DAILY WAR NEWS FOR THURSDAY, February 1, 2007
Photo: Victims of the Najaf "battle" (See below “The Media Cover-Up Of The Najaf Massacre”)
Two suicide bombers killed 61 people and wounded 150
when they blew themselves up at a crowded market in Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim town of Hilla on Thursday, police said. (…)
The first suicide bomber in Hilla, 100 km (60 miles) south of Baghdad, blew himself up when police tried to frisk him outside the central market, police said.
A second suicide bomber struck soon afterwards, they said.
Bring 'em on
: The U.S. army said on Thursday in two separate statements that two of its soldiers were killed and another serviceman was wounded during military operations in the Sunni provinces of Salah-el-Dein and Anbar.
One Soldier assigned to Multi National Force- West died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province Jan 30. (CENTCOM)
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
A bomb tore through a minibus in a predominantly Shiite commercial district
. The bombing of the minibus killed at least six and wounded eight, police said. It struck at noon in the district of Karradah.
Mortar rounds slammed into a Sunni neighbourhood in Baghdad for the third day in a row
, killing at least three people and wounding 10, hospital officials said. Five mortar rounds struck the streets of the northern area of Azamiyah on Thursday morning, according to officials who gave the casualty toll.
A car bomb parked in Rusafi, one of Baghdad's biggest shopping districts, killed three and wounded seven.
The U.S. military said its troops killed four insurgents
who appeared to be planting a roadside bomb in an airstrike northwest of Baghdad on Wednesday evening.
A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged car at an Iraqi army checkpoint near al-Kadhemiyah city
in northern Baghdad with reports of unidentified number of casualties, another security source said.
The bodies of 30 people were found dumped in Baghdad.
Two Australians have been wounded in Baghdad
after insurgents masquerading as Iraqi checkpoint guards opened fire on their convoy with grenades and machineguns. "The convoy was hit pretty hard - they were approaching a checkpoint that had been taken out by insurgents who had dressed themselves in Iraqi security uniforms," a security source said. "They were just smashed, the RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) were detonating under the vehicles, it was all bad." It was unclear how badly injured the two ex-Australian Army private security contractors were.
Gunmen broke into the Physical Education College of Diyala and killed the dean
, Walhan Hamed al-Rubaie, in Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad.
Gunmen killed two policemen in the southern city of Diwaniya
on Wednesday evening and wounded a third.
The governor of Salahudin province survived unhurt a suicide bombing attack
in a college campus of the Salahudin University, the college official told Xinhua. "A suicide bomber wearing an explosive-vest sneaked into the University of Salahudin compound and blew himself up in the campus of the college of law building, wounding at least three female students," Dr. Amir Ayyash, the dean of the college, told Xinhua by telephone. The suicide bomber was targeting Mohammad al-Qaisi, the governor of Salahudin province, who himself is a student in the college for the master degree, but apparently his explosives detonated prematurely, Ayyash said.
A mortar round killed two civilians
when they landed in a residential area of Mosul.
Police found the bodies of three people in Mosul
, including two students.
Clashes erupted between an armed group riding in several cars and an Iraqi police vehicle patrol in al-Resalah district
, southwest of Mosul, with no reports of casualties. A local police source in Mosul city added "the gunmen fled the scene following the clashes."
An eyewitness told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) "an explosive charge went off at a U.S. vehicle patrol in southern Falluja damaging a Hummer
." The U.S. army could not be immediately reached to comment on the incident.
The police patrols in Falluja found 11 unidentified bodies
dumped in different parts of the Sunni city.
The top U.S. commander in Iraq told a Senate panel that improving security in Baghdad would take fewer than half as many extra troops as Bush has chosen to commit.
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on his nomination to be Army chief of staff, Gen. George Casey said he had asked for two additional Army brigades, based on recommendations of his subordinate commanders. Bush announced Jan. 10 that he would send five extra brigades as part of a buildup that would total 21,500 soldiers and Marines.
Asked by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., why he had not requested the full five extra brigades that Bush is sending, Casey said, "I did not want to bring one more American soldier into Iraq than was necessary to accomplish the mission."
With many in Congress opposing or skeptical of Bush's troop buildup, Casey did not say he opposed the president's decision. He said the full complement of five brigades would give U.S. commanders in Iraq additional, useful flexibility.
"In my mind, the other three brigades should be called forward after an assessment has been made on the ground" about whether they are needed to ensure success in Baghdad, Casey said later.
Even so, Casey's comments seemed put distance between his views and those of Bush and some lawmakers like Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who have questioned whether Bush's troop increase will be enough.
US lawmakers on both sides of the US Senate drummed up support for a compromise bill slamming a hike in US forces in Iraq
, saying it was the best chance of forcing President George W. Bush to drop his unpopular plan.
After days of hardknuckle bargaining, top congressional Democrats and key Republicans finally agreed late Wednesday on a bill that censures Bush's plan to boost US forces in the war zone with another 21,000 troops.
The breakthrough measure, likely to garner wide support, means the White House could face an embarrassing -- but ultimately symbolic -- vote of no-confidence when the bill hits the Senate floor next week.
Bush should scrap his unilateral approach and respect religious diversity in his "war on terror"
to resolve troubles in Iraq, a senior Chinese official said in comments published on Thursday.
Recent anti-war protests across the United States illustrated that the Iraq war was unjust, Ye Xiaowen, director of the State Bureau of Religious Affairs, wrote in the overseas edition of People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, in rare public criticism of U.S. policy.
Ye's bureau oversees Christianity, Buddhism and Islam in the atheist country which only tolerates state-sanctioned religious institutions.
He criticized inflammatory terms such as "crusade" and "Islamic fascism" which Bush had used in the past when speaking of the fight against terrorism and Muslim militants.
"How can you link anti-terrorism with a particular religion?" Ye asked in a commentary headlined "Bush should reflect deeply."
A senior official from the group led by Moqtada Sadr ruled out the prospect of holding talks with U.S. occupation troops in the country.
The official, refusing to be named, said the group would like U.S. troops to leave, urging the government to come up with a timetable for their departure.
"The standpoint of the Sadr movement is clear regarding the occupation troops. We reject their presence whether for military or any other purposes. We reject talking or negotiating with them or sitting with their representatives on the same table," the official from the Sadr group's office in the southern city of Diwaniya, said. (...)
However, the official said the group supports the strategy of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to reinstate security and "preserve Iraq's unity."
He said Moqtada, the group's leader, condemns violence and works for "the respect of law."
But said there were 'quarters' trying to "discredit the movement by associating violence with it of which we are innocent." He did not elaborate.
Iraqi civilian deaths in political violence reached a new high in January
, data from an interior ministry official showed on Thursday. The statistics, widely viewed as an indicative but only partial record of violent deaths, showed 1,971 people died from "terrorism" in January, slightly up from the previous high of 1,930 deaths recorded in December 2006. The figures from the Interior Ministry source are collated from various ministries and while not comprehensive, are a guide to trends that are consistent with data from other sources. The United Nations, which gathers data from the Health Ministry and Baghdad's morgue, put the number of civilian deaths in December at 2,914, down from 3,462 in November.
Some 185 university professors have been assassinated [in Iraq] since the 2003 U.S. invasion
which has plunged the country into a spiral of violence.
The figure was made public in a statement the ministry has issued following the kidnapping of three more Baghdad University professors this week. (...)
The ministry's statement said more than 52 professors have been abducted in the years since the U.S. invasion. Some of them were killed by their abductors and others released after paying huge ransom.
In a dispatch posted at 9:43pm Makkah time Wednesday night, Mafkarat al-Islam reported that the Iraqi Resistance has recently introduced a new weapon into its arsenal, which should significantly facilitate the struggle against US forces.
> The correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam
reported a source in the Iraqi puppet police as saying that the Iraqi Resistance had begun using a new technology in some of its recent attacks on US and puppet Iraqi forces
. The source, who asked not to be identified, said that a few days ago the Resistance directed explosives-laden cars into targets by remote control where they blew up. With no driver, the car bombs can drive some 40 or 50 meters into a column of US or puppet Iraqi troops.
The source said that US troops first observed the remote-control car bomb attacks in a car bombing in the southern Baghdad suburb of ad-Durah and then in an attack in the northern suburb of at-Taji where two explosives-packed car sped into their target or darted out of side streets and blasted into American troops and blew up, inflicting enormous damage.
The correspondent contacted an engineer who teaches at the University of Baghdad who that developing such a technical capability would require a specialized engineer and remote-control devices effective at the speed of a car. He said that the Resistance is capable of acquiring such a technical capability particularly as the Iraqi Resistance is winning more mass support every day. The engineer said that such technology would not remain the monopoly of any one Resistance organization but probably be shared by all of them that do not have a specialized wing of martyrdom car bombers as does al-Qa'idah.
Layla Anwar: VIDEO — THE IRAQI HOLOCAUST
The Road of Mass Genocide
In eagerness to be loyal to the United Nations "spirit" of Rememberance of Holocaust victims, I hereby present to you Video no.1 in a series of videos of "Rememberance and Beyond".
This video was taken during the Sanction Years, sanctions imposed by none other than the Security Council of the UN.
The road of Mass Genocide continues...
In part II of the Iraqi Holocaust:"Rememberance and Beyond"video no.2 shows the extent of contamination by radioactive material (nuclear to some-also known as Depleted Uranium/DU.)
Since 1990, the whole of Iraq, its waters, its soil,its air are polluted by this highly toxic cancerigenic lethal matter DU. Its life span is in the million of years.
And the People of Iraq continue to pay today and for many generations to come the price of the only real weapon of Mass Destruction found in Iraq.
Added to the D.U, sanctions were imposed by the United Nations... Stay tuned for Part III.
This 3rd video which is part of my Iraqi holocaust exhibition, in the same spirit as that of the United Nations"Rememberance & Beyond".
This short 2 mn video and will not take much of your time.
It is in fact as short as the ones who inhabit these tombs... the mass graves of the sanction years.
To be continued...
>> COMMENTARY AMD ANALYSIS
Mike Whitney: THE MEDIA COVER-UP OF THE NAJAF MASSACRE
So far, there are 2 things that we can say with certainty about the massacre of the 250 Iraqis outside Najaf on Monday. First, we know that there is no substantiating evidence to support the official version of events. And, second, we know that every media outlet in the United States slavishly provided the government's version to their readers without fact-checking or providing eyewitness testimony.
This proves that those who argue that mainstream news is "filtered" are sadly mistaken. There is no filter between the military and media; it's a direct channel. In fact, all of the traditional obstacles have been meticulously swept away so the fairy tales which originate in the Pentagon end up on America's front pages with as little interference as possible.
In the present case, we were told that "hundreds of gunmen from a 'messianic cult' (Soldiers of Heaven) planned to disguise themselves as pilgrims and kill clerics on the holiest day of the Shiite calendar". We are expected to believe that they put their wives and children in the line of fire so they could conceal their real intention to lay siege to the city.
How many men would willingly drag their families into battle?
According to the Associated Press: "Their aim was to kill as many leading clerics as possible, including the main ayatollahs, which would include Iraq's main spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani....Najaf government officials indicated that the militants included both Shiite and Sunni extremists, as well as foreign fighters."
What we know now, is that, there were no foreign fighters (or Al Qaida, as was originally stated) nor were there any Sunni militants. It was a group of Shiites who were rivals of the leading Shiite-led government (the SCIRI and Da'wa parties which represent Muqtada al Sadr and Abdel Aziz al-Hakim)
So what really happened?
Apparently, a fight broke out at a checkpoint between government forces (Shiite) and the rival group. (who were also Shiites) Shots were fired, the violence escalated, and government soldiers were quickly overpowered. So, they called for backup from the US military saying that they were under attack by al Qaida and Sunni insurgents. It was all rubbish, but the military believed it, sent in F-18s and helicopter gunships and buried the group under a carpet of bombs. (It is expected that women and children were killed in the bombing)
In fact, many in the media celebrated the slaughter of the Iraqi pilgrims as though they were revisiting the "Battle of the Bulge". Here's a typical account from the AP:
"US and British jets bombed and strafed the militants, the US Air Force said Monday. US F-16s and A-10 jets dropped 500-pound bombs on insurgent positions, the Air Force said".
Hoorah! More innocent people butchered!
Say what you will about the corporate media; they still haven't lost their appetite for carnage. (...)
Whatever the precise details may be [of the Najaf Massacre], the official version is utter nonsense. That's why the survivors of the attack are being prevented from speaking to the press. Just like the bombed-out wedding party in Anbar Province, or the Jessica Lynch fiasco; the official version is "always right" as long as there is no competing narrative.
read in full...
Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily: OFFICIAL LIES OVER NAJAF BATTLE EXPOSED
Iraqi government lies over the killing of hundreds of Shias in an attack on Sunday stand exposed by independent investigations carried out by IPS in Iraq.
Conflicting reports had arisen earlier on how and why a huge battle broke out around the small village Zarqa, located just a few kilometres northeast of the Shia holy city Najaf, which is 90 km south of Baghdad.
One thing certain is that when the smoke cleared, more than 200 people lay dead after more than half a day of fighting Sunday Jan. 28. A U.S. helicopter was shot down, killing two soldiers. Twenty-five members of the Iraqi security force were also killed.
"We were going to conduct the usual ceremonies that we conduct every year when we were attacked by Iraqi soldiers," Jabbar al-Hatami, a leader of the al-Hatami Shia Arab tribe told IPS.
"We thought it was one of the usual mistakes of the Iraqi army killing civilians, so we advanced to explain to the soldiers that they killed five of us for no reason. But we were surprised by more gunfire from the soldiers." (...)
Tribal members from both believe the attack was launched by the central government of Baghdad to stifle growing Shia-Sunni unity in the area.
"Our convoy was close to the al-Hatami convoy on the way to Najaf when we heard the massive shooting, and so we ran to help them because our tribe and theirs are bound with a strong alliance," a 45-year-old man who asked to be referred to as Ahmed told IPS.
Ahmed, a member of the al-Khazali tribe said "our two tribes have a strong belief that Iranians are provoking sectarian war in Iraq which is against the belief of all Muslims, and so we announced an alliance with Sunni brothers against any sectarian violence in the country. That did not make our Iranian dominated government happy."
The fighting took place on the Diwaniya-Najaf road and spread into nearby date-palm plantations after pilgrims sought refuge there.
"American helicopters participated in the slaughter," Jassim Abbas, a farmer from the area told IPS. "They were soon there to kill those pilgrims without hesitation, but they were never there for helping Iraqis in anything they need. We just watched them getting killed group by group while trapped in those plantations."
Much of the killing was done by U.S. and British warplanes, eyewitnesses said.
Local authorities including the office of Najaf Governor Asaad Abu Khalil who is a member of the pro-Iranian Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) had claimed before the killings that a group of primarily foreign Sunni fighters with links to al-Qaeda had planned to disrupt the Ashura festival by attacking Shia pilgrims and senior ayatollahs in Najaf. The city is the principal seat of religious learning for Shias in Iraq.
Officials claimed that Iraqi security forces had obtained intelligence information from two detained men that had led the Iraqi Scorpion commando squad to prepare for an attack. The intelligence claimed obviously had little impact on how events unfolded.
Minister of Interior Jawad al-Bolani announced to reporters at 9 am Sunday morning that Najaf was being attacked by al-Qaeda. Immediately following this announcement the Ministry of National Security (MNS) announced that the dead were members of the Shia splinter extremist group Jund al-Sama (Army of Heaven) who were out to kill senior ayatollahs in Najaf, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Iraq's national security advisor Muaffaq al-Rubaii said just 15 minutes after the MNS announcement that hundreds of Arab fighters had been killed, and that many had been arrested. Rubaii claimed there were Saudis, Yemenis, Egyptians and Afghans.
But Governor Khalil's office backed away from its initial claims after the dead turned out to be local Shia Iraqis. Iraqi security officials continue to contradict their own statements. Most officials now say that the dead were Shia extremists supported by foreign powers.
The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has a pattern of announcing it is fighting terrorists, like its backers in Washington. Many Iraqis in the south now accuse Baghdad of calling them terrorists simply because they refuse to collaborate with the Iranian dominated government.
Missing Links: POLITICAL GROUND STARTING TO SHIFT IN IRAQ?
calls attention to the formation of groups originating within the Iraqi Accord Front (Sunni) and the UIA (Shiite) respectively, by parliamentary representatives who in both bases say or imply that they are unhappy with the prevailing sectarian polarization. The reporter introduces the story this way:
In an important sign of the beginning of the dismanteling of the political blocs that formed as a result of the American occupation, several deputies have started to break with traditional alliances, in favor of forming small groups, within the main blocs that have a sectarian model.
One of these initiatives has been started within the Accord Front, with the name "Iraqi Independents Group" and its leader explained:
The formation of this group is a result of the feeling of marginalization of some of the deputies, and a desire to express their opinions with greater freedom, particularly since we have a number of differences [with Accord Front leadership] respecting fundamental issues, including the question of discussions with groups that are still bearing arms and refuse participation in the political process. And there were also other reasons motivating this, the main one being the sectarian character of the Accord Front, and our desire to get away from the sectarian space, which has brought such suffering to our country.
He said the new group has 11 members from within the Accord Front. It has applied for recognition as an independent political party and plans to organize itself to run in the next national elections. He said the group will appoint a single spokesman to explain the group's positions inside and outside of parliament, and they will not permit the Accord Front to take positions on major issues without their agreement.
Along the same lines, the reporter says a group calling itself the Solidarity Bloc is forming within the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA; Shiite). Its leader Qasim Daoud told the reporter there will be an announcement about this next week, adding that the group will espouse a "complete national program" including restoration of basic services, imposition of respect for the state on the street, and so on. He said the group will include a large number of independents from within the UIA, adding its door will be open to others too.
The only comment the reporter adds is the introductory remark, noted above, about signs of the start of a process of dismemberment of the traditional alliances.
Pepe Escobar: PRAY AND THEN I'LL KILL YOU
The US-stoked Sunni-Shi'ite divide had to involve oil. Saudi Arabia is directly confronting Iran inside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Traders take for granted that the Bush administration is once again allied with the House of Saud. Iran wants oil to be sold for at least US$70 a barrel. Saudi Oil Minister Ibrahim al-Naimi, on the other hand, keeps repeating that oil prices are going "in the right direction", ie down.
The US/Saudi nexus pulls no punches to squeeze Iran economically (fewer oil sales, less hard currency, mounting problems for Ahmadinejad, whose notoriously incompetent administration has not managed a better distribution of Iran's oil revenues). To top it off, to extract a barrel of oil Saudi Arabia may spend as little as $2. Iran, on the other hand, may spend as much as $18. And it will get worse. Iran is barred from buying the best exploration and drilling equipment, which is basically made in North America.
No wonder Tehran is proceeding with extreme caution - while bracing for a possible attack. Diplomatically, Tehran has invited International Atomic Energy Agency scientists and diplomats from the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77 and the Arab League to visit Iran's nuclear sites. Ali Larijani, the head of the Supreme National Security Council and chief nuclear negotiator, went to Saudi Arabia and personally talked to King Abdullah - conveying the Supreme Leader's offer of Iranian help to stabilize Iraq. But this won't be enough to appease Bush.
Bush's green light for the assassination of Iranians inside Iraq has been no less than absurd - apart from being illegal. The majority of Iranians in Iraq are pilgrims, who go predominantly to the holy sites in Najaf and Karbala (Iran is actually financing the construction of an airport in Najaf). Anyone now can dub the pilgrims "spies" or "terrorists" or worse, and engage in targeted assassinations. What Iranian agents do is sell mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades to Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army commanders. The Mehdi Army is not killing Americans - at least not yet.
American casualties are not produced by Shi'ite pilgrims. The killers are Sunni Arabs - from al-Anbar province to Salahuddin, from Mosul to western Baghdad. These Sunni Arab killers are sponsored by none other than wealthy individuals living in the "axis of fear" - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and the Emirates. Of more than 10,000 prisoners in US jails in Iraq, the majority of foreigners are Saudis, followed by Jordanians. There are practically no Iranians.
read in full...
Talking Points Memo: BUSH'S INTERESTS ARE NOW RADICALLY DISJOINED FROM THE COUNTRY'S
This is the preeminent, really the only question in American politics today: Do we want to go to war with Iran or not? With the escalating chaos in Iraq and the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, is it in our interests or not to get into a shooting war with Iran? The debate over the 'surge' of US troops into Baghdad is significant in its own way, but it pales in comparison to this one. (...)
As I wrote last night, I think the new campaign of anonymous leaks suggesting Iranian involvement in the Najaf raid has rather less than no credibility. But even if you assumed, for the sake of discussion, that it were tied to, say, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and that (as the narrative goes) the attack was retaliation for the Erbil raid on the Iranian consulate, that still would not change the question we face: is it in our national interest to go to war with Iran or not?
Everything flows from the answer to that question. Tits for tats or who started what fade into the background. If the answers no, we should be calibrating our actions to avoid such an outcome, not taking actions likely to provoke it. We need a regional plan to walk this mess back from the brink rather than simply yanking every thread on this already frayed fabric and watching it disintegrate in front of us.
We've heard a few squawks and warnings from members of Congress. But now is the time for members of the House and the Senate to get serious about asserting some control over this rapid descent.
I've said this before. But perhaps it seems like hyperbole. So I'll say it again. The president's interests are now radically disjoined from the country's. We can handle a setback like Iraq. It really is a big disaster. But America will certainly surive it. President Bush -- in the sense of his legacy and historical record -- won't. It's all Iraq for him. And Iraq is all disaster. So, from his perspective (that is to say, through the prism of his interests rather than the country's -- which he probably can't separate) reckless gambits aimed at breaking out of this ever-tightening box make sense.
Think of it like this. He's a death row prisoner concocting a thousand-to-one plan to break out of prison. For him, those are good odds. The rest of us are doing three months for disorderly conduct. And he's trying to rope us into his harebrained scheme. Like I said, his interests are very different from ours.
read in full...
Psyche, Science and Society: GUERNICA IRAQ VIDEO
The YouTube description:
"Guernica" was painted by Picasso in 1937. It depicts the senseless massacre by the Nazi Luftwaffe in the Basque city of Guernica, Spain. The attack was ordered at the behest of fascist Spanish General, Francisco Franco, during the Spanish Civil War. Guernica was a non-military target, the innocent people of the town were attacked in an attempt to psychologically break the will of those who opposed Franco's fascistic nationalist pursuit.
Picasso captured an intense scene reflecting the deeply unjust suffering, agony and despair experienced by the people of Guernica. And in doing so he produced one of the most iconic, powerful and affecting pieces of anti-war artwork ever put to canvas. It is little surprise then that a reproduction of the painting, which hangs outside the entrance to the UN Security Council, was covered while Colin Powell was attempting to sell the Iraq War to the world.
The people of Iraq are suffering what amounts to the similar unjust brutality inflicted on the people of Guernica, except it's practically on a daily basis. A more accurate comparison would be to imagine having the London Tube and Bus bombings everyday. And have them happen so often that they become a predictable daily occurrence and part of life.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
: "Iraqi soldiers frequently sell their equipment on the black market. The result is that they no longer have the equipment and it generally ends up in the hands of organized crime, the militias, or the insurgency. Consequently, coalition personnel must choose between properly equipping their Iraqi charges and risk having much of the gear disappear, or giving them lower quality equipment that they will find hard to sell, but in so doing, deprive them of the wherewithal to succeed." -- from a February 2006 report by the U.S. think tank Brookings Institution quoted by Reuters