Thursday, January 25, 2007

Photo: Students hold an Iraqi national flag as they walk over Israeli and U.S. flags during a memorial service for victims of a bomb attack, at Mustansiriya university in Baghdad January 25, 2007. A car bomb and a suicide bomber killed 60 people and wounded 110 more, including many students blown up as they waited for cars to take them home at the entrance of Mustansiriya university in Baghdad, police said. REUTERS/Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud (IRAQ)
Bring 'em on: An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier northwest of the Iraqi capital Jan 25. The unit was conducting a combat security patrol in the area when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicles, killing one Soldier and wounding three others.
Two rockets hit the international Green Zone in Baghdad, prompting alarms to sound and warnings urging people to take cover. The U.S. military said it had no information on casualties or damage.
A suicide car bomber blew himself up near a police patrol in a shopping area in central Baghdad's Karrada district, killing 25 people and wounding 50 more, a security source said. An AFP photographer at the site reported that the explosion set a bus loaded with passengers ablaze, and destroyed half the front of a nearby building.
A bomb attached to a motorcycle exploded in one of Baghdad's busiest market areas, killing at least four people and wounding 18.
A bomb struck a market in area of Baiyaa in western Baghdad, killing at least one civilian and wounding seven.
Three people were killed and ten others wounded when two roadside bombs went off in a commercial street in southern Baghdad on Thursday, an Interior Ministry source said. "Two roadside bombs detonated around midday in the Ishreen Street in Baiyaa neighborhood, killing three people and wounding ten others," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Police retrieved the bodies of 33 unidentified people, most bound and tortured and the apparent victims of death squads, in the 24 hours to Wednesday evening.
(questionable source) Militiamen in Baghdad have kidnapped and killed 10 senior officers of the former army. The officers were reportedly on their way home following a government meeting ostensibly held to lure former army personnel into joining the new army. The killing has sent a chilling message in the ranks of former army personnel many of whom initially had thought the government was serious in gestures to have them rehabilitated.
One person was killed and 13 wounded by a car bomb in Mureidi market in Sadr City.
Mortars fell on residential neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, killing one person and wounding four others.
Gunmen wounded two people near Haswa.
Several mortar rounds landed in a residential district and killed a man and wounded a girl in the town of Haswa, south of Baghdad.
Two British soldiers were wounded when mortar shells fell onto a British base in central Basra, the spokeswoman for the Multi-National forces in southern Iraq said on Thursday. "Mortar shells fell last night onto the British base at the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's palaces in central Basra, wounding two British soldiers, one of them was seriously injured," Captain Katie Brown told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq.
A British base located at the Shatt-el-Arab hotel, 10 km north of Basra, came under an attack with 12 mortars on Thursday at dawn but no casualties were reported.
Police found two bodies shot in the head in the streets of Dujail, 90 km (55 miles) north of Baghdad.
Gunmen killed a member of the local council in Gayyara, about 20 miles south of Mosul, as he was driving to work.
The bodies of two people were found shot dead in the city of Mosul.
A motorbike exploded near a high school and killed a boy and an elderly woman in the city of Falluja.
Tal Afar:
A suicide car bomber blew himself up near a U.S. military patrol and wounded four civilians in the town of Tal Afar, 420 km (260 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
In Country:
(update) Arthur Laguna, 52, and four other Americans with the Blackwater USA security company were flying over a dangerous Sunni neighborhood while a gunfight was raging Tuesday. U.S. and Iraqi officials said four of the five were shot executive-style on the ground. It was unclear whether the helicopter was shot out of the sky, or went down for another reason. Three Sunni insurgent groups separately claimed responsibility for the crash, with one posting on its Web site the ID cards of Laguna. His mother, Lydia Laguna of Rio Linda, confirmed to The Associated Press that he was among those killed.
The mayor of Sadr City said he reached agreement with political and religious groups to keep weapons off the streets of the heavily populated Shiite militia stronghold. He said he has presented the deal to U.S. and Iraqi government officials in an apparent attempt to avoid a crackdown on the area.
The US-led occupation of Iraq after Saddam Hussein's ouster was an "idiot" decision, Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi said during the World Economic Forum.
But he warned that winning the "war" in Baghdad, where US troop levels have recently been reinforced, would be crucial to ending the spiral of violence in the country.
Two colonels, one lieutenant colonel and two command sergeants major were among the 12 soldiers killed last weekend in a Black Hawk helicopter crash northeast of Baghdad, the Pentagon said.
It appeared to be the largest number of key officers and command sergeants killed in a single incident during since the Iraq war started nearly four years ago.
The U.S. command has not said why so many key officers were aboard a single helicopter, which went down Saturday in Diyala province, one of the flashpoints of the Iraq conflict.
The top U.S. surgeon in Iraq was among the 12 soldiers killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Baghdad, military officials said Thursday.
Peace activists from around the United States will converge on Washington Saturday for what organisers hope will be the largest demonstration to date against the Iraq war.
"We expect a turnout in the six figures," said Tom Andrews, a former Democratic congressman who now runs the group Win Without War, which is organising the march along with True Majority, Working Assets, the RainbowPUSH Coalition, the National Organization for Women and the national umbrella group United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ).
"My name is Lina Massufi. I'm a 32-year-old laboratory assistant who works 10 hours a day just to make enough money to raise my children.
"My life has been like hell over the past three months. US and Iraqi soldiers have raided my house more than 12 times.
"My husband, Khalil, was killed during the US invasion in 2003 when he drove through a closed road and soldiers shot him dead.
"I live in Haifa Street, one of the most dangerous places to live in Baghdad today. The area is infamous for its huge number of insurgents. This is why Iraqi and US soldiers have increased their activity in the area, constantly raiding homes and arresting men for interrogation.
"Last month, they arrested my 23-year-old brother Fae'ek, who lives with me. He is a pharmacy student but nonetheless they took him and kept him in prison for more than a week - even after knowing he was innocent. He returned with signs of torture on his body and was crying like a baby because of the pain.
It is common to see at least three corpses on Haifa Street each day and sometimes up to eight, as happened last week.
"I cannot stand the constant military raids in my home. Every time they [the soldiers] raid my house, they break the door. They don't know how to knock at a door. One day, when I asked them why they were entering like that instead of ringing the bell, they laughed at me and called me an idiot.
"My furniture is all broken into pieces because of the way they conduct their searches. I no longer have dishes or glasses to speak of because they destroyed most of them during the raids.
"I have two children and for most of the time, they are scared. Muhammad, a four-year-old, cannot sleep well at night. He has nightmares every day and when he wakes up he cries, asking me not to let the soldiers take him as they took his uncle.
read in full...
The authorities in Karbala have warned of plots to attack the Ashura ceremonies in Karbala. Citing recent attacks Dr. Aqeel Khaz'ali urged people to be vigilant particularly for signs of preparations for mortar attacks and the presence of strangers in their neighbourhood. Among the security measures he announced are:
. The city is closed to all motor traffic.
. Funerals from other provinces will not be permitted as there are known to be plans to use them for bombing attacks on the Holy Places.
Included in the weapons seized yesterday are:
. Three "stinger" missiles.
. Detonators.
. Artillery Shells.
Just posted, very enlightening B-roll of Operation Tomahawk Strike 11, one in a series of raids targeting illegal militia activity. Scenes include U.S. and Iraqi Soldiers engaging insurgents from a high-rise in the Haifa Street area of Baghdad.
To watch the video, visit:
Channel 4 News Exclusive: IRAQI ARMY BRUTALITY
Channel 4 News has exclusive access to the brutality meted out by the largely Shi'a Iraqi army in Baghdad.
Watch the report
It is a shocking insight into the sectarian violence that is tearing Baghdad apart.
As tens of thousands of American troops prepare to "surge" into the iraqi capital - Channel 4 News has obtained exclusive evidence of the brutality being meted out by the largely Shi'a Iraqi army - as US troops stand idly by.
Two journalists - embedded with the First Cavalry division - witnessed suspected insurgents being viciously beaten and abused.
The journalists were then threatened and held under armed guard by the Americans - as troops attempted to seize their footage.
US Army commander Lieutenant Colonel Dale C Kuehl told Channel 4 News he had taken administrative action to include suspending the platoon sergeant.
He said: "The US Army does not condone detainee abuse within our formation not within ISF formations.
"The appropriate actions will be taken once the results of the investigation are final."
Last night on Countdown, Keith Olbermann asked Newsweek writer Richard Wolffe about an interview Senator Chuck Hagel gave to a magazine in which Hagel said that when the Senate first received the Iraq war resolution from the Bush administration back in 2002, the resolution gave the Bush administration the right to use force against any country in the Mideast region. Hagel said that he, Richard Lugar and Joe Biden rewrote the resolution to give the administration the right to use force only in Iraq.
Wolffe replied that he knew from interviews he had done at the time that members of the administration wanted the right to use force anywhere in the Mideast region because they thought Iraq was only going to be the first country they invaded and transformed into a democratic state. They believed that Iraq would be a "cakewalk," and once other countries in the region saw the transformative process in Iraq, they thought other strongmen and authoritarian governments in the region would just "topple" and flower into democracies. Or they would invade, as they had done in Iraq, and make them into democracies.
It was like one big, fantastic game of Risk to these stupid idiots. Can you imagine the amount of ignorance, naivete, stupidity and arrogance a preznut and his merry men and women would have to have to think they could transform the Middle East into a cradle of democracy with a few simple invasions with about 140,000 troops?
And as Atrios always notes, these were the people who were considered "serious" before the Iraq war and any critic who pointed out the "cakewalk" in Iraq might turn into something much was worse was considered "not serious" or just a dirty, patchouli-smelling, dope-smoking, tree-hugging hippie.
Doesn't it occur to anyone who thinks that the Iraqis will be able to neutralize the "surge" which is really a slow gathering of US Brigades, and which rely on Iraqi help. As if they won't be working their magic, making it clear that helping the Americans might be unwise. This "surge" which should be called a dribble, is the worst kind of military movement, slowly massing forces over a six month period. Does the Army think they will be waiting for all the brigades to arrive?
We can't even trust the Iraqi translators. American Arabic speaking soldiers find that they say something which is far from what was supposed to be said.
The whole discussion of the "surge" has been one of the most idiotic military plans ever proposed by a major power. If we are serious about "taking Baghdad", why is the general in charge discussing the plans? What? Does he think a few AC-130's will save the day?
The Sadrist movement is a movement which goes beyond JAM and Sadr. You cannot buy the loyalty of the poor Shia. You cannot give them fake policing. Even to assume they will help you is foolish. They want the right to run Iraq and no compromise is going to be on the table. Hell, the Maliki government tried to coopt us into a genocidal clearing of Sunni neighborhoods.
But in the end, it doesn't matter if the surge happens. It won't change anything but who dies in Iraq.
However, this has placed the Bush administration on very dangerous ground in the US. By ignorng the Iraq Study Group, he has made it clear that the Republican Party is on it's own. The impeachment drumbeat has been in the background since last summer. It's a popular idea outside the beltway.
The Republicans voting for resolutions today are the Republicans who will demand Bush resign by the end of summer. As the surge fails and Bush has no answers, the establishment will demand something be done. Bush and Cheney act as if they have unlimited power. They do not. His polling numbers are under 30 percent and won't be going higher. The public wants the war to end.
Bush acts as if he can continue like this for two years. I doubt he can do this for six months. All the Sadrists have to do is spring one massive ambush and his Iraq policy will collapse. What will Dave Petraeus say when one of his little De Lattre forts are overrun and 30 dead Americans are left while the Iraqis disappear?
Our Iraq policy hangs on one failure. One. Once it happens, Bush loses any moral standing to prolong the war. I take Bush at his word that he will leave withdrawal to the next president. However, that president is likely to be Nancy Pelosi or John Warner and it won't be in 2009.
read in full
George Bush perseveres. At this point, it's no longer willfulness, but rabid frenzy. Because of the time difference, the State of the Union speech the American president delivered in Washington was broadcast live in Europe in the middle of the night - more precisely on Wednesday, January 24th, starting at 3 a.m. You could see the scene on CNN. It began with the pomp intended by the founding fathers of American democracy. Everyone gets together in the capital for this ritual exercise during the course of which, the president, head of the executive branch, has the right - it's the only time in the course of the year - to enter the legislative Holy of Holies. All his cabinet is also there to congratulate him. People hug; they pat one another's backs.
The CNN camera rested for a moment on the faces of senators Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton. The president's wife, Laura Bush, wore a dress that shone blazing red. And then the liturgy began, immutable.
The person at issue presented himself to Congress, introduced by the traditional phrase deafeningly broadcast by the sergeant-at-arms: "The president of the United States!" But this time the shriek was addressed to "Madam Speaker." For, in fact, the first time in the history of the United States, a woman presides over the House of Representatives: Nancy Pelosi. She is a Democrat, smiling and determined. George Bush paid her assiduous tribute, insisting on the unprecedented character of the occasion and wishing for the best possible cooperation with the lady. She played her role marvelously, standing to applaud the president every time she agreed with him, but remaining stubbornly seated as soon as he addressed, in the second half of his speech, the subject that makes people angry: Iraq.
I can understand her. It was quite simply scary. The president, somewhat spontaneously, picked up the tone and the voice of the televangelists who crack down on American television screens at night. Or, if you prefer, he furiously resembled Philippulus the Prophet, who announced the end of the world to Tintin in "L'Etoile mystérieuse" ["The Mysterious Star": Tintin is a famous French comic book character]. He became apocalyptic. Should I quote? If the American Army withdrew from Iraq, the government in place "would be overrun" immediately. What a confession! What followed could make your hair stand on end. "We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran and Sunni extremists aided by al-Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country - and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict. For America, this is a nightmare scenario." He is the nightmare.
It strikes me how little of George Bush's bullshit I can actually stomach as time goes on. It's a little bit like THC, which builds up in the bloodstream so that it takes less and less exposure to achieve the narcotic effect. Or more like the Monty Python sketch, where the funniest joke imaginable was translated only one word at a time into German to be used as a secret weapon against the Nazis. One translator accidentally translated an entire phrase and spent several months in hospital.
But it only takes a glimpse, or rather, a whiff, to get the full effect of the Mouthpiece of Empire's unschooled blather to see where this is all heading. No surprise, the train is headed off the tracks, and we had all better jump out now, mug the brakeman, or follow headlong off the cliff. The Boy in the Bubble speaks in what may be the most hermetically sealed bubble of all, the US Congress: "I ask you to support our troops in the field, and those on their way."
The pointed reference to 'those on their way' combined with all the references to what Iraq 'must' do, is enough insight, as if any more were needed, to show that our unhinged Dear Leader is off the reservation and out hunting reality on his own. Another reference pops into mind, this time of General Jack Ripper's message as read by Buck Turgeson in Dr. Strangelove. I've sent the wing to attack the Russians, "and you sure as hell won't stop them now!" We will prevail, in the purity of essence of our natural fluids.
True to form, the Congress gives yet another grim and unsmiling standing ovation, snapping dutifully to attention at the mention of supporting our troops, at least until their post-traumatic stress-ridden, DU-soaked, limbless bodies are shipped home, with or without the superpathogen cooked up in army field hospitals. How did these guys ever get away with making fun of the Politburo for so long? I see a bunch of paunchy old white guys barely stirring from their catatonia long enough to rubber stamp the diktats of other paunchy old white guys, all a bit too sclerotic to dance even at their own War Party.
read in full…
The United States faces a Soviet-style humiliation in Afghanistan, a fugitive Afghan warlord claimed in a video message while taunting Pakistan for aiding U.S.-led counterterrorism operations.
In a recording obtained by The Associated Press in Pakistan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar also accused Washington of fomenting conflict among Afghan ethnic groups on a scale comparable with the strife in Iraq.
"Everyone knows that the American aggressors are faced with defeat in every part of the country," Hekmatyar said. "They were unable to achieve their goals by bombing innocent Afghans, their villages and homes. They are preparing to leave like the Soviet troops."
Hekmatyar leads a militant faction blamed along with Taliban and al-Qaida fighters for an intensifying insurgency in Afghanistan, despite the presence of an expanding number of foreign troops.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I am deeply concerned about Iraq. The task you have given me is becoming really impossible. Our forces are reduced now to very slender proportions... I do not see what political strength there is to face a disaster of any kind, and certainly I cannot believe that in any circumstances any large reinforcements would be sent from here... There is scarcely a single newspaper... which is not consistently hostile to our remaining in this country. ... Any alternative Government that might be formed here... would gain popularity by ordering instant evacuation. Moreover, in my own heart I do not see what we are getting out of it. ...No progress has been made in developing the oil. Altogether I am getting to the end of my resources. --At present we are paying... millions a year for the privilege of living on an ungrateful volcano out of which we are in no circumstances to get anything worth having." -- Extracts from a memorandum dated September 1, 1922 , from Winston Churchill , Colonial Secretary to Prime Minister David Lloyd George, whose government was on its last legs; from Texan Poker Bluff and Persian Chess Moves by K Gajendra Singh


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