Friday, September 22, 2006


PHOTO: The “Turkey Shoot” At the end of the war, retreating Iraqi conscripts (mainly from the Kurdish north of the country) and groups of foreign workers fleeing Kuwait, were attacked by massive USA air power. Rockets, napalm and cluster bombs were used in what is described by the pilots as a "turkey shoot". This is a USA term meaning an unopposed slaughter. [Pictures from 1991. Cluster bombs dropped in Kuwait and Iraq in 1991 later killed 1,200+ Iraqis and 400+ Kuwaitis, none of whom were combatants at that time. Probably very few of them were ever combatants. That’s more than half the number who died on 9/11/01 alone. This is war. Thanks to the person who posted these links in the comments section of this blog. – dancewater]

Security Incidents for September 22, 2006


A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died at approximately 11:40 p.m. Thursday after the vehicle he was traveling in was struck by an improvised-explosive device in eastern Baghdad.

Gunmen killed three people in an attack on Sunni Muslim homes Friday, then opened fire on two Sunni mosques before fleeing at the arrival of U.S. and Iraqi troops, police said. The attack came in the capital's northern Hurriya area, a neighborhood with a mix of Shiites and Sunnis. About 20 gunmen drove in in five cars, then attacked several houses and set fire to two, said police Lt. Maithem Abdel-Razzaq. In addition to the people killed, one more was wounded. They then opened fire on the mosques, damaging the buildings but not causing any injuries, Razzaq said. When U.S. and Iraqi soldiers arrived, supported by helicopters, the gunmen fled.

In other apparent sectarian violence, police found the bodies of nine men from the al-Duleim Sunni tribe, blindfolded with their hands and legs bound, police Maj. Mahir Hamad Mussa. The relatives were dragged out of a wedding dinner in east Baghdad on Thursday night by men dressed in Iraqi army uniforms, Maj. Mussa said.

Police found 10 bodies, including those of two women, in different parts of Baghdad since early on Friday. Most bore signs of torture and had been shot, police said. The two women were found in the western Shi'ite district of Shula. None of the bodies was immediately identified.

A total number of 48 dead bodies were discovered here Friday, said a statement by the Iraqi police. The source, which preferred to be anonymous, told KUNA that 28 bodies were discovered earlier this morning while, the others were found late this afternoon.

A booby-trapped car bomb exploded on Friday injuring 15 Iraqi civilians, some in critical conditions, close to a public restaurant in Al-Doura area south of Baghdad. A police source said the car bomb was parked close to Al-Baghdadi restaurant injuring at least ten civilians, some of them critically.

In a related development, 10 mortar shells have hit houses in Abu Dshair which injured last least five civilians.

Two car bombs in Shi'ite districts of southern Baghdad wounded 16 people late on Friday, an Interior Ministry source said. Five were hurt in a market in the Abu Chehr district and 11 in a street near an Agriculture Ministy office in Zaafaraniyah.


four others (police) were killed by gunmen in separate attacks in the city of Baquba, northeast of the capital.


Three gunmen in a car opened fire and killed Nomass Atout, a former Ba'ath party member, near his house in Diwaniya, a Shi'ite city 180 km (112 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.


Two policemen were killed while they were defusing a bomb placed on the side of the road in Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said. Two children were also wounded in the attack, they added.


One civilian was killed and five people, including two policemen, were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol in Latifiya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.


Iraqi police in Musayyib, about 40 miles south of Baghdad, reported finding the body of a blindfolded man, with hands and legs bound, who had been shot in the chest -- another apparent death-squad victim.


Authorities in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, said a gas pipeline continued to burn after an attack on it the day before. The pipeline between the Beiji and Dora refineries was hit Thursday evening in a deserted area about 11 miles south of Samarra, police Capt. Laith Mohammed said. The area has several pipes carrying oil and gas, and it wasn't the first time they have been targeted. It wasn't immediately clear whether it was an act of sabotage, or whether area people were attempting to steal fuel from the pipeline.


Police found two bodies, one beheaded, in a western part of the city of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, morgue and hospital sources said.

Assailants bombed the house of a policeman who was killed a week ago in southern Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, wounding five of his neighbours, police said.


Police found a woman's body dumped on the side of the road in the small town of Taza, 20 km (12 miles) south of the northern oil city of Kirkuk, police said.

Two Iraqi civilians were killed on Friday and another was wounded when unknown militants opened fire at them in Grenada district, central Kirkuk. A Kirkuk police source told Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) that the deceased were brothers, adding that third was a civilian who happened to be in the area.

Gunmen in a car shot and killed one civilian and wounded two policemen in southern Kirkuk 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.


Elsewhere, a police colonel and 1st lieutenant died when the roadside bomb they were trying to defuse in Haswa, 30 miles south of Baghdad, exploded, Police Capt. Muthana Khalid said.



PHOTO GALLERY: Violence A Way of Life in Baghdad [You’ll notice in the first picture how well the school is not painted. And how over-crowded it is. – dancewater]

New Terror That Stalks Iraq’s Republic of Fear

The republic of fear is born again. The state of terror now gripping Iraq is as bad as it was under Saddam Hussein. Torture in the country may even be worse than it was during his rule, the United Nation's special investigator on torture said yesterday. "The situation as far as torture is concerned now in Iraq is totally out of hand," said Manfred Nowak. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it had been in the times of Saddam Hussein." The report, from an even-handed senior UN official, is in sharp contrast with the hopes of George Bush and Tony Blair, when in 2003 they promised to bring democracy and respect for human rights to the people of Iraq. The brutal tortures committed in the prisons of the regime overthrown in 2003 are being emulated and surpassed in the detention centres of the present US- and British-backed Iraqi government. "Detainees' bodies show signs of beating using electric cables, wounds in different parts of their bodies including in the head and genitals, broken bones of legs and hands, electric and cigarette burns," the human rights office of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq says in a new report. The horrors of the torture chamber that led to Saddam Hussein's Iraq being labelled "The Republic of Fear", after the book of that title by Kanan Makiya, have again become commonplace. The bodies in Baghdad's morgue " often bear signs of severe torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones (back, hands and legs), missing eyes and wounds caused by power drills or nails", the UN report said. Those not killed by these abuses are shot in the head.

Ten “Terrorists” Executed in Iraq

"According to a judicial decision, 10 'terrorists' of the group led by Sheikh Zhana Abdel Karim Barzanzi were executed today in Arbil," a security official said on Thursday. Barzanzi, a Kurdish graduate in mechanical engineering, was one of the 10 who were convicted in March of leading a cell linked to the Islamist group Ansar al-Sunna. The official said that during their interrogation the group had admitted to beheading people and carrying out bomb attacks in Arbil and Dohuk. [The right wingnuts in blogosphere are going nuts over the three Christian “terrorists” that were executed – what about these guys? I am opposed to the death penalty. – dancewater]

Provincial Handover

Iraq has taken control of security from Italian and Romanian troops in the largely Shia southern province of Dhi Qar, paving the way for the coalition forces to leave. The relatively peaceful province is the second of the country's 18 provinces to be handed over to Iraqi forces by the US-led coalition after the July transfer of power in Al-Muthanna province. Prior to Thursday's handover, 1,860 Italian and 430 Romanian troops were in charge of security in Dhi Qar. During a handover ceremony, Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister said: "We will continue to receive control of other provinces as we manage to get our country back from the hands of the Baath dictatorship (in a reference to the regime of Saddam Hussein). "We still have to improve basic services. There are those who work to support terrorists. We tell them that those days are gone."

Berming Baghdad

US and Iraqi Authorities Are Hoping That Old-Style Walls and Trenches Can Protect the Capital. Local Residents Are Less Convinced. [Well, what do they know? They only live there! I’m sure the people who think that you can deliver freedom and democracy by bullets and bombs know much better how to provide security, and they have just been hiding their wisdom for the last 3+ years! – dancewater] The barriers, in whatever form, will leave only 28 entrances to the city, all of which will have Iraqi police and army checkpoints to control who gets in and out. [A perfect spot for car bombs to go off, I would imagine. – dancewater] After the U.S. Marines invaded Fallujah, that small city was surrounded by an extensive network of berms, particularly on minor roads. [And we all know how peaceful that city is now. By the way, that ‘small city’ is the same size as Cincinnati. And Baghdad has 7 million residents. – dancewater] But there were signs Friday that parts of it were already in place, with huge checkpoints set up and searching every car on highways leading into the city from the southern outskirts of Yusufiyah and Mahmudiya, insurgent troublespots. The result was monumental traffic jams—something neither Saddam, nor his medieval counterparts, had to worry about. [Why does this make me think of the Warsaw Ghetto? – dancewater]

Marines Considered Bombing Haditha Home

U.S. Marines were so locked in battle with Iraqi insurgents on the day 24 civilians were killed in Haditha that a U.S. Marine officer considered bombing a house where the insurgents took refuge, he told investigators. Maj. Sam Carrasco, who was overseeing troop movements in the area when two dozen men, women and children were shot in Haditha, said he believed at the time the civilians died in cross-fire between Marines and insurgents. Carrasco was not at the scene of what Iraqi witnesses say was a massacre by U.S. troops, but was questioned by military investigators over his report of the November 2005 killings. Reuters obtained a transcript of an interview Carrasco gave two investigators in March. Reached on Thursday, Carrasco declined to comment, citing the investigation. "We saw insurgents go into a house, and we did not drop bombs on that house because we did not have (positive identification)," Carrasco told investigators. "They had engaged a previous unit and had run into a house with weapons." "We vectored the (Marine) squad and they got shot up. I watched the whole thing happen as they got shot up ... And now I'm kicking myself in the ass because we didn't drop the bomb and we didn't lead with appropriate force because we didn't have positive identification." Iraqi witnesses say Marines shot civilians in their homes to retaliate for the death of a comrade, Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, in a roadside bomb. Investigators are weighing charges. There were multiple firefights around the city that day and Carrasco was questioned over why his report was not more thorough. [We are growing our own enemies here. – dancewater]

Crime Pays

Shi’ite militias behind the sectarian killings in Baghdad are earning at least $US1 million ($1.3 million) a day through criminal enterprises, the US military believes. The groups, which are accused of operating death squads to terrorise the city's Sunni population, are able to spend freely on weapons, pay salaries to the militiamen who carry out the killings and buy the loyalty of the Shiite population by funding social welfare programs. Although it was known the militias were closely linked to crime, this is the first time the scale of their financial resources has been detailed. At the same time, a United Nations human rights investigator has said torture is rampant in Iraqi prisons and police detention centres, and could be worse than under Saddam Hussein's rule. "The situation as far as torture is concerned in Iraq is now completely out of hand," Professor Manfred Nowak, the UN special rapporteur on torture and cruelty, said in Geneva. Lieutenant-Colonel William Brown, an intelligence officer who monitors the militias in east Baghdad, estimated that Shiite groups raised at least $US1 million a day through organised crime. The money came from "kidnappings, extortion, blackmarketeering and blackmail", Colonel Brown said. Thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped since the overthrow of Saddam. Payments of $US50,000 are routinely demanded and paid. Many people are killed even after the ransom is paid. Colonel Brown said that of particular concern was the control of many petrol stations by members of the Mahdi Army, the militia of Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite fundamentalist cleric whose political allies control the Ministry of Transport. The Mahdi Army is the largest and most powerful of the Shiite militias in Baghdad, with an estimated 10,000 members. "You see the guards around the petrol stations," Colonel Brown said. "It is easy for them to sell 40 litres of gas then give only 35 litres." The US military is monitoring 20 militias operating in the city. They have recently grown stronger as they provide security to residents at a time of rising religious violence. At the same time they are accused of conducting many tit-for-tat sectarian killings. Sadr's control over his militiamen seems to be weakening, with reports of a number of his followers operating independently. American concern has focused on one of his former lieutenants, known as Abu Dereh (Father of the Shield). Abu Dereh is accused of abducting scores of Sunnis and dumping their bodies at al-Sada, a rubbish tip near the Baghdad Shiite slum of Sadr City. His preferred method of murder is by crushing skulls with cinder blocks.

SHORT MOVIE: Neighborhood Watch in Iraq (Thanks, Brian)

SHORT MOVIE: Halliburton in Iraq Under Attack. (Link from stunster)

LONG MOVIE: Iraq For Sale. Look for a free screening near you.

AP Propaganda About Iraq

The story continues: "Tribal leaders and clerics in Ramadi, the capital of violent Anbar province, met last week and have set up a force of about 20,000 men 'ready to purge the city of these infidels,' Sheik Fassal al-Guood, a prominent tribal leader from Ramadi, told the Associated Press, referring to the insurgents. 'People are fed up with the acts of those criminals who take Islam as a cover for their crimes,' he said. 'The situation in the province is unbearable, the city is abandoned, most of the families have fled the city and all services are poor.' Al-Guood said 15 of the 18 tribes in Ramadi 'have sworn to fight those who are killing Sunnis and Shiites and they established an armed force of about 20,000 young men ready to purge the city from those infidels.'" At this point, either the author of this AP story, or the editor, or both, rightly assume that the reader is not aware that Sheik Fassal al-Guood tried to lead the local resistance against the occupation in Ramadi, but turned against the same resistance group when its members rejected him as a leader because they considered him a corrupt thief. Nor is the reader aware that today, Sheikh Fassal al-Guood lives in the "Green Zone" and happily talks to reporters from behind the concrete blast walls, and that his power in Al-Anbar now equals exactly nothing. I contacted author and media critic Norman Solomon and asked him what he thought of this AP story. "The holes in this story beg for questions that it does not raise, much less answer," he wrote. "For instance: What are the past, present and hoped-for financial relationships between the quoted 'tribal leader' on the one hand and the US and Iraqi governments on the other? Are there any indications that money has changed hands? Is a mercenary arrangement being set up? Is this part of the Bush administration's strategy to get more Iraqis to kill each other rather than have Iraqis killing American troops - aka 'As the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down?' Isn't there a good chance that such arrangements will actually fuel civil war in Iraq rather than douse its already horrific flames?" He continued, "So, this AP story agreeably paraphrases an official from the US-backed Iraqi government's Defense Ministry as saying that 'Iraqi security forces had met with tribal leaders and had agreed to cooperate in combating violence.' But how will they be 'combating violence?' With massive violence, of course, although the article doesn't say so. Many sources are available to make such a point, but in this story AP availed itself of none of them."

Solomon, a nationally-syndicated columnist on media and politics who is also the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, a national consortium of policy researchers and analysts, had this to say about why AP might get away with this type of "reportage" as consistently as it does: "AP is providing the kind of coverage that it and other mainstream US media outlets have provided in the past. The coverage does not seem conspicuously shoddy to most readers because it fits in with previous shoddy reportage. From all appearances, this AP article is based on statements from four sources - and each of them is in line with US government policies. There's one tribal leader from Ramadi who is seeking large quantities of material aid from the US and the Iraqi government; there are two spokespeople for that Iraqi government; and there's a general from the US military. That all four would present a similar picture of events is not surprising. But for an article to rely on only those sources is stenography for one side of the conflict - which should not be confused with journalism." It is also important for the reader to note that, according to an August US Defense Intelligence Agency assessment, of 1,666 bombs exploded in Iraq in July, 90% were aimed at US-led forces. Along with this fact, attacks against US forces have increased dramatically in recent months, and the US military itself has admitted that less than 6% of the attacks against them are from foreign fighters (i.e., "terrorists"). Thus, at least 94% of all attacks against US forces in Iraq are from the Iraqi Resistance, as opposed to "terrorists."

US & British Troops ‘Essential’ Says Talabani

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Friday international forces remain "essential" while Iraq builds an army capable of defending the country. He told the United Nations General Assembly his people's patience is wearing thin because of the violence and appealed for nearby states to close borders and end support for "terrorist forces" fueling instability in his country. [There is little evidence to support the claim that most of the violence comes from foreigners. – dancewater]

US Says 3000 More Iraqi Troops Needed in Baghdad

U.S.-trained Iraqi soldiers do not want to leave other parts of their country to serve in Baghdad, leaving security efforts in the violent capital short by 3,000 Iraqi troops, a senior U.S. commander said on Friday. "I would tell you I need more Iraqi security forces," U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James Thurman, the U.S. military commander for Baghdad, told reporters at the Pentagon from Camp Liberty in the Iraqi capital. Thurman said that six Iraqi army battalions -- roughly 500 soldiers each -- that he has requested to reinforce Baghdad have not been provided by the Iraqi government. U.S. commanders have said sectarian violence in Baghdad between Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims could lead to civil war if left unchecked. "Some of these battalions, when they were formed, were formed regionally. And some of the soldiers due to the distance did not want to travel into Baghdad," Thurman said. "And the minister of defense (Abdel Qader Jassim) is working with that." U.S. commanders have stated that curbing sectarian violence in Baghdad has become the main effort of the 3-1/2-year-old war, more important than the long-running fight against Sunni Arab insurgents in vast Anbar province west of Baghdad. But only a relatively small portion of the 145,000-strong U.S. force and the 302,000-strong Iraqi government security forces are being devoted to the effort. Thurman said 15,000 U.S. troops, 9,000 Iraqi army soldiers, 12,000 Iraqi national police and 22,000 local police are operating in Baghdad. Thurman said he was not disappointed by the failure of the Iraqi government to get the requested soldiers to Baghdad, but added the U.S. military was working to make Iraq's army "more mobile." [They can’t find 3000 Iraqis in Baghdad to join the Iraqi Army? – dancewater]

Iraqi Kurds Deny Receiving Training From Former Israeli Commandos

The Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq on Thursday denied a BBC report that Peshmerga militiamen had received training from former Israeli commandos. "This information is baseless," said the government's chief secretary, Fouad Hassan. "If the Peshmerga need training, they can do it publicly with the American army. They do not need to do it in secrecy." On Tuesday the BBC reported that former Israeli commandos had been training Kurdish security personnel in northern Iraq. It screened video footage of the alleged training camp. According to the broadcaster, the former commandos provided the training from 2004 until 2005, when they were tipped off by the Kurds that word of their presence in northern Iraq had leaked out. The training covered airport security, the use of rifles and pistols, shooting from behind doors and barricades, and how to identify a terrorist in a crowd, the report said. The BBC said the value of the training and associated equipment might have been as high as $150 million.

500 Call For Saddam’s Return to Power

The crowd gathered before a mosque in Tikrit at the behest of two religious organizations, the Association of Muslim Scholars and the Tikrit Shura Council. Saddam is currently on trial on genocide charges in Baghdad. The crowd demanded his release, and for him to be allowed to resume power, said Mohammed Talib Jassim, head of the Tikrit Shura Council. They also condemned Pope Benedict XVI’s recent remarks on Islam and violence, called on U.S. and Iraqi army raids to stop, and demanded the release of prisoners taken from Tikrit by coalition forces.


TODAY IN IRAQ: Stretched Too Thin

With no end in sight and no real strategy for Iraq, the President and his Republican Congress have severely strained our military and hindered our ability to fight the real war on terror by bogging us down with his war of choice. “Strains on the Army from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have become so severe that Army officials say they may be forced to make greater use of the National Guard to provide enough troops for overseas deployments. Senior Army officers have discussed that analysis — and described the possible need to use more members of the National Guard — with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s senior adviser on personnel, David S. C. Chu, according to Pentagon officials. While no decision has been made to mobilize more Guard forces, and may not need to be before midterm elections, the prospect presents the Bush administration with a politically vexing problem: how, without expanding the Army, to balance the pressing need for troops in the field against promises to limit overseas deployments for the Guard.” [I think all the bloggers at Today in Iraq agree with this title! We were hoping they were talking about us! Anyway, as a commentary at the link said, why isn’t the Democratic Party going after this reality and hammering it in? One has to wonder. – dancewater]

OPINION: US Must End Occupation – by Rep. McGovern

The war in Iraq was a mistake, and the U.S. military occupation there must end. From the deceitful and shifting rationales for war, to Bush officials forbidding our generals from making meaningful post-invasion plans, the policies pursued in Iraq have failed and have forced our brave troops to carry out a dangerous and often untenable mission. The war in Iraq is distinct from the global war against terrorism. Because of Iraq, U.S. standing is at its lowest point ever, making us more isolated and vulnerable in an increasingly dangerous world. Nearly 2,700 of our uniformed men and women have sacrificed their lives. More than 20,000 have been wounded, and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed in a vicious and escalating cycle of sectarian violence. Billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted. Every day the civil war gets worse, not better. So what's next? Those who argue for more of the same, or for a military escalation requiring substantially more troops, must answer several questions: What is the definition of success? How many more troops should we send? Where do you expect them to come from? Should we withdraw more troops from the worsening situation in Afghanistan to send to Iraq? What difference do you believe they can make? Most of our troops in Iraq have already been forced to serve three or more deployments. U.S. military readiness is at historic lows. The time when more troops might have made a difference is long past. I believe we should take a different approach, one that could galvanize Iraq's government, people, neighbors and the international community to take a greater role to promote a stable Iraq — the safe and orderly removal of U.S. troops. Whether through an immediate withdrawal, as I favor, or phased over a specific period of time, ending the U.S. military occupation could provide Iraq and the global community a fresh opportunity to carry out new ideas in a new context. The United States must continue funding economic, social and democracy-building programs. We must continue funding and equipping Iraqi security forces or a new multilateral force. It might be too late to save Iraq, but removing the U.S. military from the quagmire there is the only way to force the Iraqis — and the international community — to finally begin to forge a better future for that country

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.,has proposed legislation to end funding for the Iraq war.[See below to sign petition saying you support this legislation. McGovern has told me directly that this needs to have hundreds of thousands of signatures from American citizens for him to get the bill passed. You can see video of McGovern at Camp Democracy at www.truthout.org – dancewater]

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "saddam hussein should not have been a hard act to follow." –Patrick Cockburn

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."

ANOTHER PEACE ACTION: Progressive Democrats of America has been working and organizing support for HR 4232 since Rep. McGovern introduced this important bill in November of 2005. Rep. McGovern spoke at the PDA "Get out of Iraq" Town Hall meeting the day after he introduced HR 4232. We continue to work for its passage as a top legislative priority. We urge you to continue organizing support for HR 4232 and to ask your Congressional member to co-sponsor the bill. PDA is committed to cutting off all funding for deployment of US troops in Iraq and for the removal of all funding for the occupation of Iraq. Please sign the online petition at www.pdamerica.org and send it to your friends.



Iraq Torture Report by UN Angers Washington

A State Department official in Washington, asked about Professor Nowak's comments, told The Times: "How anyone could compare state-sanctioned torture under a dictator to the situation today is beyond us. "We definitely don't agree with his remarks. We don't agree with his assessment of the situation at all." According to the UN report, torture is rampant in Iraqi detention centres and in sectarian killings across the country. Bodies found in the Baghdad morgue "often bear signs of severe torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones - back, hands and legs - missing eyes, missing teeth and wound caused by power drill or nails," the report said. "You have terrorist groups, you have the military, you have police, you have these militias. There are so many people who are actually abducted, seriously tortured and finally killed," Mr Nowak said. "It’s not just torture by the government. There are much more brutal methods of torture you’ll find by private militias," he added.

Kidnap Victims Unwittingly Turned Into “Suicide Bombers”

You hear a lot about "suicide bombers" in Iraq. But there's new information that at least some of those people are not trying to kill themselves at all. They're actually murder victims. According to the Iraqi defense ministry, insurgents have come up with a new tactic. They've taken to kidnapping drivers. And while the victim is held in one place, his car is secretly packed full of explosives. When the driver is released, the kidnappers frighten him into taking a certain route. When the car passes a target, a terrorist in another car detonates the bomb by remote control. U-S officials have said the militants often bind a suicide bomber's foot to the gas pedal, or his hands to the wheel, to keep him from backing out. But this is the first indication that some of those so-called "bombers" are, themselves, victims. [Whether this is true or not, I cannot say. But one thing I do know, as anyone who follows the foreign press about Iraq knows, is that the Iraqi people have been accusing the US and British authorities of doing exactly this for years. – dancewater]

A New School Term, A New Lesson In Fear For Baghdad’s Children

SCHOOL started in Baghdad yesterday, but for many children the daily ritual of attending class is fraught with peril. Not only do they have to juggle reading and arithmetic, they have to weigh the dangers of car bombs, kidnappings and ethnic cleansing. Surviving the school year means just as much as graduating. Mustapha al-Zaid, 15, is going to his third school in less than a year. Five months ago he and his father were kidnapped at gunpoint in the insurgent stronghold of Dora. They were seized in the parking lot of his father’s medical laboratory, blindfolded and locked in a small room. When Mustapha’s father said that he could not raise a ransom unless they let him go, the kidnappers exchanged him for his brother. After a week Mustapha and his uncle were released for $100,000 (£53,000). Once the boy was freed his parents transferred him to a school in the Shia neighborhood of Hay al-Aml. They thought that it would be safer than their area, Ghazaliyah, which was rife with Sunni insurgents. But Mustapha was so afraid that he refused to go to classes for a month. “I didn’t feel safe,” he said. He finally went back and his teachers helped him to finish the year. Even so, life was not what it had been. Most of his Shia friends had left because insurgents threatened them. When he went to school in Hay al-Aml his parents had to drop him off and pick him up. In June his family found a note on their car. It said that they had three days to leave Ghazaliyah. The family moved to Karrada in eastern Baghdad. Now Mustapha is once more the new kid in class and he misses his old schoolmates. “All of my friends have left Ghazaliyah. Some have left Iraq. I haven’t seen any of them since I was kidnapped,” he said. “It is hard for me to change all of my life, all of my friends, move all these places and go from school to school.” Still, Mustapha vowed to press on. He said he loved his studies and wanted to become a biologist. Mustapha’s new school is named after Muhammad Baqr al-Hakim, the murdered head of the Shia party the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. It is decorated with posters of Shia religious and political figures. The Islamic flavour reflects the character of the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s movement, which controls the Education Ministry.

Iraqis ‘Were Kicked and Punched For Fun’

Operation Salerno was the code name given to raids carried out on a number of hotels in the southern Iraqi city of Basra by 1 Bn, The Queen's Lancashire Regiment, following intelligence that some of the hotels were being used as bases by insurgents and extremists. Troops found arms and ammunition at the Haitham hotel and arrested those running it, although the detainees were all released without charge over the following months. They were handcuffed using plastic strips, put on to a truck and taken to a temporary detention facility at the battle group main headquarters. This was a small, three-room building without doors, no more than about 60 yards from the main operational and accommodation quarters. This, said Julian Bevan, QC, for the Crown, was highly relevant. The shouting, bawling and screams from the detention centre must have been heard by numerous soldiers and officers. That nobody raised this as a concern suggested that it must have been considered both acceptable and untoward at the time. The person in immediate charge of the detainees was Cpl Donald Payne, Mr Bevan said. It is alleged that he was largely responsible for meting out the inhuman treatment suffered by the detainees over the following 36 hours, though other soldiers took part. "Some of them, it seems, just did it for fun or feelings of hostility while visiting the facility," Mr Bevan continued. "Others who were tasked to guard them also assaulted and abused them, following Cpl Payne's example and indeed his orders." The detainees were hooded and made to stand in the stress position, with their backs to the wall, knees bent and arms outstretched in front so they were parallel to the ground. "No one can maintain that position for very long without suffering pain and stress," said Mr Bevan. This, combined with sleep deprivation, was known as "conditioning". But the stress position was neither taught nor approved: the Government had expressly forbidden it as long ago as 1972. According to the detainees, they were punched and kicked — and not merely when they failed to maintain the stress position. "Sometimes they were punched or kicked for no apparent reason," Mr Bevan said. "Sometimes, it seems, it was for the entertainment of others. "One civilian, Baha Musa, died as a result, in part, from the multiple injuries he had received — there being no less than 93 injuries on his body at the post mortem stage, including fractured ribs and a broken nose," Mr Bevan told the court. Another detainee had such serious kidney injuries that he suffered renal failure which could have killed him but for medical intervention, the prosecutor said. A third also suffered serious kidney problems which, when examined, were found to be caused by injuries consistent with being punched and kicked.

Iraqi Shi’ites Demand Release of Sadr Aide

Iraq's normally fractious Shi'ite political parties united on Thursday to criticise Washington and demand the release of a top aide to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr after he was arrested by U.S. forces. Salah al-Obeydi was among a group arrested overnight by U.S. and Iraqi forces in the holy city of Najaf, Sadr's followers said. U.S. troops did not immediately comment on the arrests. In a rare show of unity, leaders of rival Shi'ite groups stood beside a Sadrist member of parliament at a brief news conference in Baghdad as he denounced the U.S. raid and called for the defence minister, a Sunni, to explain the arrest. "We demand their immediate release and an explanation from the defence minister over the involvement of Iraqi soldiers in this operation," Falah Hasan Shanshal said. Haider al-Ibadi, a member of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawa party speaking beside Shanshal, said the government was not warned about the U.S. raid. "Regretfully, there are foreign powers who carry out dangerous violations in peaceful provinces," he said. "We say there should be no arrests unless by a judicial order, secondly our own forces should make the arrests," added Hadi al-Amery, head of the Badr organisation, linked to the party that is Sadr's main rival in the ruling Shi'ite coalition.

Italians End Iraq Mission

Italy, the last major Western European ally of the United States and Britain in Iraq, ended its mission on Thursday, handing the province under its control over to Iraqi troops. One Italian soldier died in a road accident during a patrol just hours before the handover of Dhi Qar province, bringing a bitter end to a mission deeply unpopular in Italy. "A day which we had thought of as a day of joy has instead been marked by the shadow of mourning," Italian Defence Minister Arturo Parisi said at the handover ceremony in a stadium in the provincial capital, Nassiriya, where flags flew at half mast. Italy was one of the few Western European countries to support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 under its then centre-right government, which was voted out of office in April. The country lost 32 soldiers, including 19 caribinieri police in a single suicide bomb attack that remains one of the deadliest single attacks on U.S.-led troops. Its 1,600 troops will be home within eight weeks.


Dhi Qar, patrolled by the Italians under British command, was the second of Iraq's 15 non-Kurdish provinces to be turned over to Iraqis after the Japanese pulled out of mainly desert Muthanna province, also in the south, two months ago. The province also houses a giant, self-contained U.S. air base which will not be turned over. A task force of 450 Australians will stay there in case of emergency. "This is a great day in Iraq's history," Maliki said at the ceremony, which featured Iraqi troops parading in bright yellow pickup trucks. The British commander of foreign troops in southern Iraq, Major General Richard Shirreff, said: "I have great confidence in the security forces in the province. Both police and army are well led." Washington and London consider Dhi Qar one of their success stories in a country where there have been few. British ambassador Dominic Asquith told Reuters in Baghdad Dhi Qar's politics were now calm, two years after considerable violence against Italian troops, with the governor having a better rapport with other officials than in other provinces. Britain has also pulled out of its main base in a third province, Maysan, leaving British troops in the south largely confined to the area around Basra, Iraq's second largest city.

Aussie Troops In Iraq Avoid Nasiriyah

Australian troops in southern Iraq have the important job of patrolling two provinces but that won't take them into the city of Nasiriyah, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said. Nasiriyah, with a population of 250,000, is overwhelmingly made up of Shi'ite Muslims, many of whom support the firebrand anti-coalition cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr. Mr Downer said the soldiers would have the same role as before which was to help out the Iraqi security forces if needed. He said they would be fulfilling a role that was handled by Italian troops until recently. "It's really what you might call a kind of a back-up role in Dhi Qar province, but certainly they won't be going out into Nasiriyah and doing day-by-day patrols and things like that," he told reporters in New York. "We're all in favour of, as quickly as we reasonably can, handing over provinces to the Iraqis themselves.

Helicopters, Vehicles, Weapons and Support

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of helicopters, vehicles, weapons and support as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $500 million. …..This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country. [If it is not used to kill US troops, that is. – dancewater] This proposed sale directly supports the Iraqi government and serves the interests of the Iraqi people and the U.S., as well as offering hope for a more stable and peaceful Middle East. The Government of Iraq has an assortment of multiple makes of antiquated vehicles with some new vehicles provided under the Multi-National Security Transition Command. The multiple makes of antiquated vehicles are difficult and costly to maintain. The modernization plan calls for purifying the fleet with more capable equipment and services to sustain equipment. The troop helicopter carries will allow the Iraqis to rapidly move troops into position. Also, the aircraft will provide the capability to medical evacuate casualties. Leadership, tactical and technical training is needed to develop a professional Iraqi Armed Forces. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not affect the basic military balance in the region. The contractors are unknown at this time. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. Implementation of this sale may require the assignment of up to 69 contractor representatives to execute the maintenance program for a duration up to 24 months. There will be up to 11 contractors to field and train Iraqi personnel on operating the equipment and maintenance for 8 months. There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale. This notice of a potential sale is required by law; it does not mean that the sale has been concluded.


On the eve of the January 2005 elections in Iraq, Scott Peterson and Dan Murphy reported in the Christian Science Monitor: "the one thing every Iraqi agrees upon is that occupation should end soon". But this, it was noted, was an outcome that would conflict directly with the US objective of constructing "a US-friendly democracy that would allow America to replace its military presence in Saudi Arabia... with one in Iraq that would allow America to keep shaping the regional balance of power". (Peterson and Murphy, Christian Science Monitor, January 28, 2005). That same month, the Financial Times reported the British prime minister's view: "Tony Blair says there is no way that the US and UK will set out a timetable for the withdrawal of their troops from Iraq." (James Blitz, Andrew Gowers and Philip Stephens, 'Blair hails a “perfectly progressive" US goal of expanding freedom,' Financial Times, January 26, 2005). The problem with genuine withdrawal - as with genuine democracy and independence - is that a sovereign Iraq would likely join in the efforts to integrate Iran into the region which had begun long before the US and UK invasion. Noam Chomsky explains in his latest book Failed States: "... the Shiite religious and political leadership in Iraq has very close links with Iran. Shiite success in Iraq is already invigorating the pressures for freedom and democracy among the bitterly oppressed Shiite population of Saudi Arabia just across the border, tendencies that would only increase if Iraq were to be granted a measure of sovereignty... That is also the region where most Saudi oil happens to be." (Quoted Noam Chomsky, Failed States, Hamish Hamilton, 2006, p.144) The final consequence of authentic Iraqi independence could be a Shiite-dominated alliance compromising Iraq, Iran, and the oil regions of Saudi Arabia. This, Chomsky notes, would be independent of Washington and controlling the bulk of the world's energy resources: "Washington's ultimate nightmare - almost".

….Two conclusions can be drawn: 1) Given that big business, not public opinion, dominates American domestic and foreign policy, it is simple-minded to believe that the same corporate interests are intent on Iraqi public opinion dominating Iraqi domestic and foreign policy. 2) Leaving Iraq without victory, or at least control, is therefore not an option for the US. This is the reality of the alleged US goal of "forcing a democracy into the heart of the Middle East". (Mark Urban, Newsnight, BBC2, April 12, 2005). But how to justify the vast cost in human life of subordinating Iraqi interests to the goals of US elites? A key task, clearly, is that resistance to occupation must be demonised and, if possible, removed from public awareness. The New York Times reported George Bush's latest offering: "If we give up the fight in the streets of Baghdad, we will face the terrorists in the streets of our own cities." (Anne E. Kornblut and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, 'In Latest Push, Bush Cites Risk in Quitting Iraq,' New York Times, September 1, 2006). If the enemy are mere terrorists to be destroyed, then the question of some kind of negotiated political solution does not even arise. A contribution to the task of erasing awareness of the insurgency from the public mind was made in a New York Times article on the same day. Edward Wong reported: "Since Sunday, more than 300 Iraqis have been killed in bombings, murders and a deadly pipeline explosion... The violence is generally believed to be the work of insurgents, militias and criminal gangs embroiled in Sunni-Shiite sectarian strife." (Wong, 'Car Bomb and Rockets Kill 43 in Baghdad's Shiite Strongholds,' New York Times, September 1, 2006). Notice that "insurgents" responsible for "bombings" are lumped in with "militias and criminal gangs", and are embroiled in "Sunni-Shiite sectarian strife", rather than an insurgency. Wong added: "The recent surge in bombings calls into question the long-term effectiveness of a joint American-Iraqi security offensive in Baghdad. The security measures are expected to contribute to a relatively low civilian death toll in August." The American army that in fact created the chaos is presented as a benevolent bystander intervening to break up a fight through "security measures". There is no resistance, no occupation, no American violence, no American illegality, no American mass killing of civilians. These are written out of the story.

SHORT FILM ON FAUX NEWS: More Fox News Whistleblowers Fess Up.

SHORT FILM FROM COMEDY CHANNEL: George Bush is Schizophrenic.

FLASH PRESENTATION: Cowboys in Iraq, Part 1.


FLASH PRESENTATION: The Best War Ever. Watch this and then give peace a vote – take the voter’s peace pledge above.

Iraq Names Arab General as Anti-Terrorist Coordinator

Following the appointments of special envoys on counterterrorism by the U.S. and Turkey, respectively, the Iraqi government has named an envoy to coordinate the relations between the three states. The Iraqi Ambassador to Ankara notified the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Tuesday that the Iraqi government appointed General Amir Amed Hassun as special envoy. The Iraqi government preferred a Sunni Arab figure after Turkey expressed its concerns that a possible Kurdish name might give an impression that he might contact the PKK. Following the escalating terrorism threat in southeastern Turkey in the previous months, Ankara signaled that it could carry out a cross border military offensive into northern Iraq; however, both the Iraqi and U.S. administrations opposed such a move. They, instead, offered a trilateral mechanism. Late in August, the U.S. State Department appointed retired General Joseph Ralston as U.S. special envoy in the fight against terrorism, especially against the PKK terrorist organization, while Turkey named retired Turkish general Edip Baser for the same task. The special envoys are to coordinate the engagement among Turkish, U.S. and Iraqi governments in the fight to eliminate the terrorist threat of the PKK and other terrorist groups operating in northern Iraq and across the Turkey-Iraq border. Last Wednesday, U.S. Envoy Ralston arrived in Ankara and met top Turkish officials, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Edip Baser.

US Eyes Up to $750 Million in Military Sales to Iraq

The Pentagon notified U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday about the possible sale to Iraq of up to $500 million in helicopters, weapons and vehicles and up to $250 million in logistics support for those systems. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees foreign arms sales, said if completed the sales would help improve the security of Iraq, "offering hope for a more stable and peaceful Middle East." It said the modernization plan would help give the Iraqi military more capable equipment, including helicopters to rapidly move troops into position and evacuate casualties. On Monday, Iraq said it would take over security control of a second of its 18 provinces this week in the relatively calm British and Italian-patrolled South. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has said he hopes to receive the security portfolio for most of Iraq's provinces by the end of this year. The United States and Britain hope to reduce the size of the over-stretched foreign presence as Iraq's 300,000-strong security forces assume a leading role in battling a Sunni insurgency and quelling communal violence. [The US has a long history of selling arms to our future enemies, but in this case, they will be selling arms to the people who are currently fighting US troops, so this is new. – dancewater]

US Military Says Iraqi Police Not Behind Death Squads

The United States military said on Wednesday it had found no evidence that the Iraqi government and its police were behind Shi'ite sectarian death squads murdering Sunnis in Baghdad. "Initially there were a lot of allegations that death squads were not only coming out of Ministry of Interior forces but also organised by the Ministry of Interior," said Major General Joseph Peterson, in charge of training Iraqi police. "We have not identified any Ministry of Interior personnel as a part of the death squad members and leaders that we have picked up, this seems to counter the initial allegations discrediting them," he told a briefing in Baghdad. Sunni leaders say they believe the police include members of Shi'ite militia whom they blame for an increase in sectarian violence that has erupted since a Shi'ite mosque was destroyed in February. The United States now says that violence is the greatest security threat in the country. Peterson said most "death squad" members were part of organisations that were independent of Iraq's security ministries such as young Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia. "The majority of the individuals we have captured belong to an organisation, and Jaish al-Mehdi is certainly one of them," he said, refering to the militia by its Arabic name. He said another Shi'ite militia, the Badr organisation associated with the large Shi'ite party the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, did not appear to be involved in death squad killings.

Bush Says Iraqis Must Make Tough Choices [Seems to me their choices have been limited by the invasion and occupation. – dancewater]

For Iraqi Farmers, A Harvest of Hope [Not really. – dancewater]

Inside the festival hall, on long tables covered with white cloth, Aboud Ahdim Abbas Mohammad saw a glimpse of the future: baskets filled with different kinds of ripe, delicious dates. They held the twin promise of reviving an ancient industry and Iraq's devastated economy. But once outside, Mohammad wondered whether Iraq would ever realize such aspirations. Violence had emptied nearby villages filled with date farmers. His cousins had been slain on the way to sell their harvest. Gunmen had recently ambushed him. He shot his way out to safety, but not before a bullet rammed into his left arm. "They don't want a new Iraq based on freedom and a country that produces," said Mohammad, 56, who looked regal with bronzed skin, a pepper gray moustache and a white and black checkered tribal head scarf. Across a volatile landscape brimming with militias and insurgents, farmers like Mohammad are trying to restore the glory days when Iraq produced about 30 percent of the world's supply of dates. The fruit has been a symbol of daily life since the time of the civilizations of Babylon and Sumer, more than 5,000 years ago. In the calculus of preventing Iraq's slide toward civil war, reconstructing Iraq's economy is a top priority. And dates are Iraq's second-biggest export, after oil. Revitalizing the industry could help reduce sectarian tensions by creating thousands of jobs while generating revenue to rebuild Iraq, improve security and lessen the country's dependence on U.S. reconstruction dollars. Now, after years of neglect, war and sanctions, the date industry is showing signs of recovery, partly through U.S. efforts. Farmers are being introduced to market-oriented capitalism after years of depending on state subsidies under the government of Saddam Hussein.

………Tapping that potential, he said, will require more action than simply growing dates. The farmers need to adopt better accounting, production and marketing practices and to use better packaging and transportation systems, he said. For starters, they need to process their dates in Baqubah, he said. Unprocessed dates are sold to Dubai for $300 a ton, he said. Processed dates could yield $3,000 a ton. Before the invasion, there were several processing plants in Baqubah. But the owners fled the violence. Snow said he has approached some of them to come back and reopen their plants. No luck. "They know they can make more money investing elsewhere than here," Snow said. "They are bait for kidnappers. They want to play it safe." Mohammad, whose family has grown dates here since the 18th century, has no plans to flee, despite the attempt on his life. He predicts his harvest this year will be 70 percent more than last year, although that's still a third less than what he produced in 2000. He can only imagine how it would be if there were peace. "If the situation was better, I would have a very beautiful garden," Mohammad said, with a smile.

Iraqi Captive Died With 93 Injuries

Captive Iraqis were beaten with iron bars, kicked, starved, and forced to drink their own urine during abuse which led to the death of a prisoner, the first court martial of British troops accused of war crimes was told yesterday.

COMMENTARY: Ten Nobel Peace Prize Winners Take Aim at USA

'After the painful events of September 11, I wish that America would have built a school in Afghanistan in the name of every victim,'' said Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian judge and 2003 Peace Prize recipient. ''When someone claims he has a vision from God to bring war to Iraq, this is a kind of terrorism.'' Only the Dalai Lama, whose speech during the first public event of a three-day event at the University of Denver was interrupted when a fire alarm went off, didn't take a direct jab at the U.S. Instead the Dalai Lama called on the world to open itself to religious tolerance. PeaceJam, a Colorado-based program in its 10th year, hosts conventions around the world, bringing teenagers together with Nobel laureates to talk about what they can do to promote peace. Founders Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff say the interaction between the teens and laureates can build a generation that will tackle the big issues of poverty, disease and war. One after the other Saturday night, the laureates thanked the crowd that rose to its feet before and after each speech, and then called on Americans to do something about their government's foreign policy. From efforts to close the border with Mexico, to Iraq, to arms exports, the Nobel laureates had words for the U.S. government. ''Stand up. Take action,'' said Jody Williams, the 1997 recipient for her work opposing land mines, and the only American to take the stage. ''Don't try to bring democracy to people you don't understand through the barrel of a gun and leave them with civil war.''

Iraqi Blogger Interview

We are a group of students attending the Asheville School's summer academic program. As part of our class we contacted a girl living in Iraq. "Hnk," as she prefers to be called, is a 17-year-old living in Mosul who writes about her life in her online blog, iraqigirl.blogspot.com. We were able to discover a new perspective on the war in Iraq by reading her blog. We then each emailed her a question. **My name is Alex and I am from the suburbs of Washington, DC. I am 15-years-old. In your post you mention the story Alice in Wonderland. This is one of my favorite books and when I was younger, I often daydreamed about traveling to my own version of Wonderland. If you were to fall down the rabbit's hole, as Alice did, what would your Wonderland be like? Hnk: The most beautiful thing in my Wonderland [would be] that we [would] have both electricity and clear water all the time.... All the people in my Wonderland [would] feel in peace because they [would] live in peace. Anyway, I don't dream so much because I know it's hard to live my imagination; but it's really helpful to lie [to] yourself and pretend that you live in your own Wonderland. **My name is George Boston. I'm 15-years-old and I live in Brooklyn, NY. I know that if there was a war going on around me it would be difficult for me to fall asleep knowing that the next day may be my last. How hard is it for you to fall asleep at night? Hnk: It's too easy to fall asleep and it's too easy to wake up. Since the situation became so bad, it's become easy to fall asleep because it's the only way to run from reality. And I think it's easier and better for my health to know that tomorrow would be my last day because I don't live the life. I want to live the life but I can't find it. **My name is Kayla and I am 15 years of age. I live in Atlanta, GA. Being that all of the turmoil is going on between my country and yours, I often wonder how things would be different if I was in a position of power. If you had a chance to be in a position of power or a leadership role in your country, what would it be and what would you do differently as a leader? Hnk: I am [an] Iraqi and I live in Iraq but I still don't know what is going on. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who is my enemy? Who is my leader? I don't want to be a leader. But if I was a leader, I [would] ask [the] American government to take their soldiers to their own country where they need to be. The situation gradually became worse day after day since they arrived to Iraq. Their famil[ies] need them more than we do. In fact, we don't need them at all.

Local Story: Iraqi Killed by US Troops

At 15th of this month my assistance(he was my close friend of me)get KILLED by US troops when he was on the way to my house, they shot him in the head with a special bullet, and I saw his brain on the floor. I buried him and I lost my mobile at that time, It was really very hard and sad time for me and I could’nt open my email from that day. and I met one of the US officers and I told him about my friend and I saw how much he didn’t care about killing innocent people, and my friend is one of many innocent people get killed everyday by US troops . this was the second accedent in this month for me the first one was for my car and the 2nd one is about my friend. and the good news is that I got baby at 18th (my wife giving birth) I was waiting my new baby but because of my friend killing I didn’t feel in any happiness.

Blogging From Iraq

It has been years since the media has paid as much attention to the war in Iraq as it did to the present one in Lebanon, a few hundred miles to the east. Yet one media source has never wavered in its coverage: Iraqi blogs. Treasure of Baghdad, an Iraqi journalist working for an American newspaper, describes grieving for his friend’s mother, killed in a mortar attack. Sunshine, a 14-year old girl living in Mosul, relates the deaths of friends’ families at the hands of insurgents and the shooting of her own uncle by American soldiers. These accounts, in their attention to personal, even mundane details, offer a perspective largely absent from mainstream media reports. Treasure reports that his friends have stopped carrying identification with them anywhere, lest their names serve as a pretext for murder. Sunshine describes being prevented from reaching her biology final by a mine planted in the road. Iraqi Roulette, a third blogger, describes how at one point she swore off political conversation entirely and sought solace The Art of Happiness, by the Dalai Lama. These tales of anguish are interspersed with reflection, news, and even jokes, often deeply personal. But violence is never far away. “I'm watching my country being destroyed little by little: its holy places attacked, its people killing each other,” writes 22-year old girl named Morbid Smile, who will soon depart Iraq to study in the U.S. “A great civilization of more than 7000 years is going to waste.”

Mother Jones: Why did you decide to start your blog? How much time do you spend on it each week?

Sunshine: I started my blog to tell people about real life in Iraq from a teenager's point of view. Many people have the wrong idea about us, and I wanted the world to know more about our lives before they judge us. I also wanted to make friends from around the world.

Iraqi Roulette: I think it was a kind of reaction to fear. When awful things happen, you just have to tell someone. And that is what most of us used to do on daily basis when all of this started. We would exchange all sorts of horror stories about things we experienced... I remember writing a message to my friend in which I gave her an update on what I had experienced in a period of weeks. She wrote back to me saying that she had read it over and over again and she thought I ought to publish this stuff somewhere. And that is what I tried to do.

MJ: Are people keeping blogs in English more likely to be pro-American?

Morbid Smile: That’s not necessarily true; I've known some Iraqi bloggers who are against the presence of the U.S. in Iraq yet they write in English… Keeping a blog in English is a way to be read by as many people as possible, and to have our voices reach American society as well.

MJ: What do you hope will come of your blog—better-informed foreigners, new friends, new American policies?

Baghdad Treasure: All I want is to derive some relief from what I write and to let others in the world know that Iraqis are not criminals: we are educated and modern and we adore life. I want them to know that Baghdad was one of the world’s most beautiful and cosmopolitan cities. It was destroyed because of the successive wars that America was involved in, directly or indirectly.

Iraqi Roulette: I think that when one hears about people who are actually experiencing genocide, one tends to conceive [of] them as mere numbers or even as herds, but imagine that these people are writing to you and telling you all about it—then you will involuntarily start to say to yourself, “Wait a minute, this person likes the same rock group I like, and she has just the same concerns I do… They are not some sort of a lower form of evolution.”

MJ: What sorts of Iraqis have suffered the most from the situation there?

Morbid Smile: Iraqi people in general suffer from the explosions, heavy traffic jams caused by the blocked roads everywhere, stroll bans [curfews], and other obstacles on a daily basis. Workers are threatened, kidnapped and killed just because they work in governmental services, the army, or any other job. Even bakers, barbers and shopkeepers are not safe from the assassinations and abductions.


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