DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, November 28, 2006
Bush pledged not to pull US troops out of Iraq until their mission has been completed, and sidestepped questions over whether the country was now in a state of civil war
"One thing I won't do, I am not going to pull the troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete," Bush said in a speech on his arrival in the Latvian capital for a NATO summit. (...)
Earlier Tuesday, Bush parried suggestions that Iraq had sunk into civil war, arguing that a recent upsurge in violence was part of a long-term spiral of sectarian unrest.
"We have been in this phase for a while," Bush insisted during a stop-over in Estonia on his way to Riga.
"The bombing that took place recently was a part of a pattern that has been going on for about nine months," the US leader said after holding talks with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Prime Minister Andrus Ansip.
Asked to explain how the situation in Iraq differed from civil war, Bush chose to highlight the role insurgents were playing in inflaming communal strife.
"No question it's tough. There's a lot of sectarian violence taking place, happening in my opinion because of these attacks by Al-Qaeda, causing people to seek reprisals, and we will work with the Maliki government to defeat these elements," Bush told reporters.
Some leading US media outlets are now calling the violence raging in Iraq a "civil war," despite White House insistance that the strife has not reached that stage.
Editor and Publisher, a leading US news industry publication, described the decision to use the charged term as a "turning point."
"Apparently the utter chaos and carnage of the past week has finally convinced some to use 'civil war' without apology," the magazine said in its online edition late Monday.
NBC News became the latest news organization to use the term, saying the violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims combined with the government's inability to quell the strife fit the definition of civil war.
Matt Lauer, the presenter of NBC's "Today" morning show, said the network had thought carefully whether civil war was an appropriate phrase for the violence plaguing Iraq. (...)
Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria wrote that "there can be no more doubt that Iraq is in a civil war, in which leaders of both its main communities, Sunnis and Shiites, are fomenting violence." (...)
The New York Times decided to use the phrase "civil war" after previously saying Iraq was "on the brink" of civil war, while the Los Angeles Times no longer uses quotation marks for the term. (...)
Other US news outlets remain undecided. The Washington Post describes the Iraq conflict as "sectarian strife," the McClatchy newspaper chain uses the phrase "sectarian violence," and The Christian Science Monitor uses the term a "deepening civil war," according to Editor and Publisher.
On The Daily Show Monday night, Host Jon Stewart and Senior Analyst John Oliver poked fun at the Bush Administration's unwillingness to admit that Iraq is in a civil war, despite the agreement of numerous experts that the situation in Iraq does fit into the definition of civil war. As Stewart pressed the Senior Analyst for details, Oliver threw out various alternatives for the words "civil war," including "faith-based melee" and "internal sovereignty challenge."
Watch the video...
[After all this, what can a poor soul call the following photo essay, collected from today's news photos, except... -- zig]
PICTURES FROM A CIVIL WAR
(Photo captions top to bottom, left to right)
— Followers of radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr carry a mock coffin as they march over the British, American and the Israeli flags in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2006. (AP Photo
/Nabil Al Jurani)
— A resident from the village of Al Jasan steps on the wing of a U.S. F-16 fighter that crashed on a combat mission, about 15 km (9 miles) north of Falluja November 27, 2006. REUTERS
— An Iraqi dances atop of a burnt military ambulance vehicle as others inspect it, in Buhriz, a former Saddam stronghold about 60 kilometers (35 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2006. (AP Photo
— US Marines run during a patrol after being targeted by small arms fire in the restive city of Ramadi, west of Baghad, November 25.(AFP
It took US forces several hours to reach the crash site of a fighter jet that went down in Iraq during which time insurgents may well have taken the body
, according to a US military official.
The F-16 fighter plane crashed in Anbar province northwest of Baghdad on Monday while supporting ground troops. When US forces arrived at the site after clashing with rebels, the pilot's body was not in the wreckage.
"It was several hours before we got ground forces there," said the official, who declined to be identified. "The assumption is he crashed, he died immediately and then someone had gotten there and taken the body."
When ground forces arrived, they found the ejection seat, which appeared not to have been fired, and took DNA samples. An investigation is currently underway into the cause of the crash.
At the time of the incident, the US air force said that insurgents were seen at the site.
"Fighter aircraft were overhead when the crash occurred and confirmed that insurgents were in the vicinity of the crash site immediately following the crash," said a statement.
There was also fighting in the area, but it was not immediately clear why the ground forces took four to five hours to secure the area. [yeah, the reasons do indeed look very obscure -- zig]
"That's something we are all looking at," the official said.
A US helicopter was forced to make what the military called a "hard landing" during operations southwest of Baghdad
, a US spokeswoman said on Tuesday. "There are no indications the aircraft was shot down, but the cause of the hard landing is under investigation," Lieutenant Colonel Josslyn Aberle said of Monday's incident near the restive town of Yusifiyah, 25 kilometres from the capital. "Coalition forces responded to the site and are in the process of recovering the helicopter. Coalition forces on board sustained no injuries. There was no collateral damage in the incident," she added.
Bring 'em on
: One Marine assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died Nov. 27 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province. (MNF - Iraq)
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
A car bomb close to west Baghdad's main Yarmouk hospital killed four people and wounded 40 on Tuesday.
. The apparent target was a police patrol near the hospital. One officer was killed and several policemen were wounded. Some witnesses earlier told police there were two blasts.
Two car bombs exploded near al-Yamouk hospital's morgue in the capital, killing three civilians and one policeman and wounding 19 civilians.Forty bodies with gunshot wounds and some with signs of torture were found in different parts of Baghdad
Gunmen killed two civilians near a government office in the centre of the city
, including an electricity office employee.
A policeman was killed in another incident in the city's southeastern neighbourhood of Tahrir.
Another three men were shot dead near a garage in the centre of Baquba.
A civilian was killed in Muhandiseen neighbourhood of Baquba, while six others were wounded in other parts of the city.Balad Ruz:
A roadside bomb exploded in the town of Baladrooz, killing three civilians and wounding four.
Gunmen shot dead the owner of a mobile telephone shop in Muqdidiya
90 km (50 miles) northeast of Baghdad and then planted bombs. When onlookers gathered, the bombs exploded, killing four and wounding 25.
Insurgents attacked a water treatment plan and killed five employees in the town of Mahmudiyah
to the south of Baghdad police said, adding that it was not immediately known whether the insurgents had poisoned the water or not.
A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol wounded two policemen in Mosul
, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad.
Unknown gunmen attacked a wedding convoy for a policeman in Mosul overnight
, killing the bridegroom and his mother, a city police source said on Tuesday. "Ahmed Abul-Salam al-Taie, a policeman, was wearing a white suite and riding a car decorated with flowers when gunmen showered his car with bullets in eastern Mosul," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
A man wearing an explosive vest exploded himself next to the motorcade of the governor of the northern Iraqi province of Kirkuk,
killing a passerby and wounding 12 people, the governor and health officials said.
Two policemen were wounded when they entered a house booby-trapped with explosives in Tal Afar
, about 420 km (260 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
In a meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, [Iran's supreme leader] Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the United States of hiring terrorists and former members of Saddam Hussein's regime to destabilize Iraq
, according to a state television report.
"The first step to resolve the instability in Iraq is the withdrawal of occupiers from this country and the transfer of security responsibilities to the popular Iraqi government," Khamenei was quoted as saying.
Iraq's Parliament voted unanimously Tuesday to extend Iraq's state of emergency for 30 more days.
The measures, in place everywhere except for the northern autonomous Kurdish region, have been renewed every month since they were first authorized in November 2004.
US and Iraqi forces have killed or captured at least 7,000 Al-Qaeda fighters in the past two years, with 30 "senior leaders' taken out of action since July.
The news comes hard on the heels of a leaked US Marine report that states US forces cannot defeat the Al-Qaeda-led insurgency in the vast western desert province of Al-Anbar. (See below "The U.S. military is no longer able…")
"Since October 2004, we have now killed or captured over 7,000 Al-Qaeda terrorists," coalition spokesman Major General William Caldwell told journalists on Tuesday. (...)
Caldwell disputed the leaked assessment of the situation in Anbar, which was reported by the Washington Post.
"If anything, there has been a turn of events in the past few months towards the positive," he said.
The South Korean government approved a plan to halve the size of its troop deployment in Iraq
but to extend the mission for another year, officials said.
The US military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity
, according to newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report.
"The fundamental questions of lack of control, growth of the insurgency and criminality" remain the same in the troubled Anbar province, a senior US intelligence official said.
The report describes Iraq's Sunni minority as "embroiled in a daily fight for survival", fearful of "pogroms" by the Shiite majority and increasingly dependent on al-Qaeda in Iraq as its only hope against growing Iranian dominance across Baghdad.
"From the Sunni perspective, their greatest fears have been realised - Iran controls Baghdad and Anbaris have been marginalised," the report says. Moreover, most Sunnis now believe it would be unwise to count on or help US forces because they are seen as likely to leave Iraq before imposing stability.
Between al-Qaeda's violence, Iran's influence and an expected gradual US withdrawal, "the social and political situation has deteriorated to a point" that US and Iraqi troops "are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar". At least 90 US troops have died in Anbar since September 1.
The report paints a stark portrait of a failed province and of the country's Sunnis - once dominant under Saddam Hussein - now desperate, fearful and impoverished. They have been increasingly abandoned by religious and political leaders who have been assassinated or who have fled the country.
And unlike Iraq's Shiite majority or Kurdish groups in the north, the Sunnis are without oil and other natural resources. The report notes that illicit oil trading is providing millions of dollars to al-Qaeda while "official profits appear to feed Shiite cronyism in Baghdad".
The Iraqi Government, dominated by Iranian-backed Shiites, has not paid salaries for Anbar officials and Iraqi forces stationed there. Anbar's resources and its ability to impose order are depicted as limited, at best.
"Despite the success of the December elections, nearly all Government institutions from the village to provincial levels have disintegrated or have been thoroughly corrupted and infiltrated by al-Qaeda in Iraq," or a smattering of other insurgent groups, the report says.
Juan Cole: IT IS NO LONGER A MATTER OF CAN THEY DO IT
How bad the situation is in Iraq is suggested by this email I just got from a professional who used to be in Iraq but now is in a nearby country:
' It is desperate in Iraq, worse then ever and there is no end in sight. I had lunch with [a former high ranking medical educator in Iraq] two days ago. [He]noted that Iraq no longer has neuro-surgeons, no cardiac surgeons, few pediatric doctors - they are all gone, killed or fled to neighboring countries like him. He was given seven days to get out or be killed. He is one of the lucky ones. He and his family have an opportunity for a new life in the US. But what about all the others. Where are they to go?
Another friend, a Sunni sheikh of the Shammar tribe noted to me that thousands of former officers are prepared to assault the G[reen] Z[one]. It is no longer a matter of can they do it, they are only mulling over the timing. The breach of the Green Zone security the other day was a test of their ability to get in, and not a real attempt at a coup, though it is reported as such. Every Iraqi I talk to says unambiguously that the resistance attached to the former regime would take out the Shiite militias with barely a fight, but that the resistance will not commit wholesale revenge against the Shiite population. They just want to get rid of the "carpet baggers" from Iran. 'read in full
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
A Tiny Revolution: THE SALVADOR OPTION
Britain's Channel 4 has run a long reporting piece about Iraq's Shia death squads, available here
As you watch it, remember this was in fact planned by the U.S. as the Salvador Option:
"The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists," [a military source] said. "From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation."
Also remember Dick Cheney's endorsement of the Salvador Option for Iraq during the 2004 Vice Presidential debate:
Twenty years ago we had a similar situation in El Salvador. We had -- guerrilla insurgency controlled roughly a third of the country, 75,000 people dead, and we held free elections. I was there as an observer on behalf of the Congress...
The power of that concept is enormous. And it will apply in Afghanistan, and it will apply as well in Iraq.
Truth About Iraqis: A STRATEGY FOR IRAQ? TRY THIS ...
There is only ONE strategy for Iraq. The US presence must withdraw or be made to withdraw.
The resistance must purge Iraq of
3. The entire Maliki government
5. Wahabis (who are entrenched in a war against Al Awda in Anbar)
6. Iranian agents
7. Saudi agents
8. The Peshmerga
Strategy? Secularism is the strategy. Oh, but didn't we have that with Baath? And then they criminalized the Baath Party, purged it, let sectarian conflict rage and now they are talking to the Baathists again?
I was never a Baath member, nor did I ever like the Baath party. It was repugnant.
But beggars can't be choosers.
Long live the Iraqi resistance, the only ones truly with a strategy for a unified Iraq.
read in full...
Atrios: EVERYBODY'S FAULT BUT HIS
So, it's Europe's fault that things are shit in Afghanistan and it's Maliki's fault that things are shit in Iraq.
This is the thinking the Sensible Centrists have allowed to bloom. Thanks guys.
Bush Just Keeps Lying...: BAGHDAD GEORGE VS. BAGHDAD BOB
Published June 11, 2005
Juan Cole has an excellent piece in Salon
, in which he compares some of the Bush Administration's current pronouncements on Iraq with the absurdist pronouncements of "Baghdad Bob," the spokesman for Iraq and Saddam Hussein during the initial phases of the Iraq War. I still remember the smugness of the wingnuts as they had their fun with Baghdad Bob and I was reminded of a piece I wrote last year on the subject (which, like most of my pieces was never published). I reprint it below :
"I can say, and I am responsible for what I am saying, that they have started to commit suicide under the walls of Baghdad. We will encourage them to commit more suicides quickly."
"Today I have visited whole Baghdad city, no invaders found. You go and see how we have ousted them from this city. They are cying outside and waiting to receive bullets. They will be killed shortly."
These were the words of Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, otherwise known as "Baghdad Bob," spoken as the war in Iraq raged last year. He became a cause celebre for supporters of the Iraq War who made sport of mocking his absurdly optimistic pronouncements of Iraqi military prowess.
Now, though, we have "Baghdad George." Baghdad George is making equally absurd pronouncements about our current and future "successes" in Iraq. Here were a few from his latest speech:
- "On June 30th, the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist and will not be replaced. The occupation will end and Iraqis will govern their own affairs." (...)
One might ask, "What color is the sky in Baghdad George's world?" By comparison, Baghdad Bob can, at times, seem like a prophet (albeit with select quotes):
- "The American press is all about lies! All they tell is lies, lies and more lies!" (…)
- "We have placed them in a quagmire from which they can never emerge except dead"
- "Washington has thrown their soldiers on the fire"
- "That bastard the American Minister of Defense Rumsfeld, and I won't say shamelessly, because they don't know what shame means. These are criminals. The whole world can hear the warning sirens. This criminal sitting in the White House is a pathetic criminal and his Defense Minister deserves to be beaten. These criminals lie to the world because they are criminals by nature and conditioning. They consider this a military site! Shame on you! You will forever be shamed! You have ruined the reputation of the American people in the most terrible way! Shame on you! And we will destroy you!" (...)
- "W. Bush, this man is a war criminal, and we will see that he is brought to trial" (…)
- "Don't believe anything! We will chase the rascals back to London!"
- "We're now trying to exhaust them, until our leadership decides the time and method to clean our territory of their desecration." (…)
- "Even those who live on another planet, if there are such people, would have condemned this action before it started"
- "I can assure you that those villains will recognize, will discover in appropriate time in the future, how stupid they are and how they are pretending things which have never taken place"read in full
QUOTE OF THE DAY
: "The imperialist invading U.S. and British forces are like a snake that slithers all over the place but that doesn't control anything." I laughed when he [Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, otherwise known as "Baghdad Bob"] said that. I did not know he was speaking into the future. -- comment posted 11.27.06 - 11:09 pm by Snow, Ordinary Thinker in Baghdad Bob Says Saddam Is Winning at Atrios