Monday, January 15, 2007

Photo: The predominantly Kurdish, Iraq Army 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 4th Division leaves their camp in Sulaimaniyah, 260 kilometers (160 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Monday Jan. 15, 2007. A predominantly Kurdish battalion based in this northern city started moving to Baghdad Monday where it's members will undergo military training before taking part in a major security plan that aims to pacify the Iraqi capital. (AP Photo/Yahya Ahmed) [you'd think this late in the game they'd have undergone all the military training needed -- zig]
Bring 'em on: An 89th Military Police Brigade Soldier died Jan. 14 of wounds suffered after an improvised explosive device exploded next to his vehicle north of Baghdad. (MNF - Iraq)
Bring 'em on: An improvised explosive device detonated on a Multi-National Division – Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier near the center of the Iraqi capital Jan. 14. The unit was conducting a route clearance mission when their patrol struck the improvised explosive device, killing one Soldier and wounding four others. (MNF - Iraq)
At least three bombs went off across Baghdad, Iraqi officials said, including one in which a suicide attacker drove into an Iraqi army checkpoint and killed four soldiers. Another three soldiers were wounded, and the explosion set fire to two military vehicles.
A roadside bomb targeted a police car in southeastern Baghdad, killing three policemen and wounding two others. That attack occurred during morning rush hour near a gas station in the Rustomiyah neighborhood of Iraq's capital.
A roadside bomb injured two policemen and two civilians.
Three Iraqi policemen were killed and two others wounded when an explosive charge went off at their patrol in southeastern Baghdad on Monday.
The British forces killed a suspect and detained another during a search campaign in central Basra, the media spokesman for the British forces said on Monday.
A senior Iraqi police officer was wounded and two of his protection force elements were killed when gunmen attacked his motorcade in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, a police source said on Monday.
Baaquba hospital said on Monday it received seven unknown bodies found dumped in two separate parts of Diala province, 57 km northeast of Baghdad.
Unknown gunmen on Monday shot dead a policeman and wounded another in two separate attacks in Missan province, 380 km southeast of Baghdad.
Diyala Prov:
Unknown gunmen forced on Monday a mini-bus passengers at gunpoint to unknown destination in Diala province, a police source said.
A Katyusha rocket landed in a house wounding two people in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
Two people were killed and five wounded when a car bomb exploded near the Turkman Front Party in Kirkuk, police said.
A car bomb exploded near the house of the owner of a car showroom in Kirkuk, wounding 11 people, police said. Three days ago a car bomb exploded near his shop. His house was empty at the time of the explosion.
Two Iraqi army soldiers were killed while 28 people including soldiers and civilians were wounded when a suicide bomber blew up his explosive-rigged truck outside Kurdistan Democratic Party headquarters in northern Mosul on Monday, an army source said
The casualty toll in a suicide bombing outside Kurdistan Democratic Party headquarters in northern Mosul on Monday rose to 34 dead or wounded, including four army soldiers, the head of operations room in Ninawa police force said.
Two gasoline black market vendors were killed in a drive-by shooting in Mosul, a police official said. The attackers tossed a leaflet saying they would punish anyone selling fuel on the black market, the official said on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.
An off-duty policeman was shot to death south of Mosul.
Gunmen killed a man who worked with the U.S. forces as a garbage contractor in Kut, 170 km (105 miles) south of Baghdad.
A translator working with U.S. forces was shot dead by gunmen near Kut.
Three mortar rounds hit residents, killing two people and wounding four, in the town of Yusufiya, 15 km (9 miles) south of Baghdad.
The Iraqi army said it detained 92 "terrorist" suspects in Mahmudiya, just south of Baghdad, state television Iraqiya said in a newsflash.
In Country:
At least 78 people were reported killed or found dead Sunday, including 41 bullet-riddled bodies discovered in Baghdad.
The first additional American troops who will take part in a major new security plan in Baghdad have arrived in the Iraqi capital, the U.S. commander in Iraq, General George Casey, said on Monday.
"The initial elements of the first group are here," he told a news conference. He declined to give more details or say when operations would start but he said a report that 4,000 of the planned 17,500 extra troops had arrived was "real high".
Asked about reports of frustration among U.S. officials with Iraqi counterparts over the planning of an operation to be led by the Iraqi government with U.S. help, Casey said: "Transitions generate friction. And we are in a period of transition." [my emphasis -- zig]
There are no guarantees of overall success or quick results in the new U.S.-Iraqi security drive in Baghdad, the U.S. commander in Iraq said Monday.
Gen. George Casey told reporters he did not expect significant results until the summer and fall, for the first time putting a timeframe around the plan announced Wednesday by President Bush.
"As with any plan, there are no guarantees of success, and it's not going to happen overnight but with sustained political support and the concentrated efforts on all sides I believe that this plan can work," Casey said at a news conference.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who joined Casey at the podium, declared there were no deadlines being imposed on the Iraqis to take action against gunmen, but the pressure was a perception that existed because of the Shiite-dominated government's failure in the past to weed out Shiite militia fighters.
"The statements that have been made about the urgency for action reflects this doubt or concern that exists in many places about whether the Iraqis or the Iraqi leadership will decide to do what's necessary," Khalilzad said. [my emphasis -- zig]
"I've discussed these issues with the prime minister and he's said they need to move, not because of what we say or what's said in Washington, but he has said 'we have to move to secure the capital city because of Iraqi interests,'" the U.S. envoy said.
Two top aides to Saddam Hussein were hanged before dawn Monday, and the head of one of them - the former Iraqi dictator's half brother Barzan Ibrahim - was severed from his body during the execution, a government official said.
Just days after President Bush unveiled a new war plan calling for more than 20,000 additional American troops in Iraq, the heart of the effort - a major push to secure the capital - faces some of its fiercest resistance from the very people it depends on for success: Iraqi government officials.
American military officials have spent days huddled in meetings with Iraqi officers in a race to turn blueprints drawn up in Washington into a plan that will work on the ground in Baghdad. With the first American and Iraqi units dedicated to the plan due to be in place within weeks, time is short for setting details of what American officers view as the decisive battle of the war.
But the signs so far have unnerved some Americans working on the plan, who have described a web of problems - ranging from a contested chain of command to how to protect American troops deployed in some of Baghdad's most dangerous districts - that some fear could hobble the effort before it begins.
read in full...
[worth reading in full; it's a true Jeremiah's Wall of lamentations about the surge voiced by US military personel in Baghdad (and no less than to the New York Times); I doubt if such an absence of enthusiasm before plunging into a decisive battle was ever shown by military commanders; I got to this story via Born at the Crest of the Empire, whose link to it reads: "On the front page of the NYTimes, US military officials in Baghdad report that the plan that will be implemented will not be what Bush envisions"; my emphasis -- zig]
An American soldier slumps in the turret of his tank, felled by the infamous Baghdad sniper. A Humvee is vapourised by a roadside bomb. Rockets launch from a pick-up truck to shouts of "Allah u Akhbar [God is great]".
Back in the studio a TV anchorman, dressed in fatigues, urges viewers to rise up and fight the invaders. "We will not surrender. Either death or victory," he vows, while warning US forces and their "Iranian" friends in Iraq's government that they face a shameful defeat.
This is al-Zawraa TV, a 24-hour satellite station that lionises Iraq's insurgency to the drumbeat of Saddam-era martial music. It is a crude and dizzying mix of images and videos harvested from jihadi websites - and a cult hit. There are grainy loops of car bombs and mortar attacks interspersed with images of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and bloodied children. "Mujahideen" are seen training. Clips of Michael Moore's film, Fahrenheit 9/11 are thrown in for good measure.
Its chief targets are the US-led forces and "collaborators". But it reserves some of its strongest venom for the Safawis, a derogatory term used by Sunni Arabs to describe Iraq's resurgent Shia political and religious establishment. The name harks back to the Persian Safavid empire which ran amok in Baghdad in the 16th century.
The radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi militia, thought to be behind many of today's anti-Sunni attacks, are excoriated as "murderous gangsters", while the Shia-led government is labelled as Iranian stooges. "We are not against the Shia, we are against the Safawis," the station proclaims.
Al-Zawraa started life as a mostly song-and-dance channel, but following the closure of its Baghdad offices by the Iraqi government in November for "inciting violence" it made an abrupt change of tone.
Iraqi officials say al-Zawraa is a mouthpiece for the Islamic Army in Iraq, a Baathist-dominated insurgent group. It is transmitted from an unknown location into the Middle East and north Africa by the Egyptian-owned Nilesat network.
The station is owned by Mishan al-Jibouri, a member of Iraq's national assembly who had his parliamentary immunity stripped earlier this year following allegations of embezzlement. US officials in Iraq say he is in hiding in Syria.
Al-Zawraa has proved a hit with disaffected youth in Baghdad. "I watch this channel every night," said Samir Aziz, 22. "I don't like encouraging violence, but it is something unusual in the argument against the Americans. I am hooked."
In amongst admitting that maybe they'd made a few mistakes in Iraq, President Bush also dropped this assessment of his country's efforts in Iraq:
"(The) Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude."
Mmmmm. CNN Correspondent Arwa Damon probably wasn't aware of Mr Bush's comment when she posted this story on the CNN blog In the Field [Baghdad is Dying]:
"Baghdad is dying, we are all just waiting in line." Khaled-not his real name to protect his life-one of our Iraqi employees, said the words softy, his eyes glossing over.
It was during a conversation with our Bureau Chief Cal Perry, talking about work in the bureau, and I was helping out translating. But the conversation had quickly shifted from business to life.
"It's so hard for me Arwa. This skull won?t absorb English," he said, smacking both palms against his head. "I just have too much on my mind. I'm supporting three families, most of them women, each time my phone rings my heart sinks thinking that one of them was killed."
Khaled is a well-built man, proud and softly spoken. But like too many others, utterly broken by the hardship of life in the capital. Helpless in the face of the violence. Moving mechanically through each day, just hoping to reach tomorrow.
There absolutely nothing to say. Reassuring words ring hollow. And so I just said "I know." And his eyes glossed over even more.
Iraqis are strong and proud. You won't often see their suffering in their actions or in their voices. You see it in their eyes. Baghdad is dying.
Something tells me Khaled isn't feeling "a huge debt of gratitude".
UPDATE: Here's an actual transcript of what the President said. So much for the public diplomacy the US spends millions on:
SCOTT PELLEY: Do you think you owe the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job? BUSH: That we didn't do a better job or they didn't do a better job?
PELLEY: Well, that the United States did not do a better job in providing security after the invasion.
BUSH: Not at all. I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we've endured great sacrifice to help them. That's the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq.
PELLEY: Americans wonder whether . . .
BUSH: Yeah, they wonder whether or not the Iraqis are willing to do hard work.
Good God. The man is delusional.
After the hanging-lynching of prisoner of war Saddam Hussein, an illegal act under the Third Geneva Convention of 1949, Bush II fired the top generals who opposed his "fuite en avant" strategy -- General John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, and General George Casey, the chief general in Iraq -- and replaced them with Adm. William Fallon and Lt. Gen. David Petraeus.
Last November, Gen. John Abizaid rejected maverick senator John McCain's and pro-Israel senator Joe Lieberman's calls for increased U.S. troop levels in Iraq. General Abizaid said that he had "met with every divisional commander and had asked them if bringing in more American troops now [would] add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq and they all said 'no.'" But Bush, as amateur commander-in-chief, knows better than the generals in the field and he 'decided' to side with apprentice generals John McCain and Joe Lieberman.
Gen George Casey, as US ground commander in Iraq, had also proposed that American troop levels -- now 138,000 -- could be reduced by 30,000, in order to give the Iraqis a greater role to play in stabilizing their own country. But George W. Bush thinks Iraq is 'his' country, (remember, he stole it at gunpoint, didn't he?), and he sacked General Casey.
This is eerily reminiscent of what Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) did in early 1938, around his fifth anniversary of coming to power, when he replaced his top generals by more amenable ones. Indeed, on January 25, 1938, Hitler sacked Field Marshal Werner v. Blomberg, the commander in chief of the German Armed Forces, and, a few days later, General Werner v. Fritsch, the commander in chief of the German Army. During the risky and illegal march into the Rhineland a few years earlier, the top German generals had repeatedly urged Hitler to withdraw his troops out of fear this would plunge Germany into a new European war with catastrophic consequences. They were right; 100 percent right.
I also think general Abizaid and general Casey are right and amateur Bush II and opportunist McCain are wrong, dead wrong.
Amazingly, it was then said about Hitler what is being said today about Bush Jr., i.e. that he "never trusted his generals, preferring to rely on his own gut instincts while surrounding himself with weak-willed yes-men." Bush II is doing the same thing, surrounding himself with supporters who agree with him about his policy of increasing the numbers of troops in Iraq, even though such a reckless move is largely opposed on Capitol Hill and among the American public at large.
It was also then said about Hitler that "any attempts to get him to change his mind were a complete waste of time. The generals didn't realize they were dealing with a man who never changed his mind once he made a firm decision and would do anything to achieve a desired goal." Sounds familiar! If you think so, then brace yourself because the worst is still to come.
In an obvious attempt to salvage his accidental and disastrous presidency, and save face during the next two years by avoiding a military withdrawal from Iraq, a country he invaded illegally in 2003 and subsequently completely destroyed, Bush Jr. is throwing the dice by increasing American troops there, hoping to temporize until his successor can start with a clean slate and clean up the mess left behind. The next American president and the American people, not counting the thousands of Iraqi people set to die under Bush's hand, will pay the price for this ineptitude.
read in full...
[This report should be enough give Imperial politicians, in or out of uniform, the kind of cold chills and stark fear they might experience standing in front of a firing squad. Our troops will not suffer to be butchered for much longer. The enemies domestic who control the government think they can keep their evil war going against the will of the majority of Americans, especially against the will of the majority of those in the armed services, but the avalanche will come down on them, not so soon as we might wish, but sooner than the politicians can possibly imagine. T]
January 12, 2007 By Joseph Curl, THE WASHINGTON TIMES & Mediamatters.org FORT BENNING, Ga. -- President Bush sought a friendly audience and a patriotic backdrop yesterday to continue to make his case for sending 21,000 more troops to Iraq, but he received only tepid applause at this Army base, where the commanding general forbade soldiers from talking to reporters.
Mr. Bush visited Fort Benning because the base will send a combat brigade to Iraq earlier than planned, by March instead of late May or early June. The brigade has done two tours in Iraq, and on its last yearlong deployment, in 2005, 34 soldiers from the 4,000-member unit were killed.
Before meeting with families, Mr. Bush watched as five members of a parachute team floated to the ground in a demonstration of base training. "We're proud of you," he told the men.
The 300 soldiers who, with their families, heard the afternoon speech were banned by Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, commandant of the 32,000-soldier base, from talking to reporters.
Journalists were barred from re-entering Freedom Hall, where Mr. Bush delivered the speech, or from approaching soldiers outside the hall.
While the president met with family members of 25 soldiers from the base who were killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, several reporters waited for word from the base on whether the ban would be lifted.
A senior administration official said, "We have no control over that."
The [Washington] Post noted that "(t)o ensure that there would be no discordant notes here, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, the base commander, prohibited the 300 soldiers who had lunch with the president from talking with reporters," adding, "If any of them harbored doubts about heading back to Iraq, many for the third time, they were kept silent."
So Saddam's half-brother was hung, and, well, whoopsie, his freakin' head came off??? Strangely, that doesn't make the headline of the AP story cited here (they wait until the second paragraph), nor does it make the headline of The LA Times, although they do mention it in the first paragraph. That's better than The NY Times, which waits until paragraph 5 to toss off that info, and then they quickly move on without further comment.
But The Washington Post? They couldn't even find space to mention it at all. Well, the Iraqi government spokesman said it was "a rare incident" and otherwise everything was by the book, so no biggie, eh? In the words of the government spokesman quoted by AP, "No one shouted slogans or said anything that would taint the execution. None of those charged were insulted." No, no taint or insult when a head is ripped from a body. Now I guess Jonah Goldberg is going to ridicule me for being so dainty about such things.
read in full...
After years of supporting the Bush administration's policy in the Middle East, a growing number of Israelis are openly criticizing the United States for creating more danger for Israel. Israeli experts contend that U.S. policies have destabilized Iraq, emboldened anti-Western forces from Iran to Lebanon and paved the way for militant Islamists to gain control of the Palestinian Authority.
"The threats to Middle East security and stability worsened in 2006,'' experts at Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies warned recently. ``The American failure in Iraq has hurt the standing of the U.S. in the Middle East.''
Perhaps most strikingly, in their annual evaluation of the situation, the Israeli analysts concluded that it was better for the United States to get out of Iraq than to add troops, as President Bush is proposing.
"There's no Israeli interest being served by continued American presence in Iraq,'' said Mark Heller, a Jaffee Center researcher who helped produce the group's annual report.
"There's a basic overall interest in not having the United States perceived as a weak or failing power,'' Heller said. ``But any initial goals that might have been served by getting rid of Saddam Hussein have long since been banked.''
The Bush administration is ``simply discredited in the region as a player,'' Yossi Alpher said. Alpher, a former head of the Jaffee Center, now serves as co-director of http://www.bitterlemons.org, a joint Palestinian-Israeli Web site financed by private donations and a grant from the European Union.
Is the United States a military dictatorship? Three stories all from January 14, 2007:
. The Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency are using 'noncompulsory' 'national security letters' to compel disclosure of private financial information about Americans. Congress has rejected attempts by the Pentagon and CIA to be able to use mandatory versions of the letters, but the distinction is irrelevant as who is going to deny the Pentagon or the CIA?
. The Army has decided that it no longer has to worry about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in obtaining a wiretap.
. Charles 'Cully' Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, called for a corporate boycott of law firms who dared to represent victims of Guantanamo. Although later rejected by the Pentagon as official Pentagon policy, the damage is already done. Anyone representing a Guantanamo detainee has to kiss his or her future livelihood goodbye.
The United States has been a military dictatorship since November 22, 1963, but a lot of the niceties hiding this fact are falling away all of a sudden. Of course, the 'rights' of the victims of Guantanamo will be a model for the 'rights' afforded all Americans once the domestic detention camps are functioning.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We are implementing a strategy to embolden a government that is actually part of the problem. We are being played like a pawn." -- an American military official in Baghdad involved in talks over the "surge" plan, quoted in "U.S. and Iraqis Are Wrangling Over War Plans" (see above)


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?