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Sunday, October 22, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2006

PHOTO: Masked insurgents take their positions on a road in Ramadi, 100 km (62 miles), west of Baghdad October 22, 2006. REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ)

Security Incidents for October 22, 2006

Baghdad:

Three people were killed and fourteen injured in a market where two bombs exploded in Baghdad. A third bomb killed two civilians and injured ten more.

Bring ‘em on: US Marine dies in fighting west of Baghdad.

Five gunmen killed and one wounded by US army while trying to plant IED in al Doura district.

Two civilians injured by a roadside bomb in east Baghdad.

Gunmen killed two street cleaners in the western Baghdad district of Yarmuk, an Interior Ministry source said.

Gunmen killed a barber in Amil, in southern Baghdad, police said.

Two blasts wounded several people in eastern Baghdad. Police said four were wounded and attributed the blasts to a car bomb and a roadside bomb. An Interior Ministry source said 14 were wounded and said it was a car bomb and a mortar.

Gunmen kidnapped two Shi'ite tribal leaders as they were driving into Baghdad from the south, police said, adding their families had received a ransom demand for $500,000.

The Defence Ministry said 29 suspected insurgents were arrested around Iraq in the past 24 hours.

Mahaweel:

One person killed and another injured by roadside bomb.

Shujeiriya:

Clashes broke out Saturday night between tribes south of the capitol of Baghdad, killing nine. About 80 panicked families fled the area.

Suwayrah:

Eight fighters of the Mahdi army died in clashes with the US military and Iraqi police.

Haditha:

Four people were killed and five wounded in clashes between U.S. forces and gunmen in Haditha, west of Baghdad, police said.

Mahmudiya:

Gunmen killed a man police said was responsible for bicycle bomb and mortars attacks on Saturday that killed 16 and wounded 60 in a market in Mahmudiya, a town in the Sunni insurgent "Triangle of Death" south of Baghdad.

Madaen:

Sunni and Shi'ite tribes clashed between Madaen and Suwayra, south of Baghdad, on Saturday, police said. On the Shi'ite side, six people were killed and three wounded, and three Sunnis were also killed, police said.

Kut:

Interfax-Ukraine said a blast killed one Ukrainian and wounded another on Friday, 45 km (30 miles) west of Kut in southern Iraq. They were working as contractors for a British firm. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry was unavailable to confirm the report.

Gunmen killed a former member of the Baath Party in Kut, 170 km (105 miles) southeast of Baghdad, police said.

Mosul:

Two bodies were found with gunshot wounds in Mosul, one of them a police officer, a hospital source said.

REPORTS – Everyday Life in Iraq Today

Iraq Province Loses 9,000 To Sectarian Killing

The bloodsoaked Iraqi province of Diyala has seen 9,000 of its citizens killed and at least 31,500 forced to flee since the fall of Sadda, it’s police chief has said. Defending the scope of an aggressive new security operation, Major General Ghassan Adnan al-Bawi told lawmakers Saturday that his force was dealing with a massive campaign of sectarian cleansing in the killing fields north of Baghdad. In the three years and seven months since the US invasion, Sunni and Shiite death squads in Diyala have been battling it out for one of Iraq’s most fertile and religiously mixed areas. "The situation in Diyala needs widescale rather than limited operations," Bawi told the provincial council when a Sunni legislator claimed his security drive had contributed to a climate of fear choking life in Diyala. Bawi said 420 date palm plantations had been burned down in the fighting -- 350 belonging to Shiites and 70 to Sunnis -- while 45 Shiite shrines and mosques have been blown up or defiled by Sunni extremists. Giving an example of the dangerous task facing his officers, he said a squad had been unable to recover six bodies lying in a major Baquba street that morning because of the cross-fire and were waiting for US air cover. Among the 9,000 dead, 7,000 were Shiites, as were 4,500 of the 5,200 displaced families driven from their homes, Bawi said. Diyala's civilians have been particularly targeted by Sunni extremists attempting to set up a religiously pure emirate, but more recently there have also been reports of Shiite militia groups mounting bloody counterattacks. Bawi's comments came after a Sunni member of the provincial council, Mahdi al-Juburi blamed the police "quick response operation" for the paralysis of business and administration in the provincial capital Baquba. But the police officer countered with the accusation that notes distributed in the city asking people not to go to their offices "were printed at some government offices with the support of the officials at these offices".

Medics Beg For Help As Iraqis Die Needlessly

The disintegration of Iraq's health service is leaving its civilians defenceless in the continuing violence that is rocking the country, Iraqi doctors warn today.

As many as half of the civilian deaths, calculated at 655,000 since the 2003 invasion, might have been avoided if proper medical care had been provided to the victims, they say.

In separate appeals, the doctors beg for help to stem the soaring death rate and ease the suffering of injured families and children. They say governments and the international medical community are ignoring their plight.

In the first 14 months after the 2003 invasion almost $20bn (£11bn) was spent on reconstruction by the British and American funds, including hundreds of millions on rebuilding and re-equipping the country's network of 180 hospitals and clinics.

But billions went missing because of a combination of criminal activity, corruption, and incompetence, leaving Iraqis without even the essentials for basic medical care.

The violence for which the Allied forces failed to plan has meant a $200m reconstruction project for building 142 primary care centres ran out of cash earlier this year with just 20 on course to be completed, an outcome the World Health Organisation described as "shocking".

In March, the campaign group Medact said 18,000 physicians had left the country since 2003, an estimated 250 of those that remained had been kidnapped and, in 2005 alone, 65 killed.

Medact also said "easily treatable conditions such as diarrhoea and respiratory illness caused 70 per cent of all child deaths", and that " of the 180 health clinics the US hoped to build by the end of 2005, only four have been completed and none opened".

Writing in the British Medical Journal today, Dr Basssim Al Sheibani and two colleagues from the Diwaniyah College of Medicine in Iraq says that, as the violence escalates, "the reality is we cannot provide any treatment for many of the victims."

"Emergency departments are staffed by doctors who do not have the proper experience or skills to manage emergency cases. Medical staff ... admit that more than half of those killed could have been saved if trained and experienced staff were available."

They say equipment, supplies and drugs are in many cases unobtainable. " Many emergency departments are no more than halls with beds, fluid suckers and oxygen bottles."

They add: "Our experience has taught us that poor emergency medicine services are more disastrous than the disaster itself. But despite the daily violence that is crushing Iraq, the international medical community is doing little more than looking on"

The shortages were graphically highlighted in a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary made by GuardianFilms, and broadcast in February. It revealed that children with diarrhoeal disease were dying of dehydration because hospitals lacked the right sized needles to inject them with fluids.

In Diwaniyah children's hospital, doctors were shown struggling to give drugs by ventilation to a two-day old girl, Zehara, who was born with underdeveloped lungs, because they had the wrong sized plastic mask. Masks costs pennies but, like all other equipment, are in short supply.

Zehara's father was dispatched on to the streets to try to buy Vitamin K on the black market, urgently needed for an injection. But it was too late - by the time he returned, she was dead and her twin brother also passed away shortly afterwards.

In a separate report yesterday, Peter Kandela, an Iraqi doctor who has practised as a GP in Surrey for 30 years, travelled through Jordan and Syria interviewing Iraqi medical staff who had escaped the violence.

"The current Iraqi brain drain is the worst the country has seen in its modern history," he writes

"In the new Iraq there is a price tag linked to your position and status. Those doctors who have stayed in the country know what they are worth in kidnapping terms and ensure their relatives have easy access to the necessary funds to secure their speedy release if they are taken."

He describes a kidney surgeon seized by a group of armed men, despite the presence of security guards who he had hired to protect himself, whose first act was to go through his contacts book for other potential victims. " They had the audacity to suggest that in return for receiving better treatment inn captivity I should recommend others for kidnapping", the surgeon said.

He was released unharmed after a ransom of $250,000 was paid by his wife.

In Baghdad where no one can escape violence, hospitals provided the last refuge. But they are now unsafe and Iraqis are avoiding them. Public hospitals in the city are controlled by Shiia - who have come under suspicion for allowing death squads to enter them to kill Sunnis.

Abu Nasr, the cousin of a man injured in a car bomb who was dragged from his hospital bed and riddled with bullets, told the Washington Post: "We would prefer now to die instead of going to the hospitals. I will never go back to one, never. The hospitals have become killing fields."

Medical notes

34,000 The number of Iraqi physicians registered before the 2003 war.

18,000 The estimated number of Iraqi physicians who have left since the 2003 invasion.

2,000 The estimated number of Iraqi physicians murdered since 2003.

250 The number of Iraqi physicians kidnapped.

34 The number of reconstructive surgeons in Iraq before the 2003 invasion.

20 The number who have either been murdered of fled. 72 per cent of Iraqis needing reconstructive surgery are suffering from gunshot or blast wounds.

164 The number of nurses murdered - 77 wounded.

$243,000,000 The amount of money set aside by US administration to build 142 private health clinics in post-invastion Iraq.

20 The number of such clinics built by April 2006.

$0 The amount of money left over.

$1bn The amount of money the US administration has spent on Iraq's healthcare system.

$8bn The amount of money needed over the next 4 years to fund the health care system

70 the percentage of deaths among children caused by "easily treatable conditions" such as diarrhoea and respiratory illnesses.

270,000 The number of children born after 2003 who have had no immunisations.

HEALTH INDICATORS:

68 per cent of Iraqis with no access to safe drinking water.

19 per cent of Iraqis with sewerage access.

The disintegration of Iraq's health service is leaving its civilians defenceless in the continuing violence that is rocking the country, Iraqi doctors warn today. As many as half of the civilian deaths, calculated at 655,000 since the 2003 invasion, might have been avoided if proper medical care had been provided to the victims, they say. In separate appeals, the doctors beg for help to stem the soaring death rate and ease the suffering of injured families and children. They say governments and the international medical community are ignoring their plight. In the first 14 months after the 2003 invasion almost $20bn (£11bn) was spent on reconstruction by the British and American funds, including hundreds of millions on rebuilding and re-equipping the country's network of 180 hospitals and clinics. But billions went missing because of a combination of criminal activity, corruption, and incompetence, leaving Iraqis without even the essentials for basic medical care. The violence for which the Allied forces failed to plan has meant a $200m reconstruction project for building 142 primary care centres ran out of cash earlier this year with just 20 on course to be completed, an outcome the World Health Organisation described as "shocking".

In March, the campaign group Medact said 18,000 physicians had left the country since 2003, an estimated 250 of those that remained had been kidnapped and, in 2005 alone, 65 killed. Medact also said "easily treatable conditions such as diarrhoea and respiratory illness caused 70 per cent of all child deaths", and that " of the 180 health clinics the US hoped to build by the end of 2005, only four have been completed and none opened". Writing in the British Medical Journal today, Dr Basssim Al Sheibani and two colleagues from the Diwaniyah College of Medicine in Iraq says that, as the violence escalates, "the reality is we cannot provide any treatment for many of the victims." "Emergency departments are staffed by doctors who do not have the proper experience or skills to manage emergency cases. Medical staff ... admit that more than half of those killed could have been saved if trained and experienced staff were available."

Medical notes

34,000 The number of Iraqi physicians registered before the 2003 war.

18,000 The estimated number of Iraqi physicians who have left since the 2003 invasion.

2,000 The estimated number of Iraqi physicians murdered since 2003.

250 The number of Iraqi physicians kidnapped.

34 The number of reconstructive surgeons in Iraq before the 2003 invasion.

20 The number who have either been murdered of fled. 72 per cent of Iraqis needing reconstructive surgery are suffering from gunshot or blast wounds.

164 The number of nurses murdered - 77 wounded.

$243,000,000 The amount of money set aside by US administration to build 142 private health clinics in post-invasion Iraq.

20 The number of such clinics built by April 2006.

$0 The amount of money left over.

$1bn The amount of money the US administration has spent on Iraq's healthcare system.

$8bn The amount of money needed over the next 4 years to fund the health care system

70 the percentage of deaths among children caused by "easily treatable conditions" such as diarrhoea and respiratory illnesses.

270,000 The number of children born after 2003 who have had no immunisations.

HEALTH INDICATORS:

68 per cent of Iraqis with no access to safe drinking water.

19 per cent of Iraqis with sewerage access.

Baghdad Bakers and Barbers at Risk

This is a snapshot of life for two people in one Baghdad neighbourhood. Before I introduce you to the baker and the barber though, a little background... They both work in Karrada which sits on the east bank of the river Tigris. It is one of the wealthier parts of the city and right now it is seen as something of a haven. In this case that means bombings and shootings only once or twice a week, rather than every day. This is a majority Shia area, but many of its residents are Sunni, and there are large numbers of Christians too. So far though it has avoided the fate of other traditionally mixed neighbourhoods which have become ever more homogeneous, as death squads and militias drive out whichever group is in the minority. The question though everyone in Karrada has at the back of their minds is: how long before it starts happening here too? The threats are coming from both Sunni and Shia extremists - the same people are behind much of the sectarian violence. "I am very worried," says Sami. "I know what has happened to barbers in other districts." For the moment though, he is benefiting from these attacks on his profession. Because in some areas, all the barbers' shops have now closed and their customers are coming to areas like Karrada. But, like Hussein the baker, he keeps an eye on the street outside. "It's very sad," he says. "Before the war, we would just cut hair the way people wanted. Now we're not allowed to." And he went on: "Before we would never talk about whether someone was Sunni or Shia or Christian. You would never hear those words, we all lived peacefully. I don't know what is going to happen now." Then, with another furtive look at the street outside, he calls for the next customer, the father with his small boy, still screaming, to come and take his place on the red leather barber's chair.

VIDEO: Marwan Speaks About His Kidnapping

‘It is either us or you,’ Iraqi Rebels Tell U.S.

Iraqi rebels are determined to turn the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this year into a turning point in their struggle to defeat the United States. In interviews with residents and insurgents in violence-ridden areas, particularly in central Iraq, it appears that rebel tactics of turning the holy month into the bloodiest for the occupiers have been ‘a resounding success.’ “We have long queues of people willing to have themselves killed if they guarantee they will take one of the ‘Olooch’ with them,” said and Iraqi man who had spent sometime with a few rebels in a prison. ‘Olooch’ is the Arabic term the rebels use to refer to U.S. troops which is invariably translated into infidels. It was first used by former leader Saddam Hussein to describe U.S.-led troops that had assembled to topple him in 2003. One rebel said there were hundreds of fighters who would refuse to fight with a gun but would prefer to suicide bomb themselves if they know the bombing would end up in killing an American. The rebel, who refused to be named like all the sources in this story, cited the latest battles in Anbar, one of the most violent provinces in Iraq, in which U.S. troops were dealt heavy blows. “U.S. military operations there were met with stiff resistance. Fighters jointed the resistance from across the country and neighboring states. Many of them would rather blow themselves up in the face of the Olooch,” he said. Residents in rebel-held areas denied reports that Iraqi resistance was losing its popular base. “Everybody would opt for resistance and support it. There is little choice. It is hard for anyone in our area to even sympathize with these Olooch,” said a farmer in a village close to Falluja. The use of disproportionate force and policies and actions hostile to the religious and cultural aspirations of the population in these areas has apparently turned most of the people against U.S. troops. Stories of U.S. atrocities – mistreatment of prisoners, molesting of females, killing of innocent Iraqis as well as reported rape and murder – are the main topics of conversation almost everywhere in this volatile region. “There is no way to drive a wedge between us and the resistance. We are all one voice that it is either us or them (U.S.),” said a tribal chieftain, also not willing to reveal his name. There were reports that the tribes were unhappy with the rebels but the tribal leader said if differences existed they “will never be at the expense of efforts to humiliate and defeat the Olooch and their backers in Iraq.”

An Early Calculation of Iraq’s Cost of War

Published information on the subject is very limited, although one economist, Colin Rowat, has made some preliminary calculations using the best sources available. Professor Rowat, a specialist on the Iraqi economy at the University of Birmingham in Britain, relied mainly on data from the International Monetary Fund to estimate the war’s overall effect on the Iraqi economy. His calculations are a work in progress, but what he has found so far is sobering: the cost amounts to a cut of at least 40 percent in Iraq’s national income. Professor Rowat looked at the six-year stretch from 2000 to 2005 and divided it into thirds. During the first period, 2000-2001, United Nations trade sanctions against Iraq were beginning to crumble; the Security Council lifted the cap on Iraqi oil sales to the rest of the world, and the Iraqi government was becoming adept at getting around the remaining trade restrictions. The second period, 2002 -2003, covers the buildup to war and the invasion itself. The last period, 2004-2005, covers post-invasion years when sanctions were removed. Professor Rowat made several kinds of calculations. First, he estimated the actual change in the size of Iraq’s economy. Then he considered the economic effects of foreign aid in 2005, much of it from the United States. (Because foreign aid is regarded as temporary and is expected to taper off, he said, excluding it reveals Iraq’s underlying economic performance.)

Iraqi Youth Want US Troops To Withdraw

Majorities of Iraqi youth in Arab regions of the country believe security would improve and violence decrease if the U.S.-led forces left immediately, according to a State Department poll that provides a window into the grim warnings provided to policymakers. The survey — unclassified, but marked "For Official U.S. Government Use Only" — also finds that Iraqi leaders may face particular difficulty recruiting young Sunni Arabs to join the stumbling security forces. Strong majorities of 15- to 29-year-olds in two Arab Sunni areas — Mosul and Tikrit-Baquba — would oppose joining the Iraqi army or police. The poll has its shortcomings; regional samples are small and the results do not say how many people refused to respond to questions. The private polling firm hired by the State Department also was not able to interview residents of al-Anbar, a Sunni-dominated province and an insurgent stronghold. But the findings of the summer survey — circulated to policymakers last month and obtained by The Associated Press last week — nevertheless provide a solemn reminder of the difficulty that the U.S.-backed Iraqi government faces as it tries to add ethnic diversity to its security institutions. [Poll after poll after poll after poll in Iraq shows one thing: THEY WHAT THE US FORCES TO LEAVE. But, I guess the fact that it is THEIR country means nothing to “Democracy Boy”. – dancewater]

REPORTS – Other Aspects of Life in Iraq

We Will Not Stand Rape

Later he takes me, via the same back road, once more to avoid the Americans, to his brother's home in this town 20 miles south of Baghdad. It is a typical Iraqi farmhouse surrounded by palm and fig trees. "When I arrived that morning there was still a smell of burning plastic," Ahmad recalls. Inside the modest house, the walls and ceiling are covered with soot at the far right end of the room. Under the window sill, the wall and part of the floor are covered with a thick layer of burned grease, and next to it the corner wall is stained with an arc of spattered blood. "Abeer, was lying there," gestures Ahmad. "Part of her body was burned." In an adjacent room, he points at another blood-stained wall: "My brother was sitting there, his head slumped down. His wife was here by the door. And in the middle of the room was the little girl." While we are looking round the house, a woman wearing a shapeless black dress and a black hijab comes in with her 13-year-old son, Omar. Omar explains how he was outside the house showing his bicycle to Ahmad's brother, Hamza [Abeer's father] in the yard next door when he heard noises. "I told him: I think the Americans have gone into your house." Hamza went to see what was happening. About half an hour later, the boy said he heard a sound, "like beating a tin barrel with a stick few times". He went outside and saw five Americans leaving. One carried two guns. His mother takes up the story: "We went to the house and shouted through the door, are you OK? Are you OK? No one answered, then we saw the smoke coming from that window. I went to the street screaming for help, the young men from the street came in and we broke the door down. "The poor girl, she was so beautiful she lay there, one leg was stretched and the other was bended and her dress was lifted to her neck." …………Iraqi tribal society is deeply patriarchal. Honour and reputation are valued much more highly than property. Shame can only be wiped clean by blood and there is no worse shame for a family than rape. Shifting his weight uneasily and drinking his tea in a single gulp, Ahmad went on: "If we knew the soldier we would kill him but who is he? They all look the same." He dismissed claims by Sunni insurgent groups that the kidnapping and killing of two US soldiers in an area near the scene of the rape was in retaliation for the attack on Abeer.

Kurds Angry at Appointment of Turkmen

Kader Aziz, representative of autonomous Kurdish region leader Masoud Barazani, criticized Saturday the Iraqi premier's decision to appoint a Turkmen representative to the higher council responsible for implementation of the much-debated article 140 in Kirkuk. The amendments which were made in order to include a Turkmen leader in the executive committee were deemed 'surprising and were taken without the counsel of the Kurdish side,' said Aziz. The Kurdish leader said he expected 'barriers to be set, and problems to arise,' as a result of this decision. The article outlines a three-stage plan whereby 'the Arabization' policy formerly adopted by ousted leader Saddam Hussein would be completely abolished. A referendum would also take place to decide on the leadership of the oil-rich Kirkuk city, which the Kurds have their eyes set on amid Turkmen concern.

REPORTS – Iraqi Politicians and Power Brokers and Militias

Battle of the Militias

Shia militias fought gun battles with Iraqi police for a second day running yesterday, and at least 16 people were killed in a market bombing as worsening violence tested the Shia-led government's ability to rein in militias. It also exposed a power struggle that threatens to further complicate the US task in Iraq. The escalation in Shia infighting comes as Shias and Sunnis are engaged in a vicious sectarian conflict and insurgents are battling both Iraqi and US troops. Violence erupted in Suwayra after some 150 Mahdi Army militiamen loyal to Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr attacked a police station in the town 30 miles south of Baghdad. Eight gunmen died and two civilians were wounded. And in Mahmoudiyah, a late afternoon mortar and bomb attack killed at least 30 in the marketplace. Meanwhile, a lull of unpredictable length in the battle for Amarah settled on the southern Iraq city after government security forces retook control of streets where 750,00 people live in conditions of almost perpetual violence. Two days of clashes between elements of the Mahdi Army loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's faction and police controlled by Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim's Badr Brigades, left 25 dead, underscoring alarm about the growing influence of such virtual private armies, both of whose leaders exert influence within the national parliament.

Iraq’s Government Envoy Meets Tribal Leaders in Tense Amara

An envoy of Iraq’s prime minister on Saturday met tribal leaders in the southern town of Amara in efforts to ease the tension after fierce battles between militia gunmen and police. National Security Minister Shirwan al-Waeli, sent to Amara on Friday by prime minister Nuri al-Maliki to restore order, said the clashes, which left at least 25 dead in two days, had been fueled by tribal divisions. The fighting between the police and the Mehdi Army, loyal to the fiery Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, started after the assassination of the head of police intelligence in the town. Police subsequently arrested figures loyal to Sadr. The Mehdi Army then attacked police stations with rocket-propelled grenades and rifle fire. Sadr sent a letter urging calm, a leader in the Shi'ite militia said. Sadr also sent an envoy to Amara on Friday. The clashes have tested the Iraqi government's ability to rein in sectarian groups, and U.S.-led plans to hand over control to Iraqis. Witnesses said Amara was quiet on Saturday morning and shops were open.

REPORTS – US Military in Iraq

On Baghdad Streets, A Police Partnership Falters

When Lt. Col. John Norris led his Stryker battalion to the Baya district of Baghdad last month he planned to work hand in glove with the Iraqi police. But no sooner did he venture onto the streets than he discovered that the police who were to be his partners were part of the problem. As his Stryker command vehicle drove along a crowded avenue Colonel Norris spied several Shiite women in black abayas wailing over a body sprawled near a mosque as distraught relatives smeared the dead man’s blood on their faces. The American officer tried to wave down an Iraqi National Police truck for help, but the driver gave him an icy stare and kept going. “I was disgusted by that,” Colonel Norris recalled. An investigation by the American battalion later determined that the murder victim was a Sunni army captain visiting his family while on leave. He had been shot in the head and neck by two men armed with 9-millimeter pistols who escaped in a white van that drove unchallenged through a National Police checkpoint less than 200 yards away. On Thursday, the American command acknowledged that the Baghdad security plan had yet to stem the escalating bloodshed in the city. A week spent with American units demonstrated a major reason: After spending billions on building up Iraqi forces, and making withdrawal contingent on that buildup, the Americans have discovered that many of the Iraqi security forces are still not ready to handle security on their own. Throughout much of the city many Iraqis do not trust their own police forces.

Another Disastrous Cover-up [True or not, I don't know. - dancewater]

When the flames had been brought under control on the morning of the 11th of October, primarily because the entire camp had been gutted, nine large American military transports with prominent Red Cross markings were observed by members of the foreign media taking off, laded with the dead and the wounded. Over 300 American troops, including U.S. Army and Marines, CIA agents and U.S. translators were casualties and there also were 165 seriously injured requiring major medical attention and 39 suffering lesser injuries 122 members of the Iraqi armed forces were killed and 90 seriously injured members of same, were also evacuated to the U.S. military hospital at al-Habbaniyah located some 70km west of Baghdad. Satellite pictures and aerial photographs from neutral sources showed that Camp Falcon suffered major structural damage and almost all the U.S. military’s supply of small arms ammunition, artillery and rocket rounds, tons of fuel, six Apache helicopters, an uncounted but large number of soft-skinned vehicles such as Humvees and supply trucks were damaged or totally destroyed. Foreign press observers noted “an endless parade” of military vehicle recovery units dragging burnt-out heavy tanks and armored personnel carriers to another base outside Baghdad. Many of the walls and towers of the camp were damaged or leveled as were many of the barracks, maintenance depots, and there was considerable damage to the huge mess halls that could hold 3000 soldiers, the huge recreation center with its basketball courts and indoor swimming pools and all the administration buildings. Although official U.S. DoD statements indicated that there were no deaths; that only a hundred men were inside the base guarding billions of dollars of vital military equipment and that there were “only two minor injuries to personnel,” passes belief and certainly reality is more painful than propaganda. Not only has the U.S. military machine lost much of its armor and transport, and its entire reserves of ammunition and special fuel, but the casualty list for only the first day is over 300. Here is a transcription of that list who were evacuated to other hospital units. [I do not know if this story is accurate or not. It seems improbable that they could hide so many deaths. – dancewater]

In a Land Without Order, Punishment is Power

A year or so ago, just one poster adorned Sheik Adnan Aidani's wall. It was a portrait of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's faded but still preeminent cleric, whose stern visage glared down on visitors to the tribal sheik's house along a forest of date palms in the southern Iraqi countryside. Today, there are perhaps a dozen posters with new faces. The names blur, but together they represent the power, beyond appeal, of men with guns. Aidani smiled, a little sheepishly, as he surveyed the posters. Gifts, he called them, the kind you don't return. "Everyone's on his own," he explained. Far from the killing fields of the capital, Baghdad, and a half-hour drive from the southern city of Basra, which has been racked by thousands of assassinations, Aidani has an unenviable task in his warren of mud brick, cinder block and concrete: keeping order in a land without it, where society is fracturing, crumbling, even disintegrating. There is a saying in southern Iraq today, "No one pays respect to the saint who won't mete out punishment." Violence is the cadence of the country. To navigate the chaos, Aidani tries to draw on centuries-old traditions honed by Bedouins in the desert, rules built on honor, respect and reciprocity. He relies on the intimacy of a village where every neighbor knows the other. But in the end, the threat of punishment secures respect for Aidani. That same threat gives power to militias, gangs and criminals who now hold sway even in the streets of a village like Yusufan.

COMMENTARY

OPINION: Time To Face War’s Devastation

At the daily level of lived emotions and interpersonal relations, the war is taking a devastating toll not only on those who have experienced it first-hand, but also on those who wish to remain out of touch with the realities our government has created - and denied - in the last three and a half years. The twisting of facts and minimizing of damage wrought by the war and all that led up to it is destroying the common, public world we all must embrace and enter in order to repair our country, limit further damage to Iraq and the wider Middle East, and exercise our rights and duties as engaged citizens. The dangers posed by the destruction of our common world by politicians' lies, journalists' cowardice, and the desire of too many Americans to have the whole disaster of Iraq magically whisked away is summed up in these comments by Stan Goff, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW):

"It's very difficult to be a "productive member of society" when one fears sleep, and when one has lost meaning. I read a book on post-traumatic stress once. Rape is the most common cause, then combat. Trauma disrupts one's sense that the word is a safe place; trauma destabilizes our sense of meaning. Let me explain something, as a veteran myself of eight conflict areas: the sense that the world is not a safe place is not a "disorder." It is an accurate perception. And the sense of meaning many of us enjoy is an illusion, a cruel construction that normalizes the orderly activity of the suburb and nurses our children on simple-minded, Disney-fied optimism pumped through television sets in a relentless data stream. [Veterans] have been nurtured on the illusions that secure our obedience, but when the real system needed to demonstrate to the rest of the world just how unsafe our nation could make them as the price of disobedience, the vile carnival barkers of the Bush administration, like administrations before them, did not recruit the children of Martha's Vineyard or Georgetown. They went, as they have always done, to places like Lee County, Alabama, where simple people have formed powerful affective attachments to the myth of our national moral superiority. When that world view, that architecture of meaning, collapses in the face of realities like "convoy Russian roulette," and women holding babies up to prevent being shot, and daily stories of slaughter committed by the people one sleeps next to, the profound betrayal of it is not experienced as some quiet, somber sadness. It is experienced like bees swarming out of a hive that has been broken, as a howling chaos."

That howling chaos will reverberate throughout America for years, whether US troops stay in Iraq or not. This reality is here and now, in the USA; it is not a bad dream that can be left behind in the crowded, stinking morgues of Baghdad. Despite the stress it will incur, Americans must face the nightmarish reality that their government has created, and acknowledge that it was forged with their tacit complicity and silent assent. It is time to howl back. [Thanks for the link, Dana, but really I don’t think America will suffer that much from this war – at least, not in any kind of proportion to the Iraqi’s suffering. I think Americans will stay in their apathetic ignorance of what they have allowed their government to achieve. I think a vast majority will feel that the problem is mostly solved when they hand the US House and Senate over to the Democrats. They fail to realize that we have a “congress without a conscience” which reflects our general society. The reasons most Americans have turned against this war is because we are losing, not because they discovered some moral values to guide them. – dancewater]

OPINION: Plans of the American Government

At the beginning, the war was marketed as a sacrifice from the American people so that the Iraqis would be liberated and be happy. There are a lot of fools in America, and out of America, who believed this story… Afterwards, when it was evident that the Iraqis didn't get freedom or happiness, Bush's speech changed; he now tells the Americans: we must stay in Iraq until we eliminate terrorism- meaning; if we get out of Iraq, terrorism will come to America… Ha,ha,ha, what a story… And the poor Americans have no answer to this, so they just shake their shoulders, and be quiet. As for those who walk in demonstrations, organize meetings and press conferences to criticize Bush and his policy in Iraq, they are treated according to plans: Plan A: Ignore and marginalize them, so that people wouldn't hear them. Plan B: Put them under siege, observation, and spoil their lives. Plan C: Accuse them of being un-patriotic, and that they are destroying the American solidarity , so that people would hate them and scatter away from them. I always say that this war, in spite of its ugliness, has some bright points; the most important of which is that it exposed the fakeness of the western democracy story, the one with which they gave us headaches, and for which they destroyed Iraq… It turned out to be a black lie… And the second positive point is: that it tells the Iraqis; your country will not be liberated from occupation unless you work together, hand in hand, to kick out the occupier. The key to Iraq's dilemma lies in the hands of the Iraqis. In the hands of the Iraqis, not anyone else's… The good people of America are doing all they can to get the occupier out of Iraq. But the main bulk of the task lies in the responsibility of the Iraqis themselves, no doubt…

Top US Diplomat: We Have Shown Stupidity and Arrogance in Iraq

A senior US diplomat said yesterday that the United States had shown "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq, but warned that failure in the violence-ridden Arab nation would be a disaster for the entire region.

In an interview with al-Jazeera, Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the US State Department, also said the US was ready to talk with any Iraqi group - excluding al- Qa'ida in Iraq - to reach national reconciliation in the country, which is racked by widening sectarian strife as well as an enduring insurgency.

"We tried to do our best but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq," he said. "We are open to dialogue because we all know that, at the end of the day, the hell and the killings in Iraq are linked to an effective Iraqi national reconciliation," he said, speaking in Arabic.

His remarks came as President George Bush continued to review Iraq strategy with his top generals. In his weekly radio address, broadcast yesterday, he said he would make "every necessary change" in tactics to respond to spiralling violence in Iraq, and acknowledged that a drive to stabilise Baghdad had not gone as planned. But he said he would not abandon his goal of building a self-sustaining Iraqi government. President Bush said: "The past few weeks have been rough for our troops in Iraq and for the Iraqi people... Our goal in Iraq is clear and unchanging: our goal is victory. What is changing are the tactics we use to achieve that."

Meanwhile, Tony Blair is to hold talks with Iraq's deputy prime minister, Barham Saleh, in London tomorrow about an exit strategy for British troops. The Prime Minister is expected to discuss the country's escalating violence and the role that Syria and Iran could play in brokering a peace. Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, will also meet the Iraqi politician.

The London talks will focus on plans for an eventual withdrawal from Iraq, although Britain has ruled out an immediate pull-out. The discussion will also consider how to resolve the violence, including the situation in Amarah, where British troops remain on standby after it was first over-run by Shia militia and then retaken by Iraqi forces.

Yesterday, the Foreign Office stressed the need for Iran and Syria to engage with Iraq and said they could play an important role. The view chimes with that of a study group set up by the former US secretary of state, James Baker, at President Bush's request. Leaks from the Iraq study group suggest it will recommend talks with Iran and Syria - which President Bush branded part of an "axis of evil".

A senior US diplomat said yesterday that the United States had shown "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq, but warned that failure in the violence-ridden Arab nation would be a disaster for the entire region. In an interview with al-Jazeera, Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the US State Department, also said the US was ready to talk with any Iraqi group - excluding al- Qa'ida in Iraq - to reach national reconciliation in the country, which is racked by widening sectarian strife as well as an enduring insurgency. "We tried to do our best but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq," he said. "We are open to dialogue because we all know that, at the end of the day, the hell and the killings in Iraq are linked to an effective Iraqi national reconciliation," he said, speaking in Arabic.

MUSIC: I am a Patriot

MUSIC: Bring Them Home

MUSIC: Lives in the Balance

MUSIC: Back in the days of shock and awe. (posted in comments section)

OPINION: Filmmaker Comments on Iraqi Situation

Everybody asks that question, what can be done? I think that the only way to begin to answer that question is to respond with — I would say — two things. One is that I think that Americans have a moral obligation to Iraqis right now, and they should do anything they can to help stop the bloodshed. That should be always the first question if then we're going to talk about what should the United States do. From my experience, it's hard for me to see how U.S. presence there will ever bring stability, because it hasn't in so long and because there's such a problem of legitimacy in an occupying force that is perceived as having self interest and being infidels in this country. I believe the U.S. presence in Iraq going to be a magnet for instability. However, I also think that it's not a question of an immediate withdrawal, but instead, looking at what kind of solutions could allow this country to be stable and what does that mean? I don't know what it means. I don't know if the huge amounts of resources that we're using toward the military could be used another way. I don't know if there are any other countries that we haven't alienated that could potentially be perceived as a more neutral peacekeeping force. But I do think that Americans have a responsibility to do whatever they can to help to stabilize the country. [“My Country, My Country” is a film about an Iraqi physician and will be shown on PBS this month. It looks like a worthwhile film to see. – dancewater]

To find out more about this film and the listings for local show times, please go HERE.

Short Film: Wage Peace

NEWS ABOUT AFGHANISTAN

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.”

Quote of the day:

You can pound all the buildings to rubble. You can kill all that can't run away. You can kill and keep killing and then kill some more, But the hunger for freedom will stay.

In America freedom means bondage. In America fools run the show. In America no one knows what the words mean When the word-magic says, "stop" means "go."

And the Newspeak keeps pouring from out of the mouths Of the spokesmen for nation and town. Until sov'reign means slav'ry and choosing means chains And swimming means freedom to drown.

- Michael Murry

HAPPY EID MUBARAK to all our Muslim readers.


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