Thursday, November 23, 2006


Photo:Malachi Ritscher at Chicago protest (See story under The War At Home below.)

Security Incidents for November 23, 2006

BAGHDAD -More than 140 killed in Baghdad’s Sadr City, and more than 200 wounded in a series of bombings.The bombs and mortar shells stuck at 15 minutes intervals beginning at 3 PM, with the first bomb at a vegetable market.There were six car bombs from one report, many details are unknown in this tragedy, and the death toll is expected to rise.Another report says the mortar barrage was aimed at a nearby Sunni enclave.

BAGHDAD -The Health Ministry compound was attacked by at least 30 gunmen today.There were at least three mortar rounds inside the compound.These gunmen also attacked that Shi’ite Endowment, which manages Shi’ite institutions around the country.There are no immediate reports on casualties.

BAGHDAD -US forces killed four people when they opened fired on a minibus in Sadr City. Other reports say eight more were wounded.

BALAD -US forces claimed to have killed a terrorist and detained two other suspected terrorists.

TIKRIT -Gunmen attacked a police patrol killing one policeman and wounding one in Tikrit, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL -Gunmen clashed with security forces in central Mosul and two civilians were killed, police said.

BAGHDAD -Gunmen killed Najim al-Kinani, a former military pilot, in the west central al-Mansour district of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.

ANBAR PROVINCE -Three U.S. marines died on Wednesday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province, the U.S. military said on Thursday.

BAGHDAD -A roadside bomb wounded five people in al-Nahdha area in central Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD -A roadside bomb wounded four police commandos in the southwestern Bayaa district of Bagdhad, police said.

BAGHDAD -A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol wounded two policemen and two civilians in Palestine street in northeast Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.

BAQUBA -Gunmen opened fire at two men selling black market gasoline containers, killing the two of them and one customer in regiously mixed city of Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.


Iraq Says UN “Misleads” on Death Toll

The Iraqi government hit out at the United Nations on Wednesday, accusing it of exaggerating and "misleading the world" with a report saying that a record 3,709 civilians were killed in violence in October.The health minister gave no alternative number but said the real figure was about a quarter of that, and suggested U.N. officials obtained their data "illegally" from his subordinates."These statistics are not accurate," Health Minister Ali al-Shimeri told state television's prime-time news bulletin.The U.N. stood by its statistics, saying they came from the Health Ministry itself and were consistent with past findings.

Government-Backed Militias Killed Comedian

A militia group linked to the government is leading a campaign of intimidation and murder against reporters and employees of Azzaman and its sister media outlets.On Monday, al-Shariqiya, the television network which is part of Azzaman Group, lost its star comedian who made Iraqis laugh at their corrupt politicians, the U.S. occupiers as well as the insurgents.This murderous militia group is targeting Azzaman and its sister outlets as part of a campaign to forced them to leave the country.Azzaman has lost numerous reporters and employees amid threats from government officials to close its television down.The newspaper has reliable information that the comedian, whose program Caricature was watched by millions of Iraqis, was under surveillance for several days by these militias.

Violence in Iraq Increasingly Targeting Women

Women are increasingly the victims of violence in Iraq, as direct targets of assassinations and as widows left without support after the deaths of their husbands, an Iraqi women's activist said yesterday."Many women activists have been murdered, many women university professors. Many women physicians have been killed, women in the police forces, reporters and journalists," Rajaa al-Khuzai, president of the Iraqi National Council of women, told a news conference in Vienna."We are losing an average 100 Iraqi (men) every day... So I think (we have an additional) 3,000 widows every month... And all of them are young and have no support for them and their families," she added. ………"If we want to see stability in the region we have to highlight the role of the women ... Women who will make the change on the ground," said edit Schlaffer, chairwoman of the Vienna-based women without borders, which organised the talk.Before Saddam Hussein's regime, Iraqi women enjoyed more rights than most of their counterparts in the region and even during the 1980s, "men were involved in the (Iran-Iraq) war and women took over", al-Khuzai said.

Cabinet Ministers Desert Offices Following Threats

Many Iraqi ministers are staying away from work, fearing attacks from militias or insurgents.Violence has exacerbated in Baghdad with street battles reported daily in several parts of the city.Despite the presence of tens of thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops, residents say there is no street in Baghdad where one can feel safe.“We live in a city which has gone wild,” one resident, refusing to be named, said.Gunmen have already kidnapped a deputy minister and attacked the convoy of another, killing two bodyguards.More than 100 people are being killed every day while the government and its U.S. masters are powerless in the face of the spiral of sectarian violence.Some ministers are reported to have delegated their duties to lower ranking officials, preferring to spend their time traveling outside Iraq.Others simply stay at home, fearing for their live.A director-general in one of the ministries said the minister has been away for more than a month and “no one in the ministry knows about his whereabouts.”

Iraqi Government to Hold Discussions With Insurgents

The Iraqi government will next week hold talks with representatives of insurgent groups in the country in an effort to quell the violence that has mired Iraq, The Times reported on Thursday.Citing the Iraqi National Dialogue and Reconciliation Minister Akram Al Hakim, the newspaper said that the one-day conference will be held either on November 28 or 29, and will pave the way for a subsequent meeting outside Iraq, either in Damascus or Amman in December or January.“Indirectly, we are in contact with them, their messages are sent back and forth through intermediaries,” Hakim was quoted as saying by the newspaper.“They have declared that they are ready to enter into the political process.”Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki will attend the conference with other prominent officials and MPs, the newspaper said, while British and American diplomats and coalition military officers have also been invited.A spokesman for the British foreign ministry could not immediately confirm that British diplomats have been invited to any such conference.

Iraq’s Government Hampered By Suspicions [And ineptitude. – dancewater]

When the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works dispatched crews to the Amil neighborhood last month to repair a sewer line that had been spewing raw human waste into the street for weeks, residents were encouraged. But instead of repairing the pipe, the workers wound up rupturing the freshwater line. They left the entire mess for someone else.Iraqis elected their leaders in December, hoping that a government by the people would do something for the people. Eleven months later, officials acknowledge that their efforts have been mostly a failure. And, as with the busted sewer line of Amil, government involvement often creates a bigger problem than it solves. Despite U.S. pressure for results, Iraq's elected officials have been unable to overcome their mistrust of one another and improve security or tackle the major political and economic issues — from murderous cops to the sewage woes of Amil.Fed up with ministers he says were foisted on him by political factions, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has promised a Cabinet reshuffle. He is scheduled to convene the body this week to address the deepening political divisions and a threatened walkout by the Sunni Arab bloc.But his resolve may not be enough to overcome the government's inherent frailties and limitations.

Civil War Could Ripple Outward

[Yet another reason the anti-war protestors were against this war.I hate seeing our worst fears, that motivated us to protest so regularly and with such vigor, come true….. even more than I hated how we were ignored and marginalized. – dancewater]

While American commanders have suggested that civil war is possible in Iraq, many leaders, experts and ordinary people in Baghdad and around the Middle East say it is already under way, and that the real worry ahead is that the conflict will destroy the flimsy Iraqi state and draw in surrounding countries.Whether the U.S. military departs Iraq sooner or later, the United States will be hard-pressed to leave behind a country that does not threaten U.S. interests and regional peace, according to American and Arab analysts and political observers.``We're not talking about just a full-scale civil war. This would be a failed-state situation with fighting among various groups'' growing into regional conflict, Joost Hiltermann, Middle East project director for the International Crisis Group, said by telephone from Amman, Jordan.``The war will be over Iraq, over its dead body,'' Hiltermann said.``All indications point to a current state of civil war and the disintegration of the Iraqi state,'' Nawaf Obaid, an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and an adviser to the Saudi government, said earlier this month at a conference in Washington on U.S.-Arab relations.As Iraq's neighbors grapple with the various ideas put forward for solving the country's problems, they uniformly shudder at one proposal: dividing Iraq into separate regions for Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, and then speeding the withdrawal of U.S. forces.``To envision that you can divide Iraq into three parts is to envision `ethnic cleansing' on a massive scale, sectarian killing on a massive scale,'' Prince Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, said Oct. 30 at a conference in Washington. ``Since America came into Iraq uninvited, it should not leave Iraq uninvited.''[I don’t agree with that comments that the US forces should not leave Iraq.I don’t believe stability will ever return to Iraq as long as US forces are there.And the longer we wait to take them out of Iraq, the worse the violence will be when we leave.Of course, this current anti-war position is being ignored and marginalized, the same as before the war. – dancewater]


To Whom It May Concern [A plea for help – dancewater]

The reason for writing this letter is that my life is like living-hell, everyday is like a very bad nightmare, I start each day and I can't expect what could happen to me till the end of the day.I live in fear everyday, I wake up in fear, and I sleep the night in fear too, few days ago I stopped going to college, because the road to college is very dangerous, fake police check-points are everywhere and at any moment they can stop me and ask for my ID and once they see that I'm a Sunni they would have me killed or kidnapped or tortured, because they can figure it out from my name and my address (my district is a sunni district), and the 2nd reason why I stopped going to college, is that in Monday (20th Nov. 2006) two police patrols attacked our college building, and opened fire on the outer gate of the college for nearly 15 minutes, then they stopped after they injured some guards of the college, and they left immediatly without giving excuses for what they did. The last two months I have experienced a lot of things that I never imagend that I will experience in my life. About two weeks ago, my district was attacked by mortar missiles, we had missiles falling everywhere in the district, destroying houses and killing innocent people, the district was attacked with about 75 missiles in 5 days, one of the missiles fell on the side-walk just two yards away from the outer door of my house, it was shocking and very horrible, about a month ago, gunmen killed a woman who was a hair styler and owns a shop near my house for no reason, they just stopped her in the street when she was closing her shop and killed her, and left her corpse laying on the street, and truly I don't want to end up like that.

After living 3 horrible years in Iraq and witnessing all what I've witnessed, I realized that I can't live in this country anymore, I can't live in a country where some gunmen prevent me from going to school, where corrupted policemen will kill me just because of my religion or what's written on my ID, where religion bigots will have me killed just because I wear jeans, or shorts or because I shave my beard everyday in the morning.The only thing that I want is to finish my studies, and to work and to create a good life and to be a good man who can be helpful and successful and to live the rest of my life in peace.New Zealand is a great country, I think it's the best place for me to study and work in, and that I have great friends there whom they offored to support me make my dream happen...As soon as I can have residency Visa to New Zealand.Please, help me make my dream, Please Save my Life!- Nabil[There is a paypal button to help Nabil on his blog and on his brother’s blog Healing Iraq.I don’t like paypal, so I emailed Zeyad (Nabil’s brother) and got an address to mail a check.Zeyad is in NYC now.I feel we really need to make an effort to get young Iraqi men out of the country since they are in such danger. – dancewater]


The phone rang at about 6 a.m. today. It paused my every-night nightmare. The phone screen said “unavailable ID” which meant it’s Baghdad. Terrified of the news I could get from the other end, as usual, I picked up.It was my aunt. She just felt she needed to talk to me. It was great to hear her laughing. I miss her. In Baghdad, whenever she felt sad or upset, she would call me to feel better. We get along very well, as I do with all my relatives. They know that if they feel sad, they should talk to me!We joked a lot at the beginning. Then, we turned to reality. She told me the usual, that Baghdad is mourning its people everyday with no ray of hope that the black clouds would uncover my hometown.This time I felt there is something different in her voice. She wasn’t as relaxed as she used to be when she told me the news. She eventually revealed a deep depression in her voice. She was so pessimistic, understandably!I calmed her down and asked her to keep her faith in our ability to overcome this hard time and just wait. Maybe we will see the light at the end of the tunnel at some point. I didn’t believe what I was saying, neither she did I think. But at least I got to talk to her and hear the voices of my cousins in the background. That was enough to start the day with. Ten minutes later, we hung up. I laid back in my bed thinking about my future, if there is any.A few minutes passed, and here is the phone ringing again. This time another aunt. I got suspicious. I thought something was wrong. Why would they call me at the same time? And it is a weekend here. They know that chances are I am sleeping.“Nothing wrong. I just wanted to talk to you,” she said. “We miss you. It would be much easier time if you were here to joke about it.”I couldn’t help it but to cry. At that point, I’ve had enough. The nightmare that I get every night and then my family calling me to say they miss me and the sadness I felt in their voices. It was like they felt they wouldn’t make it through the day and wanted to talk to me before they leave. “Nadya and her family left to Jordan,” she told me, referring to one of my cousins. “She couldn’t take it anymore and had to leave.”I knew something was wrong. We are a very close family. When one leaves, the whole family feels terrible. Now I get it: they felt sad and wanted to talk to someone about it. Nadya left. That meant four less persons in our gatherings and one less house to gather in. my family is suffering. (But who isn’t in Iraq?)“I am trying to find a job outside Iraq or in Kurdistan,” she said. “We cannot stay here. It is getting really suicidal.”

VIDEO:A Mother Tells A Martyr’s Story

It’s nearly a daily occurrence that we read in the news of a half dozen or more insurgents or resistance fighters killed by US, Coalition, or Iraqi security forces.Rarely, however, do we hear the full story, rarely do we hear of the fighter, or martyr’s experience. Although the press generally refers to them as insurgents, Iraqis killed on all sides of the conflict are generally referred to in Iraq as martyrs.Ali was one fighter among many who have been killed during the war in Iraq. He was killed during one of many shootouts in the past year in Adhamiya. Correspondent Isam Rasheed met his mother by chance in a new cemetery that has been built for Martyrs, those killed by Coalition forces or in the rising sectarian violence.


Another Marine Pleads Guilty

A 21-year-old lance corporal who joined the Marine Corps to "have adventures I could tell about" became the fourth defendant Tuesday to plead guilty to dragging an unarmed Iraqi from his home and executing him as he begged for his life.Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr. was sentenced to 21 months in the brig after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice. …….Shumate, who fired 10 to 20 rounds from his M-16 at Awad, said he had remorse for killing the 52-year-old former police officer. The judge, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Meeks, said he would have sentenced Shumate to eight years and a dishonorable discharge. But under a plea bargain approved by Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis, the convening authority, the maximum penalty was set at 21 months and a general discharge. [This ‘punishment’ is beyond disgusting!Only 21 months for murder! – dancewater]

Britain May Hand Over Basra in Spring

British forces may hand over security responsibilities in Basra to Iraqi forces by the spring, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said Wednesday. It was the first time that a government minister had set even a vague target for handing over security in Basra, but officials stressed that this was a hope, not a timetable. "We expect Najaf to be the next province to be transferred to Iraqi control in December," Beckett told lawmakers."In our own area of responsibility, we expect Maysan to follow in January," she said. "The progress of our current operation in Basra gives us confidence that we may be able to achieve transition in that province too at some point next spring." Last month, Defense Secretary Browne said Britain was "quite far down the process" of transferring responsibility to the Iraqis. The Ministry of Defense said the timing of a handover in Basra depended on conditions on the ground. "We are saying we hope to be in a position in spring to be able to transition," a ministry spokesman said. "But it is too early to say whether it is going to happen or what the effect would be on troop numbers."

Under Fire, US Marines Hand Off Fallujah

"Fallujah has an iconic value to the Marine Corps," says Colonel Nicholson, commander of the Regimental Combat Team 5, which covers Fallujah and a populated swath of Anbar Province, in an interview. "Fallujah falling [to insurgents] would be like Iwo Jima falling to the Japanese again after World War II - it would be intolerable."Preventing that from happening is a top priority for the Bravo and Charlie companies of the 1/24 that are now in Fallujah. But local Iraqis know the territory better than US forces ever will."The insurgents are creative and have advantages," says Maj. Jeffrey O'Neill, the Bravo Company commander from Novi, Mich. "If the Chinese invaded your [American] neighborhood, you would know where to hide, which dumpster behind the 7-11 to stash things. If we don't catch them red-handed, they will probably be on the street again."Many prisoners were released by the Iraqi government in August amnesties, notes Major O'Neill, and the rules are changing: Even if someone is found with a sack full of washing machine timers that could be used to trigger bombs, unless explosives and a black mask are found too, it may not be enough for an arrest.The insurgents are also proving agile. On Monday, for example, elements of two US battalions - the 1/24 and 2/6 - staged "Operation Talon," which swept a series of garages and rural areas a few miles north of Fallujah. As many as seven cells were thought to work from the area, using it as a staging post for attacks on the city.


OPINION:Extracting the US from Iraq’s Civil War

U.S. military leaders acknowledge there is no military solution to this type of resistance, only a political one. A clear date certain for U.S. withdrawal opens the space for the resistance to enter into the political arena and for the general population to refrain from taking up arms out of desperation.The conundrum for many people in the U.S. has been: if the U.S. leaves will there be a civil war? Despite the rhetoric of if or when one calls it a civil war, there can be no doubt that a civil war now is raging in Iraq. Cleansing of neighborhoods, mass displacements of the population, disappearance, and torture have all become far too commonplace. While many Iraqis view this communal violence more as a power struggle for control of the country than as a religious or ethnic conflict, they do realize that factions exist within the country that are willing to use existing communal differences to divide and control the population.Many Iraqis also believe that the exploitation of communal divisions was initiated and encouraged by the U.S. occupation through its selection of interim government officials along ethnic and religious lines. The failure of the U.S. occupation to provide security for Iraqis after disbanding all of the previous state apparatus forced people to find other means to protect themselves, giving rise to local militias and empowering the large, politically-affiliated militias. The U.S. presence has not prevented a civil war. The fact is that different political groups, both inside and outside of the present Iraqi government, have maintained and strengthened their own militias. Unless the U.S. military is able to protect all the people of Iraq, which it clearly has not been able to do, any use of force intentionally, or unintentionally, puts the U.S. in the position of taking sides in the civil war. At a time when the Iraqi government needs to be strong enough to unify the country, its legitimacy is undermined by its association with the U.S. occupation. The average Iraqi remains unprotected and increasingly skeptical of a government that hides away in the Green Zone protected by U.S. forces and political militias.

OPINION: From Juan Cole’s Comment Section

Abhinav Aima said... Bloodiest Month in Iraq - Will Iran Be Bloodier?Supporters of the Bush War in Iraq, such as British PM Tony Last-Year Blair, argue that the failure of the Bushiite project in Iraq is not due to their stupid strategeries, but rather the result of "evil" people...However, this argument flies in the face of logic and historical precedents... The Geneva Conventions, for example, make an occupying military power responsible for the security and well being of the people living under occupation... While the Bushiites may claim that Iraq is now a sovereign nation, the degradation of Iraqi security took place right under the noses of the ill-equipped and under-staffed and downright incompetent Coalition Provisional Authority - which consisted predominantly of Bremer-ian Kissinger-types out to make history, and faith-based Bushiite true believers out on a summer crusade...International law also recognizes the right of an occupied people to resist foreign military occupation, and any sensible military planner would have anticipated the Iraqis to launch an insurgency - especially the Sunnis who were going to be removed from the power base of Iraqi politics...In addition to that, only a moron could have been blind to the fact that Iran would end up with a strong influence in Iraqi affairs, given that all major Iraqi Shiite militia and exiled political leaders were based out of Iran for over 25 years... These Shiite militias, be they the SCIRI's Badr Corps, the PM Nuri Maliki's Islamic Dawa or the Jaish Mahdi, all are hostile to foreign domination of their territories, as the British have discovered over and over again in southern Iraq...

It is for these reasons that I, for one, lay the blame for the current death and destruction in Iraq solely on the planners of this Bush War in Iraq... They are damned if they do, and damned if they don't, and rightly so.And if they attack Iran, they should be prepared to be neck deep in Shiite in Iraq and Lebanon.There are, of course, those who whine and dine over what they claim to be no non-military alternatives to the Iraq situation, whether it is the 2002 or the 2006 scenario... These people pretend as if the last 50 years of diplomatic engagements in resolving security and economic disputes never existed... It seems as if the Political Science and History departments they got their Ph.D.'s from only taught them the glorified version of the use of military force as an instrument of foreign policy. Which says a lot about the state of xenophobia and the Rambo-complex in American universities' foreign policy tinking.Yes, I said tinking, not thinking

The War At Home – Memorial to an Anti-war Activist

Chicago anti-war activist burns himself alive to protest Iraq war

The press has almost completely blacked out this news in mainstream press. A long time Chicago activist, artist and contributor to the Chicago jazz scene has burned himself alive in an act of protest against the Iraq war. He is only one of 10 Americans in history to have done this. Buddhist monks did this during the Vietnam war. On Friday, November 3, a man doused his body with gasoline and set himself afire to protest the war in Iraq. He died quietly in flames. His name was Malachi Ritscher.Haven't seen it in the news? Me neither, which is kind of strange if you ask me, considering that it happened right here in downtown Chicago in front of hundreds of commuters during morning rush hour. The only conventional newspaper coverage to date was a tiny paragraph that appeared in the Saturday edition of the Chicago Sun-Times. Since then...nothing.



SONG: When will the world stop crying?When will the world stop lying?When will the world stop dying?Through love and compassion will hatred die away?Let freedom be the voice of a new day.Asalam-u-Alaikum May peace be in the heart of every woman, every man - in us all

Quote of the day:“There’s not going to be a military resolution that decides the outcome of Iraq. It will be a political solution.” – Senator Chuck Hagel [That’s what the anti-war protestors were saying BEFORE the war started.It is exponentially harder to reach a political solution at this point in time. – dancewater]


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