Sunday, December 24, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, December 24, 2006 Photo: Suspects stand blindfolded in the Iraqi army headquarters in Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2006, after they have been detained in a joint Iraqi and U.S. army raid. (AP Photo) Bring 'em on: Three 89th Military Police Brigade Soldiers were killed and one Soldier was wounded Saturday when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device at approximately 12:20 p.m. in east Baghdad. (MNF - Iraq) Bring 'em on: An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 23. The combat patrol was conducting a combat re-supply mission in order to deliver necessary supplies to units in the area. As they conducted their mission, a roadside bomb exploded near one of their vehicles, killing one Soldier. (MNF - Iraq) Bring 'em on: An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southeast of the Iraqi capital Dec. 23. The patrol was conducting combat operations in order to search for suspected terrorists in the area and reestablish security for the local populace. As they conducted their mission, a roadside bomb exploded near one of their vehicles, killing one Soldier and wounding four others. (MNF - Iraq)
(update) A string of bombings claimed the lives of six U.S. soldiers in an around Baghdad. Three members the U.S. 89th Military Police Brigade were killed Saturday in east Baghdad when a roadside bomb detonated, the U.S. military said. A fourth soldier, assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, died Saturday in an explosion in Diyala, east of the Iraqi capital. Two more U.S. soldiers were killed Saturday in separate roadside blasts near Baghdad, the U.S. military said. One of them died when a bomb exploded southeast of the capital near a patrol searching for "suspected terrorists," the military said. Four other soldiers were wounded in that incident. The sixth U.S. soldier was killed when a bomb exploded southwest of Baghdad, near a patrol delivering supplies to units in the area.
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: A roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol killed two and wounded three soldiers on Saturday in Nahda district in central Baghdad. A roadside bomb exploded near a U.S Army patrol, wounding four people. Six mortar rounds landed in central Baghdad, wounding 12 people, Interior ministry sources said. Samawa: At least five police have been killed in Samawah, where Shiite fighters attacked police headquarters and other government buildings with rocket-propelled grenades. Police have been battling the fighters since Friday. Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, did not identify the gunmen in Samawah, but police said they belonged to a militia formed by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. About 40 suspected militiamen were captured, a police official said on condition of anonymity out of concern for his safety.
The death toll from fighting since Saturday between Iraqi security forces and militias loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Samawa, 270 km (170 miles) south of Baghdad, rose to eight, including four policemen, and 32 more people were wounded, a hospital source said. The city was under a vehicle curfew on Sunday as sporadic clashes continued.
Khanaqin: At least one Iraqi soldier was killed and 17 others were wounded on Sunday morning when an explosive charge was detonated at an Iraqi army vehicle patrol in Khanaqin district, Diala province, Khanaqin mayor said. Diwaniya: Three unidentified bodies were found on Sunday morning dumped in different parts of Diwaniya city, 180 km south of Baghdad. Karbala: A gang of three was arrested in the Shiite sacred city of Karbala, 110 km southwest of Baghdad. The gang, composed of two men and a woman, confessed of car jacking in the city. Baaquba: A U.S. and Iraqi combined vehicle patrol came under fire and engaged in clashes with unknown gunmen in Baaquba killing four of them, a security source said on Sunday. Dyiala Prov: At least seven policemen were killed and 30 others wounded when a suicide attacker detonated explosives strapped to his body inside a police department in Muqdadiyah town in Diala province. Baqubah: Four insurgents were killed on Saturday when Iraqi and U.S. forces were attacked with small arms fire and they returned fire in the religiously mixed city of Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. Gunmen in army uniforms kidnapped five Sunni Arabs on Saturday night from a town near Baquba. An Iraqi died and 17 others were injured when a bomb blew up at a market in Baquba. Two Iraqi soldiers were killed in a bomb attack on a patrol near the city. Armed assailants killed two police officers and injured a third officer in an attack on a road block north of the city. Muqdadiyah: A suicide bomber killed at least seven policemen and wounded 30 others at a police station in Muqdadiyah, about 55 miles northeast of the capital. Insurgents then launched six mortar rounds at the station
Shortly after the suicide bomber attack, two roadside bombs exploded next to one another in Khanaqin, about 90 miles northeast of Baghdad, close to the Iranian border, police said. The coordinated attacks wounded 18 civilians, some seriously.
Diwaniya: Police retrieved the bodies of three people from the river in the city of Diwaniya, 180 km (112 miles) south of Baghdad. Tal Afar: A roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol wounding two police men in Tal Afar, about 420 km (260 miles) northwest of Baghdad. >> REPORTS Roads to Iraq: GATES VISITED BAGHDAD TO QUELL US SOLDIERS MUTINY IN ANBAR, US IMMINENT ATTACK ON RAMADI SOON According almoharrer newspaper quoting an Iraqi Military sources Iraqi military sources told the newspaper that the reason that the American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited Baghdad urgently after two days he received his new post as a Defense Minister; is to extinguish a military mutiny carried out by American VI battalion based in Anbar, after refusing to obey orders and prefer not to leave their base in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province. The sources pointed out that the US military base is exposed to daily heavy tactical attacks and attempts to storm the walls of the base by Iraqi resistance. (…) Also reported by Qudspress that a mass exodus take place right now in the city of Ramadi after reports of an imminent American attack on the city following the visit of the American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to Iraq. The city filled with people searching for taxis and trucks to flee the city, bringing with them some simple belongings, especially after the American forces announced to the residents of Al Althelh and Al-Mulameen, the need to leave and evacuate their homes. US forces took control of many houses in the area by force. It also closed schools in the city after electricity was lost completely. American forces also cut off water from the city center, with the continued armed confrontations between the American forces and Iraqi resistance in the city. link >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS One Thousand Resasons: BUSH'S BLEEDING COMPASSION Or is that "oozing"? Either way, George Bush is full of it, compassion, that is, or at least the appearance of compassion. He visited wounded troops today at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. For Bush, this is progress. For years he denied the dead and wounded even existed; he prevented photographers from even snapping returning caskets. But now he's compassionate. He feels their pain. While with the children of the wounded, who were wrapping gifts for their parents, Bush first was confused about whether the family was wounded or just one of the parents --hint, it's both -- and then stammered as he tried to say what happened: it was "in -- in -- in combat." Bush found the hospital staff "remarkable" for their compassion and care, and he found the wounded "remarkable" for volunteering. In spite of their "terrible wounds" their spirits, resolve, and dedication remain "strong." Not all of them, of course, Some are downright angry at Bush. Thousands of troops have demanded that the U.S. withdraw from Iraq; others lament the lack of services provided for their physical and psychic wounds. But today was a photo-op, a chance to display his compassion for a few of the 20,000 or more wounded and the nearly 3,000 dead. It's all a tragedy made more-so because it was so unnecessary. No one with a clear mind and an ounce of true compassion still believes it was a good thing to invade Iraq. Except George W. Bush -- the sheltered, the pampered, the arrogant, the compassionate. link Wake Up From Your Slumber: CONDI'S ALBRIGHT MOMENT Not to be outdone by her illustrious predecessor in crime, who infamously declared that losing half a million Iraqi children was 'worth it,' Condi proves to the world that you don't have to be white to be a bitch.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Iraq is "worth the investment" in American lives and dollars, and that the United States can still win a conflict that has been more difficult than she expected.
I recall being told that invading Iraq was an act of SELF-DEFENSE. Afterwhich we were told that it was to preserve our freedom. Now, we're told it's an INVESTMENT? read in full... WhatReallyHappened: EYE ON IRAQ: THE OTHER IRAQ REPORT
Ever since Shiite militias across Iraq erupted into a frenzy of retaliatory random killings of Sunnis following the bombing of the al-Askariya, or Golden Mosque in Samara -- a cherished Shiite shrine -- on Feb. 22, 2006, we have charted and predicted in these columns the California-sized nation of 28 million people's rapid descent into a state of violent chaos.
Maybe that was the goal of those who bombed that Mosque; to trigger trick the Iraqis into killing each other rather than attacking the invaders. read in full... Dhamad Wasmi, Azzaman: U.S. TRAPPED IN ARABIAN SANDS The U.S. began its third millennium with its Iraq adventure. It thought it would change the face of the Middle East through its illegal invasion of that country and crown itself as the world's unrivaled superpower for decades. But it failed drastically in the test it set for itself. The invasion through which it wanted to teach the Middle East a lesson backfired. The leaders who hoped their invading troops will be welcomed with flowers are now busy ferrying their dead and wounded soldiers and have no idea what to do with tanks and vehicles that are knocked out in anti-U.S. operations. The flowers have turned into bullets and deadly roadside bombs that are killing and maiming Americans in droves and driving its leaders crazy. The world's most powerful empire is about to lose its credibility and declare defeat at the hands of a small but dedicated group of resistance fighters. Somebody should have told the U.S. that not everyone has the ability to surf the Arabian sands. It may not be too late to deliver the message but the Arabian sands of the Middle East do not yield to invaders. History tells it is the other way round. But the U.S. still seems adamant to change the Arabian Middle East through brutal force and overwhelming hypocrisy and double standard. The Arabian sands help their inhabitants to see as far as the horizon and it does not take them long to discover the U.S. has not come to save them but to save itself and its illegitimate daughter Israel. The U.S., through brutal force, wants the Arabs to detach themselves from their history and forget about the loss of their land and the plight of their refugees. For the inhabitants of the Arabian sands history matters and if its errors are not corrected the sands will blow in the face of the invaders and turn them blind. The Arabian Middle East is not there to be changed by the U.S. It is there to bring about changes in other regions and nations. And nearly four years after the invasion, the U.S. is the one which will have to seriously consider changing itself and its policies. America is no longer in a position to tell others to democratize or respect human rights. Its invasion and Middle East polices demonstrate that those principles do not count in dealing with the region. And the inhabitants of the Arabian sands have come to understand that America has two tongues, double principles, hypocritical standards and multiple faces in dealing with them. It is not easy to walk on the Arabian sands with a blazing sun. You will get scorched and shunned if you are dishonest. And no country is as dishonest as America for the people inhabiting the Arabian sands. link Missing Links: THE DEBATE YOU DON'T HEAR A WORD ABOUT IN AMERICA Al-Jazeera hosted a televised discussion recently following the windup of the Istanbul Conference (Dec 13 and 14), including Adnan al-Dulaimi (head of one of the biggest Sunni political parties), Harith al-Dhari (head of the Muslim Scholars Association) and others. It has posted a brief summary on its Aljazeeratalk.net site (flagged by Abu Aardvark on his website), and the summary goes like this: First of all, judging from the banners in the background, the recommended English version for the name of the group that organized this is "Global Anti-Agression Campaign", and the AlJazeera summary notes this was really the first-ever meeting bringing together representatives of the Sunni people of Iraqi with representatives of the Sunni populations of surrounding countries. And there was unanimous agreement on the concluding recommendations (see this prior post), but the there was also one major point of disagreement: Is the Iraqi conflict sectarian or is it political? Dulaimi is quoted as a proponent of the former view, as follows: He said (according to this summary): "[There is a] Shiite Safavid Persian Majousi threat originating in Iran and aiming to consume all of Iraq, and after that neighboring countries including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, by way of reviving the dream of a new Persian empire." Harith al-Dari disagreed and said this is "a political struggle plain and simple". He said (according to this summary): "There are both Shiites and Sunnis on the one side under a single banner, and on the other side, arrayed against them, is the Occupation along with its Iraqi agents, aiming at the realization of its colonialist aims. [And this is the case] whether or not those [agents] connive with the Iraqi government and its institutions, or with the death-squads and the militias that are supported from outside". There was a full debate between the two men and their respective supporters. One common agreed point, however, was that the threat that the Iraqi people are facing comes from beyond their borders, whether from over the horizon (America) or from next door. The person writing the summary doesn't take sides explicitly, but it is significant what his next sentence says. It goes like this: "The conference included the directing of a message to the United States of America, to the effect it is inevitably failing in its efforts to uncover fitna between the two groups of believers in Iraq [Sunni and Shiia], and as Harith al-Dhari insisted, the organization of Shiite clerics is the brother of the Sunni [organnization], and they both proscribe the shedding of blood for whatever reason". And he adds that Dhari called on the Shiite clerics to make a corresponding statement of position, with respect to the sectarian militias. That is the extent of this summary. Clearly the AlJazeera presentation of this gives the last word to AlDhari, and to the view that this is a political struggle, that can't be allowed to turn into a sectarian struggle, and that the primary enemy is the American occupation, whatever may be the nature of the various parties, whether government or sectarian militia, that are in collusion with it. It is worth considering the nature of this debate, alongside the comparable "debate" in America, on whether the Iraqi situation is "civil war, yes or no". The trick here is that if you can pin the "civil war" label on Iraq (meaning essentially "sectarian conflict"), then in Dhari's terms, this would be seen as no longer a political struggle at all, but a religious war. America would supposedly become a non-combattant, supposedly turning into a humanitarian assistant and peacekeeper. And America's continued involvement would thus be justified. So while there are huge stakes for the Iraqis in correctly understanding what is going on, there are also stakes for Americans. Which is why I repeat: I am spooked by the fact that there is not a word about this conference, or the issues it raises, in any of the American media, or in any of the big, supposedly enlightening blogs either. This AlJazeera item concludes with some remarks on the mechanics of the Istanbul conference. It is worth highlighting this: The meeting was held in Istanbul, Turkey, because Turkey is a country that enjoys the benefits of democracy, and allows for the free expression of a wide range of opinions. Food for thought. link Helena Cobban: SISTANI FOILS THE OCCUPIERS' PLOT (AGAIN) So now, it appears that not only has Ayatollah Sistani blocked the Bushists' plan to cut off and isolate Moqtada al-Sadr-- but also, the main Shiite party the Bushists were hoping would help them in their plan, SCIRI, has started distancing itself rapidly from it, too... AP's Qassim Abdul-Zahra is quoting Shiite parliamentarians visiting Najaf as saying that an aide to Ayatollah Sistani today said that Sistani "does not support" a US-instigated plan to construct a new governing coalition that would exclude and isolate Sadr. Abdul-Zahra wrote,
"There are obstacles in the face of forming this coalition, because al-Sistani does not support it. So we will work to strengthen the (Shiite) alliance," said Hassan al-Sunnaid, of the Dawa Party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Ali al-Adib, also a Dawa Party member, said al-Sistani "does not support such blocs because they will break Shiite unity." An official close to al-Sistani, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the cleric "will not bless nor support any new bloc or front. He only supports the unity of the Shiites."
This AP reporter does seem a little unduly under the sway of the US spinmeisters in Baghdad, since he describes the US plan as being one "to persuade Iraq's political leaders to set aside sectarian interests and work together for the sake of national unity." However, as Reidar Visser has pointed out in a comment at this JWN post,
It should be pointed out that there IS already in place a [governing] coalition across sectarian lines and the only new proposal is to make it more narrow, by chopping off Sadrists and possibly some Sunni elements. Sistani has given his support for the existing government. Why would he want to support the proposed, more narrow alternative?
Anyway, this would be far from the first time that Sistani has foiled the political machinations of the US occupying forces in Iraq. (It is also at least the second time he has saved Moqtada Sadr from a potentially lethal US scheme.) Qassim Abdul-Zahra reports that after visiting Sistani the delegation went to talk to Sadr, who was also (I believe) in Najaf. He wrote that Sadr had agreed to allow the members of his bloc to end the walkout from the parliament that they started to protest PM Maliki's recent meeting with President Bush, in Amman. However, Abdul-Zahra also quoted Khaled al-Attiya, an independent who is parliament's deputy speaker, as implying that Sadr hasn't given his final answser on that yet: "He will give his final decision to rejoin the government and parliament after Eid al-Adha." That will apparently be on around January. 4. Meanwhile, AFP's Hassan Abdel-Zahra (related? who knows?) reported more forthrightly that,
Talks to woo supporters of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr back into Iraq's ruling coalition broke up without agreement after he insisted on a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops. Nevertheless, participants in the talks expressed confidence that his 32 lawmakers and six ministers would soon return rejoin the government... "They agreed to all our demands, except scheduling a withdrawal for the occupier. This demand will be discussed during the next meeting," Abu Firas al-Mutairi, a political official from Sadr's movement, told reporters.
This reporter also, intriguingly, wrote this:
The Pentagon has explicitly blamed Sadr and his militia for much of the sectarian violence engulfing Iraq. Sunni politicians have threatened to pull out of Maliki's coalition if the Shiite prime minister fails to halt attacks on Sunni civilians by Shiite militants and publicly denounce Sadr's alleged involvement in the violence. But the main Shiite plank in the proposed "moderate coalition", the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), rejects this approach, calling for Sadr to be brought back on board.
Okay, first of all, note this reporter's unexamined use of Pentagon "spin" in framing this portion of the story... Firstly, by not including any critique of the Pentagon's attempt to blame only the Sadrists for the anti-Sunni sectarian violence-- a claim that certainly is not supported by the available evidence. Secondly, by implying in the second para there that all the Sunni pols have threatened to pull out unless Maliki publicly denounces Sadr-- not true. And thirdly, when he calls the US-proposed coalition the "moderate coalition". (Okay, so he put that in tell-tale scare quotes, thereby perhaps distancing himself a little from endorsement of the Bushist-originated monicker.) But mainly, regarding that small portion of the AFP story, which is tucked into it only at the very end, note that even Bush's hoped-for buddies from SCIRI are now reported as dissociating themselves from the isolate-Moqtada campaign. So what is the Bushists' Plan B, again? link QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Here's the assessment. This place; big picture - hopeless. Wrong plan, wrong place. 2003-2004 was done so wrong that we can't recover. The Iraqi leadership doesn't really want us here, they just want our money and equipment and they want us to get out of their way so they can accomplish their own personal agendas. Everything is about positioning themselves for when we leave. And they know we're leaving, every invader/occupier always has and this current one isn't shy about stating it in the press." -- from Iraq Impressions From A Soldier On The Ground at No Quarter


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