Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Photo: Iraqis chant slogans while protesting in Basra, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2007. About 500 people launched a sit-in strike in front of the British Consulate in Basra in protest against the arrest of the Assistant Director of the Southern Power Distribution Department engineer Ziyad Rashed that was conducted by British troops Tuesday morning. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani) (Unreported elsewhere -- zig)
(a non-confirmed report) A British Hercules aircraft was shot down in southeastern Iraq and was suspiciously destroyed by coalition forces for what they called 'the risk of mounting a recovery operation'. Two people suffered minor injuries in the incident Monday night, the Ministry said. The C-130 had just touched down at an airstrip in Maysan province when it was damaged by an explosion, said a Ministry spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with Department policy. Another C-130 in the area quickly landed at the same strip and rescued the crew, the spokesman said .
Asked for details, an MoD spokesman told AFP Tuesday: "We're certainly saying it hasn't been shot down." However, he said he was not in a position to comment on whether the Royal Air Force plane had been attacked during the landing itself. He said "there is no suggestion of pilot error" during the incident which occurred during a routine landing at a "tactical landing zone," which he described as something less permanent than an airstrip .
Bring 'em on: A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when insurgents targeted a combat patrol north of the Iraqi capital Feb. 13. The patrol received small arms fire while providing security around an improvised explosive device they discovered during a combat patrol, wounding one Soldier. The Soldier later died of wounds sustained from the attack Feb. 14. (MNF- Iraq)
A Task Force Lightning Soldier died Tuesday in a non-combated related incident, which is currently under investigation.
[Note: The items below marked with an asterisk should have been part of yesterday's post, but whisker's e-mail to me with the respective security incidents vanished on the way; and I that had started wondering if perhaps there had been a lull in the violence… --zig]
At least four people were killed and 10 others wounded when a utility sport vehicle (SUV) packed with explosives went off in a parking lot in eastern Baghdad on Wednesday, an Interior Ministry source said. "An explosive-laden SUV detonated around 3:00 p.m. (1200 GMT) at the parking lot of Garage al-Amanah in the al-Wahda district," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Clashes erupted between gunmen and Iraqi army, wounding three soldiers in the Yarmouk district.
A roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol killed a civilian in the western Yarmouk district of Baghdad.
Several mortar rounds killed one person and wounded 16 others in the northern Rashdiya suburb of Baghdad.
A car bomb killed two people and wounded seven others in a market in the southern Bayaa district of Baghdad.
A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed a man and wounded three others in the al-Sulaikh district of northern Baghdad.
* A suicide bomber driving a small truck rigged with explosives blew up near a Baghdad college on Tuesday, killing 18 people.
* Police said they also discovered a booby-trapped ambulance about 500 yards away and they were trying to defuse it.
* Mortar shells crashed into Suwaib, a suburb in the south of the city, killing three civilians.
* A car bomb killed four people and wounded another four near a bakery in Al-Amin neighbourhood of eastern of Baghdad.
* Police found 20 deceased bodies all over the capital. the bodies carried signs of multiple gunshots. The following is the detailed locations for the deceased bodies found: Dora 2, Mansour 1, Shualaa 1, Saidiya 1, Yarmouk 1, Khadhraa 1, Ameriya 1, Nafaq Al Shurta 1, Tobchi 1, Bunouk 1, Rashad 1, Ur 1, Sileikh 1, Sadr 3, New Baghdad 1, Hussainia 1, Shaab 1.
Diyala Prv:
Iraqi police patrols found 22 unidentified bodies dumped near Khalis.
* A police official said 2 Shiite Hussainia (mosque) guards were killed and another was kidnapped after they stopped a terrorist attempt to bomb the Hussainia in Kharnabat town, north of Baaqouba. A group of men asked the guards to keep an empty coffin in the Hussainia till they attend another funeral. The guards suspected the unusual request and refused. After checking the coffin, it turned out to be booby trapped with explosives attached to a clock set to detonate at 5:30 p.m. The terrorist killed two of the guards and kidnapped the third. Police defused the coffin bomb.
* Al Khalis police killed a suicide wearing a bomb vest as he was trying to bomb himself among a crowd of citizens waiting to receive Kerosene.
* Diyala health department officials said today the main hospital of Baaqouba (Diyala province capital) received today 12 deceased and 4 injured.
Gunmen killed a policeman on Tuesday in the southern city of Samawa, 270 km (170 miles) south of Baghdad.
An explosive device implanted on a main road blew up targeting a British army patrol In Basra, witnesses said. One Iraqi was killed in the blast but no casualties were reported on the British side.
A car bomb killed three people and wounded 20 others in the city of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad.
A suicide car bomber targeted an Iraqi army patrol, killing one soldier and four civilians and wounding 20 other people in the northern city of Mosul.
A suicide car bomber killed at least five people and wounded 20 others when he blew up his vehicle at the entrance of a police station in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi.
A suicide car bomber has attacked an Iraqi police station in the center of Ramadi, killing at least eight policemen and wounding seven.Among the dead are a police chief and his assistant.
Four Iraqi policemen were killed in an ambush by unidentified gunmen in the city of Falluja, 45 km west of Baghdad, an Iraqi police source said on Wednesday. "Unidentified gunmen, using automatic weapons, killed four policemen and injured several others in an ambush to their patrol in al-Shurta (police) neighborhood, in central Falluja, at 9:30 am," the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq.
* At least five people were killed and 12 wounded when mortar rounds landed in the town of Nahrawan on Monday, 30 km (20 miles) southeast of Baghdad.
* Police found three bodies bearing signs of torture and with bullet wounds in the town of Mahmudiya, 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad.
* Unidentified gunmen attacked on Tuesday a U.S. patrol, wounding three soldiers and damaging a Hummer vehicle, said a police source in the district of Dalouiya, Salah al-Din province, 175 km north of Baghdad. "The gunmen used hand grenades and directly hit one of the vehicles in the patrol," the source, who declined to have his named mentioned, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
Later on, the U.S. forces, backed by helicopters, waged a ferocious campaign in the area in search of gunmen. An eyewitness said a medical chopper landed at the Dalouiya bridge and moved the wounded soldiers .
Associates of al Sadr insist that he has not left the country in advance of a security crackdown, responding to a U.S. report that he has fled Baghdad and is belived to be in Iran.
Muqtada al-Sadr is believed to be in Tehran, where he has family, a U.S. official said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. monitoring activities. (…)
In Baghdad, officials linked to al-Sadr denied that the reclusive cleric had fled the country. A close aide who meets regularly with him said al-Sadr was not in Tehran. The aide said the U.S. report probably stems from a campaign by al-Sadr's people to put out false information about his movements amid fears he will be detained by U.S.-led forces. The cleric also is sleeping in different places each night, the aide said.
An official in al-Sadr's main office in the Shiite holy city of Najaf said the cleric had decided not to appear publicly during the current month of Muharam, one of four holy months in the Islamic calendar.
The Iraqi government formally launched a long-awaited security crackdown in Baghdad on Wednesday, with U.S. and Iraqi troops stepping up patrols, establishing new checkpoints and randomly searching cars to stop the violence in the capital. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the sweep, code-named Operation Imposing Law, would target those "who want to continue with rebellion."
A transport helicopter that crashed in Iraq last week, killing all seven on board, was brought down by a "sophisticated piece of weaponry," the U.S. military said on Wednesday.
The Ch-46 Sea Knight, the Marine version of the twin-rotor Chinook, crashed near Baghdad on February 7, the seventh helicopter to be shot down in Iraq since January 20. The military initially said mechanical failure was probably to blame. (...)
"It was probably brought down by some sophisticated piece of weaponry," the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, Major- General William Caldwell, said of the downing of the Sea Knight. (...)
Caldwell did not explain what he meant by "sophisticated weaponry," but an al Qaeda-backed group claiming responsibility for downing the aircraft, posted a video on the Internet showing an apparent missile hitting a twin-rotor helicopter that was then engulfed in flames and plummeted to the ground.
The United States aims to accept about 7,000 Iraqi refugees by the end of the year, U.S. officials said on Wednesday as the State Department sought to blunt criticism that it took in only 202 last year.
The move, disclosed as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was to meet U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, follows sharp questions from U.S. lawmakers about why the United States has welcomed so few Iraqi refugees.
A Shiite militant group has released a video of a kidnapped Iraqi-American soldier, the first time he has been seen alive since he was abducted four months ago in Baghdad, his uncle said Wednesday.
A judge dismissed charges Wednesday against five British soldiers accused of mistreating Iraqi civilian detainees but said the court-martial would continue against two other servicemen. The trial has tarnished the image of Britain's military because it marked the first time a British soldier pleaded guilty to a war crime under international law. Cpl. Donald Payne, 35, admitted he inhumanely treated Iraqi civilians in September. He has not yet been sentenced on the charge.
An Iraqi Army unit prevented an Interior Ministry Commando force from entering the Sunni-majority district of Amiriya in Baghdad to raid a house that they claimed was being used by terrorists. The Iraqi Army commander informed them that the area was under his jurisdiction and that he had orders from his superiors in the Defense Ministry to prevent the police from entering areas that are under the responsibility of the Iraqi Army. Al-Melaf added that a tense dispute broke out between the two groups and it only ended when Interior Ministry officials ordered the commando force to retreat for fear of an armed clash between the two groups. Baghdad residents have reported similar incidents in many parts of Baghdad.
Made for European television this film was never broadcast in North America.
Barry Lando and Michel Despratx's documentary
The horrifying truth is the extent to which we in the west have been complicit.
Video Part 1
Violence in Iraq is tearing families apart and destroying the country's economy, two major factors giving rise to a mass of marginalised street children, child specialists say. Once on the streets, children can easily fall prey to gangs involved in drugs, violence and prostitution.
"Children are the first victims of violence and they are particularly vulnerable psychologically speaking. So it's easy for an adult who would like to do so to manipulate and use children. There was already the case of a child who was used as a suicide bomber in late 2005, for example," Cedric Turlan, information officer for the NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI), said.
Ali Mussawi, president of the local NGO Keeping Children Alive (KCA), said that since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 there has been an increase in the number of children used by criminal gangs. Mussawi said that a major reason for this was that many homeless children quickly turn to drugs, including sniffing glue or vapours from liquids such as paint, which have large amounts of intoxicants.
"Many street children join criminal gangs to get money for their [drug] habits because the money they get from begging is not enough for them to eat and consume their drugs," Mussawi said.
Mussawi added that some criminal gangs offer these children drugs in exchange for sexual favours.
"[Street] boys and girls are in a desperate situation. The Ministry of Interior cannot control such groups and the losers are the children who cannot escape,- he said. - It is a torture. These children are starving to death and the gangs use their desperate situation to force them into a drugs and sex world."
read in full...
Google is playing an unlikely role in the Iraq war. Its online satellite map of the world, Google Earth, is being used to help people survive sectarian violence in Baghdad.
As the communal bloodshed has worsened, some Iraqis have set up advice websites to help others avoid the death squads.
One tip - on the Iraq League site ( http://www.iraqirabita.org/index.html ), one of the best known - is for people to draw up maps of their local area using Google Earth's detailed imagery of Baghdad so they can work out escape routes and routes to block.
It's another example of the central role technology plays in the conflict - with the widespread use of mobile phones, satellite television as well as the internet - by all sides and for many purposes.
read in full...
Reported that the occupation forces, committed new crime in Diyala Province, making use of telecommunications breakdown in the province:
Their first stop was Imam Al-Hussein Mosque, they fired their machine guns on the mosque destroying the minaret, later they stormed the building burning two rooms.
Their second stop was nearby civilians' neighborhood, firing their weapons and burning 18 civilian cars killing a man and a woman, as usual media was silent about these crimes, and it will pass unnoticed.
The title of this diary may sound vastly understated, even sarcastic. It isn't meant that way. It is meant as an alarm.
The current escalation in Baghdad might not be just more of the same, might not just be worse, it might be a military disaster. From what I have learned, it seems the elements of a large-scale defeat for US forces could be drawing into place in the city. The result could be hundreds of casualties on top of a failed mission.
Below are my observations drawn from current news reports and study of previous operations in Iraq. If my fears are borne out, the current Baghdad security plan leaves our troops vulnerable to almost every weapon at the insurgents' disposal.(...)
Getting back to the houses: they are officially known as JSSs, Joint Security Stations-- buildings where US and Iraqi troops will work and live together... at least until they don't. US officers won't have authority over the Iraqis-- who will take orders from a separate chain of command. Given the infiltration of Iraq's Security Forces, having them within the walls could be incredibly dangerous. A cynic might see them as an early warning system-- the day they disappear is probably the same day the Mahdi Army is planning to attack. Of course, when they do disappear, they will be taking knowledge of the building's layout, weak points, schedules, ammunition storage, supply levels, etc.
In short, this "Surge" plan will expose US soldiers to every weapon the Shiite and Sunni militias have: snipers, mortars, IEDs, car bombs, but most importantly: supply route interruption. _(...)
The events described here may or may not come to pass. Like Fred Kagan, I am no expert. All I know is what I have read about the situation and how the participants have acted in the past. Our troops will be spread out in vulnerable positions. The Sunni/Shia factions has stopped convoys in the past. They are shooting down helicopters now. Most importantly, they have cooperated jointly in combat before. These are seemingly the perfect conditions for disaster.
read in full...
Gareth Porter, Asia Times Online: US'S SMOKING GUN ON IRAN MISFIRES
The first major effort by the administration of US President George W Bush to substantiate its case that the Iranian government has been providing weapons to Iraqi Shi'ites who oppose the occupation undermines the administration's political line by showing that it has been unable to find any real evidence of an Iranian government role.
Contradicting recent claims by both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that US intelligence had proof of Iranian government responsibility for the supply of such weapons, the unnamed officials who briefed the media on Sunday admitted that the claim is merely "an inference" rather than based on a trail of evidence.
Although it was clearly not the intention, moreover, the briefing revealed for the first time that the Iranians and Iraqis detained by US forces in recent months did not provide any evidence implicating either the Iranian government or the Islamic Revolutionary Guards in the acquisition of armor-piercing explosive devices and other weapons by Iraqi Shi'ite groups.
In the end, the administration presentation suggested that there could be no other explanation for the presence of Iranian-made weapons than official government sponsorship of smuggling them into Iraq. But in doing so, they had to ignore a well-known reality: most weapons, including armor-piercing projectiles, can be purchased by anyone through intermediaries in the Middle East. (...)
Taking into account both the false notes struck by the anonymous officials, the damaging admissions they made and the absence of information they needed to make a case, the briefing appears to have been a serious setback to the Bush administration's propaganda campaign. It will certainly haunt administration officials trying to persuade Congress to support its increased aggressiveness toward Iran.
read in full...
Imagine a city torn by sectarian strife. Competing death squads roam the streets; terrorists stage horrific attacks. Local authority is distrusted and weak; local populations protect the extremists in their midst, out of loyalty or fear. A bristling military occupation exacerbates tensions at every turn, while offering prime targets for bombs and snipers. And behind the scenes, in a shadow world of double-cross and double-bluff, covert units of the occupying power run agents on both sides of the civil war, countenancing -- and sometimes directing -- assassinations, terrorist strikes, torture sessions, and ethnic cleansing.
Is this a portrait of Belfast during "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland? Or a picture of Baghdad today? It is both; and in both cases, one of Britain's most secret - and most criminally compromised - military units has plied its trade in the darkness, "turning" and controlling terrorist killers in a dangerous bid to wring actionable intelligence from blood and betrayal. And America's covert soldiers are right there with them, working side-by-side with their British comrades in the aptly named "Task Force Black," the UK's Sunday Telegraph reports.
Last week, the right-wing, pro-war paper published an early valentine to the "Joint Support Group," the covert unit whose bland name belies its dramatic role at the center of the Anglo-American "dirty war" in Iraq. In gushing, lavish, uncritical prose that could have been (and perhaps was) scripted by the unit itself, the Telegraph lauded the team of secret warriors as "one of the Coalition's most effective and deadly weapons in the fight against terror," running "dozens of Iraqi double-agents," including "members of terrorist groups."
What the story fails to mention is the fact that in its Ulster incarnation, the JSG - then known as the Force Research Unit (FRU) - actively colluded in the murder of at least 15 civilians by Loyalist deaths squads, and an untold number of victims killed, maimed and tortured by the many Irish Republican Army double-agents controlled by the unit. What's more, the man who commanded the FRU during the height of its depredations - Lt. Col. Gordon Kerr - is in Baghdad now, heading the hugger-mugger Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), a large counter-terrorism force made up of unnamed "existing assets" from the glory days in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.
This despite the fact that a 10-year, $100 million investigation by Britain's top police officer, Lord Stevens, confirmed in 2003 that the Kerr-led FRU "sanctioned killings" through "institutionalized collusion" with both Protestant and Catholic militias during the 1980s and 1990s. Stevens sent dossiers of evidence against Kerr and 20 other security apparatchiks to the Blair government's Director of Public Prosecutions, in the expectation that the fiery Scotsman and the others would be put on trial.
But instead prosecuting Kerr, Blair promoted him: first to a plum assignment as British military attaché in Beijing - effectively the number two man in all of UK military intelligence, as Scotland's Sunday Herald notes - then with the SRR posting to Baghdad, where Kerr and his former FRU mates now apply the "methods developed on the mean streets of Ulster during the Troubles," as the Telegraph breathlessly relates.
The Telegraph puff piece is naturally coy about revealing these methods, beyond the fact that, as in Ireland, the JSG uses "a variety of inducements ranging from blackmail to bribes" to turn Iraqi terrorists into Coalition agents. So to get a better idea of the techniques employed by the group in Baghdad, we must return to those "mean streets of Ulster" and the unit's reign of terror and collusion there, which has been thoroughly documented not only by the exhaustive Stevens inquiries, but also in a remarkable series of investigative reports by the Sunday Herald's Neil Mackay, and in extensive stories by the BBC, the Guardian, the Independent, the Times and others.
We will also see how the operations of the JSG and "Task Force Black" dovetail with U.S. efforts to apply the lessons of its own dirty wars - such as the "Salvador Option" - to Iraq, as well as long-running Bush Administration initiatives to arm and fund "friendly" militias while infiltrating terrorist groups in order to "provoke them into action." It is indeed a picture painted in black, a glimpse at the dark muck that lies beneath the high-flown rhetoric about freedom and civilization forever issuing from the lips of the war leaders.
read in full...
Writing in the Washington Post (9th February 2007) Eric Fairm writes of: "an interrogator's nightmare". "A man with no face stares at me from the corner of a room. He pleads for help, but I am afraid to move. He begins to cry. It is a pitiful sound and it sickens me. He screams, but as I awaken, I realize the screams are mine."
Fairm is plagued by nightmares. He was a "contract interrogator", for the 82nd Airborne Division, in Falluja during part of 2004, one "... of two civilian interrogators, assigned to the division interrogation facility".
The man who returns to torment his dreams was "... a suspected associate" of a Ba'ath Party leader in Anbar province... who had been captured two months earlier". In other words, he was a possible pan-Arab nationalist, living in his own country. "Nationalist" becomes a pejorative word when used by Western politicians, in fact, it has the same meaning as patriot ("a person who vigorously supports his country and its way of life", Collins.) .
The haunted Mr Fairm has "long since forgotten" the name of his nocturnal visitor - something one would have thought might also haunt - but not his instructions: "I was to deprive the detainee of sleep .. forcing him to stand in a corner and stripping him of his clothes." There will be many that will applaud honesty in admitting Abu Ghraib-like torment, "mistakes" and failing to "uphold the standards of human decency". Instead: "I intimidated, degraded a man who could not defend himself", writes Fairm.
He also watched naked prisoners, forced to stand through the night, shivering; saw degradation, deprivation, punching, kicking "used daily". "Appalled", he admits lacking the courage to stand up and challenge "friends and colleagues". With "friends" like these ...
Fairm argues, that unless "myriad mistakes" are addressed "there can be no hope of success in Iraq."
One thing is clear, the man does need help. There is no hope of success in Iraq. Popping round with $2,500 a head (seemingly the current going rate) for blowing families to bits in their beds and blasting their homes over them, or blowing in the door of the family home, to invade in boots, then say "sorry", or visit the family of the illegally snatched detainee (you are illegal invaders, please remember) is not going to win hearts and minds in millennia. The "damage" done to the people of Iraq, described, hardly addresses the enormity. "Damage" is car dent, a cracked window, an accidental act, not pre-meditated torment, physical damage, physical assault and humiliation.
read in full...
Or, maybe not.
The Iraqi government on Tuesday ordered tens of thousands of Baghdad residents to leave homes they are occupying illegally, in a surprising and highly challenging effort to reverse the tide of sectarian cleansing that has left the capital bloodied and Balkanized.
In a televised speech, Lt. Gen. Aboud Qanbar, who is leading the new crackdown, also announced the closing of Iraq's borders with Iran and Syria, an extension of the curfew in Baghdad by an hour, and the setup of new checkpoints run by the Defense and Interior Ministries, both of which General Qanbar said he now controlled.
He said the government would break into homes and cars it deemed dangerous, open mail and eavesdrop on phone calls.
On Tuesday, senior American officers expressed surprise about the plan to resettle people who had moved from their homes amid sectarian cleansing. But they declined to be identified, saying they did not want to contradict the Iraqi general.
Doesn't it sound a tiny bit like there's been a military coup in Iraq? Nah, couldn't be...
Next time you hear Bush talking about 'a free Iraq,' try not to laugh out loud.
U.S. forces killed eight Kurdish soldiers and wounded nine others at an established checkpoint in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Friday, Kurdish officials said.
A U.S. military statement offered a differing account of the incident, saying that U.S. troops killed five Kurdish police officers after the men ignored orders to lay down their weapons and exhibited "hostile intention."
"What the American statement said is not true," said Kabir Goran, deputy director of the Mosul office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a Kurdish political party. "They are trying to cover the massacre that they carried out at that military point," he said in a telephone interview.
"It is impossible that we attack the Americans," he said. "Their patrols are passing by that point every day, and we never attack them."
The U.S. statement said the American soldiers were in the al-Karama neighborhood of Mosul early Friday preparing for a raid against members of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaida in Iraq.
U.S. soldiers saw a group of armed men in a "bunker" near the building where the soldiers suspected insurgents were housed and instructed them to put down their weapons, the statement said.
"They were called out in Arabic and in Kurdish," said Lt. Col. Christopher C. Garver, a U.S. military spokesman. "We had a Kurdish speaker out there."
A U.S. helicopter swooped in to take a closer look, and soldiers on board "observed hostile action from the bunker and exercised proper self-defense measures in response to the assessed threat," the statement said. Link
db:"We had a Kurdish speaker out there"
...... did you kill him and if not why not?
Some 15 insurgents were killed in a joint operation by Afghan security forces and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops in Kajaki district of the province in a bid to clear the area around a hydropower dam.
Some 300 British Royal commandos along with Afghan army forces cleared some 60 insurgents from a fortified compound. The militants were using the compound to fire rockets and mortar rounds at joint forces in the area for the past two months, it said.
'At 6 a.m. Sunday morning ISAF forces supported by the ANA, began Operation Kryptonite to clear the areas of Shomali Ghulbah and Chinah, North West of Kajaki,' the statement said. It said that with helicopters providing air support, the joint forces 'cleared the well-fortified and high-walled compound while engaging in, at times, close fighting and receiving heavy small arms and RPG fire.' No ISAF, Afghan army or civilians were killed during the fighting that lasted for 12 hours.
Born at the Crest of the Empire: LOSING CONTROL
Say what you want about the previous state of the middle east, but this current version, this Bush created version is worse. (and keeps getting even worse.)
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said on Wednesday the kingdom does not see any obstacle to cooperating with Russia on developing a nuclear energy program.
(It appears the major short term purpose of Putin's speech blasting US policy was to act as political backdrop for his current middle east trip where the goal is to sell Russian weapons, nuclear technology, and an alternative partnership to the Sunni nations.)
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "At this point, it seems irrelevant whether the bombing of the Golden-dome Mosque was the work of Sunni extremists or the US intelligence agencies. After all, propaganda may be useful for shaping public opinion but it cannot win wars. And that is the dilemma that Bush now faces." -- from "The Bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque: one year later" by Mike Whitney


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