Saturday, January 13, 2007

Photo: A hospital cleaner moves past the bodies of people discovered around Baghdad, Iraq, and brought to Yarmouk's hospital's morgue, Saturday Jan. 13, 2007. Police recovered dozens of bodies, apparent victims of sectarian violence in the capital. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed )
At least four civilians were killed on Saturday when a car bomb was detonated near a fuel station in southwest of Baghdad.
31 corpses of men killed execution-style were found in Baghdad.
Police found two bodies, tortured, blindfolded and shot dead, in Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said. One victim was a policeman.
Gunmen shot dead three civilians on Friday in the town of Ishaqi, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad.
Two British soldiers were wounded in separate incidents in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, media spokesperson for the Multi-National Forces in southern Iraq said on Saturday. "An explosive charge was detonated last night at a British vehicle patrol in al-Baladiyat area, 8 km west of Basra, wounding a soldier and damaging a vehicle," the spokesperson told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq. The spokesperson said "the patrol soldiers launched a search campaign in the nearby area after the blast and clashed with gunmen there." The clashes resulted in wounding another British soldier, the spokesperson added.
Nine Katyusha rockets slammed today morning outside the British base at Shatt-el-Arab hotel, 10 km north of Basra, causing no damage to the base.
Gunmen killed two civilians and stole their vehicle in Baiji, 180 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad.
At least five Iraqis were killed and three others were kidnapped near Tikrit, a police source said on Saturday.
Gunmen attacked a civilian car on a main road near al-Is-haqi district, 65 km south of Tikrit, killing three of its passengers, including a woman.
A Sunni prayer leader and member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Yunis Wuhaib, was assassinated outside his home in the southern Sikak neighbourhood, in the city of Samarra, police Captain Hashim Ahmed said.
Gunmen killed an Iraqi journalist outside his home in the northern city of Mosul, a local police officer said Saturday. Khudhir Yunis, a freelance journalist working for a number of Baghdad-based newspapers, was shot dead overnight in Mosul's southern Sumar neighbourhood, police Major Mohammed Ahmed said.
An explosive charge went off late last night on a main road in west of Mosul killing a small truck driver.
An armed group shot and killed on Saturday morning a Kurd at his commercial shop in west of Mosul."The killing incident occurred in al-Mithaq neighborhood and the attackers fled the scene.
Gunmen planted explosives in the mosque in the Nida neighbourhood of eastern Kirkuk and flattened the building site, Captain Imad Jassim said. Seventy-five percent of the mosque had been built before it was pancaked in the explosion.
In central Kirkuk, gunmen shot dead two contractors tasked with building access lanes and wounded another two workers. The assailants opened fire on the men while they were working next to the main highway that runs through Kirkuk from Baghdad before fleeing.
Three people were wounded and a house partly damaged when mortar rounds slammed into Kirkuk's Nasir neighbourhood.
Gunmen opened fire on several engineers and construction workers south of Kirkuk, killing two and wounding three, police and hospital sources said.
Gunmen attacked on Saturday afternoon a U.S. base in central Falluja, a security source said.
al-Maliki delivered a lukewarm endorsement of a new US policy to rescue his country from civil war as Baghdad braced nervously for stepped-up security operations.
A curt statement from his office, issued three days after US President George W. Bush unveiled the plan on television, amounted to Maliki's first public comment on the strategy, with the premier yet to speak in person.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates testified on Friday that the first phase of President Bush's new Iraq war plan will begin around the first week in February. (...) The first of a planned five additional U.S. brigades in Iraq should be in place by the middle of this month, according to Gates, who last month replaced the embattled Donald Rumsfeld.
Iraqi troops are also part of the plan, and the first Iraqi brigade will move into Baghdad "around the first of February," Gates said. "The operation itself will probably begin with some seriousness around the first week in February."
An Iraqi army brigade based in the northern Kurdish region is undergoing intensive training in urban combat and will be dispatched to Baghdad as part of a new joint U.S.-Iraqi security drive in the sprawling and violence-ridden city, the commander said Saturday.
The brigade is one of two coming from the Kurdish region and a third brigade will come from southern Iraq. The second Kurdish brigade will come from the northern city of Sulaimaniyah.
"We will head to Baghdad soon. We have 3,000 soldiers who are currently undergoing intensive training especially in urban combat and how the army should act inside a city," said Brig. Gen. Nazir Assem Korran, commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade, 2nd Division of the Iraqi army that is based in the city of Irbil. (...)
Korran said his troops would face a language barrier because 95 percent of the brigade is Kurdish and unable to speak Arabic. Kurds, a separate ethnic group, are largely Sunnis but not Arabs.
"I believe that we will bring translators with our brigade to solve this problem," he said.
The general said his troops were part of the Iraqi army and do not belong to local Kurdish militias, known as peshmergas, as some Iraqi media reports have claimed.
Iraq's Shiite-led government offered only a grudging endorsement on Thursday of President Bush's proposal to deploy more than 20,000 additional troops in an effort to curb sectarian violence and regain control of Baghdad. The tepid response immediately raised questions about whether the government would make a good-faith effort to prosecute the new war plan.
The Iraqi leader, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, failed to appear at a news conference and avoided any public comment. He left the government's response to an official spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, who gave what amounted to a backhanded approval of the troop increase and emphasized that Iraqis, not Americans, would set the future course in the war.
Mr. Dabbagh said that the government's objective was to secure the eventual withdrawal of American troops, and that for that to be possible there had to be security for Iraqis. "If this can be achieved by increasing either Iraqi or multinational forces," he added, "the government, for sure, will not stand against it."
Mr. Dabbagh suggested that much about the Bush plan depended on how circumstances in Iraq would evolve over the coming months - an echo, in its way, of senior Bush administration officials. They have implied that they might halt the month-by-month inflow of additional troops if they think Mr. Maliki is failing to meet the political and military benchmarks Mr. Bush identified as the Iraqi government's part in making the new war plan work.
"The plan can be developed according to the needs," Mr. Dabbagh said. Then he added tartly, "What is suitable for our conditions in Iraq is what we decide, not what others decide for us."
The spokesman's remarks, and a similarly dyspeptic tone that was adopted by Shiite politicians with close ties to Mr. Maliki, pointed to the double-bind Mr. Bush finds himself in. Faced with low levels of public support for his new military push and a Democratic leadership in Congress that has said it will fight him over it, he also confronts the uncomfortable prospect of foot-dragging in Baghdad over the troop increases and the benchmarks he has set for the Iraqis.
read in full...
Al-Iraq News Network reports from sources in the Iraqi Health Ministry that the number of corpses received at the Baghdad morgue during the first ten days of January exceeded the total number of corpses received for the whole month of December. Most of the corpses, which now increasingly include women, come from districts in western Baghdad, such as Ghazaliya, Amiriya, Jami'a, Saidiya and Amil.
Homecoming for the soldiers and families of the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry of the Iowa Army National Guard has been postponed until August.
The troops, many of whom are from North Iowa and have served 15 months already and were to have returned to the United States in a few months.
The Department of Defense made the announcement Thursday.
"It's been a long time already," said Sara Paulus of Floyd, whose husband, Jacob, 25, is with the 133rd. "We knew it could happen, but still, they were ready to come home."
The extension affects 640 soldiers from the Iowa Guard, with 560 of them members of the 133rd that is headquartered in Waterloo. Other units of the 133rd are from Charles City, Dubuque, Oelwein and Iowa Falls.
This is a first time release video clip of Iraqi Sufis announcing the establishment of "Naqshbandi Sufi Army", and their operations to fight against the occupation forces.
Tariqah: Arabic word for method or order of different Sufi sects
Naqshbandi: one the biggest Sufi sects.
1- Iraqi Sufis Join the Fight Against Coalition Forces
2- Iraqi Sufis announced their first operation
The announcement:
This is our response to the crime committed by the sectarian, the execution of Iraq symbol the martyr President Saddam Hussein
After almost four years of the invasion of our beloved country Iraq, the castle of Islam by the infidels and their tails [followers], this invasion reinforced our will and determination to continue our jihad to eliminate the occupation, their henchmen and the puppet safavidic government.
In response to the lies of Baker-Hamilton report, Bush despicable statements, American mass-media and sectarian government claiming that the political process was successful, and the resistance is weak, limited, and that what is happening in Iraq not resistance but it is terrorism by foreigners coming from abroad.
Therefore we declare our army the army of men of Tareqha Naqshabandiyya which will fight against the occupiers and their henchmen to show the whole world that the resistance are Iraqis and not as alleged by our enemies that they are foreigners.
Bush's decision to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq rests on a key assumption: that the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki can produce a well-disciplined, impartial army capable of taking the lead in securing Baghdad. U.S. troops, the president said, would now play more of a background role.
The day after his speech, the soldiers of Apache Company went on a mission to the volatile neighborhood of Hurriyah that underscored the challenges confronting U.S. troops as they attempt to clear neighborhoods of sectarian fighters and keep them that way under Iraqi control.
Across Baghdad, Iraq's mostly Shiite security forces have proved unable to keep neighborhoods secure on their own. Sunni Arabs deeply mistrust the army and police, viewing them as a sectarian weapon of the Shiite-led government. Iraqi army commanders say their soldiers lack training and equipment, while some U.S. officials worry that Iraq's troops are too dependent on their American counterparts and will become even more so with the expected surge.
The Stryker rolled through the mud of Camp Liberty and made its way to Hurriyah, a mostly Shiite area nestled west of the Tigris River. Apache Company's mission: to search a few houses for weapons caches based on intelligence reports. Caldwell and his soldiers worried about the intelligence they had been given. It had come from an Iraqi army -- or "IA," in U.S. soldier lingo -- officer a week ago. They wondered whether they were being set up for an ambush.
"It's a joke," said Pfc. Drew Merrell, 22, of Jefferson City, Mo., shaking his head and flashing a smile as the Stryker rolled through Baghdad.
"They feed us what they want," said Spec. Josh Lake, 26, of Ventura, Calif., referring to the intelligence. "I guarantee that everyone in the city knows where we're going. Because the IA told them. The only thing they don't know is how big a force we're coming with."
read in full
In his radio address today Bush said:
"To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible," Bush said in the radio address. "Members of Congress have a right to express their views, and express them forcefully," he said, but added: "Those who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance for success." link
This from the guy who refuses to consult with Congress except after the fact, got rid of the military leaders who were against his plan, ignored the ISG report and in fact did the opposite. But as usual its everyone else's fault for not having a better plan that he can ignore.
If his brain were as big as his testicles we wouldn't be in this mess.
US Secdef Robert Gates, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, was trying to re-package Bush's outrageous "surge" plan in what looked like a frenzied attempt to tamp down the criticisms it has incurred from lawmakers of both parties. In today's WaPo, Josh White and Ann Scott Tyson described Gates's testimony there thus:
. If the plan works, the United States could begin drawing down troop levels by the end of the year, Gates said. If the Iraqi government does not deliver troops and political and economic support, he said, the United States could withhold many of the 21,500 additional troops Bush has ordered to secure the most violent parts of Iraq.
Oops, not such a strong commitment from Gates to the "surge" after all?
read in full...
Al-Hayat this morning says Iraqi politicians and officers have said there are secret clauses in the Bush "new strategy" that talk about cooperation [between the Bush and Maliki administrations] in attacks on "extremist leadership", both Shiite and Sunni, and [these sources have also said that] this starts with lightening (khatifa) operations [that will have] media reveberations that will assist in giving impetus to the American administration in its "second battle" of the occupation of Baghdad.
By way of elaboration, this is followed by a quote from an AFP item, and then remarks on the Iranian-diplomats affair.
Here is the AFP quote:
[AFP quoted] a high American military official who said on Thursday evening that the American forces can target extremist leadership in Baghdad as part of the new plan which the Iraqi government has agreed to by lifting restrictions that have up to now prevented the Americans from attacking certain of the extremist leadership.
And the journalist continues: "Observers don't rule out the idea that the American forces might use the attack on the Iranian consulate in Irbil as a a model for lightening (khatifa) operations against military leaders in the Mahdi Army or [against] certain of the former officers who are believed to be running armed operations from their homes in Sunni strongholds in Baghdad."
What the Al-Hayat reporter is telling us is that there appears to be an undisclosed agreement between Bush and Maliki that will permit the US forces to attack (and presumably kill) both Sadrist and former-regime military leaders, and that this is seen as something is supposed to have media reverberations so as to provide PR impetus for the US second battle of Baghdad.
I guess it is also my unpleasant duty to show (since no one else is doing it) how Juan Cole has managed to turn the above text into something that sounds soothing for his American readers. He says:
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that its sources in the Iraqi government are saying that there are some secret paragraphs to the agreement between the Bush administration and the al-Maliki government in Iraq to act against militia leaders. The article suggests that the model of the US raid on an Iranian liason office in Irbil might be deployed against Mahdi Army leaders and against Sunni Arab guerrilla commanders. That is, such raids would be small, targeted, quick and involve kidnapping suspected wrongdoers.
Cole softens the arabic word for "attacks" by rendering it as "act against"; he seems to have taken (in one or both of the above instances) the expression "khatifa" ("lightening" "rapacious" or "sudden") to mean "kidnapping", because the two words share the same root; and finally he leaves out the part about these "attacks" having "media reverberations to give impetus to the American administration..." So a report about a plan to attack and presumably kill Iraqi leaders as a way of giving a PR boost to the American administration comes out, in Cole's rendition, as a seemingly innocuous kidnapping scheme.
Continuing with the Al-Hayat piece, the journalist quotes military sources who say the new Baghdad plan will get under way in early February, and will include the isolation of the nine sectors of Baghdad for a period of a week, during which time there will be wide-ranging military operations aimed at cleansing the city of armed [persons] and militias,
read in full...
A few years ago, David Brooks, New York Times columnist and media pundit extraordinaire, penned a love letter to the idea of meritocracy. It is "a way of life that emphasizes ... perpetual improvement, and permanent exertion," he effused, and is essential to America's dynamism and character. Fellow glorifiers of meritocracy have noted that our society is superior to nepotistic backwaters like Krygystan or France because we assign the most important jobs based on excellence. This makes us less prone to stagnancy or, worse yet, hideous national clusterfucks like fighting unwinnable wars for reasons nobody understands.
At Radar we are devoted re-readers of the Brooks oeuvre and were struck by this particular column. It raised interesting questions. Noticing our nation is stuck in an unwinnable war (or two), we wondered if America hasn't stumbled off the meritocratic path. More specifically, since political pundits like Brooks play such a central role in our national decision-making process, maybe something is amiss in the world of punditry. Are the incentives well-aligned? Surely those who warned us not to invade Iraq have been recognized and rewarded, and those who pushed for this disaster face tattered credibility and waning career prospects. Could it be any other way in America?
Noticing our nation is stuck in an unwinnable war, 'Radar' wondered: Is something amiss in the world of punditry?
So we selected the four pundits who were in our judgment the most influentially and disturbingly misguided in their pro-war arguments and the four who were most prescient and forceful in their opposition. (Because conservative pundits generally acted as a well-coordinated bloc, more or less interchangeable, all four of our hawks are moderates or liberals who might have been important opponents of the war-so, sadly, we are not able to revisit Brooks's eloquent and thoroughly meritless prognostications.)
Then we did a career check ... and found that something is rotten in the fourth estate.
It is de rigueur, these days, to recall Vietnam, the false victories, the body counts, the torture and the murders _ but history is littered with powerful men who thought they could batter their way to victory against the odds. Napoleon comes to mind; not the emperor who retreated from Moscow, but the man who believed the wild guerrilleros of French-occupied Spain could be liquidated. He tortured them, he executed them, he propped up a local Spanish administration of what we would now call Quislings, al-Malikis to a man. He rightly accused his enemies _ Moore and Wellington _ of supporting the insurgents. And when faced with defeat, Napoleon took the personal decision "to relaunch the machine" and advanced to recapture Madrid, just as Bush intends to recapture Baghdad. Of course, it ended in disaster. And George Bush is no Napoleon Bonaparte.
read in full...
NATO troops fought insurgents in southern Afghanistan on Saturday in a battle that left one Western soldier dead - NATO's first fatality of the year. NATO's International Security Assistance Force said the soldier died during an operation and that air support was used against insurgent positions. The nationality of the soldier was not released.
Air attacks against fugitive Islamists in south Somalia in recent days have mistakenly targeted nomadic herdsmen gathering round fires, killing 70
, British-based aid agency Oxfam said on Friday.
But you have to read Prensa Latina [the Cuban news agency] to know about it; not a single U.S. media outlet has picked up the story.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "As my interpreter always says, the militias are the government. Literally, not figuratively. The militias are a wing of this government." -- a U.S. officer in Baghdad after being asked if he believed Maliki would keep his promise to go after the militias, quoted in Newsweek's "The Battle for Haifa Street"


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