DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, December 26, 2006
Christmas Day in Iraq, Photo 1
: A U.S. soldier from the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment looks on during an anti-American demonstration in Baghdad, Monday, Dec. 25, 2006. Soldiers went house to house searching for weapons and bomb-making materials, touching off a protest that forced them to cut the mission short in some parts of the city. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) (This is absent from any regular news reports, although it's alluded to in the AP article below "In Baghdad, a Christmas Patrol"; thanks Sam for finding the story - zig)
Christmas Day in Iraq, Photo 2
: An Iraqi passes by police vehicles damaged in a British army raid on on Jameat police station in Basra, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Dec. 25, 2006. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)
Bring 'em on
: Three U.S. soldiers looking for roadside bombs were killed northwest of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. One soldier was wounded.
Bring 'em on
: Two U.S. soldiers were killed and one wounded in a roadside bomb attack southwest of Baghdad on Monday, the military said. Another roadside bomb in the same area killed one U.S. soldier and wounded two on Monday.
One U.S. soldier was killed and two injured when their vehicle rolled over during a combat mission
south of Baghdad on Tuesday, the U.S. military said.
Another four US soldiers died Tuesday, including three in a bomb attack near Baghdad, bringing the total number of American defence personnel killed in Iraq to 2,976, according to an AFP tally.
This is three more than the 2,973 people killed on September 11, 2001, when Al-Qaeda hijackers seized four airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvanian field.
The landmark American death toll, emerging over the Christmas holiday season, represents another blow for President George W. Bush, who this month was forced to admit for the first time that the US was not winning in Iraq.
The U.S. military announced the deaths of seven more American soldiers, pushing the U.S. military death toll for the month to 90. With five days remaining in the month, December is already the second deadliest month for the U.S. military this year, behind the 105 soldiers killed in October.
American troops fought gunmen in a Shiite militia stronghold in east Baghdad on Tuesday
, witnesses said.
Fighters loyal to the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr engaged in the clashes with U.S. forces in and near Sadr City, an official in al-Sadr's office said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. There was no immediate word on casualties.
British soldiers were on alert for reprisals a day after they raided a police station in the southern city of Basra
, killing seven gunmen in an effort to stop renegade Iraqi officers from executing their prisoners.
"We fully expect more attacks on our bases and on Basra stations, but that's nothing out of the ordinary," said Maj. Charlie Burbridge, a military spokesman.
"But this is part of a long-term rehabilitation of the Iraqi police service, to make it more effective and more accountable, and ultimately provide better security for the people of Basra."
After the British stormed the police station, they removed 127 prisoners, who showed evidence of torture, then evacuated the building before blowing it up, he said.
Burbridge had previously said only 76 prisoners were in the station, but later said soldiers miscounted the prisoners because the operation was done under cover of darkness.
Some 800 of the British military's 7,200 troops in Iraq were involved in the operation, he said.
A spokesman for Iraq's defense minister said Monday that the Iraqi Interior and Defense ministries approved the Basra operation, but some members of the Basra provincial council said they were not notified.
"We object to the way the operation was conducted," council member Hakim al-Maiyahi told The Associated Press. "There was no need to bring in such a huge number of forces and break down the station."
Basra local government on Monday suspended all dealings with the British forces based in the southern Iraqi province after the British attacked a police station releasing a number of inmates.
Security officials accused the British forces of working to stir a war in Basra.
"The British forces have been trying to drag Basra into war through the continuous arrests and raids, the latest of which was the attack on the major crimes department," Colonel Ali Ibrahim, member of the tripartite security committee told a news conference.
"Therefore we will completely suspend our dealings with the British forces," he added.OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
Three simultaneous car bombs exploded in southwestern Baghdad, killing 16 people and wounding 70
, Interior Ministry and police sources said.
Three roadside bombs in quick succession killed a police lieutenant colonel and wounded nine people in central Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.
Among the dead were 25 Baghdadis killed in a triple car bombing and another 20 wiped out in similar attack close to a Sunni mosque where Saddam made his last public appearance during the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
A Senior Iraqi police officer was killed and nine people were wounded when three explosive charges went off in succession near a major Sunni mosque in downtown Baghdad, a police source said.
A total of 40 bodies were found
, shot dead and most of them showing signs of torture, on Monday in different districts of Baghdad.
Gunmen kidnapped Muhanad Ahmed Saleh, director of the Baghdad International Fair, on his way to work
in Amiriya district in western Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.
U.S. forces captured a suspected leader of a murder and kidnapping cell
along with four suspected insurgents near Baghdad, the U.S. military said.
A mortar round killed two people on Monday in northern Baghdad.
A bodyguard of Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi was killed by a "foreigner assailant" on Sunday
near the office of Abdul Mahdi in Baghdad, the vice president's office said.
A car bomb near a police station wounded a policeman and four civilians
in the oil refining city of Baiji, 180 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad.
A roadside bomb killed a child and an elderly man and wounded three university students in the northern oil city of Kirkuk
, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad.
A child was killed and five others wounded in Kirkuk on Tuesday when an explosive device went off near a primary school in north of the city, a security source said.Two Iraqi policemen were wounded on Tuesday when their patrol vehicle came under attack with small-arms fire in southern Kirkuk.
Seven unidentified corpses were received on Tuesday by the Diala health department's forensic medicine section
, a medical source said.
The bodies of six people, gagged and bound, were found in two districts in Baquba
, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad.
Police found the body of a policeman, shot dead and tortured, in the town of Riyadh
, 70 km ( 40 miles) southwest of Kirkuk.
Gunmen kidnapped a bank manager and two employees and stole $750,000 in the southern city of Basra.
The bodies of a soldier and a civilian were found shot dead on Monday in Mosul
, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad.
Unknown gunmen shot dead on Tuesday morning a local leader of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army in Ammara
, capital city of southern Iraqi province of Missan.
A senior police officer was killed on Tuesday morning when masked gunmen attacked him while driving his car in central Ammara city
, 380 km southeast of Baghdad.
The Iraqi government has protested after US forces arrested a number of Iranian officials in Baghdad
, allegedly because they were planning to incite attacks in the already war-torn country.
"Two people who were invited by the president to Iraq have now been apprehended by the Americans, and the president is unhappy with the arrests," Hiwa Osman, President Jalal Talabani's media adviser, told AFP Monday.
"The invitation was within the framework of an agreement between Iran and Iraq to improve the security situation," he added.
It was not clear how many Iranian officials are still in US custody.
Osman confirmed two had been arrested, but the New York Times
reported four were still being held even after two with diplomatic status had been released.
Opposition to a proposal to send additional American troops to Iraq grew stronger in the United States over the Christmas weekend.
(...) although the White House declined to disclose specifics, top administration officials are reported to be increasingly focusing on a proposal to pour up to 30,000 new troops into Iraq to help the 140,000-strong US force already there quell sectarian violence.
But a troop "surge" of that magnitude, experts say, will have to be financed through new budget appropriations, which in effect will give the new Democrat-controlled Congress a say in the matter.
The president was expected to ask for these funds early next year as he announces his highly-anticipated new Iraq policy.
However, signals that emerged from Capitol Hill Sunday indicated the White House may face a very uphill battle, if, as expected, it embraces the proposal.
Democrat Christopher Dodd, a prominent member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who visited Iraq last week, said he did not see how the "surge" could help reduce violence in Iraq, which, in his view, has grown worse over the past months. (...)
John Kerry, who also sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called Sunday for a deadline to be set for pulling US troops from Iraq rather than increasing their numbers. (...)
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who will control the Senate agenda beginning next month, made it clear last week he would be willing to support the "surge" only as a stop-gap measure tied to "a program to get us out" of Iraq.
A CNN opinion poll conducted in mid-December showed only 11 percent of respondents supported the plan of boosting the US contingent in Iraq. That was down from 17 percent, who supported the "surge" in a similar survey conducted jointly by ABC News and The Washington Post just two weeks earlier.An Iraqi appeals court on Tuesday upheld a ruling that Saddam Hussein should hang for crimes against humanity
, the head of the Iraqi High Tribunal said.
Aref Abdul-Razzaq al-Shahin told a news conference in Baghdad that the death sentence against Saddam should be carried out within the next 30 days.
Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit said Tuesday that a former Iraqi Cabinet minister who escaped from a Baghdad prison this month had arrived in Jordan on a U.S. plane.
Ayham al-Samaraie, a former minister of electricity with dual U.S. and Iraqi citizenship, had been serving time for corruption when he escaped mid-December.
Lou Fintor, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said the U.S. government was not involved in al-Samaraie's escape "in any way." He denied in "unequivocal terms" the claim that al-Samaraie flew out of Iraq on an American plane.
Alquds, via Iraqi League: IRAQI OFFICERS REFUSE TO RETURN
Officers in the former Iraqi armed forces have said that they have no trust the government of AlMaliki's call to join the new armed forces in Iraq because they don't believe they can work for a government that commands its armed forces by sectarianism. They went on to say that the current government in Iraq is not only sectarian in its nature, but also actively involved in the liquidation of the military and scientific high-calibre cadre which was thriving in Iraqi before the invasion. The common consensus amongst former officers is that if this government was serious about the return of the former Iraqi army, then it must stop immediately all the cold-blooded murder of their former colleagues and take on a nationalist direction as opposed to the narrow minded racist/sectarian policies of terror against the people of Iraq.
A former Iraqi brigadier Hamid told the London AlQuds
that "the invitation to join the new army came after three years and a half of bitter occupation during which many former officers and higher rankings were murdered in cold blood along with members of Iraq's scientific community". He went on to ask "how could I even contemplate going to the current defence ministry in Iraq and give my name and address? Am I that mad? This government is directly responsible for the mass murder and liquidation of hundreds of fellow officers who served Iraq whole heartedly along nationalist and not sectarian lines. There is no doubt that the top figures in this government are themselves directly responsible for these crimes: they gave political cover; and pushed and directed the militias to kill my former colleagues in a systematic manner. Death lists are issued regularly by the government containing the names of the former officers who will be killed. We have information which confirms that tens of the officers who went back during Alawi's government were killed by the militias loyal to the AlJafari and the government's own security services. There is no doubt that AlMaliki now wants liquidate the remaining former officers'.
Other groups of former officers see AlMaliki's invitation to rejoin came not because of a genuine desire by his government for their return, but rather because of pressure from the Americans in order to reduce the daily losses of approximate 5 dead, currently being paid by the US in Iraq.
Another former general Alta'ee said 'the invitation to return appears to have certain benefits. But I cannot trust this sectarian/fascist regime and its security apparatus, which means I cannot risk being killed after joining them'. He believes that the US government along with the Iraqi government and its armed forces are all responsible for the mass killing, but currently is trying to adopt a policy which will allow the US government and its regime for Iraq to be relieved from duty and spare the daily losses incurred. He went on to say 'we are not against serving our country or its people. Because of our vast experience, we know how to bring security to our Iraqi people. The question is will this government accept what we want to do to bring security back? Will they accept the reform of the security apparatus that we will have to implement in order to divorce Iraq's security from sectarianism? I don't think that this government wants us to change the sectarian direction it has assumed since its delivery by the occupation. There is no doubt that all this government wants to be able to say is that they had taken back the former officers. If this government wanted security then they would have put the ministries of defence and internal affairs in the hands of the former officers who have had several years caring for Iraq's security. Instead, they chose the criminal blood-thirsty militias".
Other former officers see that the current army is useless and can never be a nationalist pillar upon which an Iraqi government can depend to stop the violence. Another former general called Abu Osamma says 'it is an illegitimate army who does not know about the nationalist military and its principles beyond the cheap uniforms they wear. They are a bunch of armed sectarian gangs which are controlled from outside the military establishment to which they are supposed to be affiliated. The top of their chain of command lies in the hands of sectarian religious leaders and hands of political parties, all of whom take orders from foreign secret services and governments all of which detest Iraqi nationalism and the people of Iraq. We reject working for such military organisation. The old Iraqi army should be reconstituted in its original form in order for it to be acceptable to the former officers, and only then the former officers may choose to return'.
Many other former officers reject at point blank to return to military service on principles. They believe that their return is an indirect recognition of the occupation and its continued presence in their homeland. Brigadier Taha AlJiboori says "How can we be part of an armed forces used by the occupation as a form of human shield? This is a great insult to the intelligence of the military officers who had spent years perfecting their profession. AlMaliki and his government are an integral part of an American political project, and the military establishment they want to construct is part of that agenda. We refuse to be part of an American agenda".
Other former officers formed their own private armies and see that the AlMalki's call to return is too late, says former officer Abu Obaida who joined the resistance after about two months from the end of the invasion and the start of the occupation. He says 'they [the occupation and government in Iraq] know that many former officers are working with the Iraqi resistance. This resistance has made its military presence felt in Iraq and has succeeded in changing the invaders' calculations. What the government is trying to do is to pull as many former officers from the resistance and throw them in their sectarian army. They will undoubtedly make it very lucrative for the former officers to return, but what they don't know is that those officers are nationalist at heart and such people will not think about joining the likes of the military establishment AlMaliki wants. Those officers were driven to the resistance because of their nationalist principles; there is no way they will want to work with their occupation and the agents of the occupation".
This is a translation of a recent article published by London's
Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily: IRAQ: CHILDREN PICK THEIR CHRISTMAS TOYS
Ahmed Ghazi has little reason to stock Christmas toys at his shop in Fallujah. He knows what children want these days.
"It is best for us to import toys such as guns and tanks because they are most saleable in Iraq to little boys," Ghazi told IPS. "Children try to imitate what they see out of their windows."
And there are particular imports for girls, too, he said. "Girls prefer crying dolls to others that dance or play music and songs."
As children in the United States and around the world celebrate Christmas, and prepare to celebrate the New Year, children in Iraq occupy a quite different world, with toys to match.
Social researcher Nuha Khalil from the Iraqi Institute for Childhood Development in Baghdad told IPS that young girls are now expressing their repressed sadness often by playing the role of a mother who takes care of her small daughter.
"Looking around, they only see gatherings of mourning ladies who lost their beloved ones," said Khalil. "Our job of comforting these little girls and remedying the damage within them is next to impossible."
Hundreds of thousands of children have faced trauma of some sort. And for others, the lack of a normal life is trauma enough. (...)
Teachers and social workers say children have begun to nurse a strong hatred of the United States. No more is the United States the image of a good life.
"Children have lost hope in the United States and the Iraqi government after the situation has only worsened every day," Abdul Wahid Nathum, researcher for an Iraqi NGO which assists children told IPS in Baghdad (he did not want the organisation to be named).
"Their understanding of the ongoing events is incredible," he said. "It is probably because the elder members of the family keep talking politics and watching news. Talking to a 12-year-old child, one would be surprised by the huge amount of news inside his head, which is not right." (...)
The difficulties of children have become particularly noticeable this year. "The only things they have on their minds are guns, bullets, death and a fear of the U.S. occupation," Maruan Abdullah, spokesman for the Association of Psychologists of Iraq told reporters at the launch of a study in February this year.
The report warned that "children in Iraq are seriously suffering psychologically with all the insecurity, especially with the fear of kidnapping and explosions."
The API surveyed more than 1,000 children throughout Iraq over a four-month period and found that "92 percent of the children examined were found to have learning impediments, largely attributable to the current climate of fear and insecurity."
With nearly half of Iraq's population under 18 years of age, the devastating impact of the violent and chaotic occupation is that much greater. Three wars since 1980, a refugee crisis of staggering proportions, loss of family members, suicide attacks, car bombs and the constant threat of home raids by occupation soldiers or death squads have meant that young Iraqis are shattered physically and mentally.
As early as April 2003, the United Nations Children's Fund had estimated that half a million Iraqi children had been traumatized by the U.S.-led invasion. The situation has degenerated drastically since then.
read in full...
AP: IN BAGHDAD, A CHRISTMAS PATROL
Christmas was another working day for many in the battalion [5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment], heading out to cordon off a dangerous section of eastern Baghdad and go house to house searching for insurgents, weapons and bomb-making materials. (...)
As soldiers began searching homes, some Iraqis greeted them with smiles, offering sweet tea and fried bread.
"Merry Christmas, mister!" one man said as soldiers, their boots caked with mud from the unpaved street, clomped into his house.
Other locals bristled. "Why you come?" one woman demanded in broken English. "We have nothing."
After a few hours, the mission was suddenly suspended. Several hundred people had taken to the street near a mosque, complaining about the house searches.
"No, no, America," they chanted in Arabic. "Yes, yes, peace!"
Troops ran to control the crowd, but Stryker vehicles eventually rolled up, attempting to drown out the chants by blasting their horns. Protesters shook their fists and waved Iraqi flags.
Though tense, the demonstration stayed peaceful and many soldiers who had been on foot were ordered back into the Strykers. Iraqi troops and police began negotiating with the protest's organizer, who U.S. officers described as the head of a mosque whose computer was seized when his home was searched.
Inside the parked Strykers, soldiers munched on dry rations and waited. (...)
While the soldiers waited, their superiors debated whether to continue the mission. The number of demonstrators swelled to more than 1,000. (...)
Superiors finally called off the mission, but the ride back to base was tense.
Some Iraqis barricaded the road with burning tires and metal cables. After a squad of soldiers on foot cleared the roadblocks, teenagers and younger children threw rocks and chunks of concrete as the Strykers sped by.
read in full...
>> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
James Ryan: AMERICA STANDS SHAMED IN THE EYES OF THE WORLD
And now, because they won an election, the Democrats, complicit in the devastation wrought by the Bush administration, grin and gape in victory. Instead they should be mourning, mourning for the millions their decisions have so grievously harmed. Their high-fives and boogying are as unseemly as their role in the slaughter of innocents that is Iraq. As unseemly as not holding the Bush administration accountable for its lies and criminal behaviour. Or are the Democrats embarrassed to revisit the source of their gullibility and shame?
Well, take heart Democrats, and consider these truths to be self-evident to the world... the president of the United States is a liar! The vice president of the United States is a liar! The former secretary of defence is a liar! The former secretary of state is a liar! The former national security adviser (and current secretary of state) is a liar! And because of them, these liars, our country stands alone and disgraced in the world. Because of them, vast numbers of innocent people have been slaughtered and grievously injured. None of us, and certainly not the Democrats, should be celebrating. What they should do, now that they have some political power, is deliver consequences to those responsible for this catastrophe to the American soul. But do they have the courage? One can but hope.
The illegal war and the criminal behaviour of the administration remain despite election results. The Democrats must bear fully in mind that the reason for now opposing this war is not because it has gone badly, or because their constituencies are angry, or because this war is affecting economic opportunity for Americans. The reason for revulsion is because this war has been illegal from the beginning
. The reason to oppose this war is not because our children and grandchildren may be called to serve in the armed forces, but because this war has been, and remains, immoral
Do Americans fully understand the consequences of their government's criminal behaviour? Given the low election turnout, it seems not. Do they fully understand the blood that is on their country's hands because of these deceitful, dishonourable people, now smoked out, running, yet still held unaccountable? Apparently the newly elected majority party does not. Those who do must demand consequences for the criminal warmongers of the Bush administration. Nothing more, nothing less.
read in full...
Born at the Crest of the Empire: MILITARY DEATHS IN IRAQ EXCEED 9/11 TOLL
I understand the significance of this. I get that passing this milestone means more Americans have died in the response, the mistaken response
, to the 9/11 attacks. I get the politics.
But how can you write these stories (AP, AFP) and not mention that Iraq had no connection to 9/11?
These 2,978 deaths were for a particular foreign policy, not stopping Al Qaeda.
They didn't have to happen.
I think that's the story.
Left I on the News: "IT'S CHRISTMASTIME IN THE CITY"
Americans doing their best to win hearts and minds on Christmas in Iraq:
As the sun came up over the city Sunday, a soldier sang "Silver Bells" while others smashed windows in an apartment building to get a better look at the street below. "It's Christmastime in the city," he crooned.
The article from which this is taken provides some typical insight on that "all-volunteer" Army:
"It's hard. But we've still got work to do. The mission doesn't stop," said Alonzo, who left his job as a beer salesman and enlisted because the Army provided better health care benefits for his three young children.
Roads to Iraq: WHO ARE THE IRANIANS ARRESTED IN IRAQ?
Here is the Iraqi government, panicked over 4 Iranians arrested in Iraq, while everyday Iraqis being arrested, kidnapped and killed, the same government don't even bother asking who, where and why.
Haq agency reveals more information:
The Iranians are arrested in the house of Hadi Al-Omri, a well known criminal, terrorist and Chief of Badr Brigade. The arrest according Haq confused the Shiite-Iranian government, trying to cover up the reality saying the Iranians are invited by Jalal talabani.
The truth is they are invited to implement armed operations against the Iraqis, American forces and spreading chaos in Iraq.
It is worth mentioning that the Interior Minister confirmed yesterday in a press conference that regionally powers behind mass kidnapping operations in Iraq.
The Cat's Dream: ANATHEMA
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom sent a special message to the troops:
"Members of my own family have had the opportunity this year to visit you. They have been hugely impressed by the spirit in which you go about your business in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances," she said. "Your courage and loyalty are not lightly taken. It is a pledge which calls for sacrifice and devotion to duty. And I know that yours is a job which often calls for great personal risk."
She said that troops in Iraq and Afghanistan were making "an enormous contribution in helping to rebuild those countries".
Emperor Bush II addressed the Homeland:
At this special time of year, we give thanks for Christ's message of love and hope. Christmas reminds us that we have a duty to others, and we see that sense of duty fulfilled in the men and women who wear our Nation's uniform. America is blessed to have fine citizens who volunteer to defend us in distant lands. For many of them, this Christmas will be spent far from home, and on Christmas our Nation honors their sacrifice, and thanks them for all they do to defend our freedom.
With the BLOOD of ONE MILLION of OUR BROTHERS and SISTERS on HIS HANDS, Bush concluded his Christmas message:
At this special time of year, we reflect on the miraculous life that began in a humble manger 2,000 years ago. That single life changed the world, and continues to change hearts today. To everyone celebrating Christmas, Laura and I wish you a day of glad tidings. Thank you for listening, and Merry Christmas.
In Bush's mouth these words have the gravity of blasphemy and every Christian has the moral responsibility to reject them, to condemn those responsible for this genocide and to stop it. If we want to celebrate Christmas we must say NO!
to these fanatical mass murderers who reject Christ's message of love and compassion, peace and justice. To Bush, Blair and their partners in crime, we shall denounce: Anathema
QUOTE OF THE DAY
: "Merry Christmas, Baghdad. This is our present." -- Spc. Jeremiah Westerfeld of Batesville, Ind., on Christmas Day 2006 as U.S. soldiers bravely shot paintballs and smoke canisters at Iraqi citizens from hatches in their Stryker vehicles (see above "In Baghdad, a Christmas Patrol")