Thursday, December 28, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR THURSDAY, December 28, 2006 Photo 1: Armed militants take up defensive positions on the side of a road on the outskirts of Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2006. Dozens of masked gunmen paraded in the Gatoun district of Baqouba, a mixed Sunni-Shiite town that often has considerable amounts of insurgent activity. (AP Photo) ["often has considerable amounts" — talk about an understatement! -- zig] Photo 2: Women grieve during the funeral of a relative, who was killed in Tuesday's car bomb attack, in Baghdad December 27, 2006. Bombs killed nearly 40 people in Baghdad, including 20 in western Adhamiya district, police said. REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ) Bring 'em on: Seven U.S. soldiers were killed and three others wounded in several military operations in Iraq, the U.S. army in Iraq said on Thursday. "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 was killed in action while conducting combat operations in the Al Anbar Province December 27," the army said in a statement. Earlier in the day, the army said that one Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died on Wednesday from wounds sustained due to action while operating in Al Anbar Province. Another statement said that a 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) soldier died as a result of non-combat related injuries on Logistics Support Area Anaconda in Balad, Salah Eddin province on December 23. "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one soldier in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital Dec. 27," the army said in a statement. Two other soldiers were also wounded in the explosion. Another two U.S. soldiers were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near a dismounted Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, southwest of the Iraqi capital on December 27. "The unit was conducting a dismounted security patrol on a well-traveled route when a roadside bomb exploded near them; another soldier was also wounded in the explosion," read a statement. The sixth soldier died of injuries received "when a High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle rolled over along a dirt canal trail during a combat reconnaissance mission south of the Iraqi capital Dec. 26," the army said. Three Latvian soldiers were killed and two wounded on Wednesday when a roadside bomb exploded at a Multi-National forces convoy near the southern Iraqi province of Diwaniya, a police source said. Two British soldiers were wounded when an explosive charge went off at their vehicle patrol in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, the spokesman for the Multi-National forces in southern Iraq said on Wednesday. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: Two higher education ministry employees were wounded when unknown gunmen attacked their car in western Baghdad, a police source said. A car bomb exploded at a petrol station near the Shaab stadium in central Baghdad, killing 10 people and wounding 25, police said. Two roadside bombs exploded in Bab al-Sharji in central Baghdad, killing seven people and wounding 35, Interior Ministry and police sources said.
The casualty toll in a dual bombing that ripped through a central Baghdad market on Thursday rose to 11 dead people and 43 wounded, Iraqi police sources said.
A total of 51 bodies were found on Wednesday in different districts of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said. At least eight civilians were killed and ten others wounded on Wednesday when a car bomb went off in Talibiyah district, eastern Baghdad, a police source said. The Director of Baghdad medical city hospital survived on Wednesday morning an assassination attempt, a security source said. Baghdad police patrols found 50 unidentified bodies in different parts of Baghdad since Tuesday and until Wednesday night, a police source said on Thursday. Hawija: A roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi police patrol wounded three policemen in Hawija, 70 km (43 miles) southwest of Kirkuk. Mosul: A suicide bomber in a minibus attacked the offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in the northern city of Mosul and there were an unknown number of casualties, eyewitnesses said. Tikrit: Gunmen attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint, killing two soldiers and wounding one in Tikrit, 175 (110 miles) north of Baghdad. Kirkuk: Four gunmen wearing Iraqi army uniforms opened fire and killed a policeman and seriously wounded another in the northern oil city of Kirkuk, police said. The gunmen were arrested. Baquba: Gunmen killed a police captain and wounded two other policemen in a drive-by shooting in Baquba, 65 km north of Baghdad. Unknown gunmen kidnapped four civilians riding in a car on a main road in Diala province, an eyewitness said. Yusifiya: Iraqi special forces backed by U.S. advisers have captured an al Qaeda cell leader believed to be behind the kidnap in June of two U.S. soldiers who were found tortured and dead, the U.S. military said. The man was captured in a raid on Tuesday in Yusifiya, 15 km south of Baghdad. Mahmudiya (near): U.S. and Iraqi army troops arrested 30 suspected insurgents southwest of Mahmudiya, about 30 km south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. Sulaimaniyah: The Iraqi police detained on Wednesday fifteen people suspected of involvement in the blast incident occurred on Sunday in Khanaqin district where 18 Iraqi army soldiers were wounded, a security source said. The security forces in Sulaimaniyah arrested 30 members of Islamic Kurdish parties with charges of planning "terrorist" attacks, a security source said on Wednesday. Wassit: Two higher education ministry employees were wounded when unknown gunmen attacked their car in western Baghdad, a police source said. Three Iraqi soldiers were killed when an explosive charge went off at their vehicle patrol near Sawiyrah district of Wassit province, an Iraqi army source said. Karbala: Unknown gunmen shot and killed a district mayor along with his driver in Karbala, Karbala acting governor said. >> NEWS Thousands of supporters of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr marched through the holy Iraqi city of Najaf in an angry funeral procession after a senior Sadr aide was killed by a U.S. soldier on Wednesday. Chanting "No to America" and carrying placards decrying U.S. occupation, mourners, including black-robed clerics, carried the coffin of Saheb al-Amiri through the streets. Members of Sadr's group accused the Americans of provoking a confrontation and demanded a government inquiry. (...) Sadr officials and U.S. military commanders gave conflicting versions of the activities of Amiri. Sadr officials said U.S. forces stormed Amiri's home at dawn on Wednesday and killed him in front of his wife and children. They said Amiri was a lawyer who headed a charity for orphans and the poor and was not part of the Mehdi Army. "What happened was a crime. It comes on top of other crimes committed by occupation forces in Iraq," Nassar al-Rubaei, head of the Sadr bloc in parliament, told reporters in Baghdad. In Najaf, Sheikh Abdul-Razzes al-Malawi, a member of Sadr's office, said: "U.S. forces want to drag us into a confrontation, but we won't be dragged into it. However, we promise them there will be a reaction at the appropriate time." U.S. military spokesman Major General William Caldwell said Amiri was an "improvised explosive device facilitator" and that he was implicated in a bomb attack on a police chief in October. He said he was shot dead in his home near Najaf, during an Iraqi-led raid, by a U.S. military adviser who saw Amiri point an assault rifle at an Iraqi soldier. He said U.S. forces had "tremendous amount of information" on Amiri for some time. "The purpose of going after him is because of the illegal activities that he was conducting, not because he was associated to any particular organization," Caldwell told reporters. U.S. forces handed over security control of Najaf, , and its province to Iraqi forces this month and Caldwell said the raid was planned and executed by the Iraqi army with the assistance of eight American military advisers. Bush said he was making "good progress" in coming up with a new Iraq strategy. [sure, and there's WMDs in Iraq too! - zig] In what may prove to be the final message from Saddam Hussein before his execution, the ousted dictator urged Iraqis to unite against the US and Iran and portrayed himself as a potential martyr. "The enemies of your country, the invaders and the Persians, have found your unity a barrier between you and those who are now ruling you. Therefore, they drove their hated wedge among you," he said in a handwritten letter released by his lawyer yesterday. "O faithful people, I bid you farewell as my soul goes to God the compassionate," he wrote. "Long live Iraq. Long live Iraq. Long live Palestine. Long live jihad and the mujahideen. God is greatest." On Tuesday, Iraq's highest court turned down Saddam's appeal against a death sentence in connection with a mass killing of Shia Muslims in 1982. Following the unsuccessful appeal, Iraqi law requires his hanging within 30 days.
Saddam Hussein may not hang this coming month, senior officials said on Thursday, casting doubt on how government factions may interpret an appeal court ruling that appeared to say he should die within 30 days. Human Rights Watch criticized the decision of Iraq's Court of Appeals to uphold the death sentence against Saddam Hussein and two aides saying the trial as a whole was deeply flawed.
>> REPORTS Though nearly 3,000 US troops have been killed in Iraq, medical advances mean the number is a lot lower than would have been expected. For every servicemember who has died in Iraq, more than seven others have been wounded in action, according to statistics compiled by the Pentagon. The number of US soldiers killed in Iraq has now gone past the 2,973 killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, which responded with its global "war on terror". Though US forces are stretched, many more US combat troops are surviving battlefield wounds than in past wars, due in part to rapid and vastly improved medical attention. Body armor, armor-plated vehicles and better aerial surveillance also have been factors in reducing US combat deaths and wounds. "In World War II, about 30 percent of American servicemembers wounded in combat died," the Government Accountability Office said in a report in June. "Because of medical advances, this proportion has dropped to three percent for OEF and OIF servicemembers, but many of them are returning home with severe disabilities, including traumatic brain injuries and missing limbs." More than 108,000 displaced Iraqis have registered for government help in the last month, government data showed on Thursday. "The main reason behind the rise in displaced families is the deterioration of the security situation and the death threats that people have received to flee their houses, in addition to the bombing of safe areas," Deputy Migration Minister Hamdiya Ahmad told Reuters. Since the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shi'ite shrine in Samarra sparked a wave of killings between majority Shi'ites and minority Sunnis 72,000 displaced families, or 432,000 people, have registered for government aid, Ahmad said. The figures represent a steep rise from the 54,000 families -- 324,000 people -- who had registered with the ministry for help until mid-November. According to U.N. figures another 100,000 Iraqis a month leave the country. IRIN: INSECURITY AND POVERTY IN IRAQ PUT PREGNANT WOMEN IN DANGER For years Salah Hussein, 26, had dreamed of having a child, but he never imagined that his wish would be marred by the death of his wife in childbirth. Hussein's wife, Fadiya, died of complications during a delivery which, doctors said, were caused by malnutrition and the stress of living in a war-torn country. "We are a poor family and I couldn't afford to buy her good food. This was not my fault but the fault of this destroyed country in which the conditions of the health sector are worsening day by day," said Hussein who works as a barber in the capital, Baghdad. Dozens of pregnant women with life-threatening conditions are being admitted to Iraq's hospitals every month. Dr. Mayada Youssif, a gynaecologist at Baghdad's Kadhimiyah hospital, believes that pregnant women are falling ill due to the insecurity and poverty that Iraqis have to live with as a result of the conflict. "Insecurity has forced women to stay at home during their whole period of pregnancy, and they look for a doctor only when they are feeling really ill or feel, near to delivery time, that conditions have become too dangerous," Youssif said. The UN children's agency UNICEF has said that Iraq's maternal mortality rates have increased dramatically over the last 15 years. In 1989, 117 Iraqi mothers out of 100,000 died during pregnancy or childbirth. That ratio has now increased by 65 per cent. According to Claire Hajaj, Communications Officer at UNICEF Iraq Support Centre in Amman (ISCA), the mortality rate in Iraq far outstrips that of its neighbours. read in full... >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS Malcom Lagauche: THE LIVING MARTYR The decision to uphold the death sentence of Saddam Hussein by the sham Iraqi appeals court has gained worldwide condemnation, except for the U.S., of course. The court took two days to read 1,500 pages of documents presented by the defense. No court in the world can decipher this number of pages in such a short time, not even a legitimate court. No one was surprised by the verdict against Saddam because of the knowledge this was a foregone conclusion. However, the court outdid itself by ruling on the Iraqi vice president, Ramadan. He was sentenced to life in prison, but the appeals court took it upon itself to change the sentence to death, even though his case was not on the docket. From the time Saddam first set foot in court until today, the entire system was stacked against him and conducted so many breaches of the law that it would take an expert mathematician to give us a tally. Dr. Curtis Doebbler, a noted international human rights attorney, was on Saddam's legal team from the start. I spoke to him today to get his opinion on the appeals court decision. He stated:
We're trying to point out that if an execution takes place, it will be an ex-judicial, arbitrary execution outside the law in violation of the law. It's somewhat ironic that this individual who will be executed has proven to have much more integrity than the individuals who are executing him, including the U.S. president who exhibits more evidence that he has committed crimes against the Iraqi people than there was against the president of Iraq in the first trial in which he was brought before the U.S.-created court and there has still has been no investigation of the U.S. president. As you've seen the Iraqi president has maintained his dignity and also maintained his peace of mind in belief that he personifies the will of the Iraq people to continue to fight against this occupation, which they believe, and the majority of the international community believes, is illegal and the consequence of the illegal invasion of Iraq. It's quite a sad day, I think, for international justice and, unfortunately, an another example of how the United States is unwilling to conform with international law; to show respect for international law. What hurts me most, as an American, is that we're the ones who benefit the most from respecting that law. When we set this example, we essentially tell people that the law cannot be used to try to get the United States to respect their rights. They have to use other means. That's what got us into many of the problems that we're in today.
Almost everybody in the U.S. is in the lynching mood. Pundits are frothing at the mouth while they discuss the upcoming execution. There is a collective air of insanity today in the U.S. Even former anti-war proponents are cheering on the future execution. Many Democratic politicians have said they were happy about the decision and that Saddam "deserves" it. Not one, however, has discussed the legality or the fairness of his trial. Leftist journalists are trying to outdo each other in demeaning Saddam. Not only are they talking about his "brutal dictatorship," they are making up even new fables of atrocities committed under his regime. I challenge all journalists who advocate the hanging of Saddam Hussein to take a few hours and research reality. . The standard figure of deaths attributed to the Ba'ath regime during the Anfal campaign is 182,000. Why have there not been any bodies found? If 182,000 people were killed, there must be piles and piles of bodies, yet none has appeared. . If 148 people were sentenced to death in 1982 for attempting to assassinate the president of Iraq, why are at least 24 still alive? And, those who were executed received a lengthy and fair trial that lasted about three years. They were fighting on the side of Iran while Iraq was engaged in a war with its eastern neighbor. In the U.S., this would be considered high treason. With Saddam Hussein, it was called mass murder. George Bush himself signed off more execution orders while the governor of Texas than did Saddam in the Dujail case. . If Iraqi military personnel gassed and killed 5,000 Kurds in Halabjah, why were only 300 bodies found? And, why was the gas used to kill the citizens cyanogen, a gas that Iraq did not possess but Iran did? Why have the CIA, the U.S. Army War College, Greenpeace, the main CIA analyst in 1988 (Stephen Pellitiere), the late Jude Waniski, the U.S Marine Corps Historical Report, and various other individuals and organizations blamed Iran for the gassing of the Kurds? . Why has not one Iraqi come forward and stated he was part of the gassing campaign? Today, with the Ba'athists out of power, one cannot use the excuse that no one would step forward because of threats of death from the Ba'ath administration. Huge sums of money have been offered for someone to state that he knew about or was part of the gassing: a pilot, or a supply specialist, or an observer, anyone. Not one person has emerged to claim the bounty. . In November 2003, the U.S. stated that 400,000 bodies were found in mass graves in the south of Iraq. The following June, Tony Blair admitted to the press that only 5,000 bodies were found. He "mis-spoke" when he used the original figure of 400,000. Subsequent investigations showed that many of the 5,000 were killed by U.S. bombs in Desert Storm. Why has no one taken the ball and run with this story? I have reported extensively on the above anomalies. Unfortunately, few others have. To me, investigating and disproving accepted myths are the marks of an astute journalists. No, today we still hear all the beastly acts attributed to Saddam Hussein from the mouths of people who should know better. Many people have stated that George Bush has lied about everything to do with Iraq: weapons of mass destruction; the Bin-Laden/Saddam link; the Iraqi involvement with 9-11; the fictitious biological weapons trailers; the imprisonment of an American POW since 1991; etc. Yet, the same people broadcast the myths about Saddam Hussein's barbaric actions. I again issue a challenge to the leftist press: Please explain if Bush has lied about everything, why is he telling the truth about Saddam's brutality? That's a hard one for the pundits to answer. For someone with any amount of intelligence and logic, it is easy: Bush lied about Saddam as well. Here are a few questions that are not heard today, but should be crucial in discussing Iraq: . Why don't we hear about Iraq being designated "free of illiteracy" by the U.N. in 1982, when in 1973 the country's literacy rate was below 40%? . Why don't we hear about the proclamation of the U.N. in 1984 that Iraq's education system was the finest the world had ever seen from a developing country? . Why don't we hear about the New York Times calling Iraq the "Paris of the Middle East" in 1987? . Why don't we hear about Saddam Hussein visiting houses in the south of Iraq in the 1970s just to make sure each one had a refrigerator and electricity? . Why don't we hear about the several million foreign Arabs who went to Iraq to take advantage of the land program the Ba'athists instituted in which the person would be given land to create crops? . Why don't we hear about the Iraqi educators and doctors who were sent to Arab countries to assist them in developing their own programs? . Why don't we hear praise from Arab countries for Iraq having lost so many soldiers in the Iran-Iraq War, all for the defense of these countries who were scared about Iran exporting its religious fundamentalism to their shores? . Why don't we hear about the several approaches made to Saddam in the 1990s by U.S. sources to recognize Israel and allow U.S. military bases in Iraq in trade for lifting the embargo? . Why don't we hear that every U.S. person on the U.N. inspection team from 1991 to 1998 was a spy, not an inspector? The list could go on and on. In my upcoming book, The Mother of All Battles: The Endless U.S.-Iraq War, I go into detail about these and other matters left untouched by the cliché-ridden, myopic and gullible media. The current scenario just does not make sense. The people who lied through their teeth (Bush, Cheney, Rice, Bremer, Powell, Rumsfeld, et al) and stole tens of billions of dollars that belonged to the country of Iraq, are proudly speaking of creating a new Middle East or conducting booksigning tours for their memoirs. The results of their lies led to the killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis; a cost of about a trillion dollars so far to the U.S. public; and the destruction of a country's culture and infrastructure. Even the history of Iraq has been re-written by people in Washington D.C. On the other hand, the guy with the moustache who told the truth about all the lies and adhered to the U.N. request for inspections, as well as supplied a 12,000-page report that documented in detail every aspect of Iraq's former WMD programs, sits in a jail cell awaiting execution. Something is fundamentally wrong when things can get so far out of hand. Today, Saddam Hussein is the freest man in Iraq, although he is behind bars. His mind is clear and his integrity is nothing short of incredible. He awaits death with dignity. Not once has he cracked under torture or pressure. Even when offered a "get out of jail free" card by the U.S. if he stopped the resistance, Saddam refused to capitulate. Other leaders, such as Ghadaffi and Noriega did succumb to U.S. pressure. Ghadaffi, once a revolutionary, today is nothing more than the head inspector of the transfer of his country's oil to the capitalist giants. He no longer has a grand view of society. He may not be in jail, but he is a slave. Noriega quickly began singing when the U.S. put on the pressure. He admitted to trafficking in drugs, despite the U.S. being his partner. And, he made a big deal of stating that he had found Jesus after he was incarcerated. He is a slave behind bars. Saddam Hussein is not a slave, although his incarceration keeps him imprisoned. He is not allowed to see his family, unless, like his sons and grandson, they are shot to death with hundreds of bullets. The U.S. prides itself on "family values," but not for foreign individuals. A U.S. family is sacred, but an Iraqi family is merely cannon fodder. On January 17, 1991, Saddam Hussein proclaimed to the world, "The mother of all battles has just begun." Despite two U.S. presidents declaring victory over Iraq with a New York parade and a U.S. aircraft carrier celebration, the mother of all battles now roars more fiercely than ever. In about three weeks, it will be the 16th anniversary of the beginning of the bombing of Iraq. Despite U.S. denials and proclamations, the battle still rages. The bombing did not stop with the signing of a cease-fire agreement on March 2, 1991. It continued until March 2003 from the illegal "no-fly" zones the U.S. created. Soon, Saddam Hussein will be hanged. He will be dead, but his legacy will not only survive him, it will be enhanced. The mother of all battles is a long way from being terminated. link GI Special: NATIONALIST SHIA GO TO WAR WITH U.S. BACKED COLLABORATOR PRO-IRANIAN SHIA [A Huge Story And The Clueless Reporter Doesn't Get It] December 25, 2006 By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, L.A. Times Staff Writer Shiite militia fighters clashed with police Sunday in Samawah, a provincial capital in southern Iraq, transforming it into a lawless battleground and exposing rifts that increasingly divide Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority. Nine people, including four police officers, have died in the violence gripping parts of Samawah since Friday, police said. On Sunday, police backed by some [pro-occupation] Shiite tribal leaders called in Iraqi soldiers from nearby Diwaniya to help battle the [anti-occupation] militia. The security forces closed entrances to the city, which is about 145 miles southeast of Baghdad, imposed a curfew and shut the schools as they traded fire with militiamen. [T]he violence in Samawah underscores the difficulty that Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and other Shiite leaders have had in maintaining order among members of their sect in a country where people's loyalties are divided among political parties, religious groupings and tribes. [Hello? Earth to reporter? Cat got your tongue? Can't mention that some Shia political leaders are for Bush and the occupation, and some Shia political leaders, like Sadr, are against Bush and the occupation? Gee, is that too complicated for you? Or do you just open wide and lap up the shit shoved in front of you by the occupation propagandists?] [OK, we'll make it real simple, so that even a U.S. apologist for the occupation can understand it. A.) Sadr: nationalist politician opposed to the U.S. occupation and dividing up Iraq. B.) Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI: 100% for the invasion and the Occupation, part of every occupation government Bush has created, wants to break up Iraq into three separate regions, organized the first death squads, likes Iran. OK, get it? That's who's fighting it out. Clear now? Duh.] Conflicts within Shiite communities have troubled Baghdad and other parts of Iraq in recent weeks, but the violence has been particularly notable in Samawah, capital of the first province handed over by U.S.-led forces to Iraqi control. The conflict in Samawah began Dec. 1, when gunmen attempted to rescue detainees from a local prison, killing three people, according to local hospital staffers. But Qusai Abdul-Wahab, a member of Sadr's party in parliament, blamed the latest conflict on local police, who he said provoked militias Friday by opening fire on Shiite worshipers as they celebrated a religious anniversary. He called the police "provocative and intimidating." "They are dealing with people as if they are still in the Saddam era," he said. Jaafar Abdul Razzaq, a spokesman from Sadr's Samawah office, said the militia would not stop fighting until police released about 30 militia members detained since Friday. Police officials said they were negotiating another cease-fire with militia leaders. Saad Aziz, a Shiite member of the Samawah city council, said local Shiites were divided by tribe and political party, with some loyal to Sadr's parliamentary bloc, others to another leading Shiite party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI. "The Ziad tribe itself is now divided among those who support SCIRI and those who are supporting Sadr," Aziz said, referring to one of the area's major clans. "There is now internal fighting inside the tribe itself." The conflict in Samawah began Dec. 1, when gunmen [translation: anti-occupation soldiers] attempted to rescue detainees from a local prison, killing three people, according to local hospital staffers. Abdul Hussein Dhalimi, the acting governor of Muthanna province and a SCIRI [pro-Bush] member, said he met Sunday with provincial leaders and with delegates from the nearby holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf to "settle things down in the province." Muthanna, of which Samawah is the capital, is one of the three provinces out of 18 transferred to Iraqi security control since 2003. British forces handed over control of Muthanna nearly six months ago. The British left behind an "overwatch battle group" in Muthanna of about 800 Australian soldiers responsible to local and national Iraqi authorities, according to Capt. Tane Dunlop, a British forces spokesman. Iraqi authorities did not ask for support from Australian forces in Samawah on Sunday, Dunlop said, but the Australian troops were "keeping an eye on the situation." link Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily: WHEN IRAQIS GAVE UP ON GOVERNMENT Most Iraqis see no future for Maliki's struggling government, which barely controls the so-called Green Zone in Baghdad where its offices are located. The rest of the country is fragmented, and the economy and infrastructure are in ruins. "They are going down despite the huge support they are getting from the U.S. administration," Iraqi analyst Maki al-Nazzal told IPS. "They are faced by an international denial after their resounding failure in facing the deteriorating security situation and the comprehensive collapse in services and reconstruction." On the other hand, the Sadr movement finds itself in a strong enough situation to turn away from al-Maliki and his Dawa Party. Sadr leaders are now calling for early elections, and they are confident of winning without other support, says their spokesman Hassan al-Zarqani. "It seems that the United States have chosen the wrong ally once more," Zarqani told IPS. "So they will have to reconsider yet again." Sadr had recently pulled his representatives from the government, but they came back. Meanwhile, another crisis has arisen. Grand Ayatollah Sistani announced last week that he will not support a U.S.-backed plan to build a coalition across sectarian lines. The plan would have sought to marginalise Muqtada al-Sadr by dividing the Shias. Resistance to the occupation is rising, on the streets and politically, as support for the government falls. Not a promising start to 2007 [from the point of view of the illegal and criminal occupation, I'm sure Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily mean to say -- zig]. read in full... Needlenose: IT'S STILL "OPERATION GET BLOWN UP" IN RAMADI I posted a year and a half ago about a U.S. soldier's description of his missions searching for roadside bombs in Iraq's Anbar province as "Operation Get Blown Up." If anything's changed since then, it's only been for the worse, judging from this Washington Post article from Ramadi today:
Most of the guys here can remember the moment when their frustration killed their empathy. When they no longer felt guilty about knocking down doors. No longer cared to hand out candy. . . . The few Iraqis still living in Ramadi have had their homes raided and streets patrolled for three years now. Every time a window is broken, a bedroom is trashed or husbands are questioned, the glares become harsher. Compliance with U.S. troops turns to hatred. They are only trying to get the people who lay roadside bombs and find the material used to produce them. No other goal is ever mentioned. Roadside bombs have become too powerful for the troops to feel safe in Bradleys or tanks. Patrols are almost all on foot.
In an anecdote that helps explain the reluctance to travel by armored vehicles, the Post reporter mentions one soldier being set afire by a roadside bomb filled with gasoline. Patrolling on foot, another had his legs blown off crossing the street. The goal for these troops has degenerated to nothing more than trying to stop roadside bomb attacks -- but going out on missions to pursue this goal is exactly what makes them vulnerable to roadside bombs. It's like the old Greek myth of Sisyphus rolling a boulder up a hill... except that the rock wasn't trying to kill Sisyphus. link QUOTE OF THE DAY: "As to the consequences of a US withdrawal, we are entitled to have our personal judgments, all of them as uninformed and dubious as those of US intelligence. But they do not matter. What matters is what Iraqis think. Or rather, that is what should matter, and we learn a lot about the character and moral level of the reigning intellectual culture from the fact that the question of what the victims want barely even arises." -- from Iraq: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, a Noam Chomsky interview by Michael Albert


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