Thursday, January 04, 2007

Photo: U.S. Army soldiers from the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment question a man while searching his home during a predawn sweep of a nieghborhood in southern Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007 (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Two bombs exploded in Baghdad's upmarket Mansour neighbourhood on Thursday, killing 13 people and wounding at least 25 others. An officer at the Mansour police station, speaking on condition of anonymity out of security concerns, said two parked cars exploded one after another near a fuel station. The blast set fire to the station, and burned several cars in the area.
A third car bomb blast, also in Mansour, killed a civilian and wounded an Iraqi soldier when it was detonated by a suicide bomber near an Iraqi army convoy, according to an Interior Ministry official.
Five mortars hit the Shi'ite neighbourhood of Shula in northwest Baghdad
, wounding nine people.
Clashes erupted between gunmen and residents of a mainly Sunni district after the gunmen attacked Baghdad's western Gazaliya district and killed two people and wounded 25 others on Wednesday.
Three mortars hit the neighbourhood of Hurriya in Baghdad, wounding three people.
A 75-year-old chief from Iraq's powerful Tamim tribe was thrown to his death from the top of a Baghdad building after gunmen kidnapped him from a funeral, a relative said today. Sheik Hamed Mohammed Suhail, a Sunni leader in a mixed Sunni and Shi'ite tribe, was seized from the funeral in Agarguff area near Abu Ghraib on the western outskirts of Baghdad on Monday. "He was dragged from the funeral and taken to Shuala area in Baghdad and then thrown from the top of a building,'' his nephew, tribal leader Sheik Ali Suhail al-Tamimi, said, blaming Shi'ite militants.
Four decapitated bodies were among the 47 bullet-riddled bodies found around Baghdad Thursday. Police said the four decapitated corpses were found in the Ghazaliya area of western Baghdad and that most of the 47 bodies showed signs of torture.
A mortar attack northwest of Baghdad, in Saba al-Bour, killed one civilian and wounded six others, an interior ministry official told CNN.
A mortar attack on the neighborhood of Amel in western Baghdad killed five civilians and wounded four.
An IED exploded in Al Bayaa area at an Iraqi police patrol, 5 policemen were injured.
Unidentified gunmen assassinated a Karbala provincial council member, along with two of his bodyguards, an official source said. "Gunmen in a car opened machinegun fire at the car of Zubaidi as he was heading home in Seif Saad district (3 km south of Karbala), killing him instantly." Two of Zubaidi's bodyguards were killed and another two were seriously wounded in the attack, the source said.
Diyala Prv:
The Iraqi police in baqouba were able to defuse 4 IED's in Baqouba.
According to a military source from Khalis town 15km north of Baqouba, a car bomb exploded near one of the checkpoints of the Iraqi army in Abu Nakhal area, 8 soldiers were injured.
Two U.S. soldiers were wounded by gunmen fire in the northern Iraqi town of Deloiya and a U.S. Hummer was burned by a roadside bomb explosion, a police source in Salah Eddin province said on Thursday. "Unidentified gunmen opened fire at two U.S. soldiers in al-Jubur neighborhood in central Deloiya on Wednesday as they were visiting the police station there, wounding them," the source, who declined to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). "A U.S. Hummer was burned when a roadside bomb exploded at it on Deloiya bridge," he added. The source said it was not clear if there were casualties among the Hummer personnel.
The bodies of four people were found shot dead in and around the city of Hilla, 100 km (60 miles) south of Baghdad.
Gunmen launched mortar shells on the U.S. consulate in Hilla town, Babel province, on Thursday morning, a police source said. "Nine mortar shells fell on the U.S. consulate located in Babel Hotel this morning, but the damage was not immediately known," the source in Babel police command told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq.
A roadside bomb targeting a police check point killed an Iraqi soldier and wounded four in the town of Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad.
A police colonel was killed in a drive-by shooting in Mosul.
A woman and five children were wounded by an insurgent mortar attack in Ramadi on Tuesday, the U.S. military said on Wednesday.
In Country:
Three soldiers of the 875th Engineering Batallion have been injured in Iraq. One soldiers father has confirmed that while cleaning outside of their base on Tuesday they were struck by two grenades.
Military commanders have told President Bush they are prepared to execute a troop surge that would put about 9,000 soldiers and Marines into Iraq with another 11,000 on alert outside the country, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin. Two Army brigades - about 7,500 troops - would go into Baghdad. Two Marine battalions - about 1,500 troops - would be sent into the western province of al Anbar, heartland of the insurgency, although the commandant of the Marine Corps was recently quoted as saying he didn't see a need for more battalions. Another Army brigade would be on standby in Kuwait, with two more on standby in the U.S.
The Islamic Daawa Party in Basra on Thursday staged a mass demonstration in support of the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "Most of the religious and national parties, Basra clans and the families of those executed by the former regime participated in the demonstration," Amer al-Khozai of Daawa Party in Basra told he independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
"The demonstration intends to support Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who signed the execution order," he said.
Maliki is a member of Daawa Party, a main component of the Shiite Unified Iraqi Coalition (UIC) that has the majority of seats in the Iraqi parliament.
Iraqi army forces joined in a mourning gathering in the restive Iraqi town of Falluja for the hanged former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, eyewitnesses reported.
"An Iraqi army patrol of four Hummers attended this morning the mourning gathering held in Wehda neighborhood for Saddam," one of the witnesses told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
Army officers "entered the mourning gathering and sat among the mourners," he said. (...)
Meanwhile, mourning gatherings continued for the second day running in Falluja where several tents for taking condolences were set up in the streets with pictures of Saddam placed at the entrance and loudspeakers blaring out verses from the Quran.
Falluja residents flocked in large numbers to the mourning assemblies to offer their condolences while the youth were keen to slaughter sheep to feed the mourners.
al-`Arabiya reported on its website that a "Kuwaiti Businessman" had offered to pay "any sum necessary" to acquire the rope with which Saddam was hanged. According to al-`Arabiya, the businessman was told that the rope is currently in the possession of Muqtada al-Sadr.
Saddam Hussein's Baath Party has confirmed his successor following the deposed leader's execution on Saturday.
The banned party's website said Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri - Saddam Hussein's deputy for much of his rule - has assumed the leadership.
As deputy Iraqi president, Mr Douri was the thin, red-headed figure usually wearing a military-style beret.
He has been declared dead several times over the past few years. It remains unclear whether he is still alive.
However, the Baath Party posted a statement in his name on the internet.
Mr Douri was the King of Clubs in the US military's deck of cards of wanted figures and he took over notional control of the party and its insurgency after Saddam Hussein's capture in December 2003.
In the message posted on the internet, he called for unity among the insurgents and said Saddam Hussein's death would only strengthen their resolve.
Reporters Without Borders voiced deep concern today about the fate of Samir Ali Saud, the deputy editor of the weekly Sada Baghdad, who was kidnapped outside his home in the Baghdad district of Zawina on 25 December. "Eleven days have gone by without any sign of life from this journalist," the press freedom organisation said. "Urgent action is needed from the Iraqi authorities, who must do everything possible to find him quickly, before it is too late."
Alive in Baghdad video: ILLNESS TAKES NO BREAK FOR WAR - 01.01.2007
The United States' various wars in Iraq have already seen the birth of one new disease, Gulf War Syndrome. GWS has been primarily identified in veterans from the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Besides this sickness, there have been countless cases of what is now known as Depleted Uranium Sickness, an enormous rise in cancers, particularly in young children, as well as an explosion of other diseases.
Juwan is just one young girl among many sick Iraqi children who are failing to find treatment in Iraq today. Since the conclusion of the 1991 war and the initiation of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, illness was rampant due to the crushing sanctions imposed by the United Nations and backed primarily by the US.
Prior to the 1991 war, healthcare, literacy, employment, and many other measures of a country's development were some of the finest in the world.
Today many are desperate to find effective and functional healthcare for their children. With the primary focus on re-establishing security and defending Iraq's oil revenues, this goal seems far from reach.
For more stories about illness and healthcare in Iraq, see this story, from the children's ward in Baghdad Hospital, or this interview with a family who's child is living with the pain of Depleted Uranium sickness.
U.S. forces had no role in Saddam Hussein's hanging, but would have handled it differently, a U.S. general said on Wednesday. (Source)
Yes, if the U.S. had its way, Saddam Hussein would have not only had his neck broken, but also his arms, legs, torso, and head blown to smithereens by four 2,000 pound bombs dropped on Dora Farms on the night of March 19, 2003. No need for a trial, and no need for any of the killers to actually see their victim. Just push a button. Yeah, they would have handled it differently, all right.
... after being promissed that he has until the morning to surrender and prevent a war ... [comment by
If they help to propagate a war, heck yes.
One fact many of those who visit this blog do not know is that 35 of the 55 "deck of cards" were Shia.
Most of the Iraq military was Shia. Many of these Shia fought and died for Iraq. Not for Sistani, may god curse his bones, not for Ali, not for Sadr and not for Mohammed.
They fought for Iraq. They died for Iraq. They returned home in coffins, without eyes, and ears and burned and maimed. Those that were captured and interned in Iran were tortured by the Badr Brigade.
Many Shia who refused to side with Iran were executed.
Why is it these reports are never made in AP, AFP, Reuters, CNN, MSNBC? Why?
Why did they not interview Abu Abdullah, my neighbor in Baghdad, who was twice wounded on the battlefront. TWICE! He insisted on returning after taking shrapnel in his left thigh.
And the second time, he lost a kidney. He was always walking with a cane. Soft-spoken man who was decorated far more times than I remember.
He was revered by all in the neighborhood as the war hero among us.
So, not surprising to read in the media today:
The spokesman for the Arab Baath Socialist Party, which ruled Iraq from 1968 to 2003, who asked to be identified as Abu Muhammad for security reasons, said: "Most Western media outlets have been helping the US occupation authorities to portray the Baath party as a Sunni party which suppressed the Shia and deprived them of their rights.
"Actually, sect was never an issue in Iraq. I am a Shia and I have been a senior Baath official ... No Baath party official - no Iraqi official - ever asked me about my sect.
"When the US army occupied Iraq they issued a list of 55 wanted top Iraqi officials, starting with President Saddam Hussein; half of those senior officials were Shia.
"The Committee of Debaathification issued a list of 100,000 senior Iraqi Baathists who would not be allowed to enjoy governmental posts, 66,000 of them were Shia - so how is the Baath party a Sunni party.
"It is a character assassination campaign instructed by Western lobbies and carried out by Western media."
Abu Muhammad voiced resentment at the the term "Sunni insurgency", saying that Iraqis from different backgrounds are fighting the foreign presence in Iraq.
"This term plays down Iraqi nationalism," he said. "I repeat, I am a Shia and I am resisting the US forces in Iraq, and we know for sure that resistance fighters from all background are fighting. Why do the Western agencies insist that only Sunni are fighting? Big question mark, I think."
Come, come. Who stands to gain by convincing the world there is no Iraqi nationalism? Who stands to gain by convincing the Arabs and Iraqis there is no Arab nationalism?
What two nations have consistently fought wars against the Arabs in the 20th and 21st centuries?
What one single nation of people has continuously hated, reviled, plotted and sought to destroy the Arabs?
No, not Israel, not the Jews.
Iran. Iran. Iran.
Allah yakhithhoum. Allah yeqawi il amjad mal Falluja, Ramadi, Mosul, Tikrit.
Long live the Iraqi resistance, patriotic defenders of Iraqi and Arab nationalism.
For pan-Arab writers like Abdulbari Atwan of Al-Quds al-Arabi, there was never any doubt about the nature of Bush-administration policy in Iraq and the whole region. It is anti-Arab and anti-Muslim. But "moderate" Arab writers have traditionally kept open the defence of incompetence or other extenuating circumstances. For one moderate writer, it seems as if something in his way of thinking snapped as a result of the Saddam lynching. Here's Daoud Shiryan writing on the opinions page of the moderate newspaper Al-Hayat yesterday:
Today, after the boasts of Maliki about the execution of Saddam in this barbaric way, and the agreement of the American government to this hanging, in this grotesque way counter to all American and human values, we need to stop talking about the American policy mistakes in Iraq, because what they are doing in that country is in pursuance of an intentional and a filthy plan, [where] they dissolved the Iraqi army, and then it was up to us [Arabs] to find excuses for their policies, undertaken in deliberate ignorance of regional history and Iraqi social structure, and when they permitted the adoption of a constitution that ended the Arab nature of Iraq, we called that democracy, but then came the execution of Saddam, and [finally] it was made clear to us that Washington is acting according to a savagery that is unprecedented, and they are now supporting a gang of Shiites to take the place of the neo-cons in the project that they call the new Iraq...
In other words, says Shiryan, the days when you could argue that the Americans were making mistakes in the region are over. It is an ugly thing to have to admit, but they are clearly acting deliberately, and the days of excusing them for making "mistakes" are over.
read in full...
Even top advocates for the "surge," such as retired Army Gen. Jack Keane and neoconservative activist Frederick W. Kagan, have argued that U.S. troop levels must be increased by at least 30,000 for 18 months or more to bring security to Baghdad, what they call a "precondition" for any successful outcome.
"Any other option is likely to fail," Keane and Kagan wrote in an Op-Ed article in the Washington Post on Dec. 27, 2006.
So, the more modest escalation of up to 20,000 soldiers would appear to represent what might be called "Operation: Save Bush's Legacy," with the goal of postponing the inevitable until 2009 when American defeat can be palmed off on a new President.
Right now, Bush seems caught between his determination to stave off admission of failure and the shortage of U.S. troops available to throw into the conflict in Iraq. Just to reach a 20,000-troop increase, Bush would have to delay the scheduled departure of two Marine regiments now deployed in Anbar Province. [ See NYT, Dec. 29, 2006]
The escalation to 160,000 troops, from the current 140,000, also would be hard to maintain for long, since the Pentagon has warned that existing troop levels in Iraq already are straining the U.S. military and forcing repeated tours for soldiers and Marines. Yet all the signs point to Bush going in that direction. Over the past few weeks, he even appears to be orchestrating a slow-motion purge of senior military leaders who oppose the "surge" and instead favor a phased withdrawal.
First, Bush fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Nov. 8, just two days after Rumsfeld sent Bush a memo suggesting a "major adjustment" in Iraq War policy that would include "an accelerated drawdown of U.S. bases" from 55 to five by July 2007 with remaining U.S. forces only committed to Iraqi areas that request them. (...)
By ousting "surge" opponents - from Rumsfeld at the Pentagon to the top commanders in the Middle East - Bush and his neoconservative aides in Washington appear to be taking personal control of the Iraq War strategy.
The President seems determined to put in place a military hierarchy that will fall in line with his edicts, rather than disagree with him. (...)
Though Bush may yet back away from the idea of expanding the war beyond Iraq, his apparent decision to escalate U.S. troop levels there suggests that he will do whatever he can - even if it bloats the death toll - to escape the opprobrium of having committed perhaps the greatest strategic blunder by any President in U.S. history.
With 3,000 American soldiers already dead along with possibly a half million or more Iraqis, Bush is determined to escalate the war in the Middle East into a pitched battle for his presidential legacy.
read in full...
Author Jane Smiley writes on Huffingtonpost.com that "the 'surge' is a classic example of a loser's strategy, and it is about to be put in place by a bunch of losers. The 'surge' is about saving face rather than achieving an objective, and, let me say it right here, it's a guy thing. It's like 'going down fighting', except that those who are going to be going down aren't going to be those who want to save face.
"People always comment on how stubborn George W. Bush is, or how stupid he is, or how ignorant he is, but what they don't comment on is how selfish he is."
And a White House Briefing reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, sent me this e-mail two whole weeks ago: "It seems that you, and many others who comment on the President, have a difficult time understanding his motivation regarding Iraq. It seems irrational if viewed in the context of what appears to be the indisputable facts on the ground. Why would a President deliberately ignore sound advice based on rational investigation? . . .
"He's not stupid, and he has shown in the past that when defeat looks him in the eye he can do a 180 without a blink. So what's up? I don't have any more insight than the next person, but one thought that keeps rattling around in my head is this.
"Early on, when things started to go south in Iraq, Bush said something along the lines of solving Iraq would be left up to the next President. I know it wasn't that blatant, but it gave the impression that he was perfectly willing to leave his successor with the whole mess if things didn't 'work out' for him. Ever since that comment, I get the distinct impression that Bush is just trying to run out the clock in order to avoid facing an acknowledgment of the worst foreign policy disaster in this nation's history.
"I fully expect for him to continue to assert that we can have success in Iraq, in spite of any evidence to the contrary, until the day he leaves office. He will stall, patch things together, anything to avoid the appearance of an acknowledgment of failure. He knows that Iraq is a failure, but if he leaves office still maintaining that we can 'win' or 'succeed' there then history will not judge him so harshly.
"Obviously we will have to change course, but he's not going to be the guy to do it. He will then maintain that someone else 'lost' Iraq because they didn't have the courage and determination to stick it out. As with everything in his life, from his National Guard service to his serial failures in business and life in general, it's all about him - not the country, not the job, not our reputation in the world or our hard won and universally admired heritage of concern for basic human rights. He's not trying to save this country or Iraq, he's trying to save himself and his 'place in history'. He's completely wrong of course, but given his history of privilege and never having to suffer the consequences of his long record of bad decisions, it does kind of make sense.
"We assume that, like most Presidents, he connects his self-image with actual success or failure in the real world. I increasingly am drawn to the conclusion that, regardless of the facts on the ground, he will consider himself a success as long as he never admits that his ill-fated adventure in Iraq can't succeed."
read in full...
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "If we surge and it doesn't work, it's hard to imagine what we do after that." -- Frederick W. Kagan, "the intellectual architect of the 'surge'", quoted in "Where's the Outrage Over Escalation?" (see above)


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