Saturday, November 11, 2006


PHOTO: IN BAGHDAD: A victim of an explosion this week at a Shiite coffee shop awaits attention. Sectarian tensions and violence have exacerbated Iraq's healthcare woes. (Karim Kadim / AP)

Security Incidents for November 11, 2006


Car bombs exploded among shoppers in downtown Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least eight people, police said. At last 20 others were injured when a pair of bombs hidden beneath two cars detonated at 8: 45 at Hafidh al-Qadhi Square, Lt Ali Musin of the Rissafa police station, said. The area lies at the heart of Rasheed Street, Baghdad''s main commercial centre.

at least 38 others were injured in the explosion at Hafidh al-Qadhi square, a formerly bustling area on the eastern bank of the Tigris River.

Police found five bodies, including a woman, bearing signs of torture and bullet wounds, in different parts of Baghdad, Interior Ministry sources said.

Gunmen shot dead an intelligence officer in southern Baghdad's Bayaa district, Interior Ministry sources said.

A roadside bomb exploded in eastern Baghdad, killing one civilian, Interior Ministry sources said.

A roadside bomb killed one motorist and wounded five others in eastern Baghdad, police said.

In a separate incident, a roadside bomb went off near a passing U.S. patrol in the Rustamiyah area in southern Baghdad, the source added.

One police officer was also killed when gunmen opened fire on their pickup truck in eastern Baghdad, said Lt. Muhsin of the Rissafa station.

Two policemen, including an intelligence officer were also shot dead


In nearby Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, a staffer with the local agriculture directorate, Zuhair Hussein Alwan, was shot and killed by unknown assailants

In another attack, gunmen killed a policeman and a woman in the city of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, police said, adding that another civilian was similarly shot dead.


Also Saturday, a bomber drove a car rigged with explosives into the police station in the northern town of Zaganya, killing the police chief, burning four vehicles, and badly damaging the building, the provincial police information office said.


The U.S. government's office in central Iraq came under mortar fire early Saturday, an attack that touched off a blaze in part of the complex, Iraqi police said. There was no immediate word on damage or casualties. The mortar attack was at least the second reported in recent weeks against the U.S. office in Hillah, which oversees government and diplomatic interests in the central Euphrates region, about 60 miles south of Baghdad. Nine of the 10 mortar bombs fired landed inside the complex, police Capt. Muthanna Khalid Ali said.


A Polish and Slovak soldier have been killed in an ambush near the city of al Kut in Iraq. Two other members of the military patrol, a Pole and Armenian, sustained injuries and have been taken by helicopter to a hospital in Baghdad. Their condition is reported to be stable. Spokesman for the MOD said the patrol had been attacked with a remote controlled home made bomb placed at the side of the road. After detonating it under the passing Hummer, the assailants shelled the vehicle and its crew with machine gun fire. The Polish casualty is sergeant Tomasz Murkowski, from the 16th Pomeranian Mechanized Division. He is the 18th Polish soldier killed in Iraq and the third from his unit based in Elblag.

Khalid Ismail, a Christian working as a translator at the American base, Delta, west of Kut, was kidnapped on Saturday, police said.


Two bodies that had been bound and shot in the head and chest were pulled from the Tigris River Saturday morning in Suwayrah, 25 miles south of Baghdad, morgue administrator Maamoun al-Ajili said.


A suicide car bomber struck a U.S. patrol north of Baghdad on Saturday, causing undetermined casualties, an Interior Ministry source said. "A suicide bomber drove his explosive-laden vehicle into a U.S. military patrol in the Taji area, some 20 km north of Baghdad," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.


Gunmen set up a false security checkpoint and ambushed several minibuses south of Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least 10 passengers and kidnapping about 50, police reported. The abductions took place nearly the volatile city of Latifiyah


A roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol, seriously wounding four policemen in the northern oil city of Kirkuk, police said.

A roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol wounding three civilians in the northern Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk, police said.

An Iraqi soldier was also shot dead by gunmen in the northern oil city of Kirkuk, police captain Imad Jassim Mohammed said. He said gunmen in an Opel car opened fire on Abdallah Mustafa Mohammed in front of his house in east Kirkuk.

Tal Afar:

In the western city of Tal Afar, two suspected insurgents were killed during an overnight search for those behind a suicide bombing Friday that killed six Iraqi soldiers in the western city of Tal Afar.


A Samarra police captain, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared retribution, said the city morgue had received the beheaded bodies five soldiers who were kidnapped last week in the Meshahda area, 20 miles north of the capital.


REPORTS – Everyday Life in Iraq Today

Unforgettable Week

It has been almost two weeks since I talked to Ahmed, one of my best friends, who lives in my neighborhood. I received an email from him. To be honest, I don't know whether I should be happy or sad after reading this email. On one hand I am happy because he is alive and on the other I am sad because of the content of this email that broke my heart. His email was all about what he went through for the last week. He is left alone with no friends around him. All of us left and now he is just so miserable living in the most dangerous spot on earth. His words broke my heart especially the part where he said he had to sit in the garden by himself where we all used to gather. The situation in my neighborhood is deteriorating, he said. The Mahdi army and the armed men are the only controlling power there. Iraqi Police and army are just names they hear about and have never seen there to protect the neighborhood and its people.

It's Not Safe For People, Even If They Are Locked Up In Their Houses

Mortar missiles are falling on my district for about a week....at the rate of 15 mortar missile per day...lots of killed innocent people...lots of injuries from the people of the district... I was in my room...around 7 pm...chatting on the internet with my friends...then I heard a huge sound of bombing...and huge amount of dust came into my room.... I was shoked... I stopped thinking for minutes...I didn't know what to do...then heard the voice of my mum from down stairs...screeming..Nabil, Nabil...are you okay?!.... I ran downstairs to check if my mom and dad are okay...and thanks to god they were okay. Then we started to try to understand what happened...meanwhile we heard voices in the street...saying that a mortar missile fell on a shop infront of my house.... the owner of the shop is one of my friends... and his house is just behind the shop...so I ran out to check if they were okay... I crossed the street...it was too dark...no electricity as usual...saw few men with torch lights looking at the shop and trying to find what happened...then a guy who was passing the street....stood in front of my house and shouted to us...that he found a hole in the street... we ran to his spot...and found what you see in these pictures... We found that it was a mortar missile which fell on the side-walk as you see....

Iraqi Bloggers React to Saddam Verdict

Decrepit Healthcare Adds To Toll In Iraq

Thousands of Iraqis are believed to have died from shortages of medicine, vital equipment and qualified doctors, despite an infusion of nearly half a billion dollars from U.S. coffers into this country's healthcare system, Iraqi officials and American observers say. Raging sectarian violence as well as theft, corruption and mismanagement have drained health resources and made deliveries of supplies difficult. Exacerbating the crisis, hundreds of doctors have been killed, and thousands have fled Iraq. The child mortality rate, a key indicator of a nation's health, has worsened since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to Iraqi government figures. In the most sinister reported development, provincial Sunni Muslim doctors charge that Shiite Muslims who control the Health Ministry deliberately withhold medicines and other vital supplies. Privately, some U.S. officials say that hard-line Shiites use the ministry for political and sectarian ends. This fall, U.S. troops raided the ministry, arresting employees suspected of kidnapping and killing patients at the Medical City Hospital in Baghdad. Afterward, ministry officials severed ties with the Americans and refused to open an $800,000 clinic built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in a deprived Sunni neighborhood in the capital. The clinic has since been opened, but relations are still strained between U.S. military officials and the ministry, which is staffed by Shiites loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada Sadr. Across Iraq, a country whose healthcare was once the envy of the region, many hospitals have neither computers nor meaningful patient files. Functioning X-ray machines and MRI scanners are few and far between. At one of the busiest hospitals in Baghdad, five people die on average every day because the staff does not have the equipment to treat heart attacks and other commonplace illnesses and injuries, said Husam Abud, a doctor at Yarmouk Hospital. That translates to more than 1,800 preventable deaths a year at that hospital alone. ………Already overburdened by large numbers of civilian victims of the civil war, hospitals also are stretched by Iraqi military and police casualties. Because the security forces have no emergency facilities, soldiers take wounded comrades to hospitals for care, often forcing doctors at gunpoint to treat them first, U.S. military officials say. Healthcare in Iraq once was first rate. Medicine and hospital care were free, doctors well-educated and respected. But neglect by former President Saddam Hussein and years of United Nations sanctions laid waste to the system.

Bechtel Departure Removes More Illusions

The decision of the giant engineering company Bechtel to withdraw from Iraq has left many Iraqis feeling betrayed. In its departure they see the end of remaining hopes for the reconstruction of Iraq.* "It is much worse than in the time of Saddam Hussein," Communist Party member Nayif Jassim told IPS. "Most Iraqis wish Saddam would be back in power now that they lived out the hardships of the occupation. The Americans did nothing but loot our oil and kill our people." Bechtel, whose board members have close ties to the Bush administration, announced last week that it was done with trying to operate in the war-torn country. The company has received 2.3 billion dollars of Iraqi reconstruction funds and U.S. taxpayer money, but is leaving without completing most of the tasks it set out to. On every level of infrastructure measurable, the situation in Iraq is worse now than under the rule of Saddam Hussein. That includes the 12 years of economic sanctions since the first Gulf War in 1991, a period that former UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Dennis Halliday described as "genocidal" for Iraqis. ……… Ahmed al-Ani who works with a major Iraqi construction contracting company says the model Bechtel adopted was certain to fail. "They charged huge sums of money for the contracts they signed, then they sold them to smaller companies who resold them again to small inexperienced Iraqi contractors," Ani told IPS. "These inexperienced contractors then had to execute the works badly because of the very low prices they get, and the lack of experience." Some Iraqi political analysts, rather optimistically, look at Bechtel's departure from a different angle. "I see the beginning of a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq," Maki al-Nazzal told IPS. "It started with Bechtel and Haliburton's propaganda, and might end with their escape from the field. They came with Bremer and introduced themselves as heroes and saviours who would bring prosperity to Iraq, but all they did was market U.S. propaganda."

VIDEO: Iraq, The Lost Generation

"When the US-led invasion of Iraq promised to replace Saddam Hussein's brutal regime with freedom and democracy, nearly half of the country's population was under 21. 'Iraq: The Lost Generation' opens a window onto the hidden world of Iraqi youth, revealing the brutalisation and psychological trauma of living under military occupation. It reveals how the people with whom the future of Iraq rests, are reacting with anger, aggression and, in some cases, violence.

Iraq Gunmen Kill 10 Shi'ites, Abduct 50

Sunni gunmen ambushed a convoy of minibuses Saturday night at a fake checkpoint on the dangerous highway south of Baghdad, killing 10 Shiite passengers and kidnapping about 50. Across the country at least 52 other people were killed in violence or were found dead, five of them decapitated Iraqi soldiers. Police said the mass kidnapping and killing was near the volatile town of Latifiyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad in the so-called Triangle of Death. Shiite Muslims, a minority in that district, have routinely come under attack from Sunni insurgents who control the territory. The highway passing through the region from Baghdad leads to Najaf, the holiest Shiite city in Iraq. Shiite pilgrims have become a favorite target of Sunni gunmen, although it was not immediately known where the victims of Saturday night's assault were headed.

REPORTS – Iraqi Politicians and Power Brokers and Militias

Sectarian Rifts Foretell Pitfalls of Iraqi Troops' Taking Control

It did not take long for Col. Brian D. Jones to begin to have doubts about the new Iraqi commander. The commander, Brig. Gen. Shakir Hulail Hussein al-Kaabi, was chosen this summer by the Shiite-led government in Baghdad to lead the Iraqi Army's Fifth Division in Diyala Province. Within weeks, General Shakir went to Colonel Jones with a roster of people he wanted to arrest. On the list were the names of nearly every Sunni Arab sheik and political leader whom American officers had identified as crucial allies in their quest to persuade Sunnis to embrace the political process and turn against the powerful Sunni insurgent groups here. “Where's the evidence?” Colonel Jones demanded of General Shakir. “Where's the proof? What makes us suspect these guys? None of that stuff exists.” To that, Colonel Jones recalled, the Iraqi commander replied simply, “I got this from Baghdad.” The incident was one of many that alarmed Colonel Jones, who just completed a yearlong tour as commander of American forces in Diyala. In the end, he said, he concluded that the Iraqi general's real ambition was to destroy the Sunni political movement here — possibly on orders from Baghdad. “I believe this is a larger plan to make Diyala a Shia province, rather than a Sunni province,” he said.

Iraq Official Estimates Civilian Toll At 150,000

Iraq's health minister estimated Thursday that 150,000 civilians had been killed since the U.S.-led invasion to oust dictator Saddam Hussein in March 2003. No official count of the deaths has been available, and estimates have varied widely. The number is three times as high as a Times estimate in June that was based on Health Ministry and Baghdad morgue statistics. The Lancet, a British medical journal, last month published a controversial study contending that nearly 655,000 Iraqis have died because of the war. The study, dismissed by President Bush and other U.S. officials as not credible, was based on interviews of households and not a body count. [I am certain the count is much higher. – dancewater]


Iraq President Says Democrats Reassuring

President Jalal Talabani said Thursday that he had been assured by Democrat congressional leaders during a recent visit to Washington that they had no plans for a quick withdrawal of U.S. forces. Talabani said Democrats also backed the idea of placing U.S. troops in bases while putting Iraqis in charge of security in and around cities. "They all told me that they want the success of Iraq's democratically elected government and continued support for the Iraqi people to defeat terrorism," Talabani said about his trip to the US in late September as many were predicting the Democratic congressional triumph in Tuesday's midterm elections. "One of them (a Democrat leader) told me that any early withdrawal will be a catastrophe for the US and the world," Talabani, speaking from his northern hometown of Sulaimaniyah, told the Dubai-based Al-Jazeera satellite broadcaster. The "Americans made big mistakes in Iraq," he said, including the rejection of its leaders hopes to form an interim Iraqi government immediately after the March 2003 invasion rather than occupying the country for more than a year.

McGovern to Meet With Congress on War

George McGovern, the former senator and Democratic presidential candidate, said Thursday that he will meet with more than 60 members of Congress next week to recommend a strategy to remove U.S. troops from Iraq by June. If Democrats don't take steps to end the war in Iraq soon, they won't be in power very long, McGovern told reporters. "I think the Democratic leadership is wise enough to know that if they're going to follow the message that election sent, they're going to have to take steps to bring the war to a conclusion," he said. McGovern will present his recommendations before the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a 62-member group led by Reps. Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee. "The best way to reduce this insurgency is to get the American forces out of there," McGovern said. "That's what's driving this insurgency." McGovern told the audience Thursday that the Iraq and Vietnam wars were equally "foolish enterprises" and that the current threat of terrorism developed because - not before - the US went into Iraq. McGovern's plan - as written in his new book, "Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now" - also calls for the US to remove hired mercenaries from the region, push for the removal of British troops and establish a temporary transitional force, similar to police, made up of Muslims from the region. "I've talked with a lot of senior officers - generals and admirals - in preparation for this book, that say this war can't be won, that the problems now are not military problems," McGovern told reporters. "There isn't going to be any decisive victory in Iraq." [Americans, please sign Rep. McGovern's (no relation to McGovern above, as far as I know) petition to stop funding the war below. It will give him a stronger hand, I believe. – dancewater]


Here Come the Odious Excuses

"Great news from America!" the cashier at my local Beirut bookshop shouted at me yesterday morning, raising her thumbs in the air. "Things will be better after these elections?" Alas, I said. Alas, no. Things are going to get worse in the Middle East even if, in two years' time, America is blessed with a Democrat (and democratic) president. For the disastrous philosophers behind the bloodbath in Iraq are now washing their hands of the whole mess and crying "Not Us!" with the same enthusiasm as the Lebanese lady in my book shop, while the "experts" on the mainstream US east coast press are preparing the ground for our Iraqi retreat - by blaming it all on those greedy, blood-lusting, anarchic, depraved, uncompromising Iraqis. I must say that Richard Perle's version of a mea culpa did take my breath away. Here was the ex-chairman of the Pentagon's Defence Policy Board Advisory Committee - he who once told us that "Iraq is a very good candidate for democratic reform" - now admitting that he "underestimated the depravity" in Iraq. He holds the president responsible, of course, acknowledging only that - and here, dear reader, swallow hard - "I think if I had been Delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said: 'Should we go into Iraq?' I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies...'"

UK Must Share Iraq Blame

A former member of the Bush administration has told Britain that it cannot avoid its share of responsibility for the mistakes made in Iraq since the 2003 war.

Kenneth Adelman, the former US assistant defence secretary and United Nations ambassador, criticised Britain for not raising the alarm when problems emerged after Saddam Hussein was ousted.

He told Channel 4 News: "I think the British should have raised alarms. And the way to deal with Americans is to really be very frank and very tough. They knew what was happening."

Mr Adelman, an ally of Donald Rumsfeld, said that British administrators in Iraq should have told Tony Blair to raise their concerns with President George Bush. He said: "The British certainly did not confront the Americans enough to say: 'This is all falling apart ... we are really doing stupid things here'."

A former member of the Bush administration has told Britain that it cannot avoid its share of responsibility for the mistakes made in Iraq since the 2003 war. Kenneth Adelman, the former US assistant defence secretary and United Nations ambassador, criticised Britain for not raising the alarm when problems emerged after Saddam Hussein was ousted. He told Channel 4 News: "I think the British should have raised alarms. And the way to deal with Americans is to really be very frank and very tough. They knew what was happening." Mr Adelman, an ally of Donald Rumsfeld, said that British administrators in Iraq should have told Tony Blair to raise their concerns with President George Bush. He said: "The British certainly did not confront the Americans enough to say: 'This is all falling apart ... we are really doing stupid things here'."


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.”


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