Thursday, March 01, 2007

Photo: Women gather scattered books from the floor of a mosque in Baghdad March 1, 2007. A joint force of U.S. and Iraqi personnel raided a mosque in the Shaab district of Baghdad, witnesses said. REUTERS/Kareem Raheem (IRAQ)
Bring 'em on: A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed Feb. 28 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province. (CENTCOM)
A roadside bomb killed one person and wounded four others near Beirut square in northeastern Baghdad, police said.
A roadside bomb exploded near a minibus filled with Baghdad City Council officials in the eastern part of the capital, killing one official and wounding four others, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said. The attack took place along Palestine Street, near Beirut Square. The minibus had no markings to indicate it was carrying government officials.
Unidentified gunmen killed an Iraqi civlian and kidnapped another on Thursday in the Shiite Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, an eyewitness said. "Four masked gunmen attacked two civilians in al-Falah street of Sadr City, killing one of them and forced the other at gunpoint to unknown destination", an eyewitness told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq.
The bodies of 10 people were found shot dead on Wednesday in different districts of Baghdad, police said.
Diyala Prv:
On Thursday, the U.S. military said American and Iraqi troops killed 10 militants and seized six weapons stashes in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad. The raids took place over the past three days, it said. The 10 were killed Monday in Muqdadiyah, a town in Diyala about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad, the military said in a statement. Five others were detained in the operation
Fierce clashes between insurgents and police left at least eight people dead and 11 wounded in the town of Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police sources said. Casualties were from both sides.
Armed clashes broke out between Iraqi police and gunmen in Iskandariya, south of Baghdad, killing at least five people and injuring seven, including policemen, an Iraqi police source said. The gunmen had attacked electricity workers who were conducting maintenance operations on the road between Mahawil and Iskandariya cities at Hillah, 100 kilometres south of the capital, the source added.
A U.S. Army OH-58 Kiowa helicopter performed a hard landing south of Kirkuk this morning. The two injured pilots onboard were evacuated to a military treatment facility in Kirkuk.
A roadside bomb exploded near the convoy of the head of police in the northern city of Mosul, killing one of his security guards, police said. Al-Hemdani was unharmed
Several mortar rounds landed in a residential district, killing four people and wounding 14 others on Wednesday night in the town of Habaniya, 85 km (50 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.
A car bomb targeting a convoy of cars carrying guests at the wedding of an Iraqi policemen killed five people and wounded 10 in the western city of Falluja on Thursday, a police source said. The source said the victims were guests driving in procession behind the bride and groom, as is traditional at Iraqi weddings.
Amiriyat al Falluja:
Iraqi security forces killed dozens of al Qaeda militants who attacked a village in western Anbar province on Wednesday, during fierce clashes that lasted much of the day, police officials said on Thursday. Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Karim Khalaf said foreign Arabs and Afghanis were among some 80 militants killed and 50 captured in the clashes in Amiriyat al Falluja, a village where local tribes had opposed al Qaeda. A police official in the area, Ahmed al-Falluji, put the number of militants killed at 70, with three police killed. There was no immediate verification of the number of casualties from medical sources.
U.S. and Iraqi troops will soon launch a major sweep in the Shi'ite militia bastion of Sadr City
, military officials said on Thursday, a pivotal moment for the make-or-break security crackdown in Baghdad.
American-led forces have conducted targeted raids in the Mehdi Army militia stronghold of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr aimed at death squad leaders, but have so far held off from a concerted push into the teeming slum.
In the new campaign, U.S. and Iraqi troops will set up joint checkpoints in Sadr City and conduct large-scale door-to-door operations on houses and buildings, a significant escalation in a plan regarded as the last chance to avert sectarian civil war.
Washington calls the Mehdi Army the greatest threat to peace in Iraq. Sadr is a key political ally of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the raids could test Maliki's pledge to target all militants regardless of sectarian affiliation.
Details of the plan emerged during a meeting of senior U.S. and Iraqi military commanders on Thursday in Sadr City, which was also attended by the mayor of Sadr City.
Sipping minted tea in a police station as four helicopter gunships hovered overheard, they agreed to set up a joint security station in Sadr City in a few days.
It will be the first U.S. forces have had a permanent presence in the slum since the 2003 invasion.
Sunni Muslim insurgents remain by far the biggest threat to American troops in Iraq, despite recent U.S. claims that Iran is providing Shiite Muslim militia groups with a new type of roadside bomb, a review of American casualty reports shows.
While U.S. military officials have held briefings to publicize their concerns about the potent bombs known as explosively formed projectiles (EFPs) or penetrators, casualty reports suggest that such weapons in the hands of Shiite militias are responsible for a relatively small number of American deaths.
U.S. officials have said that attacks with such weapons increased 150 percent in the past year. But a review of bombings by location shows that less than 10 percent of attacks that killed at least two American service members in the past 14 months were in areas where Shiite militias are dominant.
Those reports show that fewer than half the bomb attacks on heavily armored U.S. vehicles such as Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles were in areas where Shiite militias dominate.
The many conflicting, even contradictory, media accounts of Tuesday’s explosion in Ramadi are reaching head-spinning proportions. The mystery deepened Wednesday, a full day after the BBC and other news outlets originally reported that 18 children were killed and 20 others injured by a car bomb as they gathered to play football in the western Iraqi city. At this point, the cause of the explosion, who was responsible, and the number of resulting deaths or injuries remain uncertain.
Truthdig reviewed multiple sources but found distressingly little overlap by Wednesday’s end. To recap: Initial reports of the deaths of 18 boys ages 10 to 15 were countered by an American spokesman Tuesday, who described the blast to Reuters as a “controlled” detonation set off by U.S. troops. He also said he was unaware of any other explosions in that area and that about 30 people were injured, including a few children, but none killed.
To make matters more confusing, an update from Reuters on Tuesday quoted an American military representative, Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, who suggested that “two separate incidents” may have occurred in the same area.
Meanwhile, Wednesday’s Washington Post brought word that 16 children and two women had been killed by a bomb in a truck, according to Iraqi Col. Tariq al-Alwani. The Post piece also cited a Los Angeles Times report that included a statement from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who pointed to “criminal gangs” as responsible and condemned their “crime against children in their innocent playgrounds.”
The AFP ran a version closely resembling the first on this list. The United Arab Emirates newspaper Khaleej Times picked up the story, which remained on the paper’s site Wednesday, reiterating the 18-dead-and-20-wounded count and chalking the blast up to insurgent activity in the volatile city, thought to be an outpost for al-Qaida in Iraq. Sunni Sheikh Hamid al-Hais, as well as an unidentified defense official, weighed in for the AFP and stuck with the original death toll.
So, were U.S. forces behind the Ramadi blast? Criminal gangs? Were there two “incidents” Tuesday or one? Was the explosion contained or intentionally deadly? The story may change again, but we hope it will soon be a coherent and verifiable report rather than yet another round in an international game of telephone.
Broadcast Shown Wednesday on State Satellite Channel, IRINN
Fatih Abdulsalam, Azzaman: RAPING A COUNTRY
Reports of Iraqi soldiers raping women of their own country are a stigma of shame on the forehead of the U.S.-backed government.
In our conservative Muslim society, victims of rape seldom speak out for fear of shaming their families. But it seems rape incidents by U.S.-trained Iraqi soldiers have become so numerous that they only needed an intrepid victim to speak out for the rest to follow.
The government first thought it could hide such heinous crimes the way it has been able to cover up the crimes of corrupt officials, ministers and militia leaders.
But rape is not an ordinary crime in Iraqi society and the perpetrators cannot be pardoned the way so many criminals walk freely in Iraqi streets.
Iraqi soldiers are not the first to perpetrate such crimes. Many say they learned the profession from their masters in the U.S. army.
The U.S. occupation troops have done similar dirty deeds. Their rape of the Iraqi virgin, Abeer, will never halt Iraqis’ calls for revenge.
So the troops which are supposed to guard security are now involved in the worst acts of human rights violations in a country they say they have come to liberate.
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Because some soldiers were ballsy enough to tell the press about the callous way the Bush gang treats the cannon fodder it sends off to die, kill, maim and be maimed in a useless, pointless, illegal, corrupt, immoral, murderous, mismanaged war, now all the soldiers in Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit are being subjected to a punishment regimen – and banished to an area where they will be inaccessible to the press. So reports that well-known bastion of defeatist pink-lib Islamo-wimpism, the Army Times:
Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.
"Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media," one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. It is unusual for soldiers to have daily inspections after Basic Training. Soldiers say their sergeant major gathered troops at 6 p.m. Monday to tell them they must follow their chain of command when asking for help with their medical evaluation paperwork, or when they spot mold, mice or other problems in their quarters.
They were also told they would be moving out of Building 18 to Building 14 within the next couple of weeks. Building 14 is a barracks that houses the administrative offices for the Medical Hold Unit and was renovated in 2006. It’s also located on the Walter Reed Campus, where reporters must be escorted by public affairs personnel. Building 18 is located just off campus and is easy to access.
The soldiers said they were also told their first sergeant has been relieved of duty, and that all of their platoon sergeants have been moved to other positions at Walter Reed.
(…) They literally, demonstrably, do not care what happens to the actual human beings in the U.S. armed forces. In fact, they are demonically adamant that more and more soldiers be sacrificed to their war of aggression and crony conquest, dying – or living lives blighted by pain and suffering – for the sake of the Iraqi "oil law." (Or, in the case of most of the bootlickers, for the sake of their own warped and stunted psyches, their apparent need to experience vicarious murder and domination – seeing the state as an extension of themselves – in order to assuage or cover up the various inadequacies, anxieties and craven fears that bedevil them.)
This is a remarkable state of affairs: a militarist faction that doesn't even take care of its soldiers. Once again, we see a glaring example of the blind and brutal stupidity that is the hallmark of the Bush White House. (And this stinking fish most definitely rots from the head.) The early Caesars had the good sense to keep their legions sweet, especially the Praetorian Guard; even Saddam Hussein knew enough to take good care of his Republican Guard. But the Bushists merely chew up their soldiers and spit them out, like drunks heaving after a binge.
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Gwynne Dyer, The Hamilton Spectator: EVEN DOONESBURY PLAYS U.S. BLAME GAME
As the people who talked the United States into the Iraq war try to talk their way out of the blame for the mess they made, one dominant theme has emerged:
Blame the Iraqis.
Our intentions were good. We did our best to help. But the Iraqis are vicious, incompetent ingrates who would prefer to kill one another than seize the freedom we brought them.
It's not our fault it turned out so badly.
Somebody must be to blame, and it cannot be us, so it must be those brutal, stupid Iraqis.
This comforting myth started on the right, among those who had been eager supporters of "a war of choice to instill some democracy in the heart of the Middle East," as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman put it in his column four years ago.
So fast is the myth taking root in America, however, that it has now even infected that icon of liberal irony, the Doonesbury comic strip. (…)
The strip runs daily in 1,400 newspapers around the world, and often serves as the vehicle for political or social commentary from a liberal perspective. It never supported the invasion of Iraq, but Monday's strip was a classic exercise in stereotyping and blame-shifting.
An American colonel, planning the day's operation in the streets of Baghdad, notices that his Iraq army opposite number has not shown up yet, and sends a soldier to find him.
Cut to the Iraqi army officer: Still behind his desk, coffee cup in hand, ashtray full of cigarettes. He says to the young American soldier: "It's not in my book. Are you sure it's today?" U.S. soldier wearily replies "Yes, sir. You'll recall we fight every day."
Unravelling the message doesn't take a Marshall McLuhan: U.S. troops are carrying the burden of the war while lazy, cowardly Iraqis shun their duty. They don't deserve us.
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Kim Sengupta and Patrick Cockburn, The Independent: HOW THE WAR ON TERROR MADE THE WORLD A MORE TERRIFYING PLACE
Innocent people across the world are now paying the price of the "Iraq effect", with the loss of hundreds of lives directly linked to the invasion and occupation by American and British forces.
An authoritative US study of terrorist attacks after the invasion in 2003 contradicts the repeated denials of George Bush and Tony Blair that the war is not to blame for an upsurge in fundamentalist violence worldwide. The research is said to be the first to attempt to measure the "Iraq effect" on global terrorism. It found that the number killed in jihadist attacks around the world has risen dramatically since the Iraq war began in March 2003. The study compared the period between 11 September 2001 and the invasion of Iraq with the period since the invasion. The count - excluding the Arab-Israel conflict - shows the number of deaths due to terrorism rose from 729 to 5,420. As well as strikes in Europe, attacks have also increased in Chechnya and Kashmir since the invasion. The research was carried out by the Centre on Law and Security at the NYU Foundation for Mother Jones magazine.
Iraq was the catalyst for a ferocious fundamentalist backlash, according to the study, which says that the number of those killed by Islamists within Iraq rose from seven to 3,122. Afghanistan, invaded by US and British forces in direct response to the September 11 attacks, saw a rise from very few before 2003 to 802 since then. In the Chechen conflict, the toll rose from 234 to 497. In the Kashmir region, as well as India and Pakistan, the total rose from 182 to 489, and in Europe from none to 297.
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Nermeen Al-Mufti, New Anatolian: SPECIAL PRESENT FOR WOMEN'S DAY
In an interview back in 2003, President Bush said that if his country were occupied he would resist. Indeed he is resisting what he calls "terror" toward making the world safer for Americans and America. An important stage of his "resistance" was invading, occupying and destroying Iraq.
Yet, in occupied Iraq, resistance is being describing as terror and insurgency as long as the occupier is being described as "the liberator." The whole world silently watches the violence, destruction, crimes against humanity and daily bloodbaths brought into Iraq by the American "liberators"! Bush has the right to resist, yet Iraqis don't.
In March, while women all over the world will celebrate International Women's Day, the women of Iraq will have their own very special present. Three Iraqi women will be executed on March 3. The women: Wasan Talib, 31 years old and a mother of three-year-old daughter who has been with her mother till now; Liqaa Omer Mohammed, 26 years old and a mother a three-month-old daughter who was born in jail; and Zaineb Fadhil, 25 years old. According to lawyer Waleed Al-Hilali, a member of the Iraqi Lawyers Union, the court refused to let the lawyers in to defend the three women, who have been in jail for more than a year, accused of attacking the American occupying forces and being "terrorists."
Iraq's "liberators" promised to bringing human rights and especially women's rights to Iraq! Paul Bremer, the former Bush viceroy in occupied Iraq, said during dismantling the Iraqi state that there would be no more death sentences in Iraq!
After a while of this "promise," the death sentence was back "because the situation in Iraq needs it."
The "rights" brought to the Iraqi women were: rape, displacement, imprisonment and poverty. According to IRIN news agency reports, 2 million Iraqi poor women became the breadwinners for their families after losing husbands, brothers, fathers and sons in the ongoing violence, and 60 women were raped and 800 were persecuted in just three months last year. According to the Iraqi Human Rights Society, 2,000 women are in jail for security cases. According to the Iraqi official numbers, thousands of women were among the civilian causalities of the violence; among them were professors, academics, journalists, teachers, and housewives, and most were mothers. Many Iraqi and international organizations, societies and personalities appealed to the Iraqi authorities and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who is on record as being opposed to the death penalty, to not execute the three Iraqi women and are still awaiting a reply. The first step toward bringing democracy is to not face violence by another violent action.
Women all over the world will have colorful roses on their international day, while Iraqi women will have the ongoing black and red colors, as a very special present.
Born at the Crest of the Empire: ONE LAST FRIEDMAN BEFORE IRAQ'S COLLAPSE?
Reportedly, the military experts advising Petraeus have said he has one Friedman left. An elite team of officers advising US commander General David Petraeus in Baghdad has concluded the US has six months to win the war in Iraq - or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat.
For summary value, it's well worth a read. (See below)
An elite team of officers advising the US commander, General David Petraeus, in Baghdad has concluded that they have six months to win the war in Iraq - or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat.
The officers - combat veterans who are experts in counter-insurgency - are charged with implementing the "new way forward" strategy announced by George Bush on January 10. The plan includes a controversial "surge" of 21,500 additional American troops to establish security in the Iraqi capital and Anbar province.
But the team, known as the "Baghdad brains trust" and ensconced in the heavily fortified Green Zone, is struggling to overcome a range of entrenched problems in what has become a race against time, according to a former senior administration official familiar with their deliberations.
"They know they are operating under a clock. They know they are going to hear a lot more talk in Washington about 'Plan B' by the autumn - meaning withdrawal. They know the next six-month period is their opportunity. And they say it's getting harder every day," he said.
By improving security, the plan's short-term aim is to create time and space for the Iraqi government to bring rival Shia, Sunni and Kurd factions together in a process of national reconciliation, American officials say. If that works within the stipulated timeframe, longer term schemes for rebuilding Iraq under the so-called "go long" strategy will be set in motion.
But the next six months are make-or-break for the US military and the Iraqi government. The main obstacles confronting Gen Petraeus's team are:
· Insufficient troops on the ground
· A "disintegrating" international coalition
· An anticipated increase in violence in the south as the British leave
· Morale problems as casualties rise
· A failure of political will in Washington and/or Baghdad.
"The scene is very tense," the former official said. "They are working round the clock. Endless cups of tea with the Iraqis. But they're still trying to figure out what's the plan. The president is expecting progress. But they're thinking, what does he mean? The plan is changing every minute, as all plans do."
read in full…
Question: What is the common theme among all Iraqi oil minsters after the occupation [4 or 5 ministers]?
Answer: All of them promised that oil production to reach 3-5 Million barrel a year, but it never reached even the production line before the occupation [the embargo years].
Yet Al-Maliki still promising people that the new oil law is for the benefit of the Iraqi citizens. Isam Al-Chalabi former Iraqi oil minister answers this:
Adoption of the oil law right now is the result of the U.S. insistence . they did not find anything else to announce at least any achievement.
The “Green Zone” government, SCIRI delivering Iraq’s Holy Grail to Bush/Cheney and Big Oil - in exchange for not being chased out of power by the Pentagon.
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim who spent all his life calling America [The Big evil], is much more of a Bush ally than Maliki, who is from the Da’wa Party. No wonder SCIRI’s Badr Organization and their death squads were never the target of Bush death machine. Unlike Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army (Muqtada is against the oil law).
The SCIRI certainly listened to the White House, which has always made it very clear: any more funds to the Iraqi government are tied up with passing the oil law.
The question now is what is the meaning of a law, the “Green Zone” government can not be implement?
Group of Iraqi oil experts, studied the new law, and their conclusions are here in brief:
The current security situation is not proper to pass a law aiming foreign investments to improve the Iraqi economic situation.
How can foreign companies to take this law seriously, while it is impossible for them to go to Iraq?
Check for example the warning issued by Oil Employees in Basra:
We strongly warn all the foreign companies and foreign capital in the form of American companies against coming into our lands under the guise of production-sharing agreements.
Iraqi oil law is just an ink on papers which will never see the light.
An attack at an Afghan air base where US vice-president Dick Cheney was staying shows that the Taliban and al-Qaeda have penetrated local intelligence agencies, analysts and officials said.
The blast early on Tuesday at Bagram air base near Kabul also highlights the increasing sophistication of the extremist outfits as they prepare for a feared spring offensive against Western troops, they said.
"This shows how much the militants have penetrated the intelligence of the Afghan security forces. It is a most shocking attack," retired Pakistani general turned analyst Talat Masood told AFP.
Cheney's visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan were unannounced and shrouded in even tighter secrecy than when US President George W Bush travelled to the two countries in March 2006.
Author Ahmed Rashid, who has written a book on the Taliban, said the bombing was a "very provocative" move by the Taliban.
"They were waiting for a high-level visit to carry out an attack. This visit, although highly secretive, was known in circles in Kabul and Islamabad," he said.
Some of Dick Cheney's many fierce enemies on the left were unable to withhold their glee today after the vice president escaped an apparent assassination attempt in Afghanistan.
Cheney was unharmed when a suicide bomber attacked the entrance to the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan where he spent the night, killing up to 23 people and wounding 20.
Readers of the Huffington Post, a popular blog run by pundit Arianna Huffington, responded to an Associated Press account of the attack with at least a dozen pages of vitriol before the thread of posts was shut down.
Comments posted to the site include:
Better luck next time! (TDB)
Dr Evil escapes again ... damn. (truthtopower01)
So Cheney is personally responsible for the deaths of 14 innocent people ... and then he waddles off to lunch!! What a piece of sh--! (fantanfanny)
Jesus Christ and General Jackson too, can't the Taliban do anything right? They must know we would be so gratefull (sic) to them for such a remarkable achievement. (hankster2)
Hey, Thalia, lighten up. I, for one, don't wish Cheny (sic) had been killed. I wish he had been horribly maimed and had to spend the rest of his life hooked to a respirator. Feel better now? (raisarooney)
Let's see ... they're killing him over there so we don't have to kill him over here? (ncjohn)
And they missed!? Oh, Hell. Like Mamma used to say, I guess it's the thought that counts ... (Anachro1)
You can never find a competent suicide bomber when you need one. (Mark701)
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ABC News tonight aired a piece taken from an al Qaeda website, showing a suicide bomber in Afghanistan preparing a bomb, loading his car, and then ending with a large explosion as a U.S. Army convoy passed by. At the end of the piece, anchor Charlie Gibson asked the reporter Brian Ross, "Isn't a tape like that nothing more than propaganda?" [transcribed, as is the quote below, by me from video available here] This from a network which, like every other U.S. corporate media outlet, has aired literally hundreds of "gunsight" videos provided by the U.S. military over the years of buildings exploding, targets "taken out," and so on. Somehow I don't recall ABC or anyone else identifying any of those as "propaganda."
Nor did Gibson seem to be aware that just a few sentences earlier he had indulged in a bit of propaganda all on his own, when he introduced the piece by stating "It is almost impossible to comprehend the mind of a teenager who believes there's glory in taking innocent lives, or more to be gained in death than in life." Of course, this young man almost certainly believes no such thing. What he was convinced of, I have no doubt, is that there's glory in killing members of an army occupying your country, and that the cause he was fighting for was a cause worth dying for. Rather a different thing than "killing innocent people for glory."
read in full…
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "How Do You Know Your War Is Lost? When You Use Aircraft To Bomb The Capital Of The Nation You Occupied 4 Years Ago" -- GI Special 5B27 title commenting on Juan Cole's reporting that last Saturday the US Air Force launched a series of bombing raids on southeast Baghdad.


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