Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Photo: A mourning procession of Shiite Muslims pass under a tight security on Ashoura, the tenth day of Muharram when Imam Hussain grandson of prophet Muhammad, was killed in the Battle of Karbala in the year 680, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007 in Karachi, Pakistan. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
All British bases in Basra came under intensive katyusha and mortar shelling, causing damage in one of the bases, a military spokeswoman said on Tuesday. "All British bases in Basra International Airport, northwest of the city, the base in Shatt al-Arab Hotel, the one in the area of al-Saie in central Basra and the British consulate came under intensive shelling with katyusha and mortar rockets," Capt. Katie Brown, the spokeswoman for the multi-national forces in the south, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) by telephone. Brown, however, declined to name the base that was damaged.
Eyewitnesses residing in the Basra International Airport camps told VOI that the British base in the airport came under four separate attacks with katyushas and mortars on Monday night and Tuesday morning. An eyewitness said sirens kept wailing several times in the British base. The attacks coincided with reports about a possible visit by British Defense Secretary Desmond Browne to Basra to see British forces there.
Bring ‘em on: One Marine assigned to Multi-National Forces-West died Monday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province. (CENTCOM)
Gunmen in two cars opened fire on a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims to the capital's most important Shiite mosque at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Baghdad, killing at least seven people and wounding seven others.
Three shells struck Azamiyah, which is the site of the main Sunni Abu Hanifa mosque, killing three people and wounding five others.
Seven mortars fell on Waziriyah neighborhood, killing two and wounding 15, according to police and hospital officials.
A mortar round wounded nine pilgrims when it landed in Kadhimiya, a Shi'ite district of northern Baghdad home to a revered shrine, where thousands had gathered to commemorate Ashura.
Five insurgents were killed in their clashes with an Iraqi police patrol on Tuesday in the city of Baquba, 60 km north east of Baghdad.
A suicide bomber blew himself up among a crowd of worshippers entering a Shiite mosque, killing 16 people and wounding 57 in Mandalin, a predominantly Shiite city northeast of Baghdad and near the Iranian border.
A suicide bomber blew himself up among worshippers outside a Shi'ite mosque in the town of Balad Ruz, about 80 km to the south of Khanakin, killing 23 people and wounding 57.
An Nasiriyah:
A 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldier was killed in an accident when a M-1114 HMMWV rolled over northwest of An Nasiriah Jan 29. (CENTCOM)
Gunmen killed a teacher on Monday on a main road near the town of Mahaweel, 75 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad.
A bomb left in a garbage can exploded as scores of mostly Shiite Kurds were performing rituals commemorating the Islamic sect's holiest day in the Kurdish city of Khanaqin, also near the Iranian border. At least 13 people were killed and 39 were wounded in that attack, police Maj. Idriss Mohammed said, adding that most of the victims were Shiite Kurds, who comprise the majority in the city, about 90 miles northeast of Baghdad. Most Kurds are Sunni but a minority are Shiite.
A car bomb targeted a police patrol, killing two policemen and wounding two others in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
A suicide truck bomber killed 16 people at the compound of a police rapid reaction force northwest of Ramadi, 110 km (68 miles) west of Baghdad, on Sunday, the U.S. military said.
The Iraqi MP for the Sadrist bloc Baha Al-Araji unveiled on Monday the near announcement of the Sadr-Kurd alliance. Speaking to newsmen he said that a work plan has been devised along with recommendations for serious cooperation seeking real national unity.
The Sadr bloc delegation that is visiting Kurdistan at present, held meetings with the Kurdish leaders and discussed the Iraqi developments in general and the relations between the Sadrist bloc and the Kurdish alliance.
> The U.S. Congress has the power to end the war in Iraq, several high-powered legal experts including a former Bush administration attorney told a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
> Former U.S. envoy to the United Nations John Bolton said in an interview published in France that the United States has "no strategic interest" in a united Iraq.
Bolton suggested in the interview that the United States shouldn't necessarily keep Iraq from splitting up. The Bush administration and the Iraqi government have said they don't want Iraq divided.
"The United States has no strategic interest in the fact that there's one Iraq, or three Iraqs," he was quoted as saying. "We have a strategic interest in the fact of ensuring that what emerges is not a state in complete collapse, which could become a refuge for terrorists or a terrorist state."
The comments marked the second time in less than a week that Bolton had criticized the Bush administration's policy. On Fox News last week, he said the United States may not be able to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons because it was following a flawed diplomatic strategy.
Over one million residents of Baghdad could be driven from their homes in the next six months if Iraq's sectarian violence continues at its current level, according to an in-depth assessment conducted by the Santa Monica-based humanitarian assistance group, International Medical Corps.
The study finds that residents of the Iraq capital account for about 80% of the 546,078 Iraqis civilians who have already fled their homes because of the sectarian fighting in the 11 months since the Feb. 2006 bombing of the Holy Shrine in Samara. The pace of those fleeing is accelerating at a dramatic rate. Since November alone, the number of those displaced has jumped by 43%.
Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr has ordered his militia not to confront U.S. forces and has endorsed negotiations aimed at easing the deployment of American troops in his strongholds, according to Sadrist and other Shiite officials. (…)
The Sadrist movement has given its blessing to an initiative led by one of two mayors of Sadr City to negotiate terms under which U.S. forces will be able to deploy freely there.
If the negotiations succeed, U.S. forces will be welcome in Sadr City, the Mahdi Army stronghold that has witnessed two previous battles between U.S. troops and the Shiite militia, said Rahim al-Daraji, the mayor of the southern half of Sadr City. Al-Daraji said he has been authorized to negotiate on behalf of the Mahdi Army and other Shiite factions.
"It will mean any U.S. soldier will be as welcome in Sadr City as any Iraqi citizen," said al-Daraji, who said he is politically independent. "He will be able to walk safely in Sadr City, sit in any restaurant he likes, and he can help in reconstructing the city."(…)
If Sadr orders his militia to lie low, there is a good chance his largely volunteer militia will survive the latest threat to disband militias, enabling it to re-emerge once U.S. troops start to leave, said Joost Hiltermann, who is based in Amman with the International Crisis Group.
"Moqtada's playing it clever," he said. "The Mahdi people are just going to melt away."
Iraqi Sunnis worry that any settlement with the Shiite militia will leave Sunnis as the chief targets of stepped-up security operations, thereby deepening the vast sectarian divide.
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Iraqslogger has confirmed that the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Division has opened an investigation into this video, which was first posted on our site last week.
The clip, originally linked via a now defunct account on YouTube, purports to show a former guard from Abu Ghraib talking about torture techniques employed at the American-run prison. The man also recounts the gang rape of a female teenage detainee, in which one guard "pimped" the girl to others for $50 each. As he recalls, "I think at the end of the day he'd made like 500 bucks before she hung herself."
According to chief of public affairs Christopher Grey, "CID Special Agents are looking into the matter and take this issue very seriously. I am not able to provide you with any further details of our activity at this time due to investigative reasons."
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US President George W Bush's State of the Union address appears to confirm other indications in recent weeks that he is not merely sending more troops to Iraq to do more of the same, but has adopted a new strategy of fighting all three major Iraqi Arab political-military forces simultaneously. (…)
One veteran military expert on Iraq, retired US Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor, said Bush's new policy is a "war against all" in Iraq and called it "a blunder of Hitlerian proportions".
Macgregor likened the policy of fighting all three Iraqi anti-occupation forces at once to Adolf Hitler's insistence on continuing a two-front war against the Soviet Union and the Allied powers during World War II, which is widely regarded as having ensured the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Macgregor is no stranger to military planning in Iraq. He led combat troops in destroying a brigade of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard troops in the most significant tank battle of Desert Storm in February 1991 and prepared a proposal for a limited-duration attack on Baghdad at the request of a personal representative of then secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld in autumn 2001.
"It is ideology pushing violence to extremes," Macgregor said of the latest turn in Bush's Iraq policy. "They are trying to reverse the damage they have already done to themselves by having built up a Shi'ite state and army. But it is too late, and it is bound to be counterproductive."
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From the Washington Post this morning:
President Bush said yesterday that Iraqi forces "are beginning to show me something," while he sought to play down his apparent differences with Vice President Cheney about how well things are going in the strife-torn country.
Bush was asked in a National Public Radio interview about an Iraqi raid Sunday, backed by U.S. helicopters, on a heavily armed Shiite cult that Iraqi officials said was poised to assassinate the country's Shiite religious leadership. "This fight is an indication of what is taking place, and that is the Iraqis are beginning to take the lead," Bush said. "So my first reaction on this report from the battlefield is that the Iraqis are beginning to show me something."
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports from planet Earth Iraq:
Iraqi forces were surprised and nearly overwhelmed by the ferocity of an obscure renegade militia in a weekend battle near the holy city of Najaf and needed far more help from American forces than previously disclosed, American and Iraqi officials said Monday.
They said American ground troops - and not just air support as reported Sunday - were mobilized to help the Iraqi soldiers, who appeared to have dangerously underestimated the strength of the militia, which calls itself the Soldiers of Heaven and had amassed hundreds of heavily armed fighters. . . .
This group had more capabilities than the government," said Abdul Hussein Abtan, the deputy governor of Najaf Province, at a news conference.
. . .
The Iraqis and Americans eventually prevailed in the battle.
But the Iraqi security forces' miscalculations about the group's strength and intentions raised troubling questions about their ability to recognize and deal with a threat.
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Sometimes I can't believe how nice American troops in Iraq are. I really mean that. Look at this: US troops are still willing to help although they had surrendered sovereignty to the Iraqi people themselves, and Iraq is now an independent and sovereign country. "American Apache attack helicopters and F-16s, as well as British fighter jets, flew low over the farms where the enemy had set up its encampments and attacked, dropping 500-pound bombs on the encampments. The Iraqi forces were still unable to advance, and they called in support from both an elite Iraqi unit known as the Scorpion Brigade, which is based to the north in Hilla, and from American ground troops. Around noon, elements of the American Fourth Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division were dispatched from near Baghdad."
With the conflict reports came from the "Green Zone" government, I was sure that the story is totally different from the official version announced, here is a small portion of the conflict reports, later you will read what exactly happened which is a a crime and total embarrassment for the American occupation and their "Shoe shiners" in the "Green Zone":
1- The "Green Zone" government and the Americans announced that the Battle is Zarqa- north Najaf exactly in "Kufa farms, if this is true then hundreds of "insurgents" and thousands of the "Green Zone" army [they even brought extra forces from Hilla] add to this the Americans battled in an area 600_200 meter [I am quoting Najaf-mayor deputy, 25 years old Adb-AlHussein Abttan].
2- From the first hours of the battle they announced 250-300 "insurgents" dead, three days later of heavy fights, the number never changed.
3- The "Green Zone" government said that the group is Sunnis and Baathists insurgents [that was a little bit hard to believe], the media revealed that the group is a Shiite group but they reported three different names:
"Heaven Soldiers", "God Soldiers", "Soldiers of Islam" and "Mahdawia"._Interestingly Nahrain [owned by Ammar Al-Hakim son of Al-Hakim], says Saudi Arabia involved by providing logistic and financial support to the group.
4- Different "Group Leader" names reported:
Shirwan Alwaili Minister of National Security announced that the Leader of "Soldiers of Islam" called "Ahmed Al-Hassan" was killed in the battle, Later they said his nickname is Yamani [comes from Yemen], [Al-Akhbar] and later they added that he is Shiite from Lebanon, his name is Abu Kumar.
The true story revealed by Islamemo through an eyewitness who joined the fight with the so called "insurgents", and challenges the "Green Zone" government id they can deny it:
Two Shiite Iraqi tribes [Al-Kazail and Al-Hawatim] were heading to Najaf to join Ashura ceremony, one of the leaders of the tribes went in his car with his wife because he is an old cripple man, since there is a curfew in Najaf, police checkpoint outside Najaf opened fire on the convoy killing the tribe leader and his wife.
It was dark at night convoy guards had there weapons with them they returned the fire, but the police managed to contact their commanders asking for support, other unites joined by the Americans opened fire on the convoy also killing 40 members.
It is along story with details, the eyewitness tells about the only journalist from managed to take pictures of the exact events was killed and his camera was stolen.
A delegation from both tribes went to Najaf to meet the officials and the journalists in "Ahbab Hussein" hotel, the Americans prevented the delegation from meeting NBC journalists, they allowed Iraqi TV journalist to meet the "Green Zone" soldiers only.
Historian Reidar Visser says in a report that if some press reports are correct, the group involved in fighting near Basra on Sunday (with causalties up to 300 at last report) were followers of messianic leader Ahmad al-Hasan, also known as "al-Basri" and "al-Yemeni", and he says this group represents what he calls "full-blown Mahdism", the leader being considered the representative of the Hidden Mahdi. Their ideology includes rejection not only of the persons who represent official Shiite authority in Najaf, but also rejection of the whole idea of learned interpretation of the law, the sole authority being Ahman al-Hasan himself as representative of the Mahdi. And their involvement in large-scale fighting would mark "a dramatic new development" in the Iraqi situation.
This is in contrast to another version of events, according to which these were followers of a completely different individual, Mahmoud al-Hasani al-Sarkhi, whom Visser describes as follows: "Ultimately, Mahmud al-Hasani represents a variation of the Sadrist phenomenon also seen in Muqtada al-Sadr and Muhammad al-Yaqubi - i.e. he claims to be the true custodian of the legacy of the late Muhammad al-Sadr (Sadr II), and he pays lip service to the orthodox view of the Shiite hierarchy in that he claims to be a mujtahid (a cleric who has the authority to interpret Islamic law)."
Visser's point is that if in fact the millenarian group following "Ahmad al-Hasan from Basra" were the protagonists, then this represents an important new departure in Iraqi conflict.
If it is indeed his followers that are currently fighting in such large numbers outside Najaf, this would mean that Mahdism has now entered Iraqi politics on a larger scale - with the inevitable evocation of past schismatic movements in Shiism similarly inspired at least to some extent by Mahdism, like Shaykhism and Babism, which for long periods during the nineteenth century created civil-war like conditions in Persia and the Ottoman provinces of Iraq.
Here in America, the widely-read Shia expert Juan Cole for some reason writes as if these two individuals are one and the same. He writes:
The group follows Ayatollah Ahmad al-Hasani al-Sarkhi, called al-Yamani, who is said by his followers to be in direct touch with the Hidden Imam or promised one.
Which would completely confuse anyone trying to make sense of the reports.
The biggest story out of Iraq so far this year may not be the surge, or the latest mass bombing, or the escalating sectarian violence; it might, instead, be a decision that further complicates all of the above. Over the next few weeks, a law to reform Iraq's oil industry - essentially the only source of income the country has aside from U.S. subsidies - is expected to move toward implementation, and the consequences could be enormous.
Coverage of the proposal has focused on the fact that it doesn't break up the country's oil resources, as some had suggested, to various ethnic groups - a piece for the Kurds, a piece for the Shiites, etc. But the real story may be that once the proposal is put into place, international oil companies will have a far better shot at Iraq reserves than ever before. (…)
James Paul, executive director of the Global Policy Forum, a New York-based non-profit public interest group that tracks the Iraq play, says Iraq offers an irresistible return on investment for oil companies: Its crude costs about $1 a barrel to produce, and world market prices hover around $50 a barrel. Since oil revenues will have to underwrite Iraq's reconstruction, notes Paul, the future of the oil industry is perhaps the most critical decision for Iraq's people to make. Yet, he adds, the government seems headed toward passing a "grossly undemocratic" law put together without much public input - but with plenty of advice from the United States.
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At least that's the song Bush and Cheney better start singing, complete with choreography. Because otherwise, this surge of troops is going to be woefully short of a surge of equipment:
"We don't have the [armor] kits, and we don't have the trucks," [Lt. Gen. Stephen ] Speakes [Army's deputy chief of staff for force development] said in an interview. He said it will take the Army months, probably until summer, to supply and outfit the additional trucks. As a result, he said, combat units flowing into Iraq would have to share the trucks assigned to units now there, leading to increased use and maintenance. [....] U.S. commanders privately expressed doubts that Iraq-bound units would receive a full complement of Humvees. "It's inevitable that that has to happen, unless five brigades of up-armored Humvees fall out of the sky," one senior Army official said of the feared shortfall.
Other items of note regarding this New Way Forward Without Any Practical Considerations: we've turned over about half our bases to the Iraqi army, so the military is still figuring out where the new troops will sleep--probably bunking up real cozy-like in the existing facilities. And the National Guard is pretty much tapped out on their equipment already, with about 40 percent of what they need. The estimate for returning to minimum equipment levels? 2013.
I was in Najaf last week and met many of its inhabitants. The people I interviewed were adamant that they will never let Iranians establish a foothold in the holy city.
True, thousand of Iranians visit Najaf every day and the city's inhabitants welcome them. But they are only welcomed because they are tourists, nothing more nothing less.
The doubts raised about Iraqi Shiites loyalty are baseless. Iraqi Shiites are as attached to the country as any other of its sects.
There must be political agendas behind the claims that Iraqi Shiites have aligned themselves with Tehran at the expense of the country's national unity and the integrity of its borders.
Those raising suspicions about the Arab identity of Iraqi Shiites are simply offering over 12 million Iraqis as a gift to the Persian nationality. Their aim is to pit the country's two main sects against each other and settle political scores, using Iraqi blood as a bridge to achieve their dirty aims.
Undoubtedly, the regime in Tehran has bases inside Iraq and influence within its political and religious establishments. But the regime wields this influence not for the sake of Iraqi Shiites but to further its interests.
Iraqi Shiites are true Arabs. History says they were the vanguards of the uprisings and revolutions against foreign occupiers and influences.
Iraqi Shiites spearheaded uprisings against the British rule of Iraq and they were the ones who repelled repeated attacks by Iran when it desperately tried to push into Iraqi territory during the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war.
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I got a letter from a dear friend of mine telling me that the media says that the Sunnis kill the Shiites and the Shiites kill Sunnites in Iraq .. OOOOHHHHH Of course that is not true , Sunnites and Shiites have been living together for ages , they marry each other , I have relatives married Shiites women\men, if that was true , that means my parents' uncle should kill his wife ,my mom's uncle should kill his wife , some of my parents' cousins should kill their wives\husbands !!!!!!!! and I should kill my two best friends , that is ridiculous...
In my grandparents' neighborhood, there are people from many religions there are Muslims(Sunnites, Shiites) , Christians , Subba , &Armenians.. they are more than neighbors , like one family , when my eye problem happened ( I had Deplopia) our Christian neighbors went to the church and lightened candles for me , and our Shiites neighbors went to Karbala , she traveled to another city , just to pray for me ( Karbala is a religious place specially for Shiites ), the examples are so many . I've talked about that in many posts . and said that in many interviews , and I will keep saying that till the people in the world start to realize , that Iraqis (Sunnites and Shiites) live in Iraq for more than 1400 years, they are MUSLIMS and IRAQIS.
We go shopping together , if we need any help , we ask our neighbors to help us , because we are all Iraqis , no matter what are our religion , nor creeds , I didn't know what are Shiites and Sunnites until I was 12 years old, and lately it appears that there are more creeds , Shafee and hanafy !!!!!! and other creeds , I don't know which one I belong to , and I don't even want to know , those names are not important , we all believe in the same god , and say the same prayers , no matter how do we stand and those formals if we put our hand together when we pray or not !!!!!!, what's important is what is there inside our hearts .
So , NO we don't kill each other , the terrorists who kill Shiites are the same who kill Sunnites , it is impossible that Good Iraqis kill each other , no matter what is their religions nor creeds ...
[Days of My Life blog is posted by an Iraqi girl who turned 15 on January 29 -- zig]
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(…) As for the national Iraqi resistance; it existed since the first months of the occupation... And this is a story that Bush wants to deny its existence on the ground of reality; the story of the existence of a nationalistic Iraqi resistance that rejects the occupation, while he claims his remaining in Iraq to crush Al-Qaida'a?
If the occupation goes out of Iraq, then the Iraqis will know how to crush Al-Qaida'a...
But fabricating explosions that kill innocent Iraqis, plotted by unknown people; this gives a justification for Bush to remain, under the pretext of achieving security in Iraq.
As for the Iraqi symbols who returned to Iraq under the protection of the occupation, those who used to call themselves- the opposition, who allied themselves with Bush to realize his project in Iraq; those symbols, about whom we are certain now, after these barren years, that they came only to monopolize authority and plunder the wealth of the country. Those symbols do not want the world to hear the word - national Iraqi resistance... That word hurts their feelings, or rather, provokes them and makes them angry... because those symbols want to convince the world that all the Iraqis support Bush and his men in Iraq. And whoever objects is a Saddamist, Ba'athi criminal...
And so, this resistance is a bunch of Saddamists, Ba'athies and criminals; or so they were trying to convince the world and the Iraqi people on the first months after the occupation... they attributed the charge of the trapped cars and the daily random killings as an act of the Iraqi resistance.
But the random arrests and mass punishments against innocent civilians, led by the occupation forces joined by the Iraqi Interior and Defense Ministries, made people resentful against the occupation and those who collaborate with it... (…)
These stupid and aggressive acts against the Iraqis made a big number of them change their minds, and respect anything concerning the national resistance. A lot of people started looking at the resistance with an appreciative and respectful eye, that they aren't a bunch of Ba'athis or foreign people from beyond the borders, and this angers the weak Iraqi government, which possess no popularity or support on the ground of reality. This government is supported only by the occupation, and even the congress criticizes it; being a weak government in need of constant American support...
In the former security plans until now, the government doesn't eliminate the gangs and the militias who kill innocent civilians; but they are rather busy chasing the resistance, joined by the occupation soldiers. This is a priority to them. As to the daily shedding of the innocent Iraqi blood; no one cares about it and no one stops it, neither the occupation nor the government...
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Joshua Holland: SO, IS IT S**T OR IS IT SHINOLA?
Richard Lugar, ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, took to the pages of the Washington Post today to urge us to get our damned sports metaphors straight when it comes to our adventures in the Middle East ...
We need to recast the geo-strategic reference points of our Iraq policy. Some commentators have compared the Bush plan to a "Hail Mary" pass in football -- a desperate heave deep down the field by a losing team at the end of the game. Actually, a far better analogy for the Bush plan is a draw play on third down with 20 yards to go in the first quarter. The play does have a chance of working if everything goes perfectly, but it is more likely to gain a few yards and set up a punt on the next down, after which the game can be continued under more favorable circumstances.
Ooh, I'll try! Iraq is like a game in which we dominated on the very first possession and then lost control of the ball the rest of the way. We didn't give up any touchdowns, but the other guys scored like a dozen field goals. Now the game is over, we lost, but there are a few guys who've taken one hit to the head too many still running aimlessly around the field in the pathetic belief that they can still pull out the win -- never mind that the lights have been turned off, the crowds have gone home and the stadium crews are cleaning up the gum stuck under the bleachers.
Or something.
Anyway, it's pretty strange to pass off a four year-old conflict that just keeps getting worse and worse as being "in the first quarter."
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I would respectfully suggest to the president that he is not the sole 'decider'. The decider is a shared and joint responsibility." -- Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. the head of the Judiciary Committee until Democrats won control from Republicans in November


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