Friday, October 27, 2006
DAILY WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2006
PHOTO:Residents look for survivors in a house hit in a US air strike early morning Friday Oct. 27, 2006, in Ramadi, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad. The airstrike that killed three and wounded 3 more followed a clash between US troops and gunmen, according to witnesses. (AP Photo) [Thanks, Bob, for pointing out this photo. - dancewater]
Security Incidents for October 27, 2006
Meanwhile, seven Iraqis were injured when mortar shells fell on Saba'a Al-Boor area in northern Baghdad. The incident caused damages to the buildings in the area, said an Iraqi security source in the capital.
No shootings or bomb attacks were reported Friday in Baghdad, which saw violence, especially sectarian attacks, spike over Ramadan. The holy month, during which Muslims abstain from food, liquids, cigarettes and sex from dawn to dusk, ended Sunday for Sunnis and Monday for Shiites.
While the US troops were searching the suburb a mortar shell hit the headquarters of Iraqi state television five kilometres (three miles) away in west Baghdad, wounding two guards, a station employee told AFP.
Police found the bodies of 11 murder victims on Thursday and overnight, a US military spokeswoman said, a toll considered low by the standards of Baghdad's vicious war between rival Sunni and Shiite death squads.
Also on Friday, four people were killed and five wounded in an attack on a van carrying Shiites returning from the funeral of a relative in the holy city of Najaf, said a spokesman for the police force in surrounding Diyala province. The gunmen drove up in two cars and sprayed the van with bullets about 12 miles east of Baqouba at 11:00 a.m., said the spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with police security guidelines.
(update) Intense house-to-house fighting between insurgents and Iraqi police north of Baghdad killed 43 people, including 24 officers, the U.S. military said Friday. U.S. troops later joined the fight, aiding in a counterattack that left 18 insurgents dead, the military said.
The source told KUNA masked gunmen killed in separated incidents two Iraqi policemen in the neighborhoods of Saddam and Karrama in Mosul. It added that three citizens were also killed in several other neighborhoods of the city.
Separately, fierce clashes broke out between Iraqi soldiers and unknown gunmen in the city's central neighborhood of Jeghaify, the source added. There was no immediate word on casualty as Iraqi forces cordoned off the area and blocked all the roads leading to the neighborhood, the source said.
Gunmen attacked three U.S. military positions in the western city of Ramadi with rocket-propelled grenades, mortar rounds and machine-gun fire, police said. A Reuters reporter said U.S. helicopters flew over Ramadi and U.S. forces had sealed off entrances to the city. The U.S. military did not immediately respond to a query on the reports.
Also note photo above.
NOTE: A BIG THANKS TO WHISKER FOR PUTTING TOGETHER THE SECURITY INCIDENTS IN IRAQ AND FORWARDING THEM TO ME.
REPORTS - Everyday Life in Iraq Today
Tribute to Four Friends - A beautiful tribute to a loss that goes beyond all words andwill echo for generations.
A Shi’ite women calls for the return of Saddam.[This film brought me to tears several times.I don’t know how the Iraqi people will recover from this extensive violence.I think every American should be required to watch this film. - dancewater]
The U.S. military said Friday that the fighting between Sunnis and Iraqi police near Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, killed one civilian and 24 police. U.S. troops later joined the fight, aiding in a counterattack in which 18 Sunni figters died, the military said."Anti-Iraqi forces" ambushed a police unit based in Baqouba at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday, the military said. According to the AP, eight "insurgents" were also injured and 27 others captured, the military said.Meanwhile, no shootings or bomb attacks were reported Friday in Baghdad, which saw violence, especially sectarian attacks, spike over Ramadan. Since Ramadan's end, killings in parts of Baghdad where security forces have established a firm presence have dropped by 10 percent to 20 percent, U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said Thursday.
At midweek, Shiite Interior Ministry commandos and their Shiite militia allies cruised the four-lane hardtop outside the besieged city of Balad, trying to stave off retaliation for a deadly four-day rampage in which they had all but emptied Balad of Sunnis. Sunni insurgents pouring in to take that revenge patrolled the same highway, driving battered white pickups and minivans, their guns stashed out of sight. Affecting casualness, more Sunni men gathered on rooftops or clustered on the reed-lined edge of the highway, keeping an eye on the Shiite forces and the few frightened civilians who dared to travel the highway past Balad. What brought this Tigris River city north of Baghdad to this state of siege was a series of events that have displayed in miniature the factors drawing the entire country into a sectarian bloodbath: Retaliatory violence between Sunnis and Shiites has soared to its highest level of the war, increasingly forcing moderates on both sides to look to armed extremists for protection. The Shiite-led government's security forces, trained by the United States, proved immediately incapable of dealing with the sectarian violence in Balad, or, in many cases, abetted it, residents and police said. More than 20,000 U.S. troops are based within 15 miles of Balad, but, uncertain how to respond, they hesitated, waiting for Iraqi government forces to step up, according to residents, police and U.S. military officials. And all that was left holding Balad, and Iraq, together -- the desire for peace and normality still held by the great majority of Iraqis, and the generations of intermarriage and neighborliness between ordinary Shiite and Sunni Muslims -- was ripping apart.
Residents of Amarah, a half-million strong city in south-eastern Iraq, say they are being severely restricted by an indefinite daily 20-hour curfew. Imposed by the Iraqi government on Monday after clashes between militia fighters and the Iraqi army intensified, the curfew is crippling daily life."We cannot access medical facilities. My two children are sick with high fever and when I tried to take them to hospital, they [Iraqi Army] just forced me back into my house," said mother-of-three Hamidiya Bint al-Hussein, 32."If I go out, they might kill me and my children. And if I stay in my house, my sons will get worse and could even die. We cannot stand the constant fighting anymore, we are tired," al-Hussein said.
"They" came in more than ten cars, each car had four Armed men in it, they closed the street from both sides, they entered the house and abducted a young man, they put him in the trunk of a Car, I called 130 six times, continuously the phone rang without any answer.I was standing in the Roof with my AK-47 and just stared at them.This is the first time I witness such an event, and I felt so hopeless, there were too many of them.
Recently I got a disturbing e-mail from a friend in Baghdad who wrote as follows: "I'm leaving Iraq for good, leaving all my life behind, my memories and friends, leaving the way I'm used to living and heading for the unknown. Why am I leaving? You know better than many why." I do know why, and it raises troubling questions about what we Americans owe the Iraqi people. What is our moral responsibility as it becomes clear that our bungled occupation has sunk Iraq into chaos - and that the country is approaching all-out civil war? My friend, call him George, is an Iraqi Christian, a middle-age engineer who became a fixer for foreign journalists. He was my first Iraqi translator, and I was his first client. He called me "teach," but he taught me more than I taught him.George lived in Amariyah, a Sunni neighborhood from which Shiite families have been expelled. Most shops closed after three markets were bombed. George's wife stopped attending church after a series of attacks on Christians and was afraid to go out without veiling. George had to keep his work secret lest he be killed. But the final blow came when he returned home one evening and saw a wounded man lying on the sidewalk in a pool of blood and trying to wave down help. George - like everyone else - was too scared to stop, lest he be shot for helping the victim. As he hesitated, a white Volkswagen pulled up, and a gunman fired three more bullets into the man, then sped off. That was when George decided to take his wife and daughter and leave for Jordan. He has no idea whether any foreign country will take his family or how they'll survive.
REPORTS - Other Aspects of Life in Iraq
THE cultural treasures of Iraq - the birthplace of writing, codified law, mathematics, medicine and astronomy - are being obliterated as looters take advantage of the country’s bloody chaos. Fourteen of the world’s leading archaeologists have written to the President and Prime Minister of the country, demanding immediate action to stem the vandalism after seeing photographs of sites left pockmarked by enormous craters. Among examples in the letter, seen yesterday by The Times, was a Babylonian sculpture of a lion dating from about 1700BC that lost its head because the terracotta shattered as looters tried to remove it. Another was the destruction of the Ana Minaret on the Euphrates about 190 miles (310km) west of Baghdad, revered for 1,000 years as a unique construction. It was blown up by Islamic extremists apparently for fear that it would be used as an American observation post. In 1986 the minaret, an 85ft (26m) stone structure dating from the 6th century, was threatened by the waters of the al-Qadisiya dam project. Saddam Hussein ordered his military to dismantle it and transport it in 18 sections to a new site on a plateau above the lake.
Iraqis weary of the tumult around them have been turning on the television to watch a wacky-looking man with a giant Afro wig and star-shaped glasses deliver the grim news of the day. In a recent episode, the host, Saad Khalifa, reported Iraq's Ministry of Water and Sewage had decided to change its name to the Ministry of Sewage - because it had given up on the water part. In another episode, he jubilantly declared "Rums bin Feld" had announced American troops were leaving the country on 1/1, in other words, on Jan. 1. His face crumpled when he realized he had made a mistake. The troops were not actually departing on any specific date, he clarified, but instead leaving one by one. At that rate, it would take more than 600 years for them to be gone.
Mariam, 16, relives the day her father in Baghdad sold her off as a domestic worker in one of the prosperous Gulf nations. Instead, she was forced into the sex trade."I was a virgin and didn't understand what sex was. I was told that they [the traffickers] were going to get good money for my first night with an old local man who paid for my virginity. He was aggressive and hit me all the time," Mariam, who refused to reveal her real name, told IRIN.Thousands of Iraqi women are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous sex worker traffickers seeking to exploit young girls' desperate socio-economic situation for profit, United Nations agencies have reported.In Mariam's case, she was taken to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and kept in a house with 20 young girls, all of them sex workers, she said.Before she left Iraq, she and her three sisters were being cared for by her father. Their mother was killed during the US-led invasion of the country in 2003.Mariam said her father couldn't cope with looking after the children on his own and wanted her to go abroad, particularly given the increasing insecurity and daily violence in Iraq.
Embedded reporters are fleeing the barracks in Iraq, leaving the burden of telling the story to the brave few un-embedded. But whereas Western reporters could once travel freely, they now rely on their Iraqi "fixers" to bring the reporting to them. Brooke tells the story of three of those fixers, pulled into journalism by a trick of fate.
THE tribal chiefs, in traditional robes and chequered headdresses, emerged from the dust stirred up by their convoy of utility trucks and walked towards the big white tent, gesturing welcomes to each other as they sat.Accompanied by about 500 clansmen and a gaggle of local journalists, the 35 Sunni sheiks - from Mosul, Tikrit, Samarra and Hawija - converged last week on Hindiya, on the scrappy western edges of Kirkuk, to swear their undying opposition to "conspiracies" to partition Iraq and to pledge allegiance to their president, Saddam Hussein.Under banners exalting the man now standing trial in Baghdad for war crimes and genocide, the gathering heard speeches from prominent northern Iraqi sheiks, Sunni Arab politicians and self-declared leaders of the Baath party calling for the former dictator's release."If the Iraqi government wants national reconciliation to succeed and for the violence to end, they have to quickly release the President and end the occupation," said Sheik Abdul Rahman Munshid, of the Obeidi tribe. "But most important of all," he added, "Kirkuk must never become part of Kurdistan. It is an Iraqi city, and we will take all routes to prevent the divisions of Iraq."The heated debate about federalism in Iraq is no better exemplified than in Kirkuk. Though it is largely free of the sectarian wars taking place in Baghdad and its surrounding area, observers say the ethnic faultlines running through the city, which lies atop Iraq's second-largest oilfield, make it a time bomb that could pit Kurd against Arab and draw in neighbours such as Iran and Turkey.
REPORTS - Iraqi Politicians and Power Brokers and Militias
The intensifying battle between Iraq's strongest Shiite militias _ the Mahdi Army and Badr Brigades _ threatens to destabilize Iraq's oil-rich south and compound chaos in the capital. The outcome also could decide whether Iraq stays whole or breaks up. The militias have become the largest security threat to a country already rocked by more than three years of attacks by Sunni Arab insurgents on U.S. and Iraqi forces and the Shiite population. Despite repeated vows to crush the militias, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has resisted U.S. pressure to move against the groups and their roaming deaths squads because he draws most of his support from the politicians who run them. The Mahdi Army and Badr Brigades have repeatedly clashed since the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein, most recently in the southern city of Amarah. Mahdi militiamen briefly took control of the city this month and fought gunbattles with the Badr Brigades-dominated police that killed 31 and wounded dozens. "That was the worst time we had to go through in the city," said Abdul-Hussein Adnan, a 37-year-old teacher from Amarah. "Given the high number of casualties and the tribal nature of the city, I expect things to get worse. It's impossible in Amarah for someone to be killed and his killers not hunted down and killed in revenge."
REPORTS - US in Iraq
The way American officials inform the Iraqi government about raids by coalition forces will be reviewed, a spokesman for the US military command in Iraq said today, after the country's prime minister criticized an American-backed operation against a Shiite militia enclave. Cooperation between American and Iraqi forces can be a sensitive balancing act, and it has political overtones for the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. Maliki complained on Wednesday that the Iraqi government should have been informed about the raid into a Shiite enclave in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad, and should have a role in such operations.
History reveals: What a nation inflicts upon the world -- its own people will, sooner or later, inflict upon each other. There is no need to warily scan the horizon line for its arrival, because we're already living in the midst of the angst and emptiness we have wrought. Ergo, when dreams mean nothing -- when words and images are rendered meaningless -- our lives reflect these dismal states.
The U.S. strategy for suppressing the militias of Baghdad has failed disastrously. The reasons are far-reaching.The price of adopting an unsuccessful confrontation policy with the militias of Baghdad has been very high for the United States. American troop casualties for October soared to very high levels. Political and strategic tensions and distrust between the U.S. government and the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are worse than they have been in the half a year since Maliki took office. The militias are stronger and more credible than ever. And the Bush administration has been forced to make an urgent reassessment of its Iraq strategy when it never expected to have to do so at this time.Little time need be assigned to considering U.S. officials` demand for the Iraqi government to meet 'benchmarks' in taking over responsibility for controlling the militias and ending the widespread sectarian violence that is in reality a state of civil war in many regions of the country.For all previous U.S. official predictions and timetables for progress in Iraq have proven to be unfounded fantasies with no tangible connection to evolving political and security realities on the ground there. There is no indication that the latest projected 'timetables' will be any different.Nor does President George W. Bush`s widely reported comment at his news conference Wednesday that 'we are winning' in Iraq conform in any way to the widely reported realities on the ground there.The grim truth is -- as we have repeatedly noted in these columns since the metastasizing of the sectarian conflict in late February this year, the Iraqi government produced by the ambitious and convoluted political process imposed by Bush administration policymakers on Iraq is not an independent or viable national government in any significant sense of the word.
There still seems to be little understanding within the Pentagon and none whatsoever in the White House or among Republican congressmen as to why that policy has failed.
Several months before U.S. construction foreman John Owen would quit in disgust over what he said was blatant abuse of foreign laborers hired to build the sprawling new U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Rory Mayberry would witness similar events when he flew to Kuwait. The U.S. Army veteran had previously worked in Iraq for Halliburton and the private security company, Danubia. Mayberry snagged a 10,000-dollar a month job with MSDS consulting company, working as a medic.MSDS is a consulting company that assists U.S. State Department managers in Washington with procurement programming. Never before had the firm offered medical services or worked in Iraq, but First Kuwaiti - Owen's employer - hired MSDS on the recommendation of Jim Golden, the State Department contract official overseeing the embassy project. Within days, an agreement worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical care was signed.Like Owen, Mayberry immediately sensed things weren't right when he boarded a First Kuwaiti flight on Mar. 15 to Baghdad.At the airport in Kuwait City, Mayberry said, he saw a person behind a counter hand First Kuwaiti managers a passenger manifest, an envelope of money and a stack of boarding passes to Dubai. The managers then handed out the boarding passes to Mayberry and 50 or so new First Kuwaiti laborers, mostly Filipinos."Everyone was told to tell customs and security that they were flying to Dubai," Mayberry said in an interview. Once the group passed the guards, they went upstairs and waited by the McDonald's for First Kuwaiti staff to unlock a door - Gate 26 - that led to an unmarked, ageing white 52-seat jet."All the workers had their passports taken away by First Kuwaiti," Mayberry claimed, and while he knew the plane was bound for Baghdad, he's not so sure the others were aware of their destination. The Asian laborers began asking questions about why they were flying north and the jet wasn't flying east over the ocean, he said. "I think they thought they were going to work in Dubai."
YEAH, RIGHT:Rumsfeld Claims Terrorists Use Media To Manipulate American People
[Coming from the guy who set up a propaganda office in Iraq and paid Iraqi media to publish their propaganda, this is pretty funny….. or would be, if so many people weren’t getting hurt or killed. - dancewater]U.S. troops serving on the ground are doing amazing things, the secretary said."I never cease to be impressed. If I want to be inspired, I go visit the troops," Secretary Rumsfeld said. "And they are doing just a superb job for the country. They're proud of what they're doing. They're professional. They are highly skilled at what they do."
AND MEANWHILE: US Troops On Active Duty Call For Iraq Withdrawal
Newspapers in the Arab world doubt any good can come from any possible rethink of US policy in Iraq, following President Bush's speech expressing dissatisfaction with the situation in the country. Syrian and Qatari commentators believe that Mr Bush's refusal to set a timetable for troop withdrawal means there can be no end to the bloodshed. One Lebanese paper predicts America is close to admitting defeat, while there is also speculation that US troops may be withdrawn, leaving a destroyed Iraq "to an uncertain fate".
Syria: It is a feast soaked with Arab blood. In Iraq dozens die every day because of the US occupation and its policy of divide and rule. There is no hope of achieving an end to these tragic incidents or an end to the occupation, because President Bush insists on saying that the presence ofUS forces in Iraq is necessary to spread democracy, for the future of Iraq and to protect the US from terrorists.
Qatar: President Bush has caused the death of large numbers of Iraqis, more than those killed by the regime of Saddam Hussein. Nevertheless, the US president is still defending the invasion of Iraq claiming that this is driving Iraq towards a democratic regime, which will be a centre for enlightenment for the entire Arab region. This is completely untrue, if we take into consideration the sectarian and ethnic fighting we see in this Arab country.
Former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix on Wednesday described the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq as a "pure failure" that had left the country worse off than under the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein. In comments to Danish newspaper Politiken, he said the U.S. government had ended up in a situation in which neither staying nor leaving Iraq were good options. "Iraq is a pure failure," Blix was quoted as saying. "If the Americans pull out, there is a risk that they will leave a country in civil war. At the same time it doesn't seem that the US can help to stabilize the situation by staying there." War-related violence in Iraq has grown worse with dozens of civilians, government officials and police and security forces being killed every day. At least 83 American soldiers have been killed in October - the highest monthly toll this year. Blix said the situation would have been better if the war had not taken place. "Saddam would still have been sitting in office. OK, that is negative and it would not have been joyful for the Iraqi people. But what we have gotten is undoubtedly worse," he was quoted as saying. Blix led the UN inspectors that searched for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. He came under heavy fire from Washington when he urged U.S. President George W. Bush to allow the weapons inspectors and the IAEA to continue their work as a way to stave off a war. Ultimately a U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq and no weapons of mass destruction were found.
It is Eid now, the three-day feast that Muslims celebrate after the end of Ramadan, and mercifully the level of violence in Baghdad seems to have moderated, at least somewhat. Eid is effectively equivalent to a western Christmas - when you meet someone on the street, even strangers, you typically say "Eidkum mubarak", "may your Eid be blessed" - similar to the "Happy Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" greetings in the west.Also like Christmas, Eid is a time for giving presents, for family and friends - children in particular. And so traditionally on the eve of Eid the markets and shopping districts are crowded with shoppers, looking for food, clothes and gifts. The eve of Eid this year was marred by a number of bombing attacks on markets, and several dozen people were killed, but since then things have calmed down. The streets are also quite quiet now, as many people are staying at home for the holiday period.The neighborhood where our bureau is located is particularly quiet now, because the US has cordoned off the entire area as they continue their search for the American soldier who was abducted here on Monday evening. We walked down to the end of the street today where a big Stryker armored vehicle is parked, the soldiers barely visible above the hatch openings (less of a target for snipers). They were friendly enough when we approached, and a couple came out to talk to us briefly, but they didn’t smile, and their eyes constantly scanned the road and the building roofs around them as they talked. Baghdad has become a scary city for them, every window could hold a gunman, every pile of garbage in the gutter could conceal a roadside bomb.
Horror at the bloodshed accompanying the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Iraq has accomplished what human rights activists, analysts and others say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been unable to do by himself: silence public demands for democratic reforms here.The idea of the government as a bulwark of stability and security has long been the watchword of Syrian bureaucrats and village elders. But since Iraq's descent into sectarian and ethnic war - and after Israel's war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, on the other side of Syria - even Syrian activists concede that the country's feeble rights movement is moribund.Advocates of democracy are equated now with supporters of America, even "traitors," said Maan Abdul Salam, a Damascus publisher who has coordinated conferences on women's rights and similar topics. "Now, talking about democracy and freedom has become very difficult and sensitive," Salam said. "The people are not believing these thoughts anymore. When the U.S. came to Iraq, it came in the name of democracy and freedom. But all we see are bodies, bodies, bodies."
STOP FUNDING THE WAR: Progressive Democrats of America 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. The PDA will be collecting 100,000 signatures over the upcoming weeks so Rep. McGovern may deliver them personally to House and Senate leaders shortly after the November 2006 election.
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."