their part
Complex conspiracies involving lots of people are entirely unnecessary. All that's needed is for your close knit, unaccountable group to order those lower down the chain to act on "information received". They don't even have to know what the information was. They just have to know the addresses to raid and who to arrest. When they do, they're sure to find some political or religious literature, or something on the hard drives, or some household chemicals that will, under the circumstances you've created, look suspicious. If you're using agents provocateurs, they'll be able to plant "evidence" and report suspicious conversations to "sex-up" the case. Of course, details will never be available officially or in a verifiable form, but fragments and hints of purported "evidence" can be leaked to selected journalists (see below).
6. Feed the chickens
Keep information in official news releases to an absolute minimum. There's a plausible excuse for this: more information will harm ongoing investigations and might prejudice the case when it gets to court. In place of any hard attributable facts, provide a steady stream of small leaks "under condition of anonymity" to selected journalists from politically reliable mainstream news organizations. These people are carefully selected for political conservatism and journalistic "responsibility". (…)
7. Politicians who aren't 100 per cent with you are friends of terrorists
No politician enjoys being attacked as "irresponsible" or accused of being unpatriotic or soft on terrorists. Very few will dare question the allegations in case they're proved wrong. Most are venal politics junkies making a very good living doing something they enjoy. It's safer for them to join the chorus condemning terrorism and congratulating you on your vigilance. With any luck, some politicians will show their credentials by loudly criticising you for not acting sooner and more ruthlessly. Those few who are troubled will probably just say nothing.
8. Don't worry about proving links to real terror groups
Once upon a time, not so long ago, it was felt necessary to show that your local "terrorist cell" was recruited by, and in communication with, al-Qaeda, or some group with actual form some time in the not-too-distant past. This requirement brought its own problems, since evidence of the links often failed to convince, or, worse still, unearthed shady figures with a track record of collaboration with the CIA or M16 or Mossad. (…)
The SFSA ["spontaneously-forming, self-activating" terror cell] theory not only relieves you of having to prove connections to international terror groups, there's a bonus: it also increases public fear. Any group of young Muslims kicking a ball around in the park is actually planning to blow up trains. Or airliners. Anything you do to these people is likely to be "overlooked", if not vocally supported by patriotic simpletons.
9. It doesn't really matter if a court finds them innocent
Your victims won't get their day in court for months, maybe years, and if you've organised things well, you'll be operating under laws that ensure that the public and your tame media are prevented from reporting key details or even excluded from court altogether. By the time your victims get to court, the scare you used them to create will have done its job. Even if your victims are found innocent, that fact will get little press attention from a media who are embarrassed by their role in such an obvious scam, and anyway, the accused terrorists' acquittal will be lost in the next big scare.
Good luck, and have fun.
read in full...
QUOTE OF THE DAY
: "Suicide = Solution." -- words scrawled on the Kevlar helmet of Marine Cpl. Jay Reed, 21, of Syracuse, N.Y, stationed in Ramadi. "The Kevlar says it all," he declares.