DAILY WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2007
PHOTO: A seven-month-old baby girl lies wounded in a hospital, after a U.S. air strike which targeted two suspected foreign fighter safe houses, in Falluja, 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, February 8, 2007. U.S. forces said they killed 13 insurgents in the air strike on two suspected foreign fighter safe houses near the town of Ameriya, near the western city of Falluja. Ahmed al-Ami, a doctor in the Falluja hospital, said more than 30 bodies, including those of seven children, were brought in. Picture taken February, 8, 2007. (REUTERS/Mohanned Faisal (IRAQ) [How very evil that this baby will suffer for the rest of her life for what the republicans in DC have decided, and the American people allowed to happen. - dancewater]
Security Incidents for February 9, 2007
(Dura area) A separate U.S. airstrike killed eight suspected terrorists and destroyed a building south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Friday. The attack occurred Thursday night in Arab Jabour, a mostly Sunni Muslim suburb south of Baghdad. American troops came under ``heavy enemy fire during a raid targeting al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists and foreign fighter facilitators,'' the U.S. military said in a statement. Coalition aircraft swooped in, dropping precision bombs on a building where eight suspects had barricaded themselves, the statement said. All eight were killed. No U.S. forces or Iraqi civilians were injured in the attack, the military said.
Two gunmen were killed while planting on Thursday an explosive charge on the main road in al-Muqdadiya, in Baaquba, the main city of Diala province, 57 km north of the capital Baghdad, an official Iraqi police source said.
"The gunmen's bodies tore into pieces in the blast's environs," the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq
Gunmen dressed in Iraqi army uniforms swept into a village south of Baghdad early today, kidnapping 13 civilians and killing at least 11 of them, police said. The attack occurred around 5 a.m. local time in Imam village, a predominantly Shiite town about 50 miles south of the Iraqi capital. About two hours after the abduction, police found eleven bodies with gunshot wounds to the head and chest, and they were believed to be those who had been kidnapped, police and the Iraqi army said.
Two people were killed and eight wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in a market in Hazwa, near Hilla, south of Baghdad, police said. ((Baghdad newsroom))
One incident is said to have involved a roadside bomb striking a British convoy south of Basra, causing a number of casualties according to sources.
At least one British soldier has been killed and three others wounded by a roadside bomb blast in southern Iraq. The attack took place around 1pm local time at an intersection about five kilometres southeast of Basra. One of the three injured soldiers is in a critical condition after their patrol was hit.
Another attack saw a mortar or rocket land on the Basra Palace complex, which is the base for several hundred British troops as well housing the British Consulate General and a US consulate. A Times reporter in Basra witnessed a medical helicopter flying from the city centre to Basra airport, where the main military hospital is based. Usually, military helicopters do not fly in Basra in daylight as it is too dangerous – a rule which is only broken in emergency situations.
Two British bases in the province of Basra, 550 km south of Baghdad, came under mortar and katyusha shelling on Thursday night and early Friday, according to a spokeswoman for the multi-national forces in southern Iraq. "The British base in the joint military operations command near the province building in central Basra came under mortar attack at dawn Friday, while the other base in Basra International Airport was hit by several katyusha rockets in the early hours of Friday," The attack caused no damage in the bases, she added.
Salah al-Din prv:
The U.S. military said it killed 10 insurgents who were planting roadside bombs along major roadways north of Baghdad on Feb. 5.
U.S. forces shelled at the early hours of Friday several areas in al-Dalouiya, Salah al-Din province, killing four civilians and wounding two others, an official source in the Dalouiya police said. U.S. forces "have been besieging Dalouiya since Thursday," the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) on Friday. U.S. forces reject allowing police and ambulances to enter these areas to pick up the bodies or rush the wounded to hospital, the source added. Iraqi and U.S. troops had started in the morning of Thursday a wide-scale military operation in Dalouiya, 90 km north of the capital Baghdad.
A U.S. airstrike hit a Kurdish position in northern Iraq, killing at least eight Kurdish troops and wounding six, Iraqi officials said Friday. The U.S. military said it was looking into the report. The strike hit just before midnight Thursday in Mosul, according to officials with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the party headed by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a staunch supporter of U.S. efforts in Iraq. Sheik Kabir Goran, deputy in charge of the party's branch in Mosul, said U.S. warplanes hit a guard post that was protecting the PUK branch in eastern Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad
A booby-trapped car driven by a suicide bomber blew up on Friday morning in the city of Mosul, the capital of Ninawa province, wounding eight people including three policemen, said the director of Ninawa police operations room. "The car bomb targeted an Iraqi police patrol that was passing near the area of Wadi Hajar, southwest of Mosul, wounding eight people and causing damage in nearby buildings and houses," Abdul-Kareem al-Juburi told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq
A senior Iraqi police officer was wounded along with seven civilians when a car bomb went off on Friday outside his house in Kirkuk, a security source said. "A car bomb went off today afternoon outside a house belonged to police lieutenant colonel Adnan Mohammed Khairo in Domiz area wounding Khairo and seven others," the source, who asked not to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).Khairo is a senior official at Kirkuk Police Academy, he added. The blast that occurred in Domiz area, 5 km south of Kirkuk, also damaged some houses nearby, the source added.
Al Anbar Prv:
Three Soldiers assigned to Multi-National Force-West were killed Thursday from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province.
Thanks to whisker for the links above.
REPORTS – LIFE IN IRAQ
Tension Escalates In Iraq
US Warplanes Mistakenly Bomb Kurdish Position In Iraq
A U.S. air strike apparently mistakenly destroyed a position of the Kurdish party led by Iraqi president Jalal Talabani on Thursday night, killing eight militiamen and wounded six others, a party official said on Friday. U.S. warplanes bombarded the Karama military position outside Mosul City, some 400 km north of Baghdad, said Muhiy al-Dien al-Mazouri, head of media office in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Mazouri said the victims were Peshmerga members, the military wing of the PUK, which is one of the major Kurdish parties in Iraq's northern autonomous region.
Kurds Killed in US “Friendly Fire”
The US military had said in a statement that US forces killed five armed men in the city of Mosul early on Friday during a raid targeting an al-Qaeda cell. The men turned out to be Kurdish police officers, the statement said. Kurdish officials put the casualty toll at eight killed and six wounded, and said the men were guarding a branch of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The PUK, one of two main Kurdish political parties in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, is led by Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president and a key supporter of US efforts in Iraq. Kabir Goran, deputy head of the PUK, said the air strike occurred around midnight on Thursday when a US helicopter attacked what he called a Kurdish peshmerga watchtower in eastern Mosul. "We think they may have hit us by mistake," he said. The US military statement said that during the operation, US forces identified armed men from a bunker near the targeted al-Qaeda building.
Iraq Leads Another Bloody Year for the Press
It was another dangerous year for the press around the world as the number of killed and imprisoned journalists rose in 2006, according to an annual report by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. According to the report, 55 journalists were slain in 2006 for reasons directly relating to their work, up from 47 in 2005. For the second year in a row, the report says, Iraqi journalists represent the majority of those killed. The numbers of imprisoned media workers and media censorship also continued to rise with 134 journalists behind bars around the world. Of those in jail, one in three is a web-based reporter, blogger or online editor, the report says.
Arab Families Will Not Be Forced To Leave Kirkuk – Kurdish official
Iraqi Kurds would like the tens of thousands of Arab families moved to Kirkuk under former leader Saddam Hussein’s regime to leave. The oil-rich city is being contested by Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen and many fear current tensions may escalate to a civil war. The Kurds have announced that thousands of Arab families have expressed a desire to return and that the authorities intend to compensate them handsomely. But thousands of Arabs have demonstrated in the city against the move and Arab tribal leaders and Turkmen notables have threatened to resort to force to scupper the move. A paragraph in Iraq’s interim constitution calls for the normalization of conditions in the city, which involves among other things, the removal of Arabs brought to the city under Saddam Hussein. But Iraqis who took part in drafting the constitution say any movement of people from Kirkuk must be negotiated and no one should be forced to leave.
More Attacks Target National Grid
Saboteurs have destroyed five more pylons linking Baghdad to the power stations in Baiji in the north, the Ministry of Electricity said. It is the second attack on the high voltage line in less than two weeks. A ministry source said the latest attack has led to a total blackout in Baghdad. The resulting outage has covered other parts of the country, the source said. Power shortages have worsened since the 2003 U.S. invasion. The authorities blame sabotage.
New Hospital Planned For Basra
The government has approved the construction of a new hospital in Basra specialized in heart diseases, said Ihasan Abduljabbar, member of Basra’s provincial council. He said work was expected to start “in a few days” by a state contractor. The State Enterprise for Engineering Consultation, the construction arm of the Ministry of Industry, will implement the project, Abduljabbar said. He said the government has earmarked 29 billion dinars (one dollar buys 1,300 dinars) and the hospital structure will meet international standards. The four-storey building should be ready in 18 months, he said. The hospital will occupy an area of 38,000 square meters and it is the first in southern Iraq specialized in heart diseases.
Time to Head Home
Time to head home. It has been a reletively quiet day with the curfew on from eleven am to three pm. Now starts the heartache of convincing a taxi driver that it's worth risking his life to take me home. I live in an area that has been a battleground for more than four months, the tug of war between the Mujahideen and the Mehdi Army has frightened off all but the hardiest transients. When I do find a willing driver, after a number of refusals and headshakes, he either grumbles all the way there, which hardens my heart somewhat as to his safety, or he turns out to be quite the gentleman. It's then that I start getting butterflies. For as soon as I get home and give him the fare, I turn away from the car and quickly enter my door , leaving him to his fate. I pray for the safety of all the taxi drivers who take me home, and truely hope they reach their homes safely. But the risk remains and the possibility that my trip home may have cost someone their life keeps me awake at night.
A Media With No Ethics
I turned the tv on to watch the Iraqi national TV news. The channel name is Al Iraqiya and it is funded by the government. One of the headlines was capturing a murderer in Diwania city, south Iraq. Police found two dead bodies buried at the suspect’s house, the news said. Then the channel showed a savage and cruel scene of a man putting his hands into a pile covered with black mud. I didn’t recognize what the man is doing till he started showing the camera a human wrist, then I realized; this is a dead body and the man is digging in it with his bare hands… God I can not continue describing it … but the man continued to show the camera other parts that he was digging out... They didn’t stop it and the camera man was zooming in to show the details. They didn’t even apologize or warn the viewers… they just think it is normal and they kept showing it for two days The Iraqi media now is helping to turn the Iraqi people into beasts, as we don’t have enough...
“I Discovered I Was Made Pregnant By A Rapist”
“I’m a 22-year-old Christian student in Iraq. Two months ago I was raped by an Iraqi soldier following a raid at my home. “I thought very hard before agreeing to tell my story. But I cannot allow other girls to suffer the same violence I suffered. in addition to being discriminated against and lacking support. “With the exception of my older brother, Khalil, all my family had left for Amman, Jordan and then for Sweden. I was waiting to finish my last year at university before joining them. Only I and Khalil stayed behind. One day, while he was at university, a group of Iraqi soldiers raided our home saying that they had information that there were insurgents in the area. “When they were inside my home I saw them giving me strange looks. They asked me questions for about 15 minutes and then they left. “Two days later, on the afternoon of 27 November last year, I was alone again in the house and I heard a sound coming from the living room. First, I thought Khalil had come home earlier and then I realised it was one of the Iraqi soldiers who had raided our home two days previously.
Asylum Seekers In Jordan To Increase Threefold
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said on Wednesday that the number of Iraqi asylum seekers in Jordan was expected to increase threefold as a result of operational changes within the agency. “We want to adjust the way we have been working in countries like Jordan and Syria and our goal by the end of 2007 is to have 200,000 more asylum seekers registered,” Guterres said. Officials in UNHCR say that the agency will increase it staff in order to handle greater numbers of people for registration. “Procedures are also being adjusted in order to reduce the current waiting period and to process cases more quickly and smoothly,” Robert Breen, UNHCR’s Jordan office Representative, said. Some 22,000 Iraqi asylum seekers are already registered with UNHCR in Jordan, out of whom only 600 have been given refugee status by the Jordanian authorities. The refugee agency said it hoped to accelerate its registration process and increase the number of asylum seekers by 38,000 by the end of the year. Once registered, asylum seekers go through a series of interviews to determine their status before they can be granted refugee status by the host country. “This is the biggest movement of refugees in the Middle East since the Palestinian crisis [of 1948 when millions of Palestinians were forced off their land following the establishment of the State of Israel] and it is a problem that the international community has neglected,” said Guterres.
“Stealing Is The Easiest Job In Iraq Today”
“I’m an 11-year-old boy who has never been to school - so I can neither read nor write. For the past two years I have been living on the streets of Baghdad, surviving on leftovers that I scavenge from garbage or by stealing from people and shop-lifting. “When I first started, I was scared that at any time the police would catch me for stealing. Now it has become easy for me to steal. I have become an expert and the proof is the title my peers have given me. They call me ‘the young king’. “People might be surprised to hear a child like me being happy for being an expert at stealing and looting things but in a country like Iraq, where most people are without homes and food, the hero is the one who can survive by whatever means. “I’m an orphan and don’t know who my parents are. Nor do I know if they are alive or dead. I was taken into an orphanage when I was four years old and since then different people have been taking care of me. They were not good people. During [former president Saddam Hussein] Saddam’s time, police officers sometimes used to come and have sex with older boys. “I ran away from the orphanage during the [US-led] invasion with another three boys in 2003. But three months ago they abandoned me as they discovered the world of drugs.
REPORTS – IRAQI MILITIAS, POLITICIANS, POWER BROKERS
A Dialogue With The Sunnis Will Not Help The Shia Difficulties
The United States is stepping up the war in Iraq. For almost four years, it has been fighting the Iraqi Sunni community. Now it has started to confront the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, the nationalist Shia cleric who leads the powerful Mehdi Army militia. It is a very dangerous strategy for the US. It risks alienating the Shia without gaining the support of the Sunni. It brings it into conflict with the democratically elected Iraqi government in Baghdad, whose views and interests are ignored by Washington. US and Iraqi soldiers yesterday kicked in the door of the Iraqi deputy minister of health, Hakil al-Zamili, a Sadr supporter. He was led away in handcuffs, accused of being implicated in the deaths of several government officials in Diyala province, and siphoning off money to the Mehdi Army. Employees of the Health Ministry fled in panic as troops stormed their headquarters. In June 2004, the US and Britain solemnly returned sovereignty to an Iraqi government. It was always a deception, since real power remained with the US. But in the last few weeks, Washington has increasingly treated the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as an irrelevant pawn which it now humiliates on an almost daily basis. In January, eight US helicopters swooped on the long-established Iranian office in Arbil, the Kurdish capital, and arrested five officials. President Bush has announced that Iranians in Iraq deemed a threat to US personnel can be killed. This seems to open the door to an assassination campaign. On Sunday, soldiers from an Iraqi commando unit in Baghdad under strong US influence kidnapped an Iranian diplomat.
Iraqi Insurgents Offer Peace In Return For US Concessions
For the first time, one of Iraq's principal insurgent groups has set out the terms of a ceasefire that would allow American and British forces to leave the country they invaded almost four years ago. The present terms would be impossible for any US administration to meet - but the words of Abu Salih Al-Jeelani, one of the military leaders of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Resistance Movement show that the groups which have taken more than 3,000 American lives are actively discussing the opening of contacts with the occupation army. Al-Jeelani's group, which also calls itself the "20th Revolution Brigades'', is the military wing of the original insurgent organisation that began its fierce attacks on US forces shortly after the invasion of 2003. The statement is, therefore, of potentially great importance, although it clearly represents only the views of Sunni Muslim fighters. Shia militias are nowhere mentioned. The demands include the cancellation of the entire Iraqi constitution - almost certainly because the document, in effect, awards oil-bearing areas of Iraq to Shia and Kurds, but not to the minority Sunni community. Yet the Sunnis remain Washington's principal enemies in the Iraqi war. "Discussions and negotiations are a principle we believe in to overcome the situation in which Iraqi bloodletting continues," al-Jeelani said in a statement that was passed to The Independent. "Should the Americans wish to negotiate their withdrawal from our country and leave our people to live in peace, then we will negotiate subject to specific conditions and circumstances."
Security Plan For Baghdad Begins To Take Hold
Iraqi police took over Shiite Muslim militia checkpoints Thursday at the main entrances to Baghdad's sprawling Shiite slum of Sadr City, one of many signs that the city's new security plan was beginning to take effect. More Iraqi and American troops were on the streets, new barricades were in place and raids were under way around the city. Residents had trouble leaving their neighborhoods because of the new checkpoints, newly resurrected concrete blast walls, and Iraqi troops and police lined up on neighborhood roads. Among those arrested was the deputy minister of health, whose ministry, like Sadr City, has been controlled by followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, the firebrand Shiite cleric. It was unclear whether the new plan would have a lasting impact. In Sadr City, for example, although the militiamen in black were gone from the checkpoints, residents said they'd gone into hiding and would return. The Iraqi police have operated under the Shiite militiamen's control and had jointly manned checkpoints with Sadr's forces. Mahmoud al-Mashadani, the Sunni Muslim speaker of parliament, called the plan the government's "last hour," but voiced concern about the security forces, which Shiite militias have infiltrated. "The tools of the plan are corrupted," he said.
Corruption, Incompetence Plague Iraqi Forces
Many of the Iraqi forces whom the U.S. is counting on to defeat Sunni Muslim insurgents, disarm Shiite Muslim gunmen and assume responsibility for keeping the peace have been infiltrated by sectarian militias and are plagued by incompetence and corruption. Two weeks with American units that patrolled with Iraqi forces in west and east Baghdad found that Iraqi officers sold new uniforms meant for their troops, and that their soldiers wore plastic shower sandals while manning checkpoints, abused prisoners and solicited bribes to free suspects they'd captured. During a patrol last week in a violent west Baghdad neighborhood that's the scene of regular sniper fire at U.S. and Iraqi troops, Staff Sgt. Jeremie Oliver saw Iraqi soldiers gathered in the middle of the road, near a streetlight, making them an easy target for gunmen on the surrounding rooftops. Thinking that something might be wrong, Oliver, 30, of Farmington, Maine, jogged over. The Iraqis were looking at pornography on a cell phone. [Boys will be boys, I guess. – dancewater]
…. On a patrol in west Baghdad with Iraqi soldiers last week, 1st Lt. Schuyler Williamson told his driver to stop as Iraqi soldiers pulled a car over. Williamson got out of his Humvee and asked why they'd stopped the car. The Iraqi lieutenant, who gave his first name as Zuhair, didn't respond. Williamson stood and watched for a few minutes. The Iraqis looked as if they were going to detain the two men in the car, whom they were starting to shove around. When a reporter walked up, Zuhair said in broken English, "No come back here!" He dragged one of the men to the back seat of a Humvee. Williamson asked again: "Why are you detaining them?" Zuhair didn't respond. Williamson, 24, of Pensacola, Fla., turned to his interpreter and asked, "Why are they detaining them?" The interpreter asked Zuhair, who still didn't respond. "Why the hell are we detaining them?" Williamson asked. Still no answer. Williamson walked back to his Humvee and screamed a string of obscenities. The Iraqis took the two men back to the intelligence section at their base. One of the men had an identification card naming him as a lieutenant in the Interior Ministry. The card, which appeared to be of high quality, was a fake, Zuhair said. The two men, said Zuhair - who's a Shiite - were Sunnis who'd been trolling the streets for Shiites to kidnap and kill. A group of Iraqi soldiers took one of the men into a back room. There was yelling and what sounded like someone being punched, followed by a pounding noise. More yelling followed. Williamson left a few minutes later, not knowing whether the two men were innocents detained by vengeful soldiers or members of a death squad picked up because of vigilant soldiers. Asked which he thought it was, Williamson said: "I wouldn't be surprised either way." [And, either way, the detained men should not be tortured or abused. That should stop immediately. Wish I could laugh this behavior off as ‘boys will be boys’ comment. This is disgusting. – dancewater]
REPORTS – US/UK/OTHERS IN IRAQ
Pentagon Iraq Intelligence Report “Very Damning”
A "very damning" report by the Defense Department's inspector general depicts a Pentagon that purposely manipulated intelligence in an effort to link Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda in the runup to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, says the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "That was the argument that was used to make the sale to the American people about the need to go to war," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan. He said the Pentagon's work, "which was wrong, which was distorted, which was inappropriate ... is something which is highly disturbing." The investigation by acting inspector general Thomas F. Gimble found that prewar intelligence work at the Pentagon, including a contention that the CIA had underplayed the likelihood of an al-Qaeda connection, was inappropriate but not illegal. The report was to be presented to Levin's panel at a hearing Friday. The report found that former Pentagon policy chief Douglas J. Feith had not engaged in illegal activities through the creation of special offices to review intelligence. Some Democrats also have contended that Feith misled Congress about the basis of the administration's assertions on the threat posed by Iraq, but the Pentagon investigation did not support that. Two people familiar with the findings discussed the main points and some details Thursday on condition they not be identified. Levin has asserted that President Bush took the country to war in Iraq based in part on intelligence assessments -- some shaped by Feith's office -- that were off base and did not fully reflect the views of the intelligence community.
The Pentagon's Secret Air War in Iraq
A secret air war is being waged in Iraq -- often in and around that country's population centers -- about which we can find out little. The U.S. military keeps information on the munitions expended in its air efforts under tight wraps, refusing to offer details on the scale of use and so minimizing the importance of air power in Iraq. But expert opinion holds that the forms of aerial assault being employed in that country, though hardly covered in our media, may account for most of the U.S. and coalition-attributed Iraqi civilian deaths there since the 2003 invasion. While some aspects of the air war remain a total mystery, Air Force officials do acknowledge that U.S. military and coalition aircraft dropped at least 111,000 pounds of bombs on targets in Iraq in 2006. This figure, 177 bombs in all, does not include guided missiles and unguided rockets fired, or cannon rounds expended; nor, according to a U.S. Central Command Air Forces (CENTAF) spokesman, does it take into account the munitions used by some Marine Corps and other coalition aircraft or any of the Army's helicopter gunships. Moreover, it does not include munitions used by the armed helicopters of the many private security contractors flying their own missions in Iraq.
In statistics provided to Tomdispatch, CENTAF reported a total of 10,519 "close air support missions" in Iraq in 2006, during which its aircraft dropped 177 bombs and fired 52 "Hellfire/Maverick missiles." These air strikes presumably included numerous highly publicized missions ranging from the January air strike outside the town of Baiji that reportedly "killed a family of 12," including at least three women and three young children, to the December attack on an insurgent safehouse in the Garma area, near Fallujah, that reportedly killed "two women and a child" in addition to five guerillas. Then there were the even less well remembered events, such as those on July 28th when, according to official reports, an Air Force Predator unmanned aerial vehicle destroyed an "anti-Iraqi forces" vehicle with Hellfire missiles, while Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons "expended a GBU-12, destroying an anti-Iraqi forces location," both in the vicinity of the city of Ramadi. The latter weapon, Guided Bomb Unit-12, a laser-guided bomb with a 500-pound general purpose warhead, was the most frequently used bomb in Iraq in 2006, according CENTAF statistics provided to Tomdispatch. In addition to the ninety-five GBU-12s "expended," sixty-seven satellite-guided, 500-pound GBU-38s and fifteen 2,000-pound GBU-31/32 munitions were also dropped on Iraqi targets last year, according to official Air Force figures.
One weapon conspicuously left out of this total is rockets -- such as the 2.75-inch Hydra-70 rocket which can be outfitted with various warheads and is fired from fixed-wing aircraft and most helicopters. The number of rockets fired is withheld from the press so as, according to a CENTAF spokesman, not to "skew the tally and present an inaccurate picture of the air campaign." The number of rockets fired may be quite significant as, according to a 2005 press release issued by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who helped secure a $900 million Hydra contract from the Army for General Dynamics, "the widely used Hydra-70 rocket… has seen extensive use in Afghanistan and Iraq… [and] has become the world's most widely used helicopter-launched weapon system." Early last year, Sandra I. Erwin of National Defense Magazine noted that the U.S. military was looking to the Hydra to serve as a low-cost weapon for Iraq's urban areas. "The Army already buys and stockpiles thousands of the 2.75-inch Hydra rockets, and is seeking to equip as many as 73,000 with the laser kits, under a program called 'advanced precision kill weapon system,' or APKWS. The Navy would purchase 8,000 for Marine Corps helicopters," she wrote.
OPINION: This Aerial Onslaught Is War At Its Most Stupid
Watching a person kill another is the purest horror. Watching it done from the air, from a sanitised distance, is less so. Distance launders the bloodletting and technology purifies it. War becomes another video game. The camera sees no broken bodies. If it sees a mistake it does not see the mistake that caused the mistake. The video-recording of the attack by two American jets on a British column in Iraq in March 2003, which caused the death of Corporal Matty Hull, should be in any museum of war. We hear the pilots clearly hungry for targets and finding them. They question the identity of the column, which seems to have "friendly" markings, but ground control assures them it is not friendly. They attack, and crow as they score. Ground control calmly tells them they have made a mistake and to head for home. They curse, weep and cry: "We're in jail ... I'm going to be sick." They have killed their own. Listening to the pilots converse during the attack is to enter a world of ghouls. Death is reduced to technical terms such as "terminal control". Everything is coordinates, visuals, beeps and shudders, as if the fog of Wellington's Waterloo were reincarnated in a static of overlapping call signs, coordinates, ground controllers and Awacs monitors. It appears so slapdash as to make mistake inevitable. The most costly military technology on earth seems to have advanced not an inch from the recording of the Soviet shooting down of a Korean airliner in 1983. The same sequence of events must have occurred in countless sorties over the past decade in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. There are now dozens of recorded friendly-fire incidents, including the bombing of the BBC reporter John Simpson in Iraq and what appeared to be the deliberate killing of ITN's Terry Lloyd. The killing of tens of thousands of civilians is not recorded, let alone analysed. Yet hardly a week passes without news from Iraq and Afghanistan of the destruction of villages and the massacring of wedding parties and car convoys supposedly composed of "guilty" people.
… When bombing from the air kills non-combatants, as it does to an appalling degree, there should at least be a military inquiry into why. This, if nothing else, vindicates the publicity given to the Hull case. Massacres committed by infantrymen are subject to courts martial. If soldiers enter a house by the front door and kill civilians inside, then they are hauled before world opinion and condemned. If a dropped bomb enters the same house through the roof and has the same effect, it is dismissed as collateral damage. In Iraq it is not even recorded.
OPINION: Iraq’s Car Bombers – Who Are They?
The explosions happening in Iraq whether those targeting U.S. troops or innocent Iraqis are of the advance type and must have an army of experts and technicians behind them. They are devouring Iraqi children, women and the elderly. Innocent Iraqis are the main fodder of this cruel and vicious circle of violence. U.S. authorities and Iraqi government have failed drastically in checking the violence. The only thing they do is condemning these acts and blaming them for Qaeda-linked terrorists and loyalists of the former leader Saddam Hussein. But Iraqis are not convinced by such naïve excuses. They need the U.S. and the Iraqi authorities it backs to tell them where all these car bombs come from? How could they sneak through so many checkpoints and road blocks U.S. and Iraqi troops have set up in Baghdad? These cars have registration and serial numbers. We have not heard that the authorities have ever been able to identify the owner of a car bomb or where it came from. Before the fall of Baghdad to U.S. troops, the country had a sophisticated car registration system and the authorities could identify the owner of any vehicle in a matter of minutes from the wreckage. Iraqis have the right to ask whether the U.S. has any military, intelligence and scientific capability left in Iraq. What is the government doing? Does it have really a plan? The U.S. and Iraqi government are talking about a new security plan. But if they cannot say who owns which car in Baghdad how will they be able to spread their control over a sprawling city of six million people. [With thousands of car bombs having gone off, it would seem they could track the source of the cars in at least a few of the cases. And make that information public. – dancewater]
OPINION: Proxy Wars
For Tehran to say that it holds the Americans responsible for the diplomat’s safety because the US claims to be helping run Iraqi security is somewhat surprising. In so far that the chaos that has descended upon the luckless Iraqis has been brought about by the Bush invasion and its inexcusable lack of postwar planning, the Iranians are right. This is, at the same time, to overlook their own very tangible role in stirring up violence through the lawless militias such as Moqtada Sadr’s Mehdi Army. Both Washington and Tehran have much to answer for in terms of the savagery and bloodshed that is now taking place in Iraq. Each government bellows at the other about interfering in the country. Yet both ignore the inconvenient truth that neither of them has any business to be there in the first place. As in Lebanon and perhaps also now the Palestinian territories, outside powers are using local rival factions to fight proxy wars for them. The Iranians are totally determined on giving the Bush White House a bloody nose in Iraq and the Bush White House is locked into its dangerously belligerent and confrontational approach to Iran, ostensibly over its nuclear program. The reality is, however, that Washington has neither forgiven nor forgotten the humiliating 1979 hostage-taking at the US Embassy in Tehran. For Al-Qaeda fanatics and the die-hard Baathists who initiated the insurgency, the angry exchanges between Americans and Iranians are sweet music. They probably kidnapped the Iranian envoy in the hope of provoking just such a row. They have already succeeded in creating distrust and factional anger behind which they can hide with ever increasing security. Indeed they are now thriving on the mutual visceral dislike between the US and Iranian leaderships and the illogical insistence from both countries that the other is to blame for interfering in Iraq.
OPINION: Holding the Government To Account
The Iraqi people who emerged from under the blanket of Saddam’s brutal regime are today an unknown quantity. To be sure, the millions of men and women who took their lives in their hands as they went out to vote in the historic January 2005 elections behaved heroically in a way that it is difficult for people like us who have not been subjected to such abuse and intimidation over 30 years to understand. Because of their liberation from tyranny in 2003, they began to take their lives into their own hands and act on what had been done to them. And that is a good thing; it is after all what politics in its best sense is all about. But they are also victims. What had been done to them over decades was not erased overnight. In spite of what so much of modern Arab culture has been trying to persuade us of in recent years, there is no virtue in being a victim; it is a terrible condition, not a great and uplifting quality. It takes decades if not generations to come to terms with such victim-hood. Iraqis have yet to reconcile this terrible legacy, or affliction, with the political attributes of citizenship in a new Iraq. Given this legacy, a special responsibility fell upon those Iraqis who were going to lead them in the transitional period. The lesson of the politics of the Arab-Israeli conflict of the last several decades is that a leadership that elevates victim-hood into the be-all and end-all of politics brings untold suffering and misery upon its own people. Given political power, this kind of a leadership will in turn victimise, as a whole body of knowledge in sociology, political psychology and history will confirm. Even the insurgents in Iraq fully understand this dynamic; in fact they have been counting on it. That is why their goal was never to win over Iraqi hearts and minds; it was - and continues to be - to inculcate a state of pervasive physical insecurity conducive to the eruption of the most irrational forms of behaviour. Theirs is a politics of fear and intimidation borrowed from that of the former regime which produced them, and it is a politics designed to create a backlash among those very Iraqis who in 2005 so magnificently wore the blue-black stain on their right index finger as a badge of honour as they braved the bombs to go out and vote.
OPINION: These Moderates Are In Fact Fanatics, Torturers And Killers
Politicians, especially in times of geopolitical deadlock, adopt a word or a concept to sell to the public. In 1973, at the peak of cold-war tensions, the US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, coined the term "detente". Such words gain a currency and become useful political tools to escape policy quagmires. As the Middle East lurches from crisis to crisis, Tony Blair, George Bush and Condoleezza Rice compulsively repeat the word "moderates" to describe their allies in the region. But the concept of moderate is merely the latest attempt to market a failed policy, while offering a facile hedge against accusations of Islamophobia and anti-Islamic policies. Western leaders have simply chosen a few Arab rulers they believe are still saleable to western audiences. And, as the word moderate has been repeated by western leaders and echoed in the international media, these rulers have begun to believe their own billing. But who are they, and are they moderate? ……. Nothing, it seems, is more moderate than inertia. So inertia pays. Egypt has received an average of $1.3bn a year in military aid from the US since 1979, and $815m a year in economic assistance. Saudi Arabia relies on oil revenues and the international legitimacy provided by membership of such moderate bulwarks as the WTO and the IMF. But at home, all other hallmarks of moderation are missing. Amnesty International describes Saudi Arabia as a country where "there are no political parties, no elections, no independent legislature, no trade unions ... no independent judiciary, no independent human rights organisations. The government allows no international human rights organisations to carry out research in the country ... there is strict censorship of media within the country, and strict control of access to the internet, satellite television and other forms of communication with the outside world."
OPINION: How Does The Hard Rain Not Fall?
I don’t know how it ends. I saw a bleak presentiment, five years ago. Saw destruction hang like a dark satanic cloud over the bully’s pulpit at the UN, where the President preached his disdainful jeremiad to the lesser nations. I heard the blood dimmed tide roar when the Secretary of State proclaimed his holy justification for the slaughter of innocents. - I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard. - Still, I blew on the embers of hope as best I could. Cooler heads could yet prevail. Grownups could come to the rescue, a light could spring over the dark brink eastward. - I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it. - Now I find it hard to look. Our president can’t. He foretells ends that confound reason. Full of passionate intensity, he professes beliefs that reveal only a fool’s understanding. Yet even so, I hope, I pray, I hope again, that it will somehow turn out. Not good, maybe but please God, not disastrously bad. - Inshallah, not apocalypse bad, not Gotterdammerung bad.
Action for Americans: Face the Cost of War
So far, over 3,000 of our troops have died in Iraq. Yet 47 senators are trying to duck out on the first vote on Iraq since the election. It's morally reprehensible to let people die just because discussing the war is awkward. Help your senators face the true cost of war by sending them a photo memorial of one of the many American fatalities of the Iraq war from your state.
Quote of the Day: “I wish they would attack us with a nuclear bomb and kill us all,” he added, “so we will rest and anybody who wants the oil — which is the core of the problem — can come and get it. We can not live this way anymore. We are dying slowly every day.” – Abdul Jabbar