Friday, December 15, 2006


PHOTO: An Iraqi policeman stays vigilant while his colleague searches a driver in central Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 15, 2006. The Iraqi government has imposed a ban on all vehicle traffic on Fridays, fearing more attacks on worshippers. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed )

Security Incidents for December 15, 2006

In Country:

An American soldier missing in Iraq since late October probably was captured by the enemy, the Pentagon said Thursday, making official what the U.S. military there has suggested for more than a month. Ahmed K. Altaie, a 41-year-old Iraqi-born resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., was snatched off the street while he was visiting his Iraqi wife in Baghdad on Oct. 23.


A policeman was killed when his patrol was targeted by insurgents in Al Silikh neighborhood east of Baghdad.

Anonymous insurgents assassinated a policeman while he was leaving his house for work in Al Karkh neighborhood at 8 am.

The number of dead bodies found in Baghdad today increased up to 45 bodies. 42 bodies were found in the western part of Baghdad (Karkh part) and only 3 bodies were found in Rusafa part the eastern part of Baghdad

the capital enjoyed a measure of calm a day after a mass kidnapping struck a major commercial area. Little violence was reported in Baghdad on Friday, the traditional Muslim day of prayer during which a weekly four-hour vehicle ban is imposed

Diyala Prv:

A source in Diyala police said American troops defused a bomb in a car parked near the social & cultural officers club in Baqouba city.


Gunmen killed a Shiite tribal sheik linked to British forces in a drive-by shooting Friday in the southern city of Basra. The slain cleric, Muhsin, was a member of the provisional council in Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, and had good relations with the British forces in the area, police said.

Gunmen killed Muhsin al-Kanani, a Shi'ite sheikh, and two of his guards while they were driving in a car on Friday in the southern city of Basra, police said. The gunmen opened fire from another vehicle, police said.


Gunmen also opened fire on a civilian near a bus station in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, killing him in a drive-by shooting, police in the city said.


Gunmen killed a member of the Iraqi intelligence agency in Diwaniya, south of Baghdad. A guard for an oil company was also killed in the attack, police said.

Ninewa Prv:

A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, died Tuesday as a result of enemy fire while conducting operations in Ninewa Province. Two other Soldiers were wounded and transported to a Coalition Forces’ medical treatment facility.


Hospital sources said 13 people were killed in violence in different areas of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

Al Anbar Prv:

TWO MARINES KILLED IN AL ANBAR PROVINCE: One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 and one Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Thursday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province.


Two suicide car bombers exploded on Friday outside two U.S. bases in central Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's volatile Anbar province, Iraqi police said. Captain Ahmed Ali said he had no word on any injuries. Ali said one bomber, driving a truck, rammed the gates of a former government building that now houses U.S. troops. A second, driving a car, attacked a U.S. base in a former football club. Ali said the car bombings followed clashes between U.S. forces and gunmen in central Ramadi earlier in the day. One resident, who did not want to be named, said U.S. forces had sealed off al-Sufiya district in the west of the city after American reinforcements were hit by a roadside bomb. It was not immediately possible to confirm the report.

Thanks to Whisker for the links above.

Roundup of Violence in Iraq


They Saw The Uniforms And Knew To Run

"They're here! They're here!" The panicked cry rose from the crowd of shoppers and businessmen, sending them into a stampede past storefronts and shocked onlookers. Men, women and children fell over handcarts and folding chairs, knocking one another down, hiding behind buildings and seeking shelter in shops. None knew who "they" were: uniformed men firing weapons in the air and herding people into trucks, just a few hundred yards from the edge of the U.S.-guarded Green Zone. But most had suspected such a day might come to the Sinak market of downtown Baghdad. All knew to run at first sight of the uniformed gunmen who have become signature elements of the all-too-common mass kidnappings in the Iraqi capital. "We weren't really surprised," said Hossein abu Marwa, an employee of an air conditioner shop in the sprawling market. "We face such threats on a daily basis. Sometimes we hear they're coming from this side or that side. We don't know who is shooting. We don't know who is coming. Are they the resistance? Are they armed criminals? You don't know if they're Sunni. You don't know if they're Shiite." This time, at least five dozen people disappeared within minutes, stuffed into four delivery trucks and hauled away toward eastern Baghdad. An Interior Ministry official reported later that at least 23 of the shopkeepers had been released unharmed in northern Baghdad, after showing their captors identity cards bearing names associated with Shiite Muslims. The fate of previous victims of mass kidnappings has been brutal: Most show up dead within days, often with signs of torture, such as drill holes. Thursday's abduction took place in and around the auto-supply section of the open-air Sinak wholesale market, a few hundred yards from the headquarters of Iraq's Defense Ministry. It began around 10 a.m. when a convoy of about a dozen sport utility vehicles of the type often used by official security forces [Undoubtedly, ARE used by official security forces and paid for by US taxpayers. – dancewater] screeched into the market and sealed off the main roads, witnesses said. Heavy gunfire erupted almost immediately.

……. Afterward, Saadi gathered around a group of shopkeepers consoling a Christian restaurant owner, a middle-aged man with salt-and-pepper hair, who was weeping. His son had been taken. "It was painful and I felt very sad," Saadi said. [And that is the evil Bush & supporters have unleashed on the people of Iraq. – dancewater]

Tears of Rage; Tears of Grief: Mass Death Returns to Ishaqi

Mass death came again to the Iraqi town of Ishaqi last Friday. Nine months after an American raid that killed 11 civilians, including five children under the age of five, another ground and air assault on suspected insurgents in the area left behind a pile of corpses, including at least two children. As with the earlier incident, Friday's attack has produced conflicting stories of what really happened, but the end result is clear: a multitude of grieving, angry Iraqis further embittered against the American occupation. The latest Ishaqi attack - with "only" 20 fatalities - is of course a mere sideshow in the garish carnival of death that is Iraq today. But in many respects it is a microcosm of the largely unseen reality of the war that grinds on day after day behind the obscuring fog of political rhetoric that enshrouds both Washington and Baghdad. In this return to Ishaqi, we find many of the elements that have kept Iraq an open, gaping wound with little chance for healing: constant airstrikes on populated civilian areas, iron-fisted house raids, propaganda ploys, dubious intelligence, disdain for the locals - and the employment of mysterious units that may be blended with government-run (even American-run) death squads.

So what happened on December 9 in the village of Taima, in the Ishaqi district, on the shores of Lake Tharthar? The official US military version states that unidentified "Coalition Forces" entered the village shortly after midnight and targeted a location "based on intelligence reports that indicated associates with links to multiple al-Qaeda in Iraq networks were operating in the area." During a search, they took heavy fire from a nearby building. Returning fire, they killed "two armed terrorists" but couldn't quell the attack, so they called in an airstrike that killed "18 more armed terrorists," including two women. Of the latter, the military press release said that "al-Qaeda in Iraq has both men and women supporting and facilitating their operations, unfortunately." The unspecified raiders then uncovered a cache of terrorist arms which they photographed and subsequently destroyed. The identification of the victims as terrorists was made through a "battle damage assessment," said US military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver. "If there is a weapon with or next to the person or they are holding it, they are a terrorist," he said. Yet as the New York Times points out, almost all Iraqis keep a gun - or several guns - in their home. Indeed, the whole nation has long been armed to the teeth, with even heavy weaponry in private hands throughout the reign of Saddam Hussein. In fact, as Patrick Cockburn notes in his excellent new book, The Occupation, Saddam once had to resort to a national buy-back scheme to try to reduce the level of heavy weapons on the streets. One tribe even showed up with three tanks, "which they were prepared to turn over for a sizeable amount of money." This doesn't mean that the official report of the Ishaqi incident is necessarily wrong, of course. But neither is it a fact that every dead Iraqi found near a weapon in a bombed-out private house is a terrorist. American spokesmen provided two photos of weapons caches they said were recovered from the airstrike. One photo showed a set of damaged, battered, dust-covered AK-47s, pistols, grenade launchers and ammo clips. The other showed a notably pristine-looking set of "explosives, blasting caps and suicide belts," as the military press release described them. Garver firmly refused to identify the troops involved in the raid; he wouldn't even say if they were American, Iraqi, or from some other Coalition ally, the Daily Telegraph reports. "There are some units we don't talk about," he said. But the conclusions of the official report were unequivocal: 20 terrorists killed, no collateral damage - an exemplary feat of arms that brought the Coalition "another step closer to defeating al-Qaeda in Iraq and helping establish a safe and peaceful Iraq." But local officials from the US-backed Iraqi government had a different view: they said the raid was a bloodbath of innocent civilians. Ishaqi mayor Amir Fayadh said that 19 civilians were killed by the airstrikes that destroyed two private homes. Fayadh said that the victims included seven women and eight children. An official in the regional government of Salahuddin said six children had been killed. All Iraqi officials agreed that the victims were mostly members of the extended families of two brothers in the town, Muhammad Hussein al-Jalmood and Mahmood Hussein al-Jalmood, the New York Times reports. Both Fayadh and Abdullah Hussein Jabbara, deputy governor of Salahuddin, insisted that the families had nothing to do with al-Qaeda. Locals claimed that the terrorist paraphernalia at the site, such as the "suicide belts," had been planted. American officials denied the charge.

….. Yet many questions about the Ishaqi incident remain. First, how to reconcile the wildly different accounts of the US military and the officials of the US-backed Iraqi government? Someone is not telling the whole truth. Either there were only 20 dead "armed terrorists" at the scene - with only two women and no children - or else the raid did indeed kill several civilians, including at least two children, by calling down an airstrike on a residential area that took out belligerents and non-combatants alike. (That shots were exchanged in the darkness of the midnight raid is not in dispute.) The refusal to identify the unit involved is also puzzling, especially in the terms Garver used: "There are some units we don't talk about." This was not a general refusal to identify specific military outfits to avoid possible reprisal; in any case, local residents would certainly know which Coalition units were quartered in the vicinity. The phrase seemed to refer to a more shadowy force: perhaps the "Iraqi special forces unit" created and paid for by the Bush administration to act outside the control of "sovereign" Iraqi government, as Spencer Ackerman noted in The New Republic last week. This freebooting secret police unit was formed under the "interim government" of CIA asset and former anti-Saddam terrorist chieftain Iyad Allawi. It is commanded by General Muhammed Shahwani, who made it clear to Allawi's successors, the "democratic" leaders of "sovereign" Iraq, Ibrahim al-Jafari and Maliki, that they cannot fire him. The Americans also gave him control of the captured files of Saddam's hated Muhkabarat security agency. The Los Angeles Times reports that Shahwani's "special forces" have "participated in operations against suspected Shiite death squad members and high-level Iraqi insurgents." As Steve Gilliard and others have noted, these "special forces" likely grew out of the Iraqi militia that the Bush administration formed in the summer of 2003, as the insurgency began to grow. Bush also reopened Saddam's infamous Abu Ghraib prison at the same time, despite solemn promises to destroy it. As I noted in the Moscow Times in August of that year:

Here's a headline you don't see every day: "War Criminals Hire War Criminals to Hunt Down War Criminals." Perhaps that's not the precise wording used by the Washington Post this week, but it is the essence of its story about the Bush Regime's new campaign to put Saddam's murderous security forces on America's payroll. Yes, the sahibs in Bush's Iraqi Raj are now doling out American tax dollars to hire the murderers of the infamous Mukhabarat and other agents of the Baathist Gestapo - perhaps hundreds of them. The logic, if that's the word, seems to be that these bloodstained "insiders" will lead their new imperial masters to other bloodstained "insiders" responsible for bombing the UN headquarters in Baghdad - and killing another dozen American soldiers while Little George was playing with his putts during his month-long Texas siesta. Naturally, the Iraqi people - even the Bush-appointed leaders of the Potemkin "Governing Council" - aren't exactly overjoyed at seeing Saddam's goons return, flush with American money and firepower. And they're certainly not reassured by the fact that the Bushists have also re-opened Saddam's most notorious prison, the dread Abu Ghraib, and are now, Mukhabarat-like, filling it with Iraqis - men, women, and children as young as 11 - seized from their homes or plucked off the street to be held incommunicado, indefinitely, without due process, just like the old days. As the Times reports, weeping relatives who dare approach the gleaming American razor-wire in search of their "disappeared" loved ones are referred to a crude, hand-written sign pinned to a spike: "No visits are allowed, no information will be given and you must leave." Perhaps an Iraqi Akhmatova will do justice to these scenes one day. These groups were later joined by homegrown militias taken up by American commanders and given arms and money to do the shadowlands "wet work" that US forces could not do. This was the "Salvador Option" that American officials began discussing publicly in early 2005: emulating the death squads backed by the Reagan and Bush I administrations in their "counterinsurgency" proxy wars in Central America during the 1980s, when tens of thousands of people were murdered. In fact, Bush II brought in US veterans of the death squad days to train the new Iraqi militias. Bush also provided a "state-of-the-art command, control and communications center" to coordinate the operation of his Iraqi "commandos," as the Pentagon's own news site, DefendAmerica, reported in December 2005. It was not long after this that the militia activity began the dizzying, horrifying rise that shows no signs of abating. Meanwhile, the sectarian militias of the Iraqi parties empowered by Bush's invasion have long infiltrated the army, police and various government ministries. With the entire county now riddled with militias waging a hydra-headed civil war, it has become a cliché of Washington political chat to say that US military forces are in danger of becoming "just another militia" in Iraq. But behind that turn of phrase is a darker truth: the Bush team itself formed many of the first militias set loose upon Iraq, thus seeding the bloody strife now consuming the land.

Iraq Violence Sparks Exodus to Syria

On the desert border between Syria and Iraq, a group of tents clings to the shifting sands. This is a desolate place at the best of times. Now it has become an unwanted home to more than 300 Palestinian refugees. They fled from violence in Baghdad seven months ago, only to get stuck in no-man's land. As Palestinians, they do not have proper passports - so Syria will not let them in; and it is too dangerous to go back into Iraq. Amin Ramadan left his neighbourhood and his elderly mother when sectarian violence made it too dangerous for him to stay. Now he is trapped again. "It's getting really cold here at night," he said. "We have to break the ice on top of the water in the mornings. Many people are sick. We can't stay here for a long time." The UN is providing basic food and shelter, and the Syrians grant temporary access to urgent medical cases. But it is a bleak situation. And while the Palestinians say they would like to go to Europe or Canada, there is hardly a queue of countries willing to help. "We're desperately trying to find a more durable solution," admits Laurens Jolles, the UNHCR representative in Damascus, "to find someone prepared to take them in. The least favoured option is for them to remain in limbo between two countries." But as sad as it is, the dusty Palestinian camp is just a small statistic - part of a mass movement of people, an exodus from Iraq. Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 as many as two million civilians searching for sanctuary have fled into neighbouring countries like Syria, Jordan and Iran. They are ill-equipped to cope. The pressure group Refugees International calls it the fastest growing humanitarian crisis in the world.

US Troops Raid Hospital Again

Iraqi doctors and medical staff are outraged over yet another U.S. military raid at Fallujah General Hospital. The raid followed a roadside bombing Dec. 7 where four Iraqi policemen were killed and two civilians injured. The injured were taken to Fallujah General Hospital. Shortly after this attack, a U.S. Marine who was on a patrol in the city was wounded by a gunshot. "U.S. soldiers replied to the source of fire then headed straight to the general hospital across the (Euphrates) river hoping that they had shot and injured the sniper," an eyewitness told IPS. "American soldiers seem to have some imagination to think wounded fighters might go to that so-called hospital," a retired surgeon told IPS. "We know that they do not trust that place because of the continuous raids by the U.S., and lack of everything in that hospital." The hospital is functioning at minimal capacity due to lack of medicines and equipment, the surgeon said. Eyewitnesses at Fallujah General Hospital said U.S. soldiers raided the hospital "as if it were a military target." "We panicked at the way they entered, kicking open doors and blasting locked ones," a nurse told IPS. "A doctor tried to tell them he had keys for the locked doors, but they pointed their guns to his face. Then they told us to go out of the building and they kept us under guard in the garden until the early hours of next morning." The nurse said the soldiers "would not even allow us to get some blankets to keep us warm; the temperature was below five degrees centigrade." Doctors and medical staff were arrested and insulted, and some were called terrorists, witnesses said. The hospital was then closed, and could no longer offer even minimal treatment. "We are used to that kind of behaviour from American soldiers," a hospital employee told IPS. "This was the third time I was in handcuffs with my face down. They have been more vicious with medical staff than others because they consider us the first supporters of those they call terrorists."

Lancet Author on Civilian Casualties in Iraq

And my final thought is in 2004, I went into a house -- the way it worked was the interviewers always went up and interviewed a house. I stayed in the car so no one could see me. But sometimes after the interview, I would go visit in a friendly house and -- I was in this house, and they were giving me tea, and my driver was there, I think. There was a man in the house who spoke English. The children only had one or two words. And there was this little kid who was sitting next to me, and it's 110 degrees. He's fanning me like crazy and fanning me like crazy, and we're talking and talking and talking, and somehow we got on to the topic of the Americans and the war. And the father pulled up the pants on this little child, and his legs were just severely burned. Turns out two children in that house had been outside when an American bomb had dropped. And I'm not sure, as an American taxpayer, there is a more repulsive feeling or sensation than to know that your tax dollars did something like that to this wonderful, happy, little boy. And so I'd like to close with a thought that there are lots of congressmen who are worried about our troops, and I'm ecstatic about that. There are lots of congressmen who are worried about us as a nation, and I'm ecstatic about that. But there haven't been many congressmen that have been concerned about that little boy, and thank you to Congressmen Paul and Kucinich for at least having this opportunity to think about him and the hundreds of thousands of others.

Survey Indicates Iraqis In Despair

More than 90 per cent of Iraqis believe the country is worse off now than before the war in 2003, according to new research obtained by Al Jazeera. A survey of 2,000 people by the Iraq Centre for Research and Strategic Studies found that 95 per cent of respondents believe the security situation has deteriorated since the arrival of US forces. The findings follow a poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal that found that less than one in four Americans approves of George Bush's administration’s handling of the conflict in Iraq. …… Nearly 66 per cent of respondents to the Iraqi survey [done in Iraq – dancewater] thought violence would decrease if US forces were to leave. Thirty-eight per cent were also "unconfident" that Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, would be able to improve the situation in Iraq and nearly 90 per cent described the government's implementation of its commitments and promises as very poor. Of the respondents, 36.5 per cent said they felt the official security forces were unable to keep control in the country.

UN: Palestinians in Iraq Threatened

The office of the UNHCR said it was "dismayed" at the lack of protection for Palestinians in Iraq. Radhouane Nouicer, UNHCR's deputy director for the region, said: "[Palestinians] have very limited freedom of movement and no possibility to leave the country - unlike Iraqis - to find a safe haven. We are urgently appealing to the Iraqi government and the multinational forces to provide protection and safety or an alternative safe location for this targeted group. We also ask the world to stop turning their back and provide a humane solution and safe haven to these people who have no way out." The office of the UNHCR said that its discussions with the Iraqi authorities left "little room for optimism" that reliable protection could be afforded to the Palestinian refugees in the country. The agency noted an increase in attacks and abductions of Palestinians living in Iraq. A previous mortar attack on Al-Baladiya injured 10 people, with several Palestinians kidnapped. Leaflets carrying death threats have also been posted in Palestinian neighbourhoods of Baghdad.

Iraqi Red Crescent: U.S. Threatens Work

Harassment from U.S. forces is a greater threat to the work of the Iraqi Red Crescent than insurgent attacks, a senior official of the Red Cross-linked humanitarian organization said Friday. Dr. Jamal Al-Karbouli, vice president of the Iraqi Red Crescent, said some U.S. forces appeared not to realize that the society, which uses as its symbol the Muslim red crescent instead of the red cross, was part of the international humanitarian movement. "The main problem we are facing is the American forces more than the other forces," Al-Karbouli told reporters in Geneva. "We are spending a lot of time to explain about the Red Crescent." Al-Karbouli said insurgent groups in Iraq did not pose as great a problem for the organization. "The insurgents, they are Iraqis, a lot of them are Iraqis, and they respect the Iraqis. And they respect our (the Red Crescent's) identity, which is neutrality." He also complained that Red Crescent offices in Baghdad, Anbar and Najaf provinces had been repeatedly "attacked" by U.S.-led multi-national forces searching for insurgents. "We have flags, we have everything, we have (the) logo, so they (U.S. forces) know everything, but unfortunately they come again and attack us many times," Al-Karbouli said. He complained that U.S. forces broke doors and windows at the Red Crescent headquarters "and they didn't find anything, and they left."

Unemployment at 50% Says Minister

Nearly half of Iraqis able to work are idle, said Minister of Labor and Social Affairs. Mohamed Radhi said the high jobless rate was devastating to a country torn by sectarian strife and violence. He said combating unemployment was as important as the fight against ‘terror’. Joblessness plays into the hands of ‘terrorists’, he said. He said he had drawn a plan to provide short-term loans to families willing to start up their own businesses particularly those who depend on social benefits for a living. “This project will contribute to defeating terror and terrorists who target sources of energy and labor. As a result unemployment has reached more than 50 per cent in some provinces,” he said.

Children Die, Miscarriages Increase as US Troops Lay Siege to City

At least eight children have died and seven women have had miscarriages in the town of al-Sinya which invading U.S. troops have put under siege for more than 50 days. Sinya is close to Baiji, one of the scores of anti-U.S. strongholds in the country. The town’s nearly 50,000 inhabitants are now without running water and food supplies are running dangerously low. But the occupiers seem to be determined to proceed with their mass punishment and are turning away aid convoys. Pregnant women are denied access to the maternity hospital in Baiji and many others now risk miscarriage. The siege is fuelling anger among the inhabitants of the Province of Saladdeen and in Tikreet, the provincial capital, there have been several demonstrations denouncing U.S. troops.

Diwayniya Governor Says US Lying About Reconstruction

Khaleel Hamza said U.S. generals in charge of reconstruction exaggerate the sums of money they spend and the number of projects they carry out. Hamza was reacting to a U.S. army statement regarding the projects it has implemented in the province. “They (U.S. occupation troops) must verify their statements with documents and evidence otherwise we shall not allow them to make such irresponsible remarks,” Hamza told Azzaman. He said U.S. troops do contribute to the implementation of certain project but they usually exaggerate their contribution and do not tell the truth. “They (U.S. troops) prevent the implementation of strategic projects that are of benefit to the provincial population at large,” he said. For example, he said, U.S. generals in charge of reconstruction would announce a certain project which they claim will cost millions of dollars but “on close examination we find that a particular project for which they say they have allocated one million dollars is worth less than $300,000.” The governor also charge the troops of pursuing what he described as “unsound operations and methods” in implementing their projects.

Iraq’s Oil Smuggling

An estimated 100,000 barrels of oil is smuggled from Iraq each day, according to Saad Rahim, manager of PFC Energy`s Country Strategies Group. 'It`s certainly an impact being felt throughout Iraq,' Rahim told UPI, as gasoline shortages, long lines at filling stations and a heavy gas subsidy have fueled a crude black market. Lacking management, auditing and metering mechanisms in Iraq`s oil industry, petroleum products such as gasoline are also being taken from the country in unknown quantities. 'You don`t have the personnel or capacity to track these sorts of details,' Rahim said. Iraq is producing about 2 million barrels per day, down from 2.6 million barrels before the war, despite having the third-largest reserves in the world. It exports about 1.7 million bpd. Smugglers come in many forms, function and purpose in Iraq, all of which seem to be present in Basra, Iraq`s second-largest city. It`s also home to the second-largest petroleum refinery in the country and the main port for legal and smuggled oil and oil products. Some of the oil bounty is embezzled by industry insiders while, Rahim said, the most popular tact is redirecting or stealing trucks or tankers, be it by gangs and thugs or militia`s loyal to political parties. It`s taken to ports like Basra, in Iraq`s deep southeast, and sent to markets like Iran, Turkey and Syria and sold at market price (sometimes even back to Iraq).

Asian Games Silver Lining For Iraq

Iraq national football coach Yahya Manhel hoped that their silver medal winning campaign in the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar provided a unifying focal point for the various divided factions in his war-torn homeland. "Getting the silver medal is actually a great achievement for Iraq," said Manhel, after his side missed out on the gold by going down 1-0 to tournament hosts Qatar in the final in Doha on Friday. "We sent an important message to the people of Iraq that we can be unified. Our team at the Asian Games was supported back home by people of different tribes or sects. "They were backing the one team and we desperately wanted to win the gold for all Iraqi people." Supporters in the troubled nation whether Shi'ite or Suni, Arab or Assyrian, could enjoy some brief respite from their daily strife thanks to an impressive Asian Games campaign from their football team.


Iraqi Trade Unions Attack Plans For Foreign Company Control of Oil

Statement issued by the Iraqi labour union leaders, participating in a seminar in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Amman, from 10 to 14 December 2006, regarding the draft oil law. Since oil and gas are of great importance and necessity for the Iraqi economy, which depends on these sources to build the state and its institutions, and since they are the main source of national income, it is the right of the Iraqi people to be consulted on this draft oil law. The Iraqi people refuse to allow the destiny of oil to be settled behind closed doors. Iraqi public opinion strongly rejects the handing of control over oil to foreign companies, whose aim is to make big profits at the expense of the Iraqi people, and to rob the national wealth, according to long-term, unfair contracts, that undermine the sovereignty of the state and the dignity of the Iraqi people. For example, we reject that contracts such as production sharing contracts would not be subject to the Iraqi courts in the event of any dispute, nor subject to auditing, nor subject to democratic control. This would keep control in the hands of the state just in form, not in content.

Al-Hashemi Criticises Bush on Iraq

A senior Iraqi official has criticised the US for disbanding the Iraqi army in 2003 and said it should not withdraw without reforming Iraqi security forces infiltrated by sectarian militias. Tareq al-Hashemi, the Iraqi vice president, said he and George Bush have discussed the idea of a political coalition to end sectarian violence. … Al-Hashemi was unsparing in his criticism of the US decision to disband the Iraqi army and other security forces after the March 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. He said: "Imagine one day waking up and finding out that your nation's leaders had completely dismantled all police and military. As a result, there is not one policeman, or state, or federal law enforcement agent, or even one national guard or any soldier to protect you from criminal elements, or terrorists. It will be total chaos. "Then imagine that instead of calling back the army and security forces, the authorities in this imaginary scenario decided to form a new army and police from racist militias, some mercenaries and organised crime gangs. "With the new government-issued budget and government-issued vehicles, these armed groups begin arresting, torturing, murdering innocent people either because of their faith, or creed, or purely for profit. "This is exactly what has happened in Iraq." [In spite of his criticism, he still seems willing to ‘play along’ with the US occupation. – dancewater]

Tribal Leaders Don’t Trust Iraq Soldiers

Tribal leaders and some political groups in the strife-ridden Iraqi province of Diyala are turning to terrorists and insurgents for protection rather than trust Iraqi soldiers and police, the commander of U.S. forces in that area said Friday. "This sort of unity only worsens the sectarian divide and encourages further violence," said Col. David Sutherland, commander of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. He spoke to reporters at the Pentagon by a satellite video connection from his headquarters near the city of Baqouba, northeast of Baghdad. "Public perceptions of corruption, inequity and fear are the driving force behind support to terrorist organizations," Sutherland added. "These are not new problems in Iraq but problems that developed out of a desire for personal and financial gain." He said he is trying to turn that around by putting Iraqi police through more rigorous training, placing more U.S. advisers in the Iraqi army and police units and through Iraqi efforts to recruit a police and army force that better reflects the sectarian makeup of Diyala, which is about 55 percent Sunni, 30 percent Shiite and 15 percent Kurd. Currently the Iraqi security forces in Diyala are predominantly Shiite, Sutherland said. Sutherland said he is working out arrangements to expand the use of U.S. adviser teams with Iraqi security forces, reflecting the view of senior U.S. commanders that such an expansion can speed the development of competent Iraqi forces. [And none of that will work. – dancewater]

Moqtada Expresses Support For The Istanbul Meeting

Moqtada al-Sadr issued a statement Friday December 15 the People of Iraq" conference that was held in Istanbul the 13th and 14th (see prior post). Sadr said he is in favor of the conference, "which supports our brothers [the Sunnis], and my whole concern is for the success of meetings like this, [of people] aiming to extricate themselves from the clutches of the occupation and the Baathists...I am ready to attend conferences in support of the Sunnis, those in support of the Shiites, or those in support of Iraq as a whole or indeed of any Islamic country". Aswat al-Iraq reminds readers of the statements yesterday by government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh expressing regret that Turkey would host such a conference, which he described anti-Iraq. The reporter offers another excerpt from the Sadr statement: "If I were a scholar qualified to issue fatwas, I would without hesitation ban the killing of our brothers [the Sunnis] in Iraq or outside of Iraq... Whoever does that (Shiite killing Sunni or Sunni killing Shiite) is an enemy of God ...until the day of judgment." [This is from a blogger who translates Arabic news items into English. – dancewater]


US Staying The Course for Big Oil in Iraq Washington at large and President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in particular may apply every contortionist trick in the geopolitical book to save their skins in Iraq - and the reasons are not entirely political.

Joint Chiefs Advise Change In War Strategy

The nation's top uniformed leaders are recommending that the US change its main military mission in Iraq from combating insurgents to supporting Iraqi troops and hunting terrorists, said sources familiar with the White House's ongoing Iraq policy review. President Bush and Vice President Cheney met with the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff yesterday at the Pentagon for more than an hour, and the president engaged his top military advisers on different options. The chiefs made no dramatic proposals but, at a time of intensifying national debate about how to solve the Iraq crisis, offered a pragmatic assessment of what can and cannot be done by the military, the sources said. The chiefs do not favor adding significant numbers of troops to Iraq, said sources familiar with their thinking, but see strengthening the Iraqi army as pivotal to achieving some degree of stability. They also are pressing for a much greater U.S. effort on economic reconstruction and political reconciliation. Sources said that Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is reviewing a plan to redefine the American military mission there: U.S. troops would be pulled out of Iraqi cities and consolidated at a handful of U.S. bases while day-to-day combat duty would be turned over to the Iraqi army. Casey is still considering whether to request more troops, possibly as part of an expanded training mission to help strengthen the Iraqi army. The recommendations Casey is reviewing to overhaul the military mission were formulated by Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the outgoing top U.S. ground commander, officials said. The plan positions the U.S. military to be able to move swiftly to a new focus on training, one of the key recommendations from several reviews of U.S. strategy, including from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.

Republicans Think More US Targets For a Lost War a Good Idea

"I understand the polls show only 18 percent of the American people support my position. But I have to do what's right... In war, my dear friends, there's no such thing as compromise. You either win or you lose." -- Senator John McCain

Funny -- it's the same way with elections. So John McCain has joined Bush in throwing a shit fit over the Iraq Study Group's recommendations. What's bothering him? Well, it's certainly not the fact that no one who participated in the ISG had the foresight to oppose the war in the first place. McCain yelled at Baker and Hamilton last week because they didn't like his proposal to increase troop strength in Iraq by a number somewhere between 20 and 40 thousand. But the real bone in McCain's increasingly freakish craw? If the ISG recommendations are followed -- an unlikely event considering Bush's classic "whatever" dismissal -- US combat troops will be out of Iraq before McCain has a chance to get his election on. While McCain's insistence on "re-invading" Iraq and holding out for a miracle has been assailed as unrealistic except by diehard hawks and Bush loyalists, it has also been absurdly misinterpreted as the brave, bold stance of a man who puts the welfare of his nation above his own presidential aspirations. The common take is that McCain is "jeopardizing" his electability by continuing to support an unpopular war. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough said McCain is "swimming against the tide." CNN's Wolf Blitzer gushed that it was "a Profiles in Courage kind of statement." Even the UK press got in on the act, with the Times of London's Bronwen Maddox arguing the report "damages" McCain, making him look "like the nation's maverick, not the next president." Anatol Lieven wrote on the Guardian's website that McCain "seems to have committed himself to a course which could very well cost him the presidency in 2008."

REALLY BAD NEWS FOR IRAQIS: New Commander In Iraq Has a Reputation For Aggressive Action

Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, who became the No. 2 U.S. military commander in Iraq on Thursday, is returning to a country that's fundamentally different from the one he left two years ago. As his division's colors were unfurled during Thursday's change of command ceremony, many were asking whether he's adjusted to the change. An unapologetically aggressive person, Odierno commanded the 4th Infantry Division in 2003 when it was responsible for security in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. He was in command when his men captured Saddam near Tikrit in December 2003. But Odierno's forces also raided homes and cast a wide net over communities in search of a few suspects, and many now wonder whether those aggressive tactics helped turn some innocent residents into recruits willing to fight American forces.

US Weighted Sunni Offer to “Clean Up” Militias

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad negotiated with Sunni armed groups for several weeks earlier this year on an agreement that would have supported Sunni forces in attacking pro-Iranian Shiite militias, according to accounts given by commanders of armed Sunni resistance organisations. The revelations of the intensive U.S.-Sunni negotiations, reported by Hala Jaber in the Sunday Times of London Dec. 10, are consistent with an account of those negotiations provided by a Sunni participant last May in an interview with the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. But the new accounts make it clear for the first time that the main objective of the talks was to explore possible U.S. support for building a Sunni military force directed primarily against Shiites in Iraq. The Bush administration never responded to the Sunni offer and resumed its support in April 2006 for fielding an almost exclusively Shiite and Kurdish army and paramilitary forces to suppress the Sunni resistance. The decision against any accommodation with the Sunni organisations made it virtually impossible for the United States to curb the rising tide of sectarian Shiite killings of Sunni civilians and the open sectarian civil war that has followed. In the talks, the Sunnis assured the ambassador that the Sunni insurgents had sufficient manpower and knowledge to deal successfully with the problem of Shiite militias in Baghdad, which Khalilzad had begun to recognise as a serious policy problem for the Bush administration. "If he would just provide us with the weapons, we would clean up the city and regain control of Baghdad in 30 days," one insurgent leader was quoted as saying.


Britain's former top Iraq expert at the United Nations said in previously secret testimony that most government officials did not believe Iraq posed a threat in the months leading to the US-led invasion, according to a new report. Carne Ross, a former first secretary to the British mission at the UN responsible for Iraq policy, told a house of commons committee that he and other analysts believed that Iraq had only a "very limited" ability to mount an attack of any kind, including one using weapons of mass destruction, or WMD. [And if they had ANY idea that there was WMDs there, they would have had a clue as to WHERE they were located (which they did claim that, by the way) and they could have TOLD the UN inspectors where to look. But they didn’t. This was why it was SO CLEAR PRIOR TO THE INVASION that it was all a pack of lies. – dancewater]

Losing Arab Allies' Hearts and Minds

Attitudes towards the US reached new lows through most of the Arab world over the past year, according to the findings of a major new survey of five Arab countries released Thursday by Zogby International and the Arab American Institute. Based on 3,500 face-to-face interviews of randomly selected adult respondents in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, the survey found that the continuing deterioration in Washington's image was due primarily to U.S. policies in the region, particularly with respect to Iraq, Palestine, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Lebanon. But it also found that attitudes towards U.S. cultural and political values have also become increasingly negative, compared to previous years' surveys, although not nearly as negative as Arab views of specific policies. Particularly remarkable, negative opinions towards the US have skyrocketed in two key Arab monarchies long considered close allies of Washington, according to the survey. Nine of 10 Jordanian respondents said they held predominantly negative views of the U.S., up from only 32 percent on early 2005. Likewise 87 percent of Moroccans said their views of the U.S. were unfavourable, up from 64 percent last year. At least as worrisome to U.S. policymakers, a major beneficiary of growing Arab anger at Washington appeared to be Iran, according to AAI president James Zogby, who also acted as a consultant to Zogby International. "As America's numbers go down, Iran's goes up," he told reporters. "That's the reality, and we're playing right into it." While Arab leaders, including those with predominantly Sunni populations, "are very much concerned (about rising Iranian influence), the Arab public has a very different view," he said, noting that the survey results showed that most respondents were not worried about Iran's nuclear programme, particularly compared to Iraq and Palestine. More than seven in 10 respondents in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco, as well as a majority in Lebanon, said U.S. efforts to curb Iran's nuclear programme contributed to their negative views of Washington.


A Peace Prize for Iraq: The Economist's Solution to the War

The events of the last week should have dashed any hopes that the Iraq Study Group's (ISG) plan would lead to a quick US withdrawal from Iraq and an end to the violence. President Bush has made it clear that he will not accept the ISG plan for a phased withdrawal of troops. Even if he did accept the ISG plan, it is not clear how much longer US troops would remain in Iraq, nor that the plan would lead to an end to the civil war. Some new thinking is clearly in order. John Schmitt, my colleague at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, has risen to the occasion. He has developed an economist's solution for the war in Iraq - a $200 billion peace prize. The basic logic of the plan is very simple. At the moment, the various religious/ethnic groups in Iraq are fighting for control over Iraq and/or their particular territory in the belief that they have to protect their share of oil revenue and the other assets of the country. In other words, they have to fight to protect what they have, or to control what they think they should have. The peace prize reverses this logic. It uses the money that we would have otherwise spent on the occupation to give the Iraqis money for not fighting. The prize would be given to the people of Iraq (sent as checks to each individual) if certain targets are met for reducing violence. If the targets are not met, no one gets any money. For example, the prize could have a target that Iraq has fewer than 10,000 deaths due to political violence over the next year (as certified by an independent commission) in order for the first installment of $40 billion to be paid. The target could be lowered to 6,000 for the next year, with successive years having progressively lower targets for politically-motivated killings. In each case, if the country misses the target, no money gets paid. A prize of this magnitude would potentially mean serious money for the people of Iraq. It would be sufficient to provide almost $1,500 for every man, women, and child in the country, or $6,000 for a family of four. This is a huge sum for people in Iraq, where per capita GDP is less than $1,800 a year. The equivalent sum for the US would be $150,000 a year for a family of four. This would be enough money to get most people's attention. If families in Iraq knew that they stood to get such large windfalls by keeping the peace, they might place considerable pressure on the militias, insurgents and jihadists to stop the killing. If the prizes were actually paid out, it would provide a huge boost to the Iraqi economy and could provide a basis for sustained economic development. Of course, there is no guarantee that even the prospect of a large sum of money would be sufficient to end the current cycle of violence. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have seen their loved ones murdered, with many of the killings committed in especially brutal ways. These people may not be willing to just let bygones be bygones. But the fact is, no one else has a better idea. Clearly, the Bush-Rumsfeld "stay the course" plan is a dead end, which will only lead to more death and chaos. The ISG's graceful departure still would imply that US troops would be involved in Iraq for several more years, and certainly provides no guarantee that the eventual outcome is peace in Iraq.

OPINION: The Bloodbath We Created

Of all the faults of the Iraq Study Group the most serious was its warning, highlighted by Co-Chairman Lee Hamilton, that a “precipitate withdrawal” would cause a “bloodbath” in Iraq as well as a region-wide war. The cry of “bloodbath”—now given bipartisan status—will certainly be used to crush any attempt in Congress to advance a plan for a timetable for withdrawal. In offering this bloodbath argument, the ISG has unconsciously mimicked the argument used by President Richard Nixon to justify continuing the U.S. war in Vietnam for another four years. Nixon, too, warned of a postwar “bloodbath” if there was a “precipitate withdrawal” of U.S. troops. If the Vietnam era bloodbath argument sought to distract the public’s attention from the very real bloodbath that the U.S. war was causing, the new bloodbath argument distracts attention from the relationship between the U.S. occupation and the sectarian bloodbath that is continuing to worsen with every passing month. You would think that the political elite might be wary of an argument suggesting that the U.S. military presence in Iraq somehow helps restrain the Shiites and Sunnis from civil war—in light of the escalating sectarian killings in Baghdad since thousands of U.S. troops poured into Baghdad ostensibly to curb the sectarian war. Yet that is exactly what we are asked to believe by the ISG. [And it is, like everything before it, a pack of lies. – dancewater]

The bloodbath argument evades the central fact that the U.S. occupation has never been aimed at avoiding or reducing sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites. On the contrary, the U.S. has used sectarian conflict for its own purposes. The main purpose of the U.S. occupation has been to claim victory over those who resisted it, which has meant primarily suppressing the Sunni armed resistance throughout the Sunni zone. The Bush administration had to have Iraqi allies against the Sunni resistance, and after Sunni security units showed in 2004 that they would not fight other Sunnis on behalf of the occupation, the administration began relying primarily on Shiites to assist its war against the Sunnis. Thus the militant Shiite political parties and their military wing became the administration’s primary Iraqi allies. Unfortunately those were the very sectarian organizations that were motivated by revenge against Sunnis. As soon they had gained control of the state organs of violence through the January 2005 election, those organizations began to unleash retribution against the Sunni community in Baghdad—seizing Sunni mosques and killing Sunni political and religious leaders. The torture and killing of Sunni detainees by such Shiite paramilitary groups as the Badr brigade and the Wolf brigade were well documented by mid-2005. The Bush administration was hardly unaware of the dangerous rise of the pro-Iranian Shiite militias in Baghdad who intended to carry out ethnic cleansing against Sunnis. [And the US Senate cannot claim ‘unaware’ either. I gave each and every US Senators office a written statement telling them about this in September 2005. – dancewater]

OPINION: Bush Has Created a Comprehensive Catastrophe Across The Middle East

In every vital area, from Afghanistan to Egypt, his policies have made the situation worse than it was before. What an amazing bloody catastrophe. The Bush administration's policy towards the Middle East over the five years since 9/11 is culminating in a multiple train crash. Never in the field of human conflict was so little achieved by so great a country at such vast expense. In every vital area of the wider Middle East, American policy over the last five years has taken a bad situation and made it worse. If the consequences were not so serious, one would have to laugh at a failure of such heroic proportions - rather in the spirit of Zorba the Greek who, contemplating the splintered ruins of his great project, memorably exclaimed: "Did you ever see a more splendiferous crash?" But the reckless incompetence of Zorba the Bush has resulted in the death, maiming, uprooting or impoverishment of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children - mainly Muslim Arabs but also Christian Lebanese, Israelis and American and British soldiers. By contributing to a broader alienation of Muslims it has also helped to make a world in which, as we walk the streets of London, Madrid, Jerusalem, New York or Sydney, we are all, each and every one of us, less safe. Laugh if you dare. ….Instead Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld drove us on to Iraq, aided and abetted by Tony Blair, leaving the job in Afghanistan less than half-done. Today Osama bin Laden and his henchmen are probably still holed up in the mountains of Waziristan, just across the Afghan frontier in northern Pakistan, while the Taliban is back in force and the whole country is a bloody mess. Instead of one partial success, following a legitimate intervention, we have two burgeoning disasters, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. The United States and Britain invaded Iraq under false pretences, without proper legal authority or international legitimacy. If Saddam Hussein, a dangerous tyrant and certified international aggressor, had in fact possessed secret stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, the intervention might have been justified; as he didn't, it wasn't. Then, through the breathtaking incompetence of the civilian armchair warriors in the Pentagon and the White House, we transformed a totalitarian state into a state of anarchy. Claiming to move Iraq forward towards Lockean liberty, we hurled it back to a Hobbesian state of nature. Iraqis - those who have not been killed - increasingly say things are worse than they were before.

Congratulations, Mr. President; you have made one hell of a disaster.

Good News, Everybody: We’ve Got A New Iraq Slogan!

Not surprisingly, the Bush administration is already backing away from most of the proposals put forth by the Iraq Study Group. The New York Times, with unintended comic irony, noted it this way: "Administration officials say their preliminary review of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's recommendations has concluded that many of its key proposals are impractical or unrealistic." Thank God we have George Bush to protect us from doing anything impractical or unrealistic in the Middle East. But there is one thing in the proposal we can be sure Bush will take from the report -- the slogan. Bush may not be into things like facts, truth, or reality, but he loves a good slogan. So while Bush may not like any of the Group's 79 proposals (so impractical and unrealistic), he's ready to adopt its slogan, "New Way Forward." Newsweek says that next week "Bush is expected to announce what he calls 'The New Way Forward,' his latest plan to salvage the mission in Iraq."

A Scenario

I can imagine a scenario. In which the U.S. was invaded by an alien and stronger military force. Its not clear exactly why this force descended upon America, because several underlying reasons appear to be masked by the justifications made public by the invading force. Many here, prior to the invasion, would have agreed with the invaders, that America had become a rogue nation personified by feckless leadership and foreign adventurism. Indeed, many here distraught over this degenerative state of affairs, and disheartened over their own impotence to effect change, came to in secret, a willing desire for invasion, if only it would topple the leadership. But, the invaders were more clever than that, and so came to capitalize on that frustration and use it to for their own mysterious ends. First to scuttle resistance to the invasion itself, and then later to fashion wedges of influence to divide the people and formulate an enduring occupation. Knowing that America was a religious country, the invaders made a calculated decision, and chose to engender support for one religious group at the expense of the others. In retrospect it was an obvious choice, not only because the Cathloic Church was the largest religious sect in America, it promoted certain values the invader could appreciate. Like for instance anti-individualism. Not to mention the clear association the other large religious sect, the Baptists, had in supporting and enabling the former regime, particularly its hapless but brutal leader.

Prior to the invasion, many would have argued that religious divides in America were a thing of the past, and made irrelevant ever since the election of J. F. Kennedy, intermarriage, and practical political accommodation. But it was apparently not so, at least since the invasion, whereby the invaders disparaged and demonized the Baptists as militant rum running religious fanatic individualists drunk with fascist power. And at the same time enshrined and empowered the Catholics with key military and government interm appointments that would secure in long delayed elections, demographic , financial, and political control. The Baptists have of course, in response have lived up to their name and splintered into several "party of God" incarnations attacking the Catholics as "un-American commie sellouts". Over the years the situation has degenerated with a vengence. From the early Baptist bear trap and hunting rifle attacks on the invasion force itself, through to the steady escalation of attacks on the Catholic "collaborators". That presumably, have disenfranchized the baptists back into their worst stereo-typed white trash forced trailer park nightmare into a fractured militancy where even the KKK has reemerged as one of the most feared insurgent factions, attacking both the invader and collaborator alike. But now too, the Catholics have also become suspicious and alarmed at the level of Baptist reprisal attacks, have begun to reconsider some of their "Catholic City" legislation aimed at pushing the Baptist factions still residing in the city back into the rural areas, as a matter of national security. And the occupiers too, seem to have changed sides, increasing the pressure to accomodate new Baptist demands for autonomy. And so it goes, and still no one is quite sure what the ultimate goal of the occupation really is, unless they did it, because they could. I guess we'll never know, maybe something good will ultimately come of it anyway.

Why Withdrawal Is Unmentionable

Pulling out of Iraq would be an imperially momentous decision. It would mean the abandonment of more than two decades of American foreign policy in the Middle East. The report of James A. Baker's Iraq Study Group has already become a benchmark for Iraq policy, dominating the print and electronic media for several days after its release, and generating excited commentary by all manner of leadership types from Washington to London to Baghdad. Even if most of the commentary continues to be negative, we can nevertheless look forward to highly publicized policy changes in the near future that rely for their justification on this report, or on one of the several others recently released, or on those currently being prepared by the Pentagon, the White House, and the National Security Council. This is not, however, good news for those of us who want the U.S. to end its war of conquest in Iraq. Quite the contrary: The ISG report is not an "exit strategy;" it is a new plan for achieving the Bush administration's imperial goals in the Middle East. …. To put it bluntly, the ISG is not calling on the Bush administration to abandon its goal of creating a client regime that was supposed to be the key to establishing the U.S. as the dominant power in the Middle East. Quite the contrary. As its report states: "We agree with the goal of U.S. policy in Iraq." If you ignore the text sprinkled with sugar-coated words like "representative government," the report essentially demands that the Iraqi government pursue policies shaped to serve "America's interest and values in the years ahead."

…… But no one should imagine that the "new" military strategy proposed by Baker and his colleagues includes dismissing the original goals of the war. In their letter of transmittal, ISG co-chairs James Baker and Lee Hamilton declared: "All options have not been exhausted. We believe it is still possible to pursue different policies that can give Iraq an opportunity for a better future, combat terrorism, stabilize a critical region of the world and protect America's credibility, interests and values." This statement, couched in typical Washington-speak, reiterates those original ambitious goals and commits the ISG to a continuing effort to achieve them. The corpus of the report does nothing to dispel that assertion. Its military strategy calls for a (certainly quixotic) effort to use Iraqi troops to bring about the military victory American troops have failed for three years to achieve. The diplomatic initiatives call for a (certainly quixotic) effort to enlist the aid of Syria and Iran, as well as Saudi Arabia and other neighbors, in defeating the insurgency. And the centerpiece of the economic initiatives seeks to accelerate the process of privatizing oil, the clearest sign of all that Baker and Hamilton -- like Bush and his circle -- remain committed to the grand scheme of maintaining the United States as the dominant force in the region.

Oppose "Supplemental Appropriation" for Continued U.S. Occupation of Iraq. Write your Member of Congress.

PEACE ACTION: Progressive Democrats of America has been working and organizing support for HR 4232 since Rep. McGovern introduced this important bill in November of 2005. Rep. McGovern spoke at the PDA "Get out of Iraq" Town Hall meeting the day after he introduced HR 4232. We continue to work for its passage as a top legislative priority. We urge you to continue organizing support for HR 4232 and to ask your Congressional member to co-sponsor the bill. PDA 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. Please sign the online petition at www.pdamerica.org and send it to your friends.

Quote of the Day: Most Americans initially believed that the U.S. went into Iraq to shut down Saddam Hussein's WMD programs and/or simply to topple a dangerous dictator (or even a dictator somehow connected to the 9/11 attacks). Of course, had that really been the case, the Bush administration should have withdrawn almost immediately. – Michael Schwartz [And today, some of them believe in the lies about freedom and democracy for the Iraqi people, in spite of the fact that the Bush administration is constantly telling Iraqis how to run their country. They never seem to learn. – dancewater]


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