Thursday, February 22, 2007
20 bodies were found Wednesday in the capital, an Interior Ministry official said.Diyala Prv: (update) The Black Hawk attacked on Wednesday was forced into a “hard landing” after taking fire from heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades in Diyala Province, north of Baghdad, the United States military said. There were no injuries. The witnesses to the helicopter crash, also in Diyala, said that three helicopters, including a double-rotor Chinook, were flying at tree level when gunmen began firing antiaircraft machine guns from an area near an oil pipeline. A resident who would give his name only as Ali said the back of one helicopter burst into flames, leading the aircraft to turn sideways and plunge to the ground. Two other witnesses said they saw fire coming from the helicopter as it crashed around 1 p.m.
An Iraqi Islamic militant group called Jaish al-Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the crash in a website statement whose authenticity could not be verified.Hilla: Police retrieved the body of a man from Euphrates river in the city of Hilla, 100 km (60 miles) south of Baghdad, police said. The body bore gun shot wounds. Mahaweel: The bodies of two people were found on Wednesday and Thursday in the town of Mahaweel, 75 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad. Basra: Two British military bases in Basra were bombarded with missiles in the past 24 hours, an Iraqi security source said Thursday. The two British bases, located in downtown Basra and in the city's Shat al-Arab hotel, were bombed Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, the source added. Basra is located 550 kilometres south of Baghdad. No details of causalities were immediately available. Baiji: Unknown gunmen staged an attack against a police station in Baiji district killing two police officers and wounding six policemen, a security source said. "Masked gunmen in four cars attacked today shortly before noon a police station in Baiji district using RPGs and small arms," the source, who asked not to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq. The station personnel clashed with the attackers for a while, said the source and added "two police officers were killed and six policemen were wounded in the clashes while the attackers fled the scene." Kirkuk: The bodies of five people were found shot and tortured on Wednesday in the outskirts of the oil rich city of Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. Ramadi: U.S. forces killed at least 12 insurgents and wounded three in a six-hour gunbattle in Ramadi involving heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and air strikes, the U.S. military said on Thursday. 1st Lieutenant Shawn Mercer, a spokesman for U.S. Marines operating in western Iraq, said the battle started on Wednesday evening when gunmen attacked U.S. forces in the east of Ramadi, a Sunni insurgent stronghold in Anbar province. "The scale of the fight eventually led to coalition forces using precision guided munitions (air strikes) and causing damage to a number of structures," Mercer said in an email response to questions. Residents in Ramadi said three buildings were destroyed in the clashes. A civil defence official and an ambulance driver, both of whom declined to be identified, said as many as 26 people were killed, including some women and children. Mercer denied that. "We have no reports of civilian casualties and there were no coalition casualties," he said. "The firefight lasted approximately six hours. Al Anbar Prv: U.S. troops uncovered a chemical munition plant near Fallujah, with three vehicle bombs being assembled, including a truck bomb, about 65 propane tanks and "all kinds of ordinary chemicals," said U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell. Tal Afar: The U.S. military said four people were killed, including a policeman and a 12 year-old boy, and five were wounded, including two policemen, on Monday when two booby-trapped houses detonated while police were searching homes in the northern town of Tal Afar, about 420 km (260 miles) northwest of Baghdad. During the search, a policeman shot and killed a suspect and wounded two others. Police had already reported the death of one policeman. >> NEWS Four Iraqi soldiers have been accused of raping a 50-year-old Sunni woman and the attempted rape of her two daughters in the second allegation of sexual assault leveled against Iraqi forces this week, an official said Thursday. Brig. Gen. Nijm Abdullah said the attack allegedly occurred about 10 days ago in the northern city of Tal Afar during a search for weapons and insurgents. A lieutenant and three enlisted men denied the charge but later confessed after they were confronted by the woman, a Turkoman. Abdullah said a fifth soldier suspected something was wrong, burst into the house and forced the others at gunpoint to stop the assault. "They have been referred to the judicial authorities so they can receive their just punishment," said Abdullah, who effectively serves as mayor of the city. A tribal leader from Tal Afar, Sheik Mohammed Khalil Hanash of the Hawyat clan, said the alleged attack took place on Feb. 8. He said the woman told him that the lieutenant filmed the alleged attack on a cell phone video camera, but did not take part. A second rape allegation within a single week is likely to undermine further the reputation of Iraq's security services, which the U.S. hopes can take over from coalition troops so the Americans and their allies can go home. Hundreds of Iraqi journalists and activists held a sit-in today in front of the headquarters of the Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate to protest the recent US raid against the union, UPI is reporting. As reported on Iraqslogger, US forces stormed the syndicate’s headquarters in Baghdad on Monday evening. Troops ransacked offices, arrested 10 of the syndicate’s security guards and confiscated 10 computers and 15 small electricity generators destined for the families of killed journalists, according to a statement released by the International Federation of Journalists. Ali `Uweid, deputy head of the press syndicate, said that the raid demonstrated “contempt for Iraqi Journalism and civil society organizations” and added that the syndicate would continue its protests until the guards were released and the property returned, reported Aswat al-Iraq, in Arabic. >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS Gorilla's Guides: MOVING INTO THE PENULTIMATE PHASE The big news of February 20th which does no seem to have penetrated Western conciousness is that the siege of Baghdad by fighter resisting the American invaders is continuing to tighen. As American and allied soldiers “surge” into Baghdad they leave the surrounding governorates clear for the fighter resisting the American invasion to tighten their grip on the capital’s supply lines. The destruction of a fuel convoy 107 kilomtres north of Baghdad in Qadha Al Azim is typical o such attacks which have increased to the extent that they often now go unreported. The reasons for this are two-fold 1. They occur so often that they are no longer news or if reported are buried as a brief mention in longer news reports. 2. They occur in parts of the country where even Iraki journalists dare not operate, word of such attacks in those areas filters out slowly and is often difficulty to verify. Also seemingly unnoticed by the Western media is the impact of the Sabrine Al Jabani rape case on Iraki opinion. In a military context the announcement by the group that styles itself the the Islamic Army in Iraq posted to numerous sites demonstrates the ever diminishing legitimacy of the green zone government and the increasing political legitimacy of the fighters resisting the American occupation. We reproduce below its key passage shorn of the rhetoric in which such statements are customarily phased:
All the operations that we carry out this month will be concentrated against the Iraki security forces and will be called Operation Sabrin. We of the Islamic Army in Irak say to sister Sabrine that we will have no peace until we have sought revenge for her and for the honour of all Muslim women who have been raped.There is every indication that they have started to carry out this threat and that other fighter groups Sunni and Shia alike are also intensifying their operations. The failed American invasion of Irak is moving into it’s penultimate phase — the penultimate phase of all failed invasions and occupations — repeated battles for the capital. read in full… Arab bARABie: RESPONSE TO "IRAQ DISMANTLES SADDAM’S BIG MONUMENT" Note: bARABie's comments in red [in italics -- zig] Feb. 20, 2007 - It's the postcard image of Baghdad: a pair of gigantic crossed swords clenched in massive fists. The monument, known officially as the Hands of Victory, is both a symbol of Saddam Hussein's outsized ego and his iron grip. "Massive fists", "iron grip" "outsized ego" this is how the writer from newsweek has started this article. The use of those three terms immediately invokes an image of a tyrant without the reader having to further read the article. Very disingenious. How does a war memorial suddenly become "BOTH a symbol" of an "outsized ego" and "iron grip"? Whatever happened to it's foremost function as a war memorial? For nearly 20 years, the swords have dominated the skyline in central Baghdad. But on Tuesday afternoon, 10-foot bronze chunks cut from one fist were stacked haphazardly at the base of the monument, the first step in bringing the swords down. Here the reader, through slight of hand (pun intended) by the writer, is being led to believe they are cutting Saddam's fist, the same "massive fists" which had an "iron grip". "I was very shocked when I heard they started destroying it," says Mustafa Khadimi, executive director of the Iraq Memory Foundation,an organization that has meticulously documented the atrocities of the former regime. When was this organization started, who funds the Iraqi Memory Foundation (IMF), have they documented the atrocities of the CURRENT regime? How about the atrocities of the Bush regime or the Safavids or the Israelis? Or is this just a sunni witchhunt? (…) Saddam constructed the monument to symbolize what he saw as a definitive victory in the brutal war with Iran during the 1980s. The pair of crossed swords was officially unveiled in 1989, but Saddam started construction on the monument well before the war with Iran was even finished. He pulled out all the stops. This writer should be ashamed, very ashamed. To convince the reader of how the "Hands of Victory" were built PURELY for Saddam's "outsized ego", the writer tries showing how even the "claim" of the swords being built for a "definitive victory" were supposedly started before the end of the war. "he pulled out all stops"??? If there is one real moronic sentence that stands out more than most, it is this one. What stops is the writer talking about? (…) Like Saddam's bungled execution, a hasty decision to dismantle the monument could inflame sectarian tensions. "Bungled" execution not THE execution or the "bungled" trial or "bungled" invasion could inflame sectarian tensions. Right! How about the daily massacres, the daily gang rapes, daily torture? Does the writer think they may exacerbate sectarian tensions? Interestingly enough the INVASION doesn't figure in this article whatsoever. Many Sunnis, whether they supported Saddam or not, will likely interpret the move as a direct snub by a Shiite-led government. Not exactly the kind of message the government should send while enforcing a new security plan. "The timing doesn't serve anything," says Wamidh Nadhmi, a political science professor at Baghdad University. "This would be a defeat for the whole idea of reconciliation." Raping children, torturing teenagers, hanging young mothers, burning alive sunnis, drilling holes into victims while they are ALIVE, dropping two tonne bombs on civilians and so on will NOT be "defeat for the whole idea of reconciliation" but the RIPPING apart of "Swords of Victory" WILL. read in full… Blah3: LISTEN TO THE GENERALS Listening to the commanders on the ground has been a great fallback position for Bush and Blair, but it's just blowing smoke. It turns out Blair's announcement of a troop reduction yesterday should have been much bigger--except he had to help George save face. But the commanders see the writing on the wall:
Military chiefs had been pushing for much bigger cuts in the number of British troops in Iraq than those announced yesterday by Tony Blair, defence officials made clear last night. For months, army commanders have suggested that their presence on the streets of Basra was doing more harm than good, that it was time to lower expectations and let Iraqi forces take charge of security. They were forced to agree to a more gradual reduction partly in deference to US sensitivities. They also recognised the importance of "managing risk", a senior defence source said. [....] Though some expressed trepidation at the potential negative consequences of a drawdown in British forces before their Iraqi counterparts were fully ready to take responsibility for security, one senior provincial official in Basra said: "If after four years they can't withdraw 1,600 troops without destabilising the situation, then God help us."Doncha just love it? Thousands of our troops dead, and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives snuffed out...and what matters here are "US sensitivities." As Digby would say, it's time to clutch the pearls and wheel out the fainting couch. link Born at the Crest of the Empire: SA-14 OR SA-16 BROUGHT DOWN MARINE HELICOPTER This is a big deal. Not just that this helicopter was shot down by a missile, but that it was shot down by a fairly sophisticated missile that didn't come from Saddam's stockpiles.
The Army's senior aviation officer in Iraq said yesterday that Sunni fighters probably used a sophisticated SA-14 or SA-16 shoulder-fired missile to shoot down a Marine helicopter on Feb. 7, killing all seven people on board..... The Russian-manufactured SA-14 or SA-16 probably would have been brought into the country from abroad relatively recently, Simmons said in an interview.Let's remember that this missile was fired by Sunnis and did not come from Iran. The Sunnis are bringing in sophisticated weaponry, and that requires funding and well established smuggling routes. So, who is supplying the Sunnis to kill Americans? Why am I not seeing Baghdad briefings and Washington news conferences on that? read in full… Inside Iraq: ROOM ENOUGH I know it is all about the oil. I know that those who thought to use the greed of US politicians to remove one rotten tyrant and impose the will of tens of others upon the people of Iraq, had oil in mind as payment for the services rendered by the US Administration. Oil, not blood. The wound is now open, left to fester, contaminated by some known and mostly unknown germs. But now the price to be paid is being dealt out in a different coinage; blood, and human lives; some taken, others destroyed; more yet left in despair over lost loved ones that have been killed, maimed or have simply disappeared. The price is not paid by those who made the decision and reaped the benefits, but by us. Democracy and freedom for the Iraqi people! I issue an invitation to Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Come; experience first hand the democracy you brought us. Come; partake of the freedom you so generously taught us. Come, I will offer you my home, there is room enough. I had a brother. He was killed; coinage for your democracy. (11.Aug, 2005 – 52 yrs) I had a son. He was killed; coinage for your freedom. (3 Dec, 2005 – 18 yrs) I had a nephew. He was killed; coinage to ease your inflated ego. (12 Feb, 2007 – 30 yrs) Come, there is room enough in my home to accommodate you; but there is no room in my heart to accommodate your lame excuses. Come, all those who participated in wounding our hearts; come; there are more than half a million places vacant of their occupants, we will accommodate you. There is room enough. link >> BEYOND IRAQ Afghanistan: One British and three Afghan journalists working for Al Jazeera Television were released after they captured by Taliban militants in southern Province of Helmand in Afghanistan, held overnight and released yesterday, one of the team said. Noam Chomsky interview, Palestine Chronicle: "THEY HAVE TO BE PUNISHED FOR DISOBEYING US" Q: So when the United States considers a potential invasion you think it's under the premise of gaining control? That is what the United States will gain from attacking Iran?
Chomsky: There are several issues in the case of Iran. One is simply that it is independent and independence is not tolerated. Sometimes it's called successful defiance in the internal record. Take Cuba. A very large majority of the US population is in favor of establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and has been for a long time, with some fluctuations. And even part of the business world is in favor of it too.
But the government won't allow it. It's attributed to the Florida vote, but I don't think that's much of an explanation. I think it has to do with a feature of world affairs that is insufficiently appreciated. International affairs is very much run like the mafia. The godfather does not accept disobedience, even from a small storekeeper who doesn't pay his protection money. You have to have obedience, otherwise the idea can spread that you don't have to listen to the orders, and it can spread to important places.
If you look back at the record, what was the main reason for the US attack on Vietnam? Independent development can be a virus that can infect others. That's the way it's been put, [former secretary of state Henry] Kissinger in this case, referring to [Salvador] Allende in Chile. And with Cuba it's explicit in the internal record. Arthur Schlesinger, presenting the report of the Latin American Study Group to incoming president [John] Kennedy, wrote that the danger is the spread of the [Fidel] Castro idea of taking matters into your own hands, which has a lot of appeal to others in the same region that suffer from the same problems. Later internal documents charged Cuba with successful defiance of US policies going back 150 years - to the Monroe Doctrine - and that can't be tolerated. So there's kind of a state commitment to ensuring obedience.
Going back to Iran, it's not only that it has substantial resources and that it's part of the world's major energy system, but it also defied the United States. The United States, as we know, overthrew the parliamentary government, installed a brutal tyrant, was helping him develop nuclear power. In fact the very same programs that are now considered a threat were being sponsored by the US government, by Cheney, [Paul] Wolfowitz, Kissinger and others in the 1970s, as long as the shah was in power. But then the Iranians overthrew him, and they kept US hostages for several hundred days. And the United States immediately turned to supporting Saddam Hussein and his war against Iran as a way of punishing Iran. The United States is going to continue to punish Iran because of its defiance. So that's a separate factor.
And again, the will of the US population and even US business is considered mostly irrelevant. Seventy-five percent of the population here favors improving relations with Iran, instead of threats. But this is disregarded. We don't have polls from the business world, but it's pretty clear that the energy corporations would be quite happy to be given authorization to go back into Iran instead of leaving all that to their rivals. But the state won't allow it. And it is setting up confrontations right now, very explicitly. Part of the reason is strategic, geopolitical, economic, but part of the reason is the mafia complex. They have to be punished for disobeying us.
Gary Younge, the Guardian: ONCE GEORGE BUSH HAS GOT HOLD OF A BAD IDEA HE JUST CAN'T LET IT GOOn December 20 1954, a woman known as Marion Keech gathered her followers in her garden in Lake City, Illinois, and waited for midnight, when flying saucers were supposed to land and save them from huge floods about to engulf the planet. Keech had received news of the impending deluge from Sananda, a being from the planet Clarion, whose messages she passed on to a small group of believers. Unbeknown to her, the group had been infiltrated by a University of Minnesota researcher, the social psychologist Leon Festinger. As dawn rose on December 21 with no flying saucer in sight, Keech had another revelation. Sananda told her that the group's advanced state of enlightenment had saved the entire planet. They rejoiced and called a press conference. "A man with a conviction is a hard man to change," wrote Festinger in his book on the cult, When Prophecy Fails. "Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts and figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point." George Bush is a man of conviction and clearly a hard man to change. When reality confronts his plans he does not alter them but instead alters his understanding of reality. Like Keech and her crew, he stands with a tight band of followers, both deluded and determined, understanding each setback not as a sign to change course but as further proof that they must redouble their efforts to the original goal. And so we watch the administration's plans for a military attack against Iran unfold even as its official narrative for the run-up to the war in Iraq unravels and the wisdom of that war stands condemned by death and destruction. As though on split screens, we pass seamlessly from reports of how they lied to get us into the last war, to scenes of carnage as a result of the war, to shots of them lying us into the next one. In April 2002, Bush told Trevor McDonald: "I have no plans to attack [Iraq] on my desk." An $8 cab ride to the Pentagon and Bush would have found the plans on Donald Rumsfeld's desk. He knew this because he put them there four months earlier. On November 21 2001, he asked Rumsfeld: "What kind of war plan do you have for Iraq?" read in full… QUOTE OF THE DAY: "In the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, a U.S. military unit was ordered to blow up a building in southern Iraq. The explosion created unexpected damage to the surrounding area as well as the deaths and injuries of several Iraqis. A young soldier approached an officer and asked, 'Should we clean up the mess and take care of the injured people?' The officer replied, 'Hell no. This is Iraq.'" -- from "Hell No, This is Iraq" by Malcolm Lagauche