Friday, September 15, 2006
DAILY WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2006
PHOTO: Residents who were among those wounded in a roadside bomb attack receive treatment at a hospital in Falluja, 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, September 14, 2006. The attack targeting an Iraqi army patrol killed six civilians and wounded 15 others, hospital sources said. Picture taken September 14, 2006. REUTERS/Mohanned Faisal (IRAQ) [Look at that photo – two people to a bed, conditions are filthy, and the “air conditioning” is hand held and also dirty! What have we done to these people? May God forgive those who started this evil mess. - dancewater]
From September 14, 2006:
Two Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers were killed and 25 Soldiers were wounded by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device at approximately 2:50 p.m. today west of Baghdad. The wounded Soldiers were evacuated by helicopter to a military hospital. Of the wounded, six have been returned to duty and 15 were listed as not serious.
Security Incidents for September 15, 2006
An official vehicle carrying Japan's acting ambassador to Iraq was hit by bullets on Thursday in Baghdad, but there were no injuries, the Foreign Ministry said. The bullet cracked the windshield when it hit the car of Satoshi Ashiki, temporary charge d'affaires, near the Japanese embassy in Baghdad, the ministry said in a statement.
The bound bodies of dozens more torture victims were found in Baghdad in the past day, officials said on Friday, fuelling anarchic sectarian anger as political leaders square off over an issue some say could mean civil war. In all, police retrieved 50 bodies in the 24 hours to Friday morning, most shot in the head after being trussed and tortured, a senior Interior Ministry official told Reuters. That took the body count in the city for three days to at least 130.
An Iraqi civilian was killed and five others were wounded when a gunman on top of an abandoned building opened fire in a Sunni Arab neighborhood Friday morning in central Baghdad, said police Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali.
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier has been reported as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown following an incident reported yesterday in which two fellow MND-B Soldiers were killed and 30 Soldiers were injured by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device Thursday west of Baghdad.
Dhi Qar Prv:
Dhi Qar's police killed two members of the Mehdi Army militias who were attempting to launch mortar rounds at an Italian military base in Dhi Qar, south of Baghdad, police sources said. They said the two men were killed in clashes with police.
Al Anbar Prv:
The U.S. military also announced a flurry of anti-insurgent activity in western Anbar province, used as a haven for many al-Qaida fighters in Iraq. Caldwell said U.S. and Iraqi forces have killed 66 suspected insurgents and arrested 830 others this month. Witnesses said Marines raided a funeral 20 miles west of the violent town of Ramadi, where Sunni Arab insurgents and U.S. troops have battled for months. After the burial ceremony, U.S. forces arrested at least 60 men at the gathering.
At least four Iraqi civilians were killed and another six were wounded Friday when a bomb exploded in a football field in Fallujah City. Eyewitnesses said the bomb was planted inside a public field in the city and it was ignited while some kids were kicking a ball there. The explosion killed four of the kids and wounded another six.
NOTE: A BIG THANKS TO WHISKER FOR PUTTING TOGETHER THE SECURITY INCIDENTS IN IRAQ AND FORWARDING THEM TO ME.
Daily exposure to violence has traumatised Iraq’s children. At first glance, the games occupying Sameer, Salwa, Batul, Taghreed, Yasir and Fawzi seem much like those enjoyed by any children as they play happily in a Baghdad street with friends from school and the neighbourhood. On closer inspection, however, their games are far from innocent, and offer a brutal reflection of daily life in Iraq. This group of five- to seven-year-olds is re-enacting a beheading, a scene they have most likely seen on television or on one of the many graphic videos circulating in the country. The girls are screaming and feigning terror, pretending they have been kidnapped by a group of militants. One of the boys holds a wooden stick aloft like a sword, ready to decapitate his “hostage”. Almost half of Iraq’s population is under 18, and the daily violence they have witnessed – not only on television but on the streets – has had a devastating impact on their lives and well-being. Three wars since 1980, population displacement, the loss of family members, car bombs, suicide attacks and the constant presence of troops, tanks and guns are taking their toll on the mental welfare of the younger generation. Though it is hard to obtain exact data on the number of children affected, an April 2003 report by the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF estimated that half a million Iraqi children were traumatised by conflict. Considering the extent of hostilities since then, the number must be considerably higher today. Ayat Salah, six, stopped talking after she found a headless body in front of her house in Baghdad as she set off for school. “Ayat had kissed me and her father goodbye in the morning as usual,” said her mother. “Then she left the house, and suddenly we heard her scream and saw she had fainted. She hasn’t spoken a word since.” Shrooq Mustafa was five years old when she saw militants behead her father in front of her. He worked as a translator for American troops in Baghdad. Her father’s blood splashed all over the girl’s pink dress, and the armed men left her behind with the dead body of her father, screaming and in a state of shock. Often children fall victim to the violence themselves. [I had to stop reading at this point. I was crying too hard. - dancewater]
The UK-based charity organisation Save the Children has launched a global report exposing the devastating consequences of armed conflict on education in 30 countries. As the only country in the Middle East assessed, Iraq is singled out as one of the most recent problem areas. Entitled 'Rewrite the Future: Education for children in conflict-affected countries', the report says that 43 million primary-age children worldwide are unable to go to school because of armed conflicts in their respective countries. "It is a moral outrage how the world is treating these children," said Jan Egeland, United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator. Egeland is one of the report's key international supporters. "The international community cannot leave vulnerable children, already living with the consequences of armed conflict, without the hope of a decent future," he said. "Children cannot wait for a conflict to end before we give them the opportunity to go to school." The Save the Children report says 818,000 children in Iraq, 22.2 percent of the total number of students in the country, are unable to go to school. [My wish is that every single person who ever supported this war would feel a great deal of shame for the way the children of Iraq have been treated. I think it is beyond them, however. – dancewater]
Iraq's economy is weaker than at any point since the US invasion in 2003. When the top Marine commander in Iraq addressed criticism that US forces appeared to be losing the political, if not the military, fight in Anbar Province recently, he said that success rests as much on restoring a measure of economic stability and basic services as it does on ending Iraq's sectarian bloodshed. "Economic development and the establishment of social order and public services ... are the conditions which must be set that will result in the support of the local people, and ultimately cause the defeat of this terrorist-backed insurgency," Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer said earlier this week. But Iraq's economy is weaker than at any point since the US invasion. Some estimate joblessness at 60 percent (the CIA shows a 30 percent rate for 2005), and prices for foodstuffs and basic goods have doubled - and in some cases tripled - since 2003. Earlier this month, Iraq's planning minister, Ali Baban, said the rise in the consumer price index (CPI) - the basket of goods and services used to measure inflation - increased by nearly 70 percent in July compared with 12 months earlier. In July 2005, the CPI rose by 30 percent. While the daily death toll frightens Iraqis - it topped 100 in the past two days alone - the country's economic grind is eroding the standards of living of millions of Iraqis and leading to mounting frustration in a country where the average monthly wage is less than $200.
Take Ahmed Obeidi, who saw an improvement in his life immediately following the war but now says he goes to sleep at night terrified about his family's prospects. Until 2003, he was a mason whose tiny daily wage - about $2 - nevertheless was enough to keep his wife and three children clothed and fed. After the war, he picked up construction work on US-funded projects. Prices rose that first year, but his daily wages had soared to $10, allowing him to save small amounts for the first time in his life. But as security in Baghdad collapsed starting in early 2004, opportunities to work dried up. Soaring prices reflected the lack of security. Oil smugglers took advantage of rising corruption and distracted security services, and the cost of hauling goods rose to reflect the risks of ambush. Significant US reconstruction spending was deflected to security: Of more than $12 billion spent through the middle of this year, at least $4 billion went to security. That doesn't take into account informal security arrangements. Long-haul truckers in Baghdad, food wholesalers, and even local retail shops say small weekly protection payments to corrupt cops and militias have become standard. Now, Mr. Obeidi is happy to find five days of work a month. "I don't know what we'll do if the five days ... run out," he says. "The only jobs are [with] the police or the Army, but I can't join because of my age. I don't have a degree, so a government job isn't an option. I feel like my whole life is collapsing gradually with the country." Yet, as Baghdad residents, the Obeidis are fortunate. While the price of bread has almost tripled, the price of meat has doubled, and prices for gas and electricity increased nearly four-fold, those in major cities are eating better than their rural counterparts. A report sponsored by the UN's World Food Program late last year found that nationwide, 1 in 4 Iraqi children under age 5 suffered from either "acute or chronic malnutrition." The number was 1 in 3 in rural areas in the south. [It is always the children who suffer the most, and they suffer unpretentiously also (unlike adults). And from my visit to 100 US Senator’s offices last week, I am certain that the staff in about 75% of those offices don’t give a damn. That is America, the “shinning city on a hill” today. – dancewater]
BAE Systems Plc, Europe’s biggest weapons maker, said first-half profit rose 28%, more than analysts estimated, on US orders for Bradley fighting vehicles used in Iraq. Net income increased to 405 million pounds ($759 million), or 12.4 pence a share, from 317 million pounds a year earlier, BAE said on Wednesday in a statement. Profit beat the 354 million-pound estimate of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. BAE purchased United Defense Industries Inc, the maker of the Bradley, in June 2005 to become the Pentagon’s seventh-biggest contractor. London-based BAE on September 6 recommended shareholders approve the sale of its 20% stake in Airbus SAS to concentrate on US defence acquisitions. The sale ‘‘will allow BAE to focus on the defense sector and not be distracted by some serious problems that Airbus is facing,’’ David Hart, an analyst at Fat Prophets in London, said in an interview. ‘‘Refitting Bradleys will be a strong market for them for years to come.’’ [As Juan Cole pointed out, it would be most enlightening to follow the money back to DC. – dancewater]
The leaked US intelligence report said US troops in Anbar were unable to extend security beyond their bases and that the Iraqi government had no functioning institutions in the province, according to the Washington Post. The US strategy of "clearing and holding" major cities in the Euphrates valley had failed, leaving the insurgency group al-Qaida in Iraq as the most significant political force there. The New York Times quoted the report as blaming the collapse partly on a shortage of US troops. It also blamed the Shia-led government for inadequate reconstruction funds in the region. The Sunnis' "greatest fears have been realised", it says, adding that "there is nothing the MNF-W [multinational coalition force in western Iraq] can do to influence the motivation of the Sunnis to wage insurgency".
Iraq's political process could collapse if sectarian death squads are not reined in, a Sunni political leader said on Thursday, a day after 60 corpses were found in the capital. Two car bombs struck Baghdad early on Thursday, killing 10, a day after bombers killed at least 22 people in the capital and police discovered scores of bodies, bound, tortured, shot and dumped in both Sunni and Shi'ite parts of the city. "If these barbarian acts do not stop, certainly it will effect the reconciliation plan," Adnan al-Dulaimi, leader of the Iraqi Accordance Front, the biggest Sunni Arab group in parliament, told Reuters in a telephone interview. A car bomb struck a police patrol outside an orphanage near the busy Karrada district of central Baghdad, killing nine people and wounding 26. Another, outside a photography studio in the northwest of the city, killed one and wounded 13. In Diwaniya, south of the capital where Shi'ite militia and U.S.-backed Iraqi forces fought a bloody battle two weeks ago, U.S. troops raided a local headquarters of followers of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. A Reuters reporter at the scene saw several people hurt by subsequent disturbances. Sunni leaders say the Shi'ite-led government has turned a blind eye to Shi'ite death squads and corrupt militia that control the police. They accuse Shi'ites and Kurds of trying to seize Iraq's oil wealth by splitting the country into regions.
Many of the bodies were bound, shot execution-style and bore marks of torture—hallmarks of the shadowy death squads haunting the city and claiming more lives than the bombs still exploding with regularity. The U.S. military also reported the deaths of two American soldiers, one of them Tuesday south of Baghdad and one on Monday in the insurgent-infested province of Anbar. Thursday's toll was unusually high even by Baghdad's grim standards and brought to 65 the number of bodies found in the previous 48 hours, according to The Associated Press. Most of the bodies were found in the predominantly Sunni western half of the capital, with a smaller number found in the mostly Shiite eastern side. Sunni political leaders say that a majority of the victims are Sunnis, and that they are being targeted by shadowy death squads either with ties to the Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry or to powerful Shiite militias. But no one has ever provided a breakdown of the victims by sect, a significant percentage of whom typically remain unidentified. With an average of around 50 people still dying every day in Baghdad, the relentless violence is jeopardizing U.S. hopes that a new security operation in the capital, launched with much fanfare in early August, will succeed in tamping down the bloodletting. Operation Together Forward saw the deployment of an additional 3,000 U.S. troops to Baghdad to bolster a push to reclaim control of some of the city's most troubled neighborhoods.
………….The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, one of the leading Shiite political groups in the governing alliance, said it would push ahead with plans to introduce legislation at next Tuesday's parliamentary session providing mechanisms for the creation of a powerful new administrative entity in oil-rich southern Iraq, despite the emergence of strong opposition to the proposal among several powerful Shiite leaders. Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the country's leading Shiite religious figure, refused to endorse the plan at a meeting earlier this week with the SCIRI leader Abdul Aziz Hakim, instead urging the Shiite-led government to focus instead on providing security and services to Iraqis. Moqtada Sadr, the firebrand cleric who commands the powerful Shiite Mahdi Army militia blamed by Sunnis for many of the killings in Baghdad, also has come out in opposition to the federal proposal. The Shiite and Kurdish blocs jointly command the 51 percent majority that would be required to push the legislation through parliament over Sunni objections. But with rifts emerging within the dominant Shiite alliance, the chances of that happening appear to be receding. Sadr's bloc holds 32 of the Shiite alliance's 128 seats in parliament. Many members of the Dawa Party, headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, also oppose the move. A meeting of top political leaders Wednesday failed to secure a consensus on ways to delay the divisive legislation. Leaders plan to gather again Saturday to discuss a proposal to delay the constitutionally mandated six-month deadline for Iraq's parliament to create the federal regions, which expires Oct. 22.
As an angry crowd gathered Tuesday morning, the young man stepped out of a gray Mercedes poised for battle. Across Abu Nawas Street, his tin-roofed shop lay crumpled like a run-over trash can. He knew whom to blame. He glared at some policemen and said: "Today, I'm going to kill one of you. You will never stop until I kill one of you." "Stop," a policeman yelled as the man got back in his car and sped away. Another policeman fired a shot in his direction. Moments later, white pickup trucks brimming with men in blue police uniforms and black bulletproof vests sped up the street and screeched to a halt in front of a small kiosk. Some wore black masks. They jumped out and began firing AK-47 assault rifles. Bullets flew toward the sky and down the street, sending dozens of bystanders, including women and children, scrambling for cover. The gunfire reached a jackhammer pitch. Crouched behind a white car, Razak Haider, whose relatives were watching their shops get leveled, voiced a question on many minds: "How can we accept this shooting? There are families and children here." It was a quintessential Baghdad moment, the sort that happens to hundreds of people here every week. And each moment opens a window onto the forces that plague Iraq. Whether one is driving on a quiet street or stuck in a traffic jam, chaos can erupt in nanoseconds. One day it may be a suicide bomber; another day, a roadside explosive. It could even be a mortar shell, a missile -- or an army of policemen with guns blazing. The events leading to Tuesday's moment began to unfold in the morning, when a large yellow bulldozer rolled into Baghdad's upscale Karrada neighborhood. Its driver was on a mission to crush kiosks nestled along Abu Nawas Street, one of Baghdad's best-known thoroughfares. The street, once dotted with fish restaurants and nightclubs, follows the curves of the Tigris River. Shortly after the U.S.-led invasion toppled President Saddam Hussein in 2003, the businesses closed down and squatters arrived. They built a cluster of roadside cafes and food stalls. Three years later, the municipality of Karrada wanted the property back. "This is a violation of state land," said Abdul Rudha Mohammad, a municipal official, watching with satisfaction as the bulldozer mowed into one kiosk. "These cafes don't have permits. They are not registered." "After Baghdad fell, there was chaos," he continued. "Everyone started doing their own thing, building structures. We have to go back to law and order as it was before and make it better. We want to bring respect to the government and to the rule of law." [And they unleashed a violent response, due to their lack of respect and consideration and ability to compromise. – dancewater]
After enduring two major assaults, Fallujah, a key city in the western province al-Anbar, is under threat from US forces again. This coincides with news of a classified US intelligence report that the Pentagon is taking "very seriously" - that US forces are losing control of Anbar. The report, written by Colonel Pete Devlin, the chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq, and cited in the US media, said a shortage of US and Iraqi troops in Anbar and the collapse of local governments had left a vacuum that had been exploited by al-Qaeda in Iraq. It painted a poor picture of security prospects in Anbar, which includes Fallujah and Ramadi, Sunni resistance strongholds. It said that the US had been defeated politically, if not militarily, in the province. In Fallujah, 50 kilometers west of Baghdad, residents are edgy. "They destroyed our city twice and they are threatening us a third time," said Ahmed Dhahy, 52. "They want us to do their job for them and turn in those who target them." Dhahy, who lost 32 relatives when his father's house was bombed by a US aircraft during the April 2004 attack on Fallujah, said the US military had threatened it would destroy the city if resistance fighters were not handed over to them. "Last week, the Americans used loudspeakers on the backs of their tanks and Humvees to threaten us," Dhahy said. Residents said the US forces warned of a "large military operation" if fighters were not handed over. A US military spokesman in Baghdad said he had no reports of such action. Fallujah was heavily bombed in April 2004 and again in November that year. The attacks destroyed 75% of the city's infrastructure and left more than 5,000 dead, according to local non-governmental groups. But after the heavy assaults, resistance fighters have continued to launch attacks against US and official Iraqi forces in the city. Fallujah remains under tight security, with the US military using biometric identification, full body searches and bar-coded identification cards for residents to enter and leave their city. "The Iraqi resistance has not stopped for a single day despite the huge US Army activities," a city police captain said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The wise men of the city explained to US officials that it is impossible to stop the resistance by military operations, but it seems the Americans prefer to do it the hard way."
This past June, when the Los Angeles Times published “War's Iraqi Death Toll Tops 50,000” [“according to statistics from the Baghdad morgue, the Iraqi Health Ministry and other agencies”] Stephen Soldz wrote: “Further, the fact that mortality estimates come from government sources raises questions as to the accuracy of attributed causes. After all, attributing deaths to “terrorist attacks” is more acceptable to the powers-that-be than is attributing tem to “American forces” or to pro-government militias and death squads.” The Iraqi Health Ministry, which operates the Baghdad morgue and government hospitals, is in the hands of a religious party headed by Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric whose militia, the Mahdi Army, is responsible of mass murdering and ethnic cleansing. In spite of the propaganda coming from certain sectors of the Western antiwar movement and the so called “left” claiming that Muqtada al-Sadr is a hero of the Iraqi resistance and he’s fiercely anti-US and anti-occupation, the reality couldn’t be more different. The Iraqi government will continue to work with Muqtada Sadr, the main force behind one of Iraq's largest Shiite militias, a top Iraqi official said Friday. "We have to distinguish between the political line and the militia line," said Iraqi Deputy President Adil Abd al-Mahdi. "We ... are working a lot (with Sadr), and he is supporting the government. He has ministers in the government. And we are trying to distinguish between undisciplined groups from the disciplined ones. The government of (Prime Minister) Maliki is working very well on that issue." Mahdi made his remarks Friday at the Pentagon, where he met with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
It’s unfortunate – to say the least – that the “few bad apples” myth has been voiced in the West by many leftists and intellectuals. The huge amount of evidence we now have tells us that: 1) Muqtada al-Sadr is the leader of a bloody criminal organization, the Mahdi Army, that’s been committing mass murdering and ethnic cleansing in Iraq; 2) this organization is an important part of the Iraqi puppet government; and 3) it’s been cooperating with the occupation forces in the fighting against the Iraqi resistance. In July, the Washington Post reported: According to witnesses and a Washington Post special correspondent, carloads of men in tracksuits, suspected by residents to be members of the powerful Shiite militia known as the Mahdi Army, pulled up outside the Malouki mosque and fired rocket-propelled grenades at the house of worship. During the firefight, a bullet pierced the shoulder of a mosque guard. Cars were gutted and burned. Residents said they did not know how many people died. Gunfire clattered through the hot evening air; children bawled at the sound. In one home, a wife locked the front door and pleaded with her husband not to leave the house. A former army officer barked orders to neighbors who assembled to mount a defense: You go up to the rooftops. You guard the street corners. Saleh Muhammed, an Amiriyah resident, told a Post special correspondent that he dialed 130 into his cellphone, Baghdad's emergency number. "The Mahdi Army has attacked Amiriyah," he told the Interior Ministry dispatcher. "The Mahdi Army are not terrorists like you," said the dispatcher at the ministry, which is controlled by a Shiite party and operates closely with militias. "They are people doing their duty. And how could you know that they are the Mahdi Army? Is it written on their foreheads?" He hung up the phone. “And how could you know that they are the Mahdi Army?” is the same reply that too many in the West use every time someone tries to raise questions on the role of Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army. “Among other death squads and militias, a truly independent investigation must question the Badr Organisation [the armed wing of the Shia Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq] and the Mehdi Army [the militia of the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr] within the frame of the US-led occupation and its puppet Iraqi government of which Moqtada al-Sadr with his religious party is one of the most important components.” an article I co-authored with Uruknet’s editor Paola Pisi concluded on 6 July 2006.
A civilian was killed and 17 others have been wounded after clashes broke out between US, Iraqi forces and militiamen in the central Iraqi city of Diwaniyah. Hamid Jaathi, head of Diwaniyah's health department said the wounded included a police colonel and two policemen. "US forces are now spreading out in the city," Jaathi told AFP on Thursday. An AFP correspondent at the site reported that US military helicopters were also hovering over the city. The clashes started after a US military convoy came under attack from gunmen in a market in the city, a police officer said. "The security forces have now surrounded the city and closed all entrances. The police have imposed a curfew in the city," the officer told AFP on condition of anonymity. Contacted for comment, a US military spokesman said: "We are looking into this." Diwaniyah was the site of a bloody battle last month which killed dozens of Iraqi soldiers and Shiite militiamen. Some of the soldiers were killed execution-style with a bullet to the head after they were captured by militiamen.
U.S. troops raided an office of the political movement led by radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in a southern Iraqi city on Thursday and several people were hurt in subsequent disturbances, witnesses said. Followers of Sadr, whose Mehdi Army militia fought the Iraqi army in the city two weeks ago, said U.S. troops raided their headquarters in Diwaniya, 180 km (115 miles) south of Baghdad, around 4 a.m. (OOOO GMT), removing computers and papers. A local journalist saw soldiers return to the area of the office, on a crowded, narrow commercial street, some hours later. People around the office threw rocks at the Americans, and there was some shooting and explosions, he said. After the U.S. force withdrew, several dozen Sadr supporters marched to the office of the local governor's office. Guards there opened fire on them, wounding four, the reporter said. At least 20 Iraqi soldiers were killed in the August 28 battle with the militia. Commanders said about 50 guerrillas were killed, though Mehdi Army leaders put their casualties at three.
Journalist T. Christian Miller of The Los Angeles Times talks about his new book, “Blood Money: Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq.” Miller is critical of the reconstruction effort in Iraq, writing, "In almost every way, the rebuilding has fallen short." [Actually, it has been a total and complete failure. – dancewater]
Iraqi security forces will dig trenches around Baghdad and set up checkpoints along all roads leading into the city to try to reduce some of the violence plaguing the capital, the Interior Ministry said Friday. The plan to dig trenches around Baghdad will be implemented in coming weeks, Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Kareem Khalaf told The Associated Press. "Trenches will be dug around Baghdad in the coming weeks when the third part of the Baghdad security plan is implemented," Khalaf said. The security plan, known as Operation Together Forward, began June 15 and is being implemented in three phases. The first phase included setting up random checkpoints around the city, phase two began Aug. 7 and focused on the most violence-prone areas of Baghdad - mostly the Sunni Arab southern districts. Phase three reportedly includes cordoning off and searching other parts of Baghdad, including predominantly Shiite areas. Khalaf said that except for the trenches, vehicle and pedestrian traffic would be restricted to just 28 entry points with manned checkpoints. "We will leave only 28 inlets to Baghdad while all other inlets will be blocked. Supports will be added to the trenches to hinder the movements of people and vehicles. The trenches will be under our watch," he said. He did not have any details, but did say that there would be no concrete walls or razor wire. Khalaf also did not know how deep or wide the trenches would be. "They will surround Baghdad," he said of the trenches. [Who thought of this one? Think they will fill it with gasoline and set it on fire like Saddam did? Regardless, these folks would be hysterically funny if only people were not dying all over the place. Anybody have a phone number for them, so I can call them and tell them this will not work? – dancewater]
Two journalists have been killed by unidentified gunmen in Iraq, just three days after an editor at the country's state-run newspaper al-Sabah was murdered. The deaths highlight the fact that journalists continue to be targeted in Iraq simply for doing their job of reporting the news, said the New York-based press watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists. Freelance photographer Safa Isma'il Enad, 31, was shot in a photo print shop in Baghdad on Tuesday, according to the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, an Iraqi press freedom organisation run by local journalists. Two gunmen entered the store and asked for Enad by his first name, a source told the CPJ. When the photographer replied, he was shot. Enad had worked for the now-defunct Tikrit-based al-Watan paper, which was affiliated with the US-funded Iraqi National Movement. The paper, which closed two months ago due to lack of money, is trying to re-establish itself as a magazine. Another journalist, and representative of the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate, was killed on the same day in the Iraqi eastern province of Diyala. Hadi Anawi al-Joubouri, 56, was ambushed as he was driving 125 miles northeast of Baghdad, according to the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory. His body was found riddled with bullets. CPJ is investigating the circumstances surrounding his death. "We are outraged by the senseless murder of Safa Isma'il Enad and Hadi Anawi al-Joubouri," said the CPJ executive director, Joel Simon. "Journalists continue to be targeted simply because they report the news in Iraq and their murderers have gone unpunished by the Iraqi authorities." Last Saturday, Abdel Karim al-Rubai, 40, a design editor for Iraq's state-run daily paper al-Sabah, was shot dead while travelling to work in Baghdad. The driver of the car was seriously wounded, media sources told CPJ. Al-Sabah reported two weeks ago it had received an email death threat against al-Rubai and his family signed by the military wing of the Mujahedeen Council, an al-Qaida affiliate in Iraq. According to the email, the group was angered by the editor's accusation that they were behind a car bomb attack on al-Sabah on August 27 that killed a guard and an unidentified man. Murder accounts for 64% of work-related deaths among journalists and media support workers in Iraq, with crossfire and combat-related deaths accounting for the rest, according to the CPJ. In all, 79 journalists and 28 media support workers have been killed in Iraq since the war began on March 20 2003, making it the deadliest conflict in CPJ's 25-year history.
Three Italian Soldiers Indicted For Civilian Deaths In Iraq Three Italian soldiers have been indicted by a military tribunal in Rome for the 2004 killing of four civilians in an ambulance in Iraq, the Italian media reported on Thursday. It is the first time Italian forces have been brought before justice for crimes committed against civilians since Rome deployed troops in Iraq in June 2003, the daily Corriere della Sera said. The tribunal refused to comment on the case when contacted by AFP. During the so-called “battle of the bridges” in the southern city of Nasiriyah, where Iraq’s Italian contingent is based, the three soldiers fired on what they took to be a booby-trapped vehicle which was, in fact, an ambulance. Four civilians were killed in the incident, which was reported on at the time by an American journalist. The soldiers -- including corporal Raffaele Allocca and Fabio Stival, whose noncommissioned rank of “marshal” is equivalent to sergeant -- are accused of “using arms against an ambulance and personnel charged with rescue operations,” according to the daily.
OPINION: I Hope That We May Find the Courage The United States is a weaker power now, especially in the Middle East, but also in the court of world opinion. Where is the America of restraint, of peace and of inspiration to millions? Where is the America respected not only for her military might, but also for her powerful ideas and her reasonable diplomacy? Our country may have deviated occasionally from its positive global image in the past, but Abu Ghraib, the body snatching for torture, euphemistically called rendition, Presidential directives which unilaterally alter conditions of the Geneva Convention -- these are not the stuff of mere slight deviations from the America of peacefulness, fairness, and goodwill. These are major policy and attitudinal changes of Tsunami-sized proportions. Our friends shake their heads in disbelief. Our enemies nod wisely and claim they knew all the while. I cannot remember a time in our history when our elected leaders have failed the people so completely, and yet, so far, are not held accountable for costly misjudgments and outright deceptions.
OPINION: What Have We Become?
There was a time, I thought, when there was general agreement among Americans that torture was beyond the pale. But when people are frightened enough, nothing is beyond the pale. And we’re in an era in which the highest leaders in the land stoke — rather than attempt to allay — the fears of ordinary citizens. Islamic terrorists are equated with Nazi Germany. We’re told that we’re in a clash of civilizations. If, as President Bush says, we’re engaged in “the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century,” why isn’t the entire nation mobilizing to meet this dire threat? The president put us on this path away from the better angels of our nature, and he has shown no inclination to turn back. Lately he has touted legislation to try terror suspects in a way that would make a mockery of the American ideals of justice and fairness. To get a sense of just how far out the administration’s approach has been, consider the comments of Brig. Gen. James Walker, the top uniformed lawyer for the Marines. Speaking at a Congressional hearing last week, he said no civilized country denies defendants the right to see the evidence against them. The United States, he said, “should not be the first.” And Senator Lindsey Graham, a conservative South Carolina Republican who is a former military judge, said, “It would be unacceptable, legally, in my opinion, to give someone the death penalty in a trial where they never heard the evidence against them.” How weird is it that this possibility could even be considered? The character of the U.S. has changed. We’re in danger of being completely ruled by fear. Most Americans have not shared the burden of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Very few Americans are aware, as the Center for Constitutional Rights tells us, that of the hundreds of men held by the U.S. in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, many “have never been charged and will never be charged because there is no evidence justifying their detention.” Even fewer care. We could benefit from looking in a mirror, and absorbing the shock of not recognizing what we’ve become.
OPINION: To Be Silent in The Face Of Iraq Disaster Would Be Shameful
I am a veteran. I love my country. And I oppose this war without reservation. I cannot find the words to describe how disgusted I am with the Bush administration for the lies and deceit that put our troops - my brothers and sisters in service - in harm's way in the first place. No matter what some may say, I am a patriot. And I oppose this war because we, the American people, were systematically deceived with corrupted intelligence to make a case for invading Iraq. If you disagree, rather than vilify each other, I'd like for us to find some common ground. Could I ask you to examine the historical facts leading up to this war, calmly and rationally and with eyes wide open? The implied 9/11 connection, the (lack of) WMD, and example after example of doctored and made-up intelligence to justify our going into Iraq, along with other relevant factual information, are all readily available to the public. If you did this and you came to agree that we are mired in an unjust, unnecessary war of choice, and that our children are needlessly dying horrible deaths as a result, might you then understand how I, The War Protester, feel? And if you understood this, what would you think of my character, my soul, my love of humanity and country if I did not speak out against this war?
OPINION: War Is Not a Solution For Terrorism
Beyond the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time inevitably results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a ``war on terrorism" is a contradiction in terms. The repeated excuse, given by both Pentagon spokespersons and Israeli officials, for dropping bombs where ordinary people live is that terrorists hide among civilians. Therefore the killing of innocent people (in Iraq, in Lebanon) is called accidental, whereas the deaths caused by terrorists (on 9/11, by Hezbollah rockets) are deliberate. This is a false distinction, quickly refuted with a bit of thought. If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the grounds that a ``suspected terrorist" is inside (note the frequent use of the word suspected as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), the resulting deaths of women and children may not be intentional. But neither are they accidental. The proper description is ``inevitable." So if an action will inevitably kill innocent people, it is as immoral as a deliberate attack on civilians. And when you consider that the number of innocent people dying inevitably in ``accidental" events has been far, far greater than all the deaths deliberately caused by terrorists, one must reject war as a solution for terrorism. For instance, more than a million civilians in Vietnam were killed by US bombs, presumably by ``accident." Add up all the terrorist attacks throughout the world in the 20th century and they do not equal that awful toll. If reacting to terrorist attacks by war is inevitably immoral, then we must look for ways other than war to end terrorism, including the terrorism of war. And if military retaliation for terrorism is not only immoral but futile, then political leaders, however cold-blooded their calculations, may have to reconsider their policies.
CASUALTY REPORTS – LOCAL STORIES
NOTE: THANKS TO ANTI-WAR.COM FOR PUTTING MOST OF THESE LINKS TOGETHER.
Do you see a difference?
The U.S. military announces the death of a soldier HERE.
The British military announces the death of a soldier HERE.
~ Rusty Scalf
PEACE ACTION: Take the voters’ peace pledge. "I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."
Quote of the day: "The president says the U.S. does not torture, and that all U.S. personnel followed the law in all interrogations of detainees following the attacks of September 11, 2001. If the president believes the U.S. followed the law, then why is he asking for Congress to pass legislation providing immunity from prosecution, retroactive to 2001, for U.S. personnel under the War Crimes Act?" ~Jeanne E. Herrick-Stare, Senior Fellow for Civil Liberties and Human Rights