Tuesday, November 07, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, November 7, 2006 Scoping out the opposition Bring 'em on: It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a British soldier, from the 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, in Basra on Monday 6 November 2006. The soldier died as a result of injuries sustained during small arms fire against a Coalition Forces Base. There were no further casualties. (MOD UK) Bring 'em on: A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died at approximately 10:40 p.m. Monday from wounds he received after the vehicle he was riding in was struck by an improvised-explosive device in northwest Baghdad. (MNF - Iraq) The U.S. military said this month's American casualties included two lieutenant colonels, among the highest ranking soldiers to die in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS In Country: Fifty-nine bodies were discovered Sunday and Monday across Iraq, police said. Baghdad: Gunmen attacked a Civil Defence Centre and kidnapped four employees, two of whom were later released, in a southeastern suburb of Baghdad. A total of 10 bodies were found with gunshot wounds during the last 24 hours in different districts of Baghdad.. Some of the victims showed signs torture. At least five people were killed and 22 wounded in renewed mortar barrages against northern Baghdad's Azamiyah district. Baiji: U.S. forces killed two suspected insurgents and detained two more in a raid the U.S. military said was linked to a suspected senior leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq near Baiji, 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad. Basra: A Russian energy specialist was killed, six more workers, including three Russians, were wounded. At present, about 100 Russian experts are working in Iraq; 14 of them at the thermoelectric power station in Basra. A bomb attack in the southern city of Basra killed one person and wounded seven others. Suwayrah: 12 bodies of unidentified torture victims were found floating in the Tigris River in Suwayrah, 25 miles south of Baghdad, Police Lt. Mohammed al-Shamari said. All had been blindfolded and bound at the wrists and ankles, before being shot in the head and chest. Mahmudiya: Police found the bodies of two people and a decapitated head in the town of Mahmudiya, about 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad. Karmah: Six Iraqi soldiers died in sniper attacks and a roadside bombing in Karmah, 50 miles west of Baghdad. Kirkuk: Gunmen killed a policeman in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad. Tikrit: A Tulsa man has become the latest civilian contract worker from Oklahoma to be killed in Iraq, authorities said Monday. Michael Brian McNiel, 38, a truck driver for a subsidiary of Halliburton, was killed Oct. 31 in an explosion at Tikrit, Iraq. Ramadi: Fighting was reported between gunmen and U.S. soldiers in the western city of Ramadi. Police and the military said they had no word on casualties. Fallujah: A roadside bomb targeting a U.S. military patrol killed three civilians, including a student, and wounded eight others, including three students, in the city of Falluja, 50 km (35 miles) west of Baghdad, doctor Mohammed Abdul Kareem said. A police source said seven were killed and 10 wounded in the incident. >> NEWS A somber and subdued Saddam Hussein called on Iraqis to "forgive, reconcile and shake hands" as he returned to court Tuesday for his Kurdish genocide trial two days after being sentenced to death in a separate case. A day after Saddam Hussein was sentenced to hang, the country's Shiite-dominated government declared a major concession to his Sunni Muslim backers that could see thousands of purged Baath Party members reinstated to their jobs. The Supreme National Commission for de-Baathification has prepared a draft law with the amendments and will soon send it to parliament for ratification, the commission's executive director, Ali al-Lami told The Associated Press Monday. "We decided to make the announcement after the Saddam verdict so that the de-Baathification commission would not be accused of bias," al-Lami said. Iran called on Iraq to carry out its death sentence on Saddam Hussein, saying the former dictator who waged an eight-year war against Iran in the 1980s was a criminal who deserved to die. Tony Blair said Monday he opposes the death penalty for Saddam Hussein - a reluctant admission that on this issue, the British prime minister stands by colleagues in the European Union and not with his American allies. (...) Blair's stance puts him at odds with President Bush, who praised the death sentence Sunday as "a milestone in the Iraqi people's efforts to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law." Blair's view was widely shared by European leaders, many of whom noted their opposition to capital punishment but welcomed Saddam's trial and conviction - as did the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand. The EU's 25 governments are strongly opposed to the death penalty and have often appealed to foreign governments on behalf of Europeans facing execution abroad. Any country hoping to join the bloc must abolish capital punishment; when Turkey eliminated the death penalty in 2002, it was seen as a big victory for Europe's ability to influence potential members. (...) "A country ravaged by violence and death does not need more violence and especially not a state-orchestrated execution," said Terry Davis, secretary-general of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly. "Saddam Hussein is a criminal and should not be allowed to become a martyr." Italian Premier Romano Prodi said the guilty verdict mirrored the world community's judgment about Saddam, but emphasized Rome's opposition to capital punishment. "Italy is against the death penalty and so even in such a dramatic case as Saddam Hussein, we still think that the death penalty must not be put into action," he said after meeting Blair in London. Pope Benedict XVI's top cardinal said in a radio address that killing the former Iraqi leader was against Christian teaching. "God gave us life and only God can take it away," Cardinal Renato Martino said on Vatican Radio, adding that had Saddam been put in the hands of an international court, he would not have faced the death penalty. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that while it was "right and important" that Saddam had faced trial, her country opposes his execution. "It is clear that there is fundamental skepticism and rejection of the death penalty," Merkel said. As the foremost European supporter of the Iraq war, though, Blair is in a tougher spot since it is awkward for him to criticize the death of a leader he went to war to topple. Blair appeared visibly rattled when pressed on the question, responding several times with the general statement that Britain opposed capital punishment. Only under persistent grilling did he eventually say: "We are against the death penalty, whether it's Saddam or anybody else." Families of British troops killed in Iraq went to court to challenge the government's refusal to hold a full independent probe into its decision to invade. The uncle of a U.S. soldier kidnapped Baghdad said he believed his nephew's abductors belong to a "well organized" rogue cell from the Mahdi Army militia of the anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Iraq's Interior Ministry has charged nearly 100 employees, including a police general and other high-ranking officers, with involvement in torturing detainees at a prison in Baghdad known as Site 4. The provincial council in Basra has lodged a strong protest against recent actions by British occupation troops in the southern city. The council's deputy chairman, Jassem al-Abadi, described British troops' conduct as "provocative and unjustified." Abadi was particularly critical of British troops' treatment of Iraqi security forces in the city. He said in on one occasion the troops forced Iraqi police officers to dismount their vehicles as they were on their way to check 'a suspicious item' under one of the bridges. "The (British) troops compelled Iraqi forces to surrender their weapons, ordered them to lie down on the ground and put their boots over their heads. "This is a heinous practice that is insulting to all the citizens and not only to the police officers involved," Abadi said. Abadi warned the troops not to repeat such practices in the future. "If they do, the masses will teach them a lesson this time," he said. Abadi said the people of Basra were angry and furious over the troops' practices. Flash floods caused by heavy rain killed 18 people and injured 20 in northern Iraq, a provincial governor said Monday. The heavy rains began late Sunday, mainly in five villages in the Khalifan district in the Irbil province, Gov. Nawzat Hadi said. The floods destroyed nine bridge and several houses, he said. Nine of the dead were members of one family. Three of them were children. Heavy rain and thunderstorms hit different parts of Iraq in the past two days. >> REPORTS Iraq, racked by violence since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, and impoverished Haiti, Myanmar and Guinea are ranked as the most corrupt countries in the world ONLY 8% SUPPORT U.S. IRAQ STRATEGY Polling Data Which comes closest to your view? The U.S. should continue fighting the war in Iraq using the same military strategy and tactics it is using now; or The U.S. should continue fighting the war in Iraq by need to change its strategy and tactics; or The U.S. should remove all its troops from Iraq. Continue strategy 8% Change strategy 61% Should not be in Iraq 27% Not sure 4% Source: The New York Times / CBS News link
comment by Paul D. | 11.06.06 - 8:02 pm |: This story seems to be suggesting that this poll indicates something positive for those opposed to the Iraq war. It is actually indicating something pretty negative and is frankly pretty depressing. So, 8 % want to continue, and 61% want to "change strategy", that means 69% basically support the conquest of Iraq itself. As 2 + 2 wrote, this could mean escalate to nuclear bombs.. Only 27% have their moral heads on straight - same percentage as 3 years ago.
ASK AN IRAQI WHAT AMERICAN TROOPS ARE FIGHTING FOR IN IRAQ, AND THE ANSWER LIKELY WILL BE: NOT FOR ME No matter the politics of the respondent, recent interviews with 19 Iraqis, both Shiite and Sunni Muslims, found almost no one who thought the Americans were fighting for them. Only ethnic Kurds, who have established a largely autonomous region in Iraq's north, were willing to say that American troops serve their interests. Public opinion surveys over the years have shown growing Iraqi discontent with the American presence. The most recent, released in September by WorldPublicOpinion.org, a group affiliated with the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy, found that seven of 10 Iraqis want U.S.-led forces to withdraw within a year. In the same survey, 78 percent said the U.S. presence provokes more conflict than it prevents; 84 percent said they had little or no confidence in the U.S military. read in full... AFTER LOSING WAR GAME, RUMSFELD PACKED UP HIS MILITARY AND WENT TO WAR Of those generals who have stepped forward to criticize Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his conduct of the Iraq War, none has pointed out the mistakes of a man who admits no error with more specificity than retired Marine Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper. Van Riper is widely respected as a military thinker who emerged from combat in Vietnam determined to help get to the bottom of what went wrong there and why and how it should be fixed. Van Riper, who commanded both the Marine War College at Quantico, Va., and the prestigious National War College in Washington before retiring in 1997, told an interviewer in October 2004 that the military got the lessons all wrong after World War II and that mistake resulted in two disasters - Korea and Vietnam. "My great fear is we're off to something very similar to what happened after World War II, that is getting it completely wrong again," the general said of the course in Iraq. The general made it clear he is no anti-war crusader. "We have to stay," he said of Iraq this week. "We have to finish it, but let's do it right."(...) One event that shocked Van Riper occurred in 2002 when he was asked, as he had been before, to play the commander of an enemy Red Force in a huge $250 million three-week war game titled Millennium Challenge 2002. It was widely advertised as the best kind of such exercises - a free-play unscripted test of some of the Pentagon's and Rumsfeld's fondest ideas and theories. Though fictional names were applied, it involved a crisis moving toward war in the Persian Gulf and in actuality was a barely veiled test of an invasion of Iran. In the computer-controlled game, a flotilla of Navy warships and Marine amphibious warfare ships steamed into the Persian Gulf for what Van Riper assumed would be a pre-emptive strike against the country he was defending. Van Riper resolved to strike first and unconventionally using fast patrol boats and converted pleasure boats fitted with ship-to-ship missiles as well as first generation shore-launched anti-ship cruise missiles. He packed small boats and small propeller aircraft with explosives for one mass wave of suicide attacks against the Blue fleet. Last, the general shut down all radio traffic and sent commands by motorcycle messengers, beyond the reach of the code-breakers. At the appointed hour he sent hundreds of missiles screaming into the fleet, and dozens of kamikaze boats and planes plunging into the Navy ships in a simultaneous sneak attack that overwhelmed the Navy's much-vaunted defenses based on its Aegis cruisers and their radar controlled Gatling guns. When the figurative smoke cleared it was found that the Red Forces had sunk 16 Navy ships, including an aircraft carrier. Thousands of Marines and sailors were dead. The referees stopped the game, which is normal when a victory is won so early. Van Riper assumed that the Blue Force would draw new, better plans and the free play war games would resume. Instead he learned that the war game was now following a script drafted to ensure a Blue Force victory: He was ordered to turn on all his anti-aircraft radar so it could be destroyed and he was told his forces would not be allowed to shoot down any of the aircraft bringing Blue Force troops ashore. The Pentagon has never explained. It classified Van Riper's 21-page report criticizing the results and conduct of the rest of the exercise, along with the report of another DOD observer. Pentagon officials have not released Joint Forces Command's own report on the exercise. Van Riper walked out and didn't come back. He was furious that the war game had turned from an honest, open free play test of America's war-fighting capabilities into a rigidly controlled and scripted exercise meant to end in an overwhelming American victory. read in full... >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS Needlenose: IRAQI DICTATORS -- PAST, AVERTED... AND YET TO COME? On the day that Iraq's ex-dictator Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death, we learn directly from Ahmad Chalabi in the New York Times that his ambition was to succeed Saddam in more ways than one:
America's big mistake, Chalabi maintains, was in failing to step out of the way after Hussein's downfall and let the Iraqis take charge. The Iraqis, not the Americans, should have been allowed to take over immediately - the people who knew the country, who spoke the language and, most important, who could take responsibility for the chaos that was unfolding in the streets. An Iraqi government could have acted harshly, even brutally, to regain control of the place, and the Iraqis would have been without a foreigner to blame. They would have appreciated the firm hand. There would have been no guerrilla insurgency or, if there was, a small one that the new Iraqi government could have ferreted out and crushed on its own.
Some vision of liberal democracy in the Middle East there, huh? But with Chalabi's failure to deliver on the neocon fantasy, and Big Dick Cheney and other Bushites still chafing at the emergence of an Iran-friendly Shiite government, there seem to be some disturbing hints in this in the NYT yesterday by Baghdad bureau chief John Burns:
. . . the differences between the new Shiite rulers and the Americans are real and growing. And the paradox of their animosity is that the primary beneficiary of the rift is likely to be their common enemy, the Sunni insurgents. Their aim has been to recapture the power the Sunnis lost with Mr. Hussein's overthrow - and to repeat the experience of the 1920s, when Shiites squandered their last opportunity to wrest power and handed the Sunnis an opening to another 80 years of domination.
Uhhhh, what are you trying to imply there, John? Do you know something the U.S. hasn't admitted publicly we don't?? link Truth About Iraqis: DEFIANT TILL THE END (REMEMBER, REMEMBER, THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER) Defiant till the end and not afraid of death. That's Saddam Hussein as he was handed down the order of execution. But the order of execution was signed and sealed in Tehran more than 10 years ago, wasn't it? How dare Saddam stand up to the Persian whores who today have turned our Iraq into a morgue. Ah, but it is not the Persians who are whores. It is you - the Iraqis who cheered for the American troops as they entered Iraq to liberate you. They liberated you of your pride, your homes, your sanctity. Where are you now? Three million Iraqis have fled Iraq in the past three years. More than 600,000 have been killed in this war of liberation. It is you - the Iraqis who ran to Iraq via Kuwait to set up business, to steal and rob their brethren of their heritage. You, the Iraqi businessman. You, the Iraqi in the Green Zone. Yes, you hide in shame from your people, but your people know you. You, the Iraqi translator. You, who put your hand with the occupying vermin. Remember, remember, the fifth of November. History is cyclical and your day will come. You will be paraded into the streets of Baghdad, whipped with the 3gal, stripped naked in your prostituting treachery. No, I am no fan of Saddam. You live by the sword, you die by the sword. But the way in which Saddam was caught, paraded, and handed down a sentence. This is a sentence for all Arabs. Even you, who are on knees before the liberator. Be patient. Your time will come. And at the hands of your liberator. Iraqis with no pride. Let Iraq burn for it will surely do so. Baghdad Burning? Sweetheart, you must have had no idea how prescient you were. It will burn. Funny, no? Saddam is on trial for the killing of people who tried to assassinate him. Funny how in the US that is called payback. Why was he handed down a sentence for something that was orchestrated by Iran? And yesterday Maliki cheers for death. And Iran suckles him and cheers for death. If death is what you cheer for, then you will surely receive it. Saddam was not brought to justice by the Iraqis. He did not face an impartial Iraqi court. His sentence was not handed down by Iraqis. Therefore, because justice has been so raped, and because the new Iraq is a bastardized version of the old, Saddam will likely be referred to as a martyr. And nothing will be solved with his execution. Tyrants and saviors come and go. Birds leave their residue on their statues - if any are left. The Iraqi resistance will not fade. They do not fight for Saddam. They fight for Iraq. Long live the Iraqi resistance. read in full... Roads to Iraq: ANOTHER PAGE IN ANOTHER US ELECTION Why Sunday? It precedes the day of the congress elections in Bush's country with two days, the last day of the media campaign, so Bush and his gang have the time to formulate speeches and rallying the public opinion, reminding them of the benefits of the invasion of Iraq, all these events we saw in Iraq were just pages and paragraphs from the US elections campaigns. - A siege for 13 years. - The killing of one and a half million people. - Starvation and the impoverishment of a rich nation. - Bombardment with forbidden weapons. - The invasion of a sovereign state. - The destruction of the past, present and future. - Wiping out the Identity, and changing the constitution and laws - Looting their historical artifact and their memory. - Torture and rape of men and women. - Terrorizing children and depriving them of their childhood. - The killing of scientists, doctors and intellectuals. - Sabotage its economy. - The looting of its oil and resources. - Launching the death squads. - The killing 655,000 Iraqi. - The destruction of cities on the heads of their owners. - Undermine the unity of the people and incite sedition - Conversion the population into displaced, refugees and beggars - Sabotage education system and health care. - Spreading AIDS, drugs and prostitution. All these disasters were just paragraphs serving the US elections, unwillingly we have-don-in the race of the Republicans and Democrats, with the blood and dead bodies of our children. Who will sentence Maliki to death for slaughtering Iraqis, or Talabani...Barazani...ect, we have to wait for the next US election. link Born at the Crest of the Empire: RAPID RESPONSE AT THE PENTAGON Recently there was the announcement of the formation of "a new unit (at the Pentagon) to better promote its message across 24-hour rolling news outlets, and particularly on the internet." Basically, they're forming the equivalent of a political campaign's rapid response team targeting the US media. Well, we don't know if this effort to contradict the Army Times editorial, "Rumsfeld Must Go," is coming out of that new unit or not, but this is the sort of stuff they're talking about doing. How wrong is it that DoD personnel are being diverted, in the middle of a war, to defend Don Rumsfeld's reputation? (Also, I would argue that the fact that Rumsfeld feels the need to push back before the editorial is even published means that the claims that Army commanders have lost faith in him are true.) link Arab Links: 180-DEGREE SHIFT IN BUSH'S IRAQ STRATEGY The Bush administration is in the process of changing sides in the Iraqi struggle, but it is an embarrassing process, and as you would expect, the smoke-machines are going full blast. The news yesterday in Al-Hayat was that the armed Sunni resistance groups are setting up a common-front structure, because they expect to be in formal negotiations with the Americans. And the news today, on the front page of Azzaman, is that John Negroponte, head of US intelligence, proposed to Malaki earlier this week the establishment of a new Iraqi intelligence service, to replace the existing one, and the newspaper adds: "The sources [close to the Negroponte-Malaki talks] said Negroponte will not object to the inclusion in the new intelligence service of agents who were in the former [i.e., Saddam-era] Iraqi intelligence agency, who are highly qualified. Several parties in the governing coalition oppose this tawajjuhu (course, or orientation, or patronage)". And what is wrong with the existing Iraqi intelligence service? The answer, in simple terms, is that it is an agency set up by the CIA to use Shiite sources to track down the Sunni resistance. Now that US policy in the region is to establish a Sunni alliance against the Iran-Shiite threat, Iraq policy is undergoing a 180-degree shift, which will require a whole new intelligence regime, this one designed to use Sunni sources to track down Shiite resistance. Hence the expectation of US talks with the Sunni resistance; and hence also the Negroponte proposal for a new Sunni-oriented intelligence service that "could" include Saddam-era officers. In appropriately mysterious fashion, Azzaman says the current Iraqi intelligence chief, Muhammad Abdullah Muhammad al-Shehwani, has "reached the end of his contract period". In a way that is true. The US had to airlift him recently to Amman for safekeeping following assassination threats against him, according to Al-Quds al-Arabi. It would have been a little clearer to say that he "reached the end of his usefulness" as a Shiite-allied Sunni-hunter, now that the Sunni are going to be the US strategic favorites. (...) The point here is not just the 180-degree shift in the Bush-administration strategy. The most important point is on a different level: It is that from the very beginning the US strategy was sectarian, pitting Shiites against Sunnis. Now that Iraqis can sense the coming 180-degree shift in the US strategy, is it any wonder that the political and security situations continue to collapse? read in full... Arab Links: THE PARADOX OF THE MALIKI AND US ANIMOSITY Funny stuff, this bombast about supporting democracy. Funnier still is John Burns in the NYT yesterday on the Maliki-US relationship. He writes: "The paradox of their [Maliki and the US] animosity is that the primary beneficiary of the rift is likely to be their common enemy, the Sunni insurgents". The paradox of their animosity. Actually the rehabilitation of the Sunni resistance is not "the paradox of their animosity", it is the current aim of US policy. Burns and the NYT ignore the fact that the US is getting ready to negotiate with the Sunni resistance; and that Negroponte is proposing bringing Baathists back into the Iraqi intelligence service, the idea being to bring Iraq into the "axis of cooperation" against the Iran-Shiite threat. By ignoring these key facts, available via the simple expedient of what we call "reading the local newspapers", the regime elements at the NYT are able to present US policy aims as if they were some kind of a "paradoxical" result of irrational behavior by the Iraqis. Maybe funny isn't the right word. Certainly it is an art-form. read in full... Left I on the News: THE SIMPSONS AND "OPERATION ENDURING OCCUPATION" For those who missed last night's Halloween "Treehouse of Horrors" episode on The Simpsons, the closing minute. Non-Americans should take note that The Simpsons is shown on the FOX Network which, despite identical (I think) ownership, is not FOX News. As will be evident from this clip. Update: Courtesy of the comments, a link to the complete segment (6 1/2 minutes). link Left I on the News : ARIANNA HUFFINGTON THINKS I'M CRAZY! (OR A TERRORIST) Stumbled on this* this morning from Arianna Huffington:
"Let's just stipulate that everyone in America not in a straight jacket or part of a terrorist sleeper cell wants America to "win" -- and center the debate on what, exactly, the president and the GOP mean by victory."
No, Arianna, I, and a hell of a lot of other Americans (arguably, a majority) just want the U.S. and its allies to get the hell out of Iraq, now, and don't look back (except for writing a check for the damages). We don't want the U.S. to "win," not by any conceivable definition. We want the Iraqi people to win by getting their country back, and then doing their best to fix the almost incalculable damage caused by the American invasion (not to mention the years of sanctions and bombing which preceded the invasion). And there's nothing whatsoever crazy about that. As for being part of a "sleeper" cell, I'm afraid I, and the tens of thousands of people who regularly demonstrate in the streets against the U.S. occupation, are a bit too "out" for that. link Blah3: TODAY'S NEOCON MOMENT As we continue our series of remembering special moments brought to us by our necon friends in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq (in light of their collective decision to now throw George W. Bush under the bus), today we bring you Ken Adelman:
I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps.
Thanks, Ken. Apparently they're playing for keeps now, too. link Blah3: PREYING ON THE REALLY, REALLY STUPID Unreal. An ABC News undercover investigation showed Army recruiters telling students that the war in Iraq was over, in an effort to get them to enlist.
ABC News and New York affiliate WABC equipped students with hidden video cameras before they visited 10 Army recruitment offices in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. "Nobody is going over to Iraq anymore?" one student asks a recruiter. "No, we're bringing people back," he replies. "We're not at war. War ended a long time ago," another recruiter says.
How stupid would you have to be in order to be completely oblivious to the fact that Americans are dying every day in Iraq? And how desperate would the military have to be in order to take someone that stupid as a recruit? These are not rhetorical questions. link A Tiny Revolution: MEMORY HOLE BACK TO NEAR-100% EFFICIENCY Big news!
Saddam Hussein Is Sentenced to Death An Iraqi special tribunal today convicted Saddam Hussein of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to death by hanging...
As you'd expect in an industry devoted to bringing crucial information to as wide an audience as possible, out of the thousands of English-language stories on the verdict, only one (from the United Arab Emirates), has bothered mentioning this:
Saddam was seen by U.S. intelligence services as a bulwark of anti-communism and they used him as their instrument for more than 40 years, according to former U.S. intelligence diplomats and intelligence officials...his first contacts with U.S. officials date back to 1959, when he was part of a CIA-authorized six-man squad tasked with assassinating then Iraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim...
read in full... Azzaman: NO FRIENDS LEFT IN IRAQ The U.S. has no friends left in Iraq. Everybody in Iraq today laughs at U.S. claims of democracy, human rights and freedom. In Iraq the U.S. has no specific enemy to fight. Iraqis are fighting each other. Iraqis are fighting the U.S. The U.S. is fighting everybody. But one thing Bush does not want to know - almost everybody in Iraq hates American now. The leaders Bush installed in power and their militias are very contemptible of the U.S., though ostensibly they say they want its troops to stay. The honorable anti-U.S. resistance, whose ranks are growing, thanks to U.S. stupidity and arrogance, will settle on nothing but victory over the occupation. Iraq is in a crisis. So is the U.S. American troops are on the brink of a crushing defeat because they have no enemy to fight or better no friends left. read in full Patrick Cockburn: BUSH & BLAIR: THE IRAQ FANTASY "When does the incompetence end and the crime begin?" asked an appalled German Chancellor in the First World War when the German army commander said he intended to resume his bloody and doomed assaults on the French fortress city of Verdun. The same could be said of the disastrous policies of George Bush and Tony Blair in Iraq. At least 3,000 Iraqis and 100 American soldiers are dying every month. The failure of the US and Britain at every level in Iraq is obvious to all. But the White House and Downing Street have lived in a state of permanent denial. On the Downing Street website are listed 10 "Big Issues" affecting the Prime Minister, but Iraq is not one of them. The picture of what is happening in Iraq put out by Messrs Bush and Blair no longer touches reality at any point. They claim US and British troops are present because Iraqis want them there. But a detailed poll of Iraqi attitudes by WorldPublicOpinion.org, published six weeks ago, shows that 71 per of Iraqis want the withdrawal of US-led forces within a year. No less than 74 per cent of Shia and 91 per cent of Sunni say they want American and British troops out. Only in Kurdistan, where there are few foreign troops, does a majority support the occupation. Hostility to the American and British troops has a direct and lethal consequence for the soldiers on the ground. The same poll shows that 92 per cent of Sunni and 62 per cent of Shia approve of attacks on US-led forces. This is the real explanation for the strength of the insurgency: it is widely popular. For the past three-and-a-half years in Iraq, one needed to close both eyes very hard or live in Baghdad's Green Zone not to see that the occupation was detested by most Iraqis. At places where US Humvees had been blown up or US soldiers killed or wounded there were usually Iraqis dancing for joy. Supposedly, the centrepiece of American and British policy is to stay "until the job is done" and hand over to Iraqi army and police who will cope with powerful militias like the Mehdi Army. But in police stations in many parts of southern Iraq, photographs pinned to the wall include one of British armoured vehicles erupting in flames, beside a portrait of Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Mehdi Army. In the first year of the occupation it could be argued that Bush and Blair were simply incompetent: they did not understand Iraq, were misinformed by Iraqi exiles, or were simply ignorant and arrogant. But they must know that for two-and-a-half years they have controlled only islands of territory in Iraq. "The Americans haven't even been able to take over Haifa Street [a Sunni insurgent stronghold] though it's only 400 yards from the Green Zone," a senior Iraqi security official exclaimed to me last week. But the refusal to admit, as the British army commander Sir Richard Dannatt pointed out, that the occupation generates resistance in Iraq, means that no new and more successful policy can be devised. It is this that is criminal. And it is all the worse because the rational explanation for Mr Bush's persistence in bankrupt policies in Iraq is that he has always given priority to domestic politics. Holding power in Washington was more important than real success in Baghdad. read in full... Gareth Porter: IRAQ: LEAVE OR BE FORCED OUT George W. Bush continues to use the rhetorical device of linking the occupation of Iraq with the war on terrorism, warning in his most recent press conference that "the terrorists would take control of Iraq" if the U.S. withdrew its forces. But for many politicians and pundits the argument that has kept them supporting the occupation is that withdrawing too soon would make sectarian violence even worse. This argument for continued occupation is not based on the real political-military situation in Iraq, and it is important to understand why. When U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad gave a speech in Washington his main argument against a "precipitous" withdrawal was that it "could unleash a sectarian civil war, which inevitably would draw neighboring states into a regional conflagration..." That was also the main theme of Sen. Joe Lieberman in arguing against Democratic amendments calling for a timetable for withdrawal in June. It is not that the civil war won't get worse in Iraq; it now seems very likely that it will. But the United States is not militarily capable of preventing the worse war yet to come, and trying to do so would only start a new war between the United States and the Shiites who want the U.S. to leave. Since we cannot prevent sectarian violence, the only question is whether we leave before the inevitable confrontation with Shiites-a battle U.S. troops would certainly lose. First, the military reality. With the buildup of the Shiite sectarian militias-and particularly the Mahdi army of Moqtada al-Sadr-the U.S. occupation force no longer represents the predominant military power in Iraq. A study issued in August by Chatham House, the influential British strategic think tank, said the Mahdi army, which was believed to have fewer than 10,000 men under arms when the United States tried to destroy it August 2004, may now be "several hundred thousand strong." In addition, the Badr Organization, which is affiliated with the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, has tens of thousands of Shiite militiamen. Sadr is confident that, once the Shiite government has gotten everything it can out of the United States to strengthen Shiite forces, they can defeat the Sunnis by military force. As Moqtada al-Sadr's spokesman Mustafa Yaqoubi told The Washington Post last month, the "other forces" would not "have the capability to match us." Yaqoubi also made it clear that Sadr's Mahdi army intends to force the United States out of Iraq. "If we leave the decision to [the Americans], they will not leave," he said, "To get the occupiers to leave, [the Americans] need some sacrifice." read in full… >> BEYOND IRAQ Afghanistan: One ISAF soldier died and two were injured when the vehicle they were travelling in was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in the Panjwayi District of Kandahar. The soldiers were conducting a patrol as part of the countrywide joint Afghan - ISAF Operation OQAB when their vehicle was caught in the blast of the IED. The wounded troops were evacuated to the ISAF Hospital at Kandahar for treatment. British singer MYLEENE KLASS was shot at by Taliban troops during a trip to visit British soldiers in Afghanistan. The RAF had to scramble a fighter jet to escort the plane flying her into the capital Kabul when it came under fire. QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Washington is now stuck in the Iraqi mud not up to its knees but almost up to its nose. The irony is that the commander-in-chief who could have won the hearts and minds of Iraqis in the beginning, is now as contemptible and loathsome in the eyes of many Iraqis as former leader Saddam Hussein." -- from Stabbing Bush in the back by Fatih Abdulsalam in Azzaman (or alternatively: "If Saddam is condemned to death, then they must make it fair and sentence Mr. Bush to death." -- Ibrahim Hreish, a jeweler in Amman, Jordan.)


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