Tuesday, August 29, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, August 29, 2006 Photo: Smoke rises shortly after a bomb exploded inside a minibus in Baghdad, August 27, 2006. (Namir Noor-Eldeen/Reuters) Bring ‘em on: One Soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province August 27. (MNF – Iraq) Bring ‘em on: One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died August 28 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province August 27. (MNF – Iraq) Bring ‘em on: The U.S. Army says one of its contractors were killed in Iraq yesterday while working with Huntsville's Army Engineering and Support Center. The Pentagon says 39-year-old Carey Robinson from Orlando, Florida, died when the vehicle he was riding in hit a roadside bomb. Robinson worked for Tampa, Florida-based Cochise Consultancy. A Nebraska National Guard Soldier died on Aug. 28, from injuries he sustained when his vehicle rolled over into a canal near Camp Anaconda near the city of Balad, Iraq, on Aug. 21. (CENTCOM) One Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade 1st Armored Division died from non-hostile causes August 28. (MNF – Iraq) A Nebraska soldier injured in a Humvee accident in Iraq last week died Sunday, according to the Nebraska Army National Guard. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: Iraqi police found the bodies of 24 people who had apparently been tortured and shot before being dumped in two separate locations in Baghdad. The bodies of 11 people, who had been tied up and shot, were found near a school in the Shia-dominated Maalif neighborhood in the south of the city, police spokesman Mutaz Salahiddin said. The bodies of another 13 people, believed to have been aged between 25 and 35, were found dumped behind a Shia mosque in the Turath neighborhood in the west of the city. Clashes between a Sunni tribe and Shi'ite militias, wounded 14 people in southern Baghdad, the army and an Interior Ministry source said. Four mortar rounds landed in two districts in northern Baghdad wounding five people, including two Iraqi soldiers. Baqubah: In Baqubah three mortars, two rocket-propelled grenades and a bomb exploded at an al-Sadr office almost simultaneously, killing two guards and destroying the building, the Diyala Province police in the city said. Iraq police forces from Baquba said that they had discovered six unidentified corpses around the city, located approximately 60 kilometers east of Baghdad. Security sources from the city said that four corpses were found in the village of al-Mansouriya, one in the al-Hay al- Sinaei/Industrial District of Baquba, and one other corpse in the suburb of Behrez. Four people were found shot dead, handcuffed and blindfolded in a village near Baquba. Fifteen people were gunned down in several attacks in different areas of Baquba. Diwaniya: At least 29 people were killed when a blast ripped through scavengers siphoning petrol from pools around a breach in a disused pipeline in central Iraq. A Reuters reporter at the rural site near Diwaniya, 180 kilometres south of Baghdad, saw 15 charred bodies, including that of a boy. The explosion severely wounded 26 people.A police source said more than 50 were killed, although that figure could not be confirmed. Witnesses said the blast occurred at 11:00pm (1900 GMT), while a group of impoverished people were scooping fuel from two large pools.
At least 74 people were killed and 94 injured when an old fuel pipeline caught fire near the southern Iraqi city of Diwaniyah on Tuesday, a senior health official told AFP. "The latest toll for the tragedy is 74 people killed and 94 injured," said Hamid Taathi, head of Diwaniyah's health department.
Calm returned to Diwaniya after Shiite militiamen loyal to an anti-U.S. cleric reached an agreement with Iraqi government forces to end a 12-hour street battle that killed 40 people.
(update from 40 dead) Fighting between Iraqi government forces and Shiite militiamen killed 73 people in Diwaniyah before calm was restored, the prime minister's office said Tuesday. The death toll was significantly higher than the 40 people initially reported to have been killed Monday in Diwaniyah before a deal between Shiite militiamen loyal to a powerful cleric and the government ended a fierce 12-hour street battle. "The Iraqi national police and army confronted the gunmen and managed to kill 50 gunmen, but these regretful acts lead to the martyrdom of 23 Iraqi soldiers and wounding of 30 others," said an announcement.
Bani Saad: Police said more than 30 Shiite families fled the village of Khan Bani Saad, southwest of the town, after their homes came under mortar attack from suspected Sunni fighters. Balad: Police found the body of a civilian with gunshot wounds to the head and chest in the town of Balad, 80 km (55 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. Baiji: Gunmen killed a bakery worker and wounded another in Baiji, 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad. Hilla: The 12 bodies found in Hilleh's suburbs bore evidence of torture along with fatal bullet wounds - some of the bodies had their hands bound and some were blindfolded. Iskandariya: Three bodies were discovered in the town of al-Iskenderiya. Al Rashid: Four bodies were discovered in the town of al-Rashid. Latifiya: One body was discovered in the town of al-Latifiya. An Iraqi soldier was killed and four civilians were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near his patrol in the main road between Mahmudiya and Latifiya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad. Kirkuk: One policeman was killed when his patrol car hit a roadside bomb in Kirkuk. Three policemen and two bystanders were wounded. A policeman was killed and nine people were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad. Mosul: Gunmen killed a man in Mosul, a hospital source said. Gunmen killed a former Iraqi army officer on Monday in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad. Ramadi: Locals found dead bodies of two Iraqi policemen in Al-Jumhoriyah neighborhood of Ramadi. The two policemen were abducted on Sunday. >> NEWS About 100 Iraqi Shiite soldiers refused to go to Baghdad to support the security crackdown there, marking the second time a block of Iraqi soldiers have balked at following their unit's assignment, a U.S. general said Monday. U.S. Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard, commander of the Iraqi Assistance Group, said the problems stem from the Iraqi Army's regional divide, because soldiers are recruited in their home area and expect to train and serve there. New allegations of indiscriminate killings by U.S. troops surfaced Monday: Relatives of seven civilians shot dead during a gunbattle in a Baghdad neighborhood Sunday said U.S. soldiers had stepped out of their vehicles and randomly fired at their car. "The soldiers decided to kill everyone on the streets, and my mother was one of them," Mohammed Sabah al-Dulaimi, 19, an engineering student, told The Washington Post in a telephone interview. "They were angry. There's no other reason for killing. They took revenge." Al-Dulaimi's mother, Suad Jodah Yaseen, was returning from work in a company car, which stopped some distance away from the scene where a roadside bomb had struck a U.S. military vehicle, according to her brother, Hadi Jodah Yaseen, 50. "But random shooting by American soldiers hit her in the head and the chest, and one bullet pierced her chest and came out of the back," Yaseen said. Lt. Col Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman, confirmed that seven civilians were killed Sunday in Ghazaliyah, a volatile western Baghdad neighborhood where U.S. forces have bolstered their efforts to tame sectarian violence. But he said the civilians were caught in the crossfire between U.S. troops and insurgents. "These people were unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time," Johnson said. He added that there would be a review to determine whether a further investigation into the soldiers' actions is warranted. >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS ANOTHER MISERABLE MILESTONE FOR BUSH'S WAR A miserable milestone was passed the other day. America's (and Britain's) disastrous war in Iraq has now lasted longer than the US involvement in the Second World War. Yes, this conflict has outlasted a war that ended with total victory over Nazi Germany. Hitler declared war on the US on 11 December 1941. Exactly 1,244 days later, on 7 May 1945, Germany surrendered. The US invaded Iraq on 19 March 2003, and this weekend it is 1,267 days later, with no end in sight. Sticklers among you will have noted that the interval between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Japanese surrender on 2 September, 1945 was 1,364 days. But even that record will tumble at the start of December. And if you do measure Iraq against the longer American war with Japan, the contrast is even starker. Victory in the Pacific was even more conclusive than in Europe. It produced no post-war entanglement with the Soviets and no Berlin airlift. The Iraq war unfolded the other way round: Baghdad fell barely three weeks after the invasion. Since then, however, it's been downhill all the way. read in full... A "BIG-TENT APPROACH" TO INSURGENCY The Associated Press notes this evening, in what has become nearly a routine opening paragraph:
A wave of bomb attacks and shootings swept Iraq Sunday, killing dozens of people despite a massive security operation in the capital and appeals from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for an end to sectarian fighting.
This morning, the Los Angeles Times offered a little bit of detail on the most recent evolution of the chronic violence:
The insurgency has increased its use of roadside bombs against U.S. and Iraqi forces since Zarqawi's death in June, and in some ways is stronger than when he was alive. . . . The movement lost a wily strategist, but his successor, whom U.S. officials identify as Abu Ayyub Masri, an Egyptian, appears more flexible in recruitment. And the insurgency's roadside bombings and ambushes have become more dogged, if less flashy. "Zarqawi was a hard-liner in his recruitment practices," said a Pentagon consultant who requested anonymity. "This [new] guy is using a big-tent approach. People who were previously excluded from Al Qaeda in Iraq because they lack exceeding levels of fanaticism are now allowed in."
Great. It's almost like they were going easy on us before... read in ful... DISCREDITING THE OPERATIONS THAT ARE ONGOING Gen. William Caldwell, Military Moron, announces that operations to reduce violence in Baghdad have been going great, except for all the violence: "It was always expected that there would be this extremist element that would get out and try to discredit the operations that are ongoing by striking at areas where civilians are readily available, where they can inflict some casualties." read in full... SMELLS LIKE DEBACLE I've been in a series of polite arguments with a number of liberals who think we're winning Over There but are losing the home front battle. They think we're winning Over There based on the dubious "fact" that we're winning every tactical engagement. I don't think that's true, by the way. I count IED attacks as tactical engagements. We're getting destroyed in that particular battle. Keep in mind that you can win all the major engagements and still get the shit kicked out of you. We're "winning" and yet the insurgency is damaging oil production and supply to such an extent that we need to import oil into one of the most oil-rich countries in the world just to keep our war machine running. We're winning every major tactical engagement, yet the basic service infrastructure is crumbling and the country is degenerating into internecine deathsquad warfare. We're "winning" and yet we're unable to prevent gunman from REPEATEDLY ROUNDING UP AND MURDERING 60 PEOPLE in broad daylight within rifle fire of the green zone. So guys, I guess you're perpetuating the big lie yourself. The lie that the "boys" are winning over there. They're not. They're losing. I don't know if it's one of the worst defeats in a hundred years as Aravosis said but the fact that a superpower army is getting its ass handed to it by a ragtag irregular force... Well, let's just say it doesn't look good. "I love the smell of burning oil tankers in the morning..." link THE END OF THE IRAQ WAR Atrios posted this up
Magical Thinking Dionne writes: The Republicans' restiveness suggests that Bush may not be able to stick with his current Iraq policy through Election Day. Even if he does, he will come under heavy pressure from his own party after Nov. 7 to pursue a demonstrably more effective strategy -- or to begin pulling American forces out. But he won't. There won't be a more effective strategy. And forces won't be pulled out. This has been made clear over and over again. I don't know why people refuse to listen.
Here's where I disagree. Armies are physical beings. At some point within the next six months, there won't be an Army to deploy to Iraq. Three tours is about it. Afterwards, people start to think of quitting. Sure, you can send more Guard units, but they aren't the Regular Army. The recruits now, kids from youth prisons, kids with records, gang members, 40 year old women running from their responsibilities would have been politely shown the door at any time before March 2003. The only possible solution is a draft, and no one is sending the Duke class of 2008 to die in the sandbox. Just isn't happening. In an era where kids wear helmets to go ice skating and even in peacetime parents oppose enlistment, who would vote for a draft? So we face a conundrum. And Bush will handle it as he always has, by running. One day, Dick Cheney will be told he is a very sick man, with not much time and that the only way to save his life is to leave the WH. Bush will sadly agree, and pick someone else for them job. No, not Condi Rice. Maybe McCain. maybe Hegel, someone who is palatable. Then, after a few weeks, when it is clear that the Iraq war is over, Bush, too, will be found to be near collapse, and Iraq will be President Hegel's job. And he will be the one to end the war When Bush says this will be another president's problem, he is probably right. Only thing is, we're probably not talking 2009. link BRITAIN TAKES A MISSTEP IN IRAQ As the British Army repositions in southern Iraq and considers troop pull-outs, an uncomfortable anniversary passes largely unnoticed. British military commanders hoped the handover of a key base to Iraqi authorities would be a smooth one. But optimism has not been matched by reality. With 1,200 British troops just withdrawn from Camp Abu Naji, al-Amarah, jubilant Shi'ite militiamen from Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army are claiming victory. Insurgent rocket and mortar rounds had been crumping into this base in southern Iraq for months and providing what British military commanders call a "static target". The abandoned base - in eastern Maysan province - was comprehensively ransacked by insurgents on August 23. Military spokesmen say this is not a British retreat, merely a "repositioning" to fight insurgents more effectively in the areas bordering Iran. (...) Meanwhile, a baleful 90th anniversary has passed largely unnoticed. Further north from al-Amarah is a town which resonates in British history. One hundred miles southeast of Baghdad lies Kut-al Amarah. Kut continues to haunt modern British planners as the ultimate case study of how to fail militarily in the Middle East. Almost a century ago, as the Great War raged, Kut caused shudders across Britain. This summer British historians commemorated the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme of 1916 with exhaustive and high profile analysis. But with British forces still engaged in Iraq, the anniversary of Kut received little comment. This is hardly surprising. Sitting on a bend of the Tigris River, Kut was the nadir of Britain's 1914-18 Mesopotamian campaign. The Battle of Kut in 1916 presaged the end of empire and rivaled earlier humiliations at Gallipoli, the fall of Singapore in 1942 and the Suez episode of 1956. (...) Nemesis, in the form of three Turkish divisions led by von der Goltz, duly arrived. Townshend and 12,000 British and Indian troops found themselves besieged in Kut. Their forces were well dug in but starvation loomed unless a relief force could arrive in time. A force was eventually sent under Lieutenant General Sir Fenton John Aylmer to resupply Kut by river steamer and repeated British frontal attacks were made. They all failed. The British lost a further 20,000 soldiers and the supply port of Basra became a choked bottleneck. Offers were made - by T E Lawrence - to bribe the Turkish besiegers with the sum of 1 million pounds. The Turks, rightly sensing victory, rebuffed all overtures. Inside Kut the defenders were now eating their horses. Emaciated from disease and hunger, 1,750 soldiers and an unknown number of civilians died. On April 29, 1916, after a siege of 146 days, Britain's most senior army commander, Lord Kitchener, authorized surrender. The Empire's shame was acute. Over 10,000 soldiers went into captivity. Worse was to follow. Townshend did not stay with his men. He agreed to be taken to Constantinople, his "prison" consisting of a yacht anchored in the Bosphorous, complete with servants. This action and his inflexibility remain a cautionary tale taught in military staff colleges to this day. What was left of his army now faced brutal treatment. Marched across the desert to prison camps, hundreds died of thirst, disease and the attentions of Arab irregulars nipping at the heels of the column. Over 4,000 died on this death march and later under harsh conditions in Turkish prison camps. Like the remnants of the Crusader army marched into captivity after the Battle of Hattin in 1187, the defeat at Kut echoed around the Middle East. read in full... I COULD TRY TO EXPLAIN IT, BUT IT'S REALLY TOO COMPLICATED FOR SOMEONE LIKE YOU TO UNDERSTAND From a town hall meeting with Madeleine Albright, Sandy Berger and William Cohen on February 18, 1998 in Columbus, Ohio:
QUESTION: I have a question for Secretary Albright. Why bomb Iraq when other countries have committed similar violations? For example, Turkey has bombed Kurdish citizens. Saudi Arabia has tortured political and religious dissidents. Why does the U.S. apply different standards of justice to these countries? What do you have to say about dictators of countries like Indonesia, who we sell weapons to, yet they are slaughtering people in East Timor? (APPLAUSE) ALBRIGHT: Let me answer that. I suggest, sir, that you study carefully what American foreign policy is, what we have said exactly about the cases that you have mentioned. Every one of them has been pointed out. Every one of them we have clearly stated our policy on. And if you would like, as a former professor, I would be delighted to spend 50 minutes with you describing exactly what we are doing on those subjects.
Saddam Hussein on trial for the genocidal Anfal campaign against the Kurds:
Yesterday in Baghdad Saddam was called to account for the crimes, but he remained defiant... Asked to plead guilty or innocent on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, Saddam offered brazen defiance. "That would require volumes of books," he answered.
link >> BEYOND IRAQ Afghanistan: A suicide bomber in a car struck a NATO-Afghan military convoy, killing one civilian and wounding two others. No NATO soldiers were wounded. One Canadian soldier has been injured by a mortar attack in Afghanistan. The attack came about 6 p.m. local time yesterday, at Zhari District Centre, west of the city of Kandahar. NATO officials say several mortar rounds struck the Canadian forward operating base, injuring one Canadian soldier and one Afghan security force member. It's the second time in as many days that a Canadian has been injured by mortars at the base, and the third attack in the last 36 hours. Early Sunday, a Canadian soldier and six Afghans were injured by mortar rounds. OOPS, WE DID IT AGAIN Who woulda thunk it?! The big air-travel terror scare earlier this month was -- gasp!! -- overhyped, admits the New York Times:
Despite the charges, officials said they were still unsure of one critical question: whether any of the suspects was technically capable of assembling and detonating liquid explosives while airborne. A chemist involved in that part of the inquiry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was sworn to confidentiality, said HMTD, which can be prepared by combining hydrogen peroxide with other chemicals, "in theory is dangerous," but whether the suspects "had the brights to pull it off remains to be seen." While officials and experts familiar with the case say the investigation points to a serious and determined group of plotters, they add that questions about the immediacy and difficulty of the suspected bombing plot cast doubt on the accuracy of some of the public statements made at the time. "In retrospect,'' said Michael A. Sheehan, the former deputy commissioner of counterterrorism in the New York Police Department, "there may have been too much hyperventilating going on." . . . While the arrests were unfolding, the Home Office raised Britain's terror alert level to "critical," as the police continued their raids of suspects' homes and cars. All liquids were banned from carry-on bags, and some public officials in Britain and the United States said an attack appeared to be imminent. In addition to Mr. Stephenson's remark that the attack would have been "mass murder on an unimaginable scale," Mr. Reid said that attacks were "highly likely" and predicted that the loss of life would have been on an "unprecedented scale." Two weeks later, senior officials here characterized the remarks as unfortunate.
They certainly were unfortunate, especially for anyone trying to maintain the illusion that our government is sincerely trying to protect us from terrorism -- as opposed to running around like a bunch of panicked Chicken Littles who don't understand the science of what they're investigating, and trying to hype every implausible threat for political gain. read in full... QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Is it not for the benefit of the people of that country that it should be governed so as to enable them to develop this land which has been withered and shrivelled up by oppression? What would happen if we withdrew?" —— Lloyd George, Britsh PM in 1920, answering calls for a military withdrawal from Iraq following an insurrection in the country occupied by the British Army (quoted in Iraq, 1917 by Robert Fisk, where it is added: “By this stage, British officials in Baghdad were blaming the violence on ‘local political agitation, originated outside Iraq’, suggesting that Syria might be involved.”)


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