Sunday, September 24, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2006 Iraqi women mourn the death of a relative outside the morgue of a hospital at the restive city of Baquba. (AFP/Ali Yussef) BAGHDAD – Two Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed and three others were wounded when an improvised explosive device exploded near their patrol outside the Kirkuk city of Hawija today. Danish soldier killed, 8 injured in roadside bombing near Basra. Injuries are not life-threatening. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Bomb kills 34 in Sadr City, injures 35, many badly burned. AP gives death toll as 37. Attack near truck distributing kerosene apparently targeted civilians. A group called Jamaat Jund al-Sahaba -- Soldiers of the Prophet's Companions -- claims responsibility, says attack is revenge for actions by the Mehdi Army. Iraqi government claims to have captured Muntasir Hamoud Ileiwi al-Jubouri, a leader of Ansar al-Sunnah. Ansar al-Sunnah denies the claim. Ansar al-Sunnah claims it has killed 10 Indian and Pakistani Shiites, which they assert were on a mission sponsored by Iran. Claimed incident occurred in Anbar, victims are said to have been working for Badr movement. (Of course, these accusations seem improbable. Badr has no need to import South Asians. Let we forget, Ansar al-Sunnah is the descendant of Ansar al-Islam, the Kurdish Islamist group that Colin Powell, bizarrely, claimed in his UN speech was proof of Saddam's linkages with al Qaeda, even though the group operated in Kurdistan outside of Saddam's area of control and was committed to the destruction of the Baathist regime. Powell also claimed that al-Zarqawi was training the group in chemical weapons manufacture, which is possible, and that Saddam had sent him to do so, which was a preposterous lie. It has been widely reported that the U.S. knew that Zarqawi was sheltering with Ansar al-Islam and had the opportunity to kill or capture him, but the Bush regime chose not to do so in order to preserve an excuse for attacking Iraq. -- C) Car bomb near Christian church during Sunday mass in Baghdad kills 4, wounds 14. Story is contradictory as to whether dead were civilians, or police hired to guard the church; hence it is not entirely clear whether the church or the police were the targets. Al Jazeerah says police were the target. Mortar attack on Ministry of Health injures 3. AP reports several other incidents:
  1. Car bomb in eastern Baghdad, targeting a police patrol, kills one police officer and one civilian, injures 5 police and 8 civilians.
  2. Iraqi soldier shot dead in eastern Baghdad while on his way to work.
  3. Two Iraqi soldiers killed, 2 injured by suicide car bomber in Tal Afar.
  4. One killed, 5 injured by mortar attack in Al-Musayyab, south of Baghdad.
  5. Police discover 5 bodies, bound and tortured, in Baghdad.
  6. Bomb injures 2 in Mosul.
  7. Police Col. Ismaiel Chehayyan killed in assault on private home in Tikrit.
Five injured by mortar rounds in Bab al-Muadham district of Baghdad. Reuters also reports:
  1. Police found 10 tortured and bullet-riddled bodies in Fallujah during the last three days.
  2. Gunmen killed an Iraqi translator working with the U.S.-led forces on Saturday in the southern city of Samawa, 270 km (168 miles) south of Baghdad.
  3. A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed a man in Mosul, a hospital sources said. This is separate from the incident in Mosul reported by AP.
OTHER NEWS OF THE DAY Parliamentary parties in procedural agreement on allowing debate over federalism bill. (Note: The headlines I have seen on this story are generally erroneous. AP headlines it "Iraqi parties agree to federalism bill." That is simply not what happened. In fact, the agreement simply kicks confrontation down the road. The Sunni parties will be allowed to debate amending the constitution to restrict the possibility of autonomous regions, while the Shiite parties will introduce legislation to establish an autonomous region. - C) Excerpt:
By QASSIM ABDEL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq's fractious ethnic and religious parliamentary groups agreed Sunday to open debate on a contentious Shiite-proposed draft legislation that will allow the creation of federal regions in Iraq, politicians said. The agreement came after a compromise was reached with Sunni Arabs on setting up a parliamentary committee to amend Iraq's constitution, a key demand by the minority. The committee will be set up Monday and the federalism bill will be read to the body a day later, Sunni and Shiite politicians said. The deal opens the way for Iraq's Shiites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds to move ahead politically and break a two-week political deadlock that threatened to further sour relations between the communities. If left unresolved, the deadlock could have further shaken Iraq's fragile democracy and led to more sectarian violence. The federalism bill calls for setting up a system to allow the creation of autonomous regions in the predominantly Shiite south, much like the self-ruling Kurdish region in northern Iraq. Sunni Arabs have said they fear the legislation will split Iraq apart and fuel sectarian bloodshed. The Kurdish north and Shiite south hold Iraq's oil fields, while the predominantly Sunni Arab areas are mostly desert. Sunni Arabs say that before the bill can be passed, parliament must make headway to amend the constitution — a key demand they made when they agreed to join Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government. One of the amendments they seek would weaken the ability to set up self-ruling cantons. It will take about a year to amend the constitution and the legislation, even if approved, will take 18 months to be implemented, legislators said. A representative from the largest Shiite coalition in the 275-member parliament, the United Iraqi Alliance, said that a committee of 27 legislators will be formed to begin the process of amending the constitution and that the draft federalism bill would be read out on Tuesday.
Read in Full National Intelligence Estimate, completed in April, says Invasion of Iraq has worsened the problem of global terrorism. NIE remains highly classified, but several officials who have read it spoke with Mark Mazetti of the NYT. (So what else is new?) Excerpt:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks. The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document. The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe. An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology. The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.
Read in Full. Xinhua reports that hyperinflation is destroying standard of living of ordinary Iraqis. The English in this report is not good, but the facts are important. Excerpt:
By Zhang Wei, Jamal Hashim BAGHDAD, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- After three years of the U.S.-led invasion, Iraqis feel they have to face more and more troubles with rising prices in amid ongoing inflation. Um Muhammed, a mother of four children in Baghdad, said she only bought vegetables for her family, because she can't afford the meat now. "But even the prices of vegetables are quite high. I sometimes buy onion, potatoes or other thing, but nothing in the market less than 1,000 Iraqi Dinars (0.7 dollar) one kilo, three or four times more than the prices six months ago," the 45-year-old housewife complained while heading home from the market with three small bags. Like Um Muhammed, many Iraqis find as well as the upsurge violence, they have to face a new foe, the rising prices, as the inflation is spiraling out of control in Iraq. Fuel and electricity prices are up more than 270 percent from last years, according to Iraqi government statistics. Tea in some markets has quadrupled, egg prices have doubled. "The price of nearly everything in my shop has increased dramatically during the past several months. Beef now runs as highas 9,000 IDs (6.2 dollars) one kilo, up from 5,000 IDs (3.4 dollars) last year," said Allaa Hamid, a shop owner in Khadraa neighborhood in western Baghdad. The price spiral has come as a shock to many Iraqis, who make about 150 dollars to 200 dollars per month on average even if they have jobs. Estimates of unemployment range from 40 to 60 percent. Many Iraqi families have no other choice but to struggle to make ends meet. "We are buying according to priorities, I mean we buy the minimum of the most needed things," Um Muhammed said with a sigh. "Markets are filled with fresh fruit, vegetables and meat but they are very expensive. We even can't afford to buy the most basic items," said Mustafa Kamil, 56, a retired government employee who drives a taxi in Baghdad to make a living. "I used to entirely depend on the ration card which distributed by the government, but now we can't get it regularly and several items were omitted from the ration cards," he said.
Read in Full Juan Cole links to a report in Arabic which apparently discusses the impact of hyperinflation in Najaf. I add this in case somebody is inclined to question the reliability of Xinhua. As far as I can tell, their reporting from Iraq is top-notch and not evidently tainted by any political agenda of the Chinese government. -- C Allegation that British troops have been smuggling weapons out of Iraq and exchanging them for cocaine. Not clear whether the weapons are British military property, confiscated from Iraqis, or property of Iraqi military. COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS Joan Didion discusses the Prince of Dimness. Excerpt:
The question of where the President gets the notions known to the nation as "I'm the decider" and within the White House as "the unitary executive theory" leads pretty fast to the blackout zone that is the Vice President and his office. It was the Vice President who took the early offensive on the contention that whatever the decider decides to do is by definition legal. "We believe, Jim, that we have all the legal authority we need," the Vice President told Jim Lehrer on PBS after it was reported that the National Security Agency was conducting warrantless wiretapping in violation of existing statutes. It was the Vice President who pioneered the tactic of not only declaring such apparently illegal activities legal but recasting them as points of pride, commands to enter attack mode, unflinching defenses of the American people by a president whose role as commander in chief authorizes him to go any extra undisclosed mile he chooses to go on their behalf. "Bottom line is we've been very active and very aggressive defending the nation and using the tools at our disposal to do that," the Vice President advised reporters on a flight to Oman last December. It was the Vice President who maintained that passage of Senator John McCain's legislation banning inhumane treatment of detainees would cost "thousands of lives." It was the Vice President's office, in the person of David S. Addington, that supervised the 2002 "torture memos," advising the President that the Geneva Conventions need not apply. And, after Admiral Stansfield Turner, director of the CIA between 1977 and 1981, referred to Cheney as "vice president for torture," it was the Vice President's office that issued this characteristically nonresponsive statement: "Our country is at war and our government has an obligation to protect the American people from a brutal enemy that has declared war upon us."
Read in Full Mufid Abdulla advocates for the viability of Kurdish Nationalism. Excerpt:
The Kurdish issue has constituted a central question, confronting Iraqi governments ever since the state of Iraq was established in 1920. [This is inaccurate. Iraq was established as a British mandate in 1920, but did not become an independent state until 1932 -- C.] This problem has comprised both internal and external aspects. On the basis of our history, our Kurdish nation is differentiated from the Arab - linguistically, ethnically and by religion. That is justification enough for our right to our own state. We have never had a genuine offer from any of the previous governments in Iraq ,despite their assertions that external powers have an impact on Kurds. Most recently, the events of 1970, 1974, 1984 - all these manifestos, agreements and ceasefires were doomed to failure. All previous regimes only took to the negotiation table when they were weak .We engaged in politics for the last two decade for the sake of it, not for the results. In the past, the standards of the Kurdish national movement did not meet the requirements, or demands of Kurdish people .Nevertheless, the history of economic development of Kurdistan was clearly reflected in the mind, and manifesto’s of these Kurdish movements, for example. In their calculations, the Kurdish bourgeoisie have never understood the driving forces underpinning the need to unify Kurdistan. The civil war in Kurdistan reflected the dispute between two clans, rather that two political parties. Why is the bourgeoisie in Europe striving to unify their economy and money? Because they understand the value and results of big production and market domination. In an unprecedented speech, the president of Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani surprised everybody, first of all by bringing down the old flag of the Saddam(ist) era, and secondly ;he clearly told the Iraqi government that they should be grateful that we accepted federalism, and that we can declare our independence whenever the people wanted, he also told his rival Iraqi group, that we are not frightened of intimidation and threats. That is the ‘drawing board’ strategy for the Kurdish state, as its ultimate goal. The referendum movement has conducted a poll, which concluded that 98% of Kurdish people they want their own state. The separation of our nation is inevitable after what has happened to our people, for the last two decades, at the hands of Arab nationalism and chauvinism. snip As stated earlier, and it is worth repeating. The only way to build our constitutional state is through our Kurdistan parliament. The role of the media is central to this process. The media can and must play a significant role in the struggle for an independent Kurdistan, and in upholding the Democratic and Human Rights of the Kurdish people. In conclusion: We can lay claim to a right of independence even before the Arab nations. In any event, Kurdistan has a ‘natural’ right to exist as a state. The break-up of Iraq is inevitable. Iraq has been ‘united’ by the force of tyranny for the last 40 years. Arab nationalism should pay homage to, the de facto Kurdish state. The Kurdish people are never interested in revenge, despite all the atrocities they have suffered. Kurdish people need an apology from those responsible, so we can go forward. We have our institutions, but we were never capable, or managed to build a National Security Strategy, which is the backbone of our future. The enemies of the Kurds should finally realise that they cannot eradicate 6 million people. In Iraqi Kurdistan we need our own ’unbroken chain…’.
Read in Full Emad al-Sharaa and Duraed Salman discuss the movement for Shiite autonomy, what is known as the "federalism" debate. Excerpt:
Although Shias are generally considered to favour greater autonomy for the south, differences are emerging among the various Shia groupings. This infighting makes it more and more difficult for the Shia majority in parliament to arrive at consensus decisions. Over the past two months, Ammar al-Hakim has visited many southern provinces as well as the Kurdistan region. His trip started in Najaf, a SCIRI stronghold where much of the population and also Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most senior Shia cleric, support the plan for federalism. In Karbala, another Shia stronghold, people were less enthusiastic. Here Majid al-Qasimi, a teacher at the al-Haussa college for religious studies, accused SCIRI of populism. “Their insistence on federalism comes after they have failed to take senior government posts. They do not have mass support. The majority of the people in the south back the Sadrists," he said, in a reference to the movement led by Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. In Nasiriya, al-Hakim also met with opposition, facing a crowd that chanted, "No to federalism, yes to Muqtada al-Sadr." The Sadrist bloc and the Dawa party, which is SCIRI’s major partner in the UIA and is led by former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, have recently criticised efforts to push ahead with the federalism bill. Hasan al-Rubai, a Sadrist member of parliament, said his bloc did not oppose federalism in a principle, “but they oppose applying it while Iraq is still under occupation". Others, though, have great expectations of a federal region. "We need social welfare in the south to compensate for its long period of deprivation," said Makki Muhammed Ali, an official with the Dawa party in Basra, who believes that raising Basra's standard of living in a federal structure would help the country as a whole to "make a huge jump and help Iraq join the ranks of the developed states". However, leading Sunni Arab politicians believe that southern federalism will damage rather than help the rest of the country. Leaders such as Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni who rejected Iraq's new constitution in part over its recognition of the principle of federalism, have pledged to campaign for a "unified Iraq". Central and western Iraq – the majority Sunni areas – lack oil and other profitable resources, and leaders such as Mutlaq fear that the Sunnis will be left out if the country's resources are divided up region by region.
Read in Full JUST A FEW FROM WHISKER'S ROUNDUP OF THE WOUNDED As usual, there are plenty more where these came from -- C. Staff Sgt. Derick Goodrich, 21, was shot in the lower back and hip, possibly by a sniper, said his grandfather, Carroll Martin, of Gillette. He will likely fly back to the United States when he is well enough to travel, Martin said. Goodrich will be taken to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he may need hip-replacement surgery. Doctors also may need to remove part of his pelvic bone. Until Aug. 9, Marine Lance Cpl. Bryan Carpenter remembered nothing of being in Iraq. This week, Carpenter, now being treated at Akron General Medical Center's Edwin Shaw Rehabilitation facility in Lakemore, said he still has no memory of the improvised explosive device that struck his Humvee on June 5, wounding him and three other Marines. Carpenter was ejected from the vehicle and suffered a brain injury from the force of the blast, along with a shattered pelvis, fractured back, broken ankle and other injuries. A Marine from Parkersburg was in critical condition today at a military hospital in Germany after losing both legs in a land mine accident in Iraq. Corporal Christopher Santiago had both of his legs amputated below the knee yesterday. His mother Terri Santiago says he also lost the pinky finger on his left hand and his left arm was severely injured. The 2002 graduate of Parkersburg High School was leading 45 men on a mission in Iraq on Saturday when he stepped on the mine. Pfc. Alba Ryan Tanner, is in Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital for wounds sustained in a roadside bombing in Iraq. Tanner, 21, sustained extensive damage to the right side of his body on Aug. 27 in the line of duty with his Company A, 1st 37th Army Battalion tank unit, his Hammond relatives said. Alba was unresponsive the first week after being wounded, she said. QUOTE OF THE DAY The Americans around Bremer knew some history, mainly about the successful creation of democracies in Germany and Japan after the Second World War, and assumed that they had a universl formula for success. Unfortunately, Bremer and his associates knew little Iraqi history, and discounted what they did know. They should have known that Iraq, unlike Germany and Japan, but somewhat like Yugoslavia, was a completely artificial state, created by the British from three provinces of the old Ottoman Empire, Mosul, Baghdad and Basra; it was divided along religious and ethnic lines, and had little internal cohesion. Most of the people were organized not in civil society or classes but in highly personalized relationships based on families, clans, tribes, and conspiracies. Iraqi principles of rule were based on this fact. The minority Sunni Arabs ruled through a mixture of coercion and patronage. The army assumed a pivotal function as the chief agent of ethnic and religious integration; the non-Sunni elites were co-opted through distributions of land, and (later) of oil revenues. -Robert Skidelsky, reviewing Rory Stewart's The Prince of the Marshes, in New York Review of Books, Oct. 5 2006. (Subscription only, sorry.)


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