DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY, January 20, 2007
: Iraqi Army soldiers from the Kurdish-dominated units in northern Iraq at a base outside of Mosul, Iraq, December 2005. The Kurdish flag, and not the Iraqi flag, flies at the gate. (Tom Lasseter/MCT) (See below "Kurdish Iraqi Soldiers Are Deserting…")
(update) Militia fighters attacked a provincial headquarters in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, killing five American soldiers
Saturday night, the U.S. military reported.
The statement said "an illegally armed militia group" attacked the building with grenades, small arms and "indirect fire," which usually means mortars or rockets.
"A meeting was taking place at the time of the attack to ensure the security of Shiite pilgrims participating in the Ashoura commemorations," said Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, deputy commander for Multi-National Division-Baghdad.
Karbala is 50 miles south of Baghdad and thousands of Shiite pilgrims are flocking to the city to mark the 10-day Ashoura festival commemorating the death of one of Shiite Islam's most sacred saints, Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.
Brooks said the meeting was taking place in the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala when the attack occurred. Iraqi officials and security forces as well as U.S. troops were present, he said.
Earlier Saturday, Karbala Gov. Akeel al-Khazaali had said U.S. troops raided the provincial headquarters looking for wanted men but left with no prisoners.
But Brooks said that report was incorrect.
"Initial reporting by some media outlets indicated falsely that the attack was conducted by coalition forces," he said.
"The PJCC is a coordination center where local Iraqi officials, Iraqi security forces and Coalition forces (are) stationed within the center meet to address the security needs of the population," Brooks added.
Al-Khazaali said the American troops used stun grenades during the raid, causing people living nearby to report the building was under mortar attack. Residents reached by telephone speculated the raiding Americans were after followers of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and said helicopters were seen flying over the main al-Sadr headquarters in Karbala well past nightfall.
The military statement did not mention other casualties in the attack, but said "the location has been secured by coalition and Iraqi security forces."
(See also below under "Karbala")
Bring 'em on
: A U.S. military helicopter crashed Saturday northeast of Baghdad, killing all 13 people on board, a new blow to American efforts in Iraq as U.S. and Iraqi forces prepare for a major security operation to pacify the capital and surrounding areas.
The military said the crash was under investigation. The brief U.S. statement lacked the customary comment that the aircraft was not shot down, indicating it may have come under fire by insurgents.
The helicopter was carrying 13 passengers and crew members and all were killed, it said. No further details were released, including the exact location of the crash.
The violent Diyala province sits northeast of Baghdad, and U.S. and Iraqi forces have been battling Sunni insurgents and Shiite militia forces around its main city of Baqouba for months.
(update) A U.S. Blackhawk helicopter crashed northeast of Baghdad on Saturday, killing all 13 soldiers aboard in one of the deadliest single incidents for U.S. forces in four years of war in Iraq.
Residents near Baquba, in violent Diyala province, said they saw a helicopter in flames in the air but a military spokeswoman said it was not clear whether the aircraft was shot down.
Bring ‘em on
: A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated near a patrol in a northern section of the Iraqi capital Jan. 20. The unit was conducting a presence patrol to limit and control violence in the area when the roadside bomb detonated, killing one Soldier and wounding another. (MNF - Iraq)
Bring ‘em on
: A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was killed Friday as a result of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations in Ninewah Province. Two other Soldiers were wounded and transported to a Coalition Forces' medical treatment facility. (MNF - Iraq)
Bring ‘em on
: One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Friday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province. (MNF - Iraq)
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
Elite Iraqi police forces dropped off by U.S. helicopters staged a raid against a Sunni militant group
, killing 15 insurgents and capturing five others, the Interior Ministry said. The quick-reaction Iraqi force, backed by gunfire from the helicopters, met fierce resistance from the members of the militant group who were hiding in two abandoned houses in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Dora in southern Baghdad, ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf said.
Mortar shells were fired onto a U.S. army base in southeast of Baghdad
, an eyewitness said on Saturday but the U.S. army has yet to confirm the incident.
Iraqi police and hospital officials said a joint U.S.-Iraqi force searched a hospital
for an unspecified target in the volatile Sunni-dominated western neighborhood of Yarmouk. The Americans confiscated weapons and ID cards from the police and guards at the hospital after a confrontation with a guard demanding they leave their weapons at the door, Khalaf said.
Gunmen opened fire on employees of a telephone company
while they were driving in the Yarmouk area of Baghdad, killing one and wounding two.
Gunmen assaulted a police checkpoint south of Baghdad
and killed three policemen and wounded two.
Five mortars hit a residential area in northern Baghdad
, killing four people and wounding six more, a police source said. There were conflicting reports, as is common in Iraq, on the number of casualties from the mortar explosions in Nuaaman district.
Residents gather outside a damaged building after clashes between U.S. forces and insurgents in Ramadi
, 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad January 20, 2007. Coalition Forces' press office said seven separate exchanges of gunfire took place in Ramadi.
A judge was killed with his 20-year-old brother when gunmen opened fire on their car in Khalis
, 80 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad.
Gunmen stormed two houses in Madaen, killing two women and one man inside
, police said. Madaen is a mixed town of Shi'ites and Sunni Arabs 45 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad.
Iraqi police patrols found two unidentified bodies dumped in al-Madain district
, 37 km southeast of Baghdad.
The body of a man shot in the head was found in Iskandariya
, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, on Friday.
Gunmen opened fire at random and killed one person in Iskandariya.
A British vehicle was damaged when an explosive charge went off at a British vehicle patrol
in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, the media spokeswoman for the Multi-National Forces in southern Iraq said on Saturday.
A roadside bomb went off near a U.S. Bradley armored vehicle outside the town of Duluiyah
, some 90 km north of Baghdad late Friday, a police source from Salahudin province which the town belongs to said on Saturday. "A roadside bomb detonated near a U.S. patrol passing on abridge west of the Duluiyah town late last night, setting a Bradley armored vehicle ablaze," the police source from Salahudin province told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
A colonel in the Iraqi army was killed when a roadside bomb exploded just outside his office in Rabia
, northwest of Mosul in northern Iraq, army Captain Sirwan al-Herki said. He said a U.S. soldier visiting the colonel was wounded, along with his Iraqi translator and one more person who was also in the office.
An engineer working for a radio station was shot by gunmen in a market in Mosul
, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad.
A roadside bomb wounded two civilians in Daquq
, 45 km (20 miles) south of Kirkuk.
A roadside bomb wounded five policemen
, two of them seriously, in Kirkuk.
A U.S. army base in Haditha town, west of Baghdad, came under a mortar attack
, an eyewitness said on Saturday. The incident is not confirmed by the U.S. army yet.
U.S. army said on Saturday Iraqi security forces, backed by U.S. Marines, detained 36 suspects
during an operation in the western Anbar city of Falluja.
In the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala, where thousands of pilgrims gathered for the start of the 10-day ritual of Ashura, a highpoint of the Shi'ite religious calendar, blasts and gunfire rocked the local governorate building after dark.
An official in the building told Reuters that U.S. and Iraqi forces later raided it and searched the offices of the governor and other senior officials. They gave no explanation.
After nightfall, residents said they heard what appeared to be U.S. military jets and helicopters over the city, which lies 110 km (70 miles) south of Baghdad.
The spokesman for the Shiite Sadrist bloc in the Iraqi parliament accused the Iraqi government of coming short of influencing the U.S. forces into refraining from arrests.
"The Sadrist deputies hope that the government would secure the release of Sheikh Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji, the chief of al-Shaheed al-Sadr Office's information department, who was arrested by U.S. forces during the early hours of Friday," Sadrist bloc spokesman Dr. Nassar al-Rubaie told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
"Based on our experience, the government enjoys no influence to bring the occupation forces to stop their arrests," said Rubaie, who, however, referred to government endeavors to obtain the release of Sheikh Darraji.
"U.S. forces had arrested leading Sadrist members and were acquitted by the judiciary but the occupation forces refuse to release them," he said.
Rubaie said the U.S. forces are still detaining Sheikh Ahmed al-Shibani, the prominent Sadrist leader, who was acquitted by the Iraqi courts, adding the U.S. arrests of leading members in the Sadrist movement are nothing but "provocative means to drag the Sadrists into military confrontations."
"Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has always reiterated that his followers would never get entangled into schemes aiming at triggering a chaos among Iraqis and is always calling for calm. We are clinging to the instructions of Mr. Sadr," said Rubaie.
A statement by U.S. forces had announced that special forces from the Iraqi army had detained on Friday whom they described as "a leader of an illegal armed group" in the area of al-Baladiyat, east of the capital Baghdad."
An Iraqi Kurdish source said Friday that Iran is massing troops along its borders with north Iraq.
A Pishmerga source said that Iran has beefed up its troops stationed along the main border crossing (Pashmakh), midway between the Kurdish Penjavin city and the Iranian Miriwan city.
He added that Iran sent more reinforcement troops to the Kirban border position with Iraq, between Daza castle north of Suleymania. Also the Iranian border authorities are applying a lot of pressure on businessmen at the border crossing and tightening the inspection process there.
McClatchy Newspapers: KURDISH IRAQI SOLDIERS ARE DESERTING TO AVOID THE CONFLICT IN BAGHDAD
As the Iraqi government attempts to secure a capital city ravaged by conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslim Arabs, its decision to bring a third party into the mix may cause more problems than peace.
Kurdish soldiers from northern Iraq, who are mostly Sunnis but not Arabs, are deserting the army to avoid the civil war in Baghdad, a conflict they consider someone else's problem.
The Iraqi army brigades being sent to the capital are filled with former members of a Kurdish militia, the peshmerga, and most of the soldiers remain loyal to the militia.
Much as Shiite militias have infiltrated the Iraqi security forces across Arab Iraq, the peshmerga fill the ranks of the Iraqi army in the Kurdish region in the north, poised to secure a semi-independent Kurdistan and seize oil-rich Kirkuk and parts of Mosul if Iraq falls apart. One thing they didn't bank on, they said, was being sent into the "fire" of Baghdad.
"The soldiers don't know the Arabic language, the Arab tradition, and they don't have any experience fighting terror," said Anwar Dolani, a former peshmerga commander who leads the brigade that's being transferred to Baghdad from the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah.
Dolani called the desertions a "phenomenon" but refused to say how many soldiers have left the army.
"I can't deny that a number of soldiers have deserted the army, and it might increase due to the ferocious military operations in Baghdad," he said.
— Heard a piece about this on NPR two days ago, and it appalled me. The unit they were profiling had 1600 members, but when it finally rolled south to Baghdad only 300 soldiers responded to the muster. -- comment on the article above by The Wanderer Jan 20 2007, 10:02 in "Bush's plan falling apart" at The News Blog
read in full…
Azzaman: RESIDENTS DESCRIBE LIFE AS 'HELL' IN HAIFA STREET
Life is turning into 'hell' for residents of Haifa Street and the surrounding quarters.
Residents said the area was under siege by Iraqi and U.S. troops and scores of innocent civilians have been either killed or injured as a result of the ongoing clashes.
U.S. and Iraqi troops have besieged the street and several other adjacent districts. The operation is seen as a prelude to a massive military push against Baghdad by Iraqi and U.S. troops.
"The area has become hell for its inhabitants. We have become hostages of the armed groups and Iraqi and U.S. troops," said Saad Jassem, a resident Rahmaniya district close to Haifa. (…)
Armed men have fortified themselves in some of these high rises as well as the streets of the impoverished districts of Fahama, Sheik Ali and Al-Fadhl. (…)
But the drive against Haifa which started almost a week ago has failed to regain the area and drive out the fighters.
Snipers are still present in several high rises and armed groups mount daily attacks on Iraqi and U.S. military personnel.
The areas where the fighting is taking place are the closet to the U.S.-protected Green Zone the only place with relative safety in Baghdad.
read in full…
DarkMatter: INTERVIEW WITH MOQTADA AL SADR
by Renato Caprile, special correspondent, published in "La Repubblica", 19th January 2007
He feels hunted and is in hiding, he never sleeps in the same bed for more than one night. Some of his most trusted followers have turned their backs on him and he has even moved his family to a secret hideout. Moqtada al Sadr feels the end is near: too many enemies, too many spies infiltrated amongst his people. But he's not accusing al Maliki, whom he considers little more than a puppet, so much as Yad Allawi, the former Prime Minister on whom he believes the Americans are still betting. This is the man he views as the true artifice of the operation that aims to wipe him and his Mahdi Army off the face of Iraq.
: So how did it come about that al Maliki, whose government until recently included no less than six ministers from your movement, suddenly came to the conclusion that the religious militias, and yours most of all, are the real problem that must be solved?
: "Between Abu Assara (the "father of Assara", the name of Maliki's daughter - ed.) and myself there have never been very warm relations. I always suspected he was manipulated and I never trusted him. We have only met on a couple of occasions. On the most recent of which he said to me "you are the backbone of the country", and then he confessed that he was "obliged" to fight us. Obliged, you understand?"
Caprile: The fact remains that your people are about to be struck with an iron fist.
: "The operation has already started. Last night they already arrested over four hundred of my men. It is not us they want to destroy, but Islam - we are only an obstacle. For the time being, we shall not put up any resistance against them."
: Do you mean that you will hand in your weapons?
: "During muharram (the holy month commemorating the martyrdom of Hussein over six hundred years ago, ed.) the Quran forbids us to kill. So let them kill us if they want to, for a true believer there is no better time to die: Paradise is assured. But God is generous, not all of us shall die. After muharram the tide will turn."
: Some say that the army and police are heavily infiltrated by your men and that the marines would never be able to disarm you on their own.
: "The truth is exactly the opposite: it's our militia that's swarming with spies. And in any case, it's not a hard task to infiltrate a people's army. And these are the very same people who have been committing unworthy deeds to discredit the Mahdi Army. There are at least four armies ready to strike us. One is a "shadow force" which no-one ever talks about, trained under the most secret conditions in the Jordanian desert by the Americans. And then there's the private army of Allawi himself, that infidel who will soon take Maliki's place, which is readying itself for the fray in the former military airport of Muthanna. Then there are the Kurdish peshmergas, and lastly there are the American regular troops."
: If what you say is true, you have no hope of standing up to them.
: "We too are very many. We represent the majority of the country, who do not want Iraq to become what Allawi is dreaming of: a secular state, a slave to the western powers."
: For the last week you have been officially in the crosshairs. The government maintains that without their leader the religious militias are militarily weakened.
: "I am aware of this. This is why I moved my family to a safe place. I even made my will, and I keep constantly on the move, making sure that only a few people know exactly where I am. But even if I should die, the Mahdi Army would still continue to exist. Men can be killed, faith and ideas cannot."
: It has been said that amongst the crowd watching Saddam's execution you too were present. Is this true?
: "This is absolute rubbish. If I'd been there they'd have killed me too. As for Saddam, I certainly shed no tears for the man who massacred my family and tens of thousands of my people. But if it had been up to me, I'd have had him executed in a public square so all the world could see."
: Even if you weren't there, can you deny that the execution room was full of your men?
: "No, those were not my men. They were people paid to discredit me. To make it seem I was the person really responsible for that hanging. The proof lies in the fact - just listen to the audio - that when they recited my prayer they left out some essential parts. A mistake that not even a single child in Sadr City would ever have made. The aim was to make it seem Moqtada was the real enemy of the Sunnis. And they succeeded. Some time back, I was received with full honours in Saudi Arabia. But straight after that charade under the gallows my spokesman al Zarqani, who was making the pilgrimage to Mecca, was arrested. An all too explicit way to make me understand that I was no longer listed amongst their friends."
: In any case, the war between you and the Sunnis goes on.
: "It is true that we are all Muslims and we are all sons of the same land, but they must first distance themselves from the Saddamists, from the radical groups, from Bin Laden's men, as well as repeating their "No" to the Americans. All we're asking is for the ulemas to accept these conditions of ours. They haven't yet done so."
: Can it really be true that there is nothing but blood in Iraq's future?
: "If the future is a country split in three, I cannot see any alternative. That is what Bush wants so he can control us more easily, but it's certainly not what the Iraqis want. In my opinion, there is only one possible way a solution can be reached: immediate withdrawal by the Americans."
(translated from the Italian by parvati_roma)
Dahr Jamail: SOUTHERN IRAQI TRIBES JOINING ARMED RESISTANCE
Violence is spreading further across Iraq, as Shi'ite Arab tribes in the south begin to engage occupation forces in new armed resistance.
Resistance in the southern parts of Iraq has been escalating over the last three months, leading to increased casualties among British and other occupation forces.
In the last seven months, at least 24 British soldiers have been killed in southern Iraq, with at least as many wounded, according to the independent website Iraq Coalition Casualties. So far at least 128 British soldiers have died in Iraq, along with 123 of other nationalities. Most of these have been stationed in southern Iraq.
Casualties earlier were far lower.
Attacks against occupation forces appear to stem from a growing nationalism.
"This is not about vengeance," a former Iraqi army officer from Kut, 200 km south of Baghdad told IPS in Baghdad. "People have lost hope in the US-led occupation's promises, and they are thinking of saving the country from Iranian influence which has been supported, or at least allowed by the Multinational Forces."
British and US military leaders tend not to say who has been targeting their forces in the south. They simply call the resistance fighters "terrorists," or they point to the Mahdi Army led by Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as the only source of disturbance in the south.
While members of the Mahdi Army certainly carry out attacks against occupation forces in southern Iraq, other homegrown resistance seems to have taken root, fed also by earlier memories.
"People here have always hated the US and British occupation of Iraq, and remembered their grandfathers who fought the British troops with the simplest weapons," Jassim al-Assadi, a school headmaster from Kut told IPS on a recent visit to Baghdad.
Al-Assadi was referring to the Shi'ite resistance that eventually played a key role in expelling British forces from Iraq during the 1920s and 1930s.
Armed resistance against the occupation in the south was slow to begin with because religious clerics instructed their followers to give the occupation time to fulfill promises made by the Bush and Blair administrations, al-Assadi said.
"But now they do not believe any cleric's promises any more. They have started fighting, and that is that."
A political analyst in Baghdad, who asked to be referred to as W. al-Tamimi, told IPS that he believes occupation forces have been working in tandem with death squads. "We have been observing American and British occupation forces supporting those death squads all over Iraq, but we were still hoping for reconciliation."
Al-Tamimi said the sheikh of his tribe, which is both Shi'ite and Sunni, was "under great pressure by the tribe's young men to let them join the resistance."
The force of the growing resistance in the south has become more and more evident. Late last August 1,200 British soldiers known as The Queen's Royal Hussars abruptly evacuated their three-year-old base after taking continuous mortar and missile fire from Shi'ite resistance fighters.
read in full…
>> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Whatever It Is I’m Against It: A GUT FEELING
In Basra, British military spokesmodel Major Chris Ormond-King told reporters that he had absolutely no evidence of Iranian arms, money, or anything else in the region but "As a gut feeling we know there is Iranian influence." Hey, we've invaded countries on less than that!
read in full…
Missing Links: AL-HAYAT: US PROVOCATIONS COULD FORESHADOW MILITARY CONFRONTATION WITH THE SADRISTS
The US military said the following in a statement yesterday: "In an Iraqi-led operation, special Iraqi army forces captured a high-level, illegal armed group leader during operations with coalition advisers." The person in question was Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji, described by the Sadrists as a media spokesman for their movement.
notes the peculiar fact that although this was an Iraqi-led operation, the announcement was by the American forces. The newspaper explains:
The opinion of observers is that the announcement by the American forces, affirming the execution of this by Iraqi forces, is an attempt to present the Maliki administration with new provocations [or challenges]...[given the fact that] the government is still concerned about its lack of control over part of the Iraqi army which takes its orders directly from the Americans, and carries out special operations, most notably raids on Shiite mosques or the arrest and killing of politicians and religious figures. And Shiite politicians call this the "dirty unit".
There are two issues here: One is whether or not the people being targeted are persons genuinely involved in violence, or whether on the contrary they are Sadr-organization civilian officials whose targeting is designed to draw the entire Sadr organization into a military confrontation. Sadrists said al-Darraji is a media-relations person and isn't even in the Mahdi army. On this issue, the Al-Hayat
reporter reminds readers of the killing late last month by American forces of Sahib al-Amari (or Aamiri, if you're doing a search), a well-known member of the Sadrist current in that city [active in charitable work and by all accounts the least likely person imaginable to accuse of violence], in spite of the fact that supposedly the security responsibilities there had been conveyed to the Iraqis.
The second issue is the one raised by the above remarks by the Al-Hayat
reporter. If these are units of the Iraqi army that answer directly to the American forces, and the targets are political and provocative rather than bona fide law-enforcement, then this is not a case of Bush-Maliki cooperation in the eradication of violence. Rather these events would appear to be forerunners of an all-out military attack by the Americans against the largest popular movement in the country, and one that supports the Prime Minister in parliament. And in that case the model isn't any war on violent extremism or whatever the term is supposed to be, but rather something much more dangerous for everyone concerned.
Roads to Iraq: US SOLDIERS IN THE "GREEN ZONE" SHOW THEIR COURAGE ON A CRIPPLED DOG
, American soldiers in the "Green Zone" throwing stones at a crippled dog and laughing as the dog hobbles away on two legs.
Soldier1: That is the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life,
Soldier2: You wanna go over and kill it?
Roads to Iraq: AL-DOURI TO INCREASE RESISTANCE OPERATIONS
For sure when I say Shiites, I don't mean the real honest Iraqi Shiites, but I mean those who loyal to Iran and installed by the US occupation forces, so i don't want to repeat this every time.
reported that Izzat Al-Douri, gave an order to former Iraqi army officer to escalate their operations against the occupiers and the traitors.
He also sent a letter offering a "truce" with Washington and reduce the armed operations against the American forces if the Americans crackdown Shiite militia supported by Iran saying:
The resistance are ready to ease its attacks against American occupation forces in return for ending the logistical and financial support to the sectarian militias behind the violence and the displacement of thousands of Iraqis from their areas.
- The primitive "Green Zone" government's PR machine came with this today:
Iraqi PM: 400 Shiite Fighters Detained
Which is not true, The New York Times
revealed through a Shiite cleric:
An influential Shiite sheik, Adel Ibrahim Subihawi, said of senior Mahdi members,
"They are making new passports right now to leave.
- Iraqi intellectual and thinker Hassan Al-Allwi [Shiite] and one of Saddam opposition for 25 years say:
Iraq's current leaders will not have a rope to be hanged with, they will die dragged in the streets!
- Arab times
reported that Shiite Militias [Mahdi army and Badr Brigades] killed 500 Palestinian refugees in Iraq
Mike Whitney: BUSH'S WAR ON PERCEPTION; THE BOMBING OF THE GOLDEN MOSQUE
We’ve heard a lot about the bombing of Samarra’s Golden Mosque lately. Bush has brought it up twice in the last week alone. It’s a critical part of the administration’s rationale for the occupation of Iraq, so we can expect to be reminded of it nearly as often as 9-11.
The destruction of the Golden-dome Mosque took place in February 2005 and has been identified as the "catalyzing event" that plunged the country into sectarian violence. That, at least, is just the official version. No one knows really what happened because the administration refused to conduct an independent investigation and the media excluded any account that didn’t square with the Pentagon’s spin on events.
What we’re left with is mere speculation.
Here's what we know: Less than 4 hours after the explosion, the Bush public relations team cobbled together a statement that the bombing was the work of Sunni extremists or al Qaida terrorists. But, how did they know? They didn’t have witnesses on the ground in Samarra and they’ve never produced a scintilla of evidence to support their claims. It may be that the administration simply saw the bombing as an opportunity to twist the facts to suit their own purposes?
After all, the incident has been a propaganda-bonanza for the Bush team. They’ve used it to support their theory that Iraq is "the central battle in the war on terror" and that "we must fight them there if we don’t want to fight them over here". It’s become one of the main justifications for the occupation; implying that the US military is needed as a referee to keep the warring factions from killing each other. It’s all just nonsense that’s designed to advance the administration’s political agenda.
If there had been an investigation, it would have shown whether the perpetrators were experts or not by the placement of the explosives. There’s a good chance they would’ve found bomb-residue which could have determined the composition of the material used. Forensics experts could have easily ascertained whether the explosives came from Iraqi munitions-dumps (as suggested) or from outside the country (like the USA, perhaps?)
The incident may well have been a "false flag" operation carried out by US intelligence agencies to provoke sectarian violence and, thus, reduce the number of attacks on American troops.
In any event, as soon as the mosque was destroyed the media swung into action focusing all of its attention on sectarian violence and the prospect of civil war. The media’s incessant "cheerleading" for civil war was suspicious, to say the least.
In the first 30 hours after the blast, more than 1,500 articles appeared on Google News providing the government version of events without deviation and without any corroborating evidence; just fluff that reiterated the Pentagon’s account verbatim and without challenge.
1500! Now that’s a well-oiled propaganda system!
Most of the articles were "cookie cutter-type" stories which used the same buzzwords and talking points as all the others; no interviews, no facts, no second opinions; simple, straightforward stenography---nothing more.
The story was repeated for weeks on end never veering from the same speculative theory. Clearly, a great amount of effort was being exerted to convince the American people that this was a significant event that would reshape the whole context of the war in Iraq. In fact, the media blitz that followed was grander than anything since 9-11; a spectacular display of the media’s power to manipulate public opinion.
There were a few articles that didn’t follow the party-line, but they quickly disappeared into a cyber-"black hole" or were dismissed as conspiracy theories. One report in AFP said that the bombing "was the work of specialists" and the "placing of explosives must have taken at least 12 hours". The article continued:
"Construction Minister Mohammed Jaafar said, 'Holes were dug into the mausoleum’s four main pillars and packed with explosives. Then charges were connected together and linked to another charge placed just under the dome. The wires were then linked to another charge placed just under the dome. The wires were then linked to a detonator which was triggered at a distance."
Of course, what does that prove? Perhaps, al Qaida has skilled explosives experts? But why not investigate? After all, if this was the "catalyzing event" which was thrusting the country towards civil war; why not have the FBI come in and have a look-around?
A professional team of investigators could have quickly determined whether highly-trained saboteurs were operating in the area. (which meant that American troops would be at greater risk) Isn't that worth checking out?
Nope. The Pentagon did nothing. There was no effort at all to find out who might have been involved. It was an open and shut case; wrapped up before the dust had even settled in Samarra.
Apparently, there was at least one witness who was interviewed shortly after the bombing. He said that he heard cars running outside the mosque "the whole night until morning" but, he was warned "to stay in your shop and don't leave until morning".
At 6:30 AM the next morning, the vehicles outside the mosque left. 10 minutes later the bombs exploded.
None of the people living in the vicinity of the mosque were ever questioned. Likewise, the Construction Minister Mohammed Jaafar has never resurfaced in the news again. I expect that his comments in the newspaper may have had something to do with his sudden disappearance, but then maybe not.
(…) The Bush administration set out to apply its neoconservative theories in Iraq by deliberately destroying the social fabric of Iraqi society so they could rebuild the country according to their "free market" neoliberal ideology. The neocon principle of "creative destruction" was used with lethal precision and with devastating effects; the country is now in a state of total ruin.
The Pentagon's counterinsurgency strategy was developed long before the mutilated bodies of Sunni men began showing up daily bobbing along the Euphrates River. It's part of a broader plan to dominate the entire region through military force. The purpose is to extend the Bush Caliphate--the "new world order"-- throughout the entire Middle East.
Somewhere along the line, things went horribly wrong and the Pentagon warlords lost control of their "brainchild" in the Interior Ministry. Now the Shiite death squads operate independent of their American overlords purging Baghdad of its Sunni population and laying the foundation for a future Islamic state. Events are simply beyond Bush's control. As author William Lind said recently, "The forces our invasion and destruction of the Iraqi state unleashed, far overpower any army we can deploy to Iraq, surge or no surge."
The neocon plan to decimate Iraqi society by inciting sectarian violence (divide and conquer) was concocted long before the destruction of the Golden dome Mosque. In fact, the blowing up of the mosque was probably an attempt to disguise US involvement in the random bombings (markets, mosques, busy streets etc.) and death squad activity which soon spread throughout the Sunni heartland.
Consider Bush's comments in his speech to the nation last week:
"The violence in Iraq has overwhelmed the political gains the Iraqis had made. Al Qaida terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's election posed for their cause. And they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis...They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam-the Golden Mosque of Samarra-in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked Radical Shia elements; some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today."
Is that what happened or is this just a clever way of shifting the blame from the real perpetrators of the bloodshed to the victims of Washington's dirty war?
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QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"The president knows that because the troops are in harm's way, that we won't cut off the resources. That's why he's moving so quickly to put them in harm's way" -- Senator Nancy Pelosi on ABC's "Good Morning America."