Thursday, March 15, 2007

Little Red Riding Hood, Iraq version. Art by Carlos Latuff at "TALES OF IRAQ WAR by Latuff" (See below "Carlos Latuff…")
Bring 'em on: Two Soldiers died as a result of injuries sustained from explosions near their vehicles in separate attacks. Task Force Lightning Soldiers were attacked while conducting combat operations in Diyala province Wednesday. Another Soldier died as a result of injuries sustained from small arms fire. Nine Soldiers were wounded and taken to a Coalition medical facility for treatment. (MNF - Iraq)
Bring 'em on: A Soldier assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed Mar. 14 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province. (MNF - Iraq)
A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died Mar. 14 in a noncombat related incident in Al Anbar Province. (MNF - Iraq)
Unidentified gunmen killed an associate of Iraqi Housing Minister Bayan Dizayee, in an attack in Kadhemiyah area, northern Baghdad, according to a source in the housing ministry. "Gunmen showered Asou Abdullah Ghafour with bullets while he was on his way to his work," a media source from the ministry, who preferred not to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq.
A car bomb targeting a joint Iraqi army and police checkpoint exploded in central Baghdad on Thursday, causing an unknown number of casualties, police said. The blast shook buildings and windows in the normally busy Karrada district.
A suicide car bomber apparently targeting a senior city official struck an Iraqi military checkpoint Thursday in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad, killing at least eight people, officials said.
The top official in Baghdad's district of Sadr City was seriously wounded when gunmen ambushed his convoy in eastern Baghdad, killing two of his bodyguards, according to police and a local official. Rahim al-Darraji has been involved in negotiations with U.S. and Iraqi government officials seeking to persuade the Shiite militias that dominate the sprawling slum to pull their fighters off the streets ahead of a security crackdown to stop the sectarian warfare in Baghdad. His convoy was attacked in a drive-by shooting in the mostly Shiite area of Habibiyah.
An Iraqi civilian was killed and another wounded when a mortar round fell onto a Shiite slum in Baghdad's eastern Sadr City, a police source said.
Diyala Prv:
A forensic medicine department in Diala province received 11 unidentified bodies, which had been found in different parts of Baaquba, 57 km northeast of Baghdad, according to a medical source.
A car bombing in Iraq's so-called "Triangle of Death" killed at least four people on Thursday. The bomb in a parked car blew up next to a bus packed with workers. Besides the four known dead, at least two dozen other people were wounded. It happened in the city of Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad.
Police captain Muthanna al-Maamuri, based in nearby Hilla, said the blast killed six people and wounded 23 on the bus carrying workers for a state mechanical industry company. Another police source said seven were killed and 35 wounded.
A total of 44 suspected militants were arrested after an armed attack on a local police chief in southern Hilla city, 100 km south of Baghdad, a source in Babel police department said. "Chief of al-Kafl police station Major Khaled Abdel Hussein was wounded in an attack by gunmen Thursday morning," the source, who asked to be unnamed, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI), noting that one of his companions was killed in the attack. "The chief was amongst a police patrol, assigned to protect pilgrims heading for Najaf to commemorate the death of Prophet Mohamed," he highlighted.
A former Baathist member was shot dead in the southern city of Amara by gunmen, police said.
U.S. forces made on Thursday morning an airdrop operation in Dalouiya district, in Salah ad-Din province, killing two young men and arresting nine others, including a former senior officer in the Iraqi army, while a gunman was killed and another was arrested in an attack by a group of armed men on a police station, a police source said.
Meanwhile, unidentified gunmen attacked al-Herdaniya police station, in northern Dalouiya, the source highlighted, noting that clashes erupted between the attackers and police forces. "A gunman was killed and another was arrested in the attack," the source said, adding that a policeman was seriously inured in the clash.
A top police officer and his driver were shot dead in Tikrit.
"Iraqi police patrols found late Wednesday unidentified bodies of two women in a deserted house in Shurqat district," the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). "The decayed bodies bore signs of gun shots and were sent to the forensic medicine department in Tikrit," he added.
"The U.S. forces opened fire Wednesday night against a civilian car near al-Riyashi gas station in Baiji district, killing the driver," a source in Baiji police stated, giving no further details.
US troops killed an Iraqi soldier and wounded three more during a raid targeting an Al-Qaeda network in the restive northern city of Mosul, the military reported on Thursday. The incident occurred when US-led forces came under small arms fire attack during the raid. "Coalition forces returned fire, killing one and wounding three others," a military statement said. "Coalition forces later identified the armed men as Iraqi army soldiers."
Al Anbar Prv:
"An explosive charge went off near a U.S. vehicle patrol at noon today in west of Amiriyat al-Falluja, destroying a Hummer vehicle," an eyewitness told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). Amiriyat al-Falluja, 20 km south of Falluja, is a hotspot that witnesses repeated attacks against U.S. forces. There was no immediate comment from the U.S. army on the incident.
A police source said unknown gunmen this afternoon attacked an Iraqi army base in western Falluja. "Iraqi soldiers engaged in a fight with the attackers," said the source, adding that the clashes lasted for 20 minutes and light and mid-sized arms were used. The source, who could not say whether there were casualties among the soldiers or the attackers, said "the clashes left no casualties among the civilians."
In Country:
A soldier serving in Iraq was injured March 12 in an attack on a Latvian unit. The attack came at approximately 17:40 local time while the unit was on patrol. Corporal Vladislavs Fursovs received minor injuries to his hand when a shell exploded near the Hummer military vehicle in which he was on patrol.
> Prime Minister Tony Blair refused to apologise for the Iraq invasion, insisting the country is not at civil war despite mounting violence nearly four years after the 2003 conflict.
In a television interview days before the March 20 anniversary of the US-led invasion, he insisted that deposing Saddam Hussein was justified.
"I do not either regret the strength of our alliance with the US or standing by the US president and the American people in the aftermath of September 11 and I'm never going to do that," he told Sky News.
He was speaking as car bombs and shootings claimed 26 lives and the US military announced the deaths of five more troops, in the latest day of bloody violence in Iraq.
> A Democratic plan to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by September 1, 2008, was approved by a key committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday. (…)
The legislation marked the first time a congressional committee voted to put binding limits on the duration of the 4-year-old war in Iraq. But the measure's future was uncertain.
House Democratic leaders are girding for a close vote in the full House and the legislation is unlikely to attract enough support in the 100-member Senate, where a 60-vote majority is often needed for controversial initiatives.
> The US Defense Department released a report saying that attacks in Iraq which occurred during the last three months of this current year have reached their highest levels since the beginning of 2003. Despite that most attacks are targeting Coalition forces, victims are mainly amongst innocent citizens and civilians, the report said. The report highlighted problems regarding Iraqi security forces which are estimated now at 330,000 units since February.
Lauren Frayer, Associated Press: STRYKERS LOSE 10 ON 1st DAY IN DIYALA
Dozens of U.S. Stryker combat vehicles roared into Baqouba at sunrise. The enemy was ready. As the dawn call to prayer fell silent, the streets blazed with insurgent fire. Within minutes of the start of their first mission in Diyala province Wednesday a voice crackled across the radio: "Catastrophic kill, with casualties."
Inside the rear of one Stryker, soldiers shushed one another and leaned closer to the radio. They all knew what it meant. A U.S. vehicle had been lost to hostile fire.
Nearly 100 Strykers, armored troop carriers with 50-caliber machine guns, were called north from Baghdad into the province and its capital to try — yet again — to rout Sunni insurgents, many who recently fled the month-old Baghdad security operation.
The fighters have renewed their campaign of bombings and killings just 35 miles northeast of the capital as the war enters its fifth year. Diyala province is quickly becoming as dangerous as Anbar province, the Sunni insurgent bastion west of Baghdad.
Rocket-propelled grenades pounded buildings Wednesday where U.S. soldiers sought cover. Mortars soared overhead and crashed to earth spewing clouds of deadly shrapnel.
Gunfire rattled ceaselessly — the hollow pop of insurgent AK-47s and whoosh of grenade launchers nearly drowned out by shuddering blasts from the 50-caliber machine guns.
Soldiers screamed into their radios for backup. Apache attack helicopters swooped in, firing Hellfire missiles.
By day's end, one soldier was dead, 12 wounded and two Strykers destroyed. The Americans said dozens of insurgents were killed but gave no specific number.
It was a bloody first day for the 2nd Infantry Division's 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment — the crack Stryker battalion dispatched from Baghdad's northern suburbs.
"They threw everything at us — RPGs, mortars — and a guy even tossed a grenade just in front of my vehicle," said Capt. Huber Parsons, the 28-year-old commander of the 5-20's Attack company. "But the most devastating was the IEDs," the Coral Gables, Fla., native said. He was talking about improvised explosive devices — roadside bombs.
One Stryker was lost in a particularly sophisticated ambush.
Struck head-on by an IED, the rubber-tired armored vehicle was swallowed up in the bomb crater. Insurgents emerged from hiding, firing RPGs in unison.
The Stryker crew was trapped. One U.S. soldier was killed. All nine other crew members were wounded, though six later returned to duty.
The other Stryker was destroyed when a roadside bomb exploded as the armored vehicle drove over it. The nine-man squad got out alive, three with injuries. (…)
The Stryker group came to Baqouba on Tuesday full of optimism about pacifying Diyala, as they did earlier in parts of Baghdad and in the northern city of Mosul.
Confidence faded Wednesday in the hail of insurgent fire and news of casualties among comrades.
"Our first day and we lost one already," said 22-year-old Spc. Jose Charriez of Hermiston, Ore. "You realize how quickly your life can go."
read in full…
Reality-based educator: PRESS GAMES
The Associated Press declares the surge "a success" because violence in Baghdad is down this week. Juan Cole refutes:
The US press is so busy looking for signs of improvement that they have already forgotten about the slaughter of hundreds of Shiite pilgrims just last week, and are interpreting the relative calm of Sunday and Monday as some sort of turning point. Unlikely.
In fact on Wednesday it was reported that police had found 17 bodies in the streets of Baghdad. A judge was assassinated in broad daylight. Guerrillas fired katyushas at the posh Karrada district. Militiamen shot 4 men at a Sunni mosque in the southern Risala district. In the northern city of Mosul, police found 4 bodies. There were scattered bombings and assassinations elsewhere in the country.
The violence in Iraq has ebbed and flowed since the start of the occupation. Just because we're currently in an "ebb period" doesn't mean the violence in Iraq is over. Not by a long shot. The levels of violence after an ebb period have often grown from the levels before the ebb period. And as Professor Cole notes, wasn't it just last week that hundreds of Shiite pilgrims were slaughtered by Sunni insurgents?
According to dissident Iraqi Kurd, Kamal Majid, the Iraqi resistance is winning. The 77-year-old academic told a conference on War, Imperialism and Resistance that his visit to the country he left when it was being ruled by Saddam is confidently taking on the occupiers, but "the Americans have invested $350 billion and they are not going to go home easily. They are not going to leave tomorrow. This is also what happened in Vietnam." Interestingly, he touched on the death squads, making the following suggestion:
"What happened is that the Americans trained death squads (of Iraqis) in Hungary before the invasion to take on members of one another community. My own cousin, a Shia, was trained in Turkey. But when he was asked to kill Sunnis, he just ran away.
"It was the Americans who spoke about Shia majority areas and Sunni triangles. Iraqis never used such expressions earlier. Despite American propaganda (that only Sunnis are against them), three Shia groups are fighting the Americans."
I knew that there were militias being used by the Americans very soon, but I have not before heard that there were squads of Iraqis being trained in Hungary prior to the invasion. Of course it wouldn't be surprising: the CIA used Iraqi exile groups to launch a series of terror campaigns in Iraq during the 1990s, including the blowing up of a schoolbus. They would presumably have reckoned that they might need to wage a terror war, even if they totally underestimated the scale of resistance.
Indeed, despite all the current talk of civil war - which I'll come to in a minute - the main fears of US military leaders at the moment are resistance fighters picking up activity in the north of the country while Baghdad is under lockdown. There has been a recent 30% rise in attacks in Diyala - a 70% rise in attacks on coalition troops since last Summer - and so Bush is sending in thousands more troops in a drastic escalation (which some US antiwar activists are resisting with direct action).
Now, about the civil war. Although, as I have repeatedly indicated, there is a genuine civil war dynamic, what is interesting is how this is being used ideologically. We have already seen it used as an excuse to continue the occupation, to 'contain' the fighting. However, there is an increasing trend among establishment liberals in particular to say 'well, if they don't want to be liberated, then fuck em up the arse with a big stick', while the Bush administration insists that all was going well until the bad men started killing each other. Obviously, their narrative is deeply racist, as per this account from Time Magazine. As Richard Marsden points out, it transforms America's ruination of Iraq, into Iraq's ruining of "US hopes": the occupiers wanted so much for the people of Iraq, but those ungrateful, angry, hateful bastards have spoiled everything. It obviously omits the American strategy of promoting sectarianism and running death squads, so that inevitably the combat has to be explained as the result of some deep historical loathing between Shiites and Sunnis.
The tipping point in Bush administration's narrative is the bombing of the al-Askari mosque. Even on the day it happened, you could see this becoming the cri de coeur of the apologists for occupation: 'we' would have been able to up and leave, having safely midwived a free Iraq, had it not been for the troublemakers. The Washington Post gathers some serious experts to challenge these claims - but all on the basis of whether US strategy was 'working' or not. I await the next batch of statistics on resistance attacks, but the reality is unlikely to have altered a great deal since mid-2006 when it was confirmed that long after the al-Askari shrine attack the attacks on troops still far outnumbered the attacks on civilians. If anything, the statistics for Diyala, which is a mixed province, indicate that the war against the occupiers is much more the focus than it was one year ago. They're gambling an awful lot on this escalation, and if it doesn't work they've got their excuse prepared: the Iraqis simply couldn't live up to our noble aspirations for them.
Kurt Nimmo, Another Day in the Empire: ABC UNMASKS "CURVEBALL" FOUR YEARS TOO LATE
ABC News is surprised, simply flabbergasted. In a "special report," Brian Ross tells us about the Curveball "intelligence failure" and quotes flummoxed officials, including an outraged Collin Powell, who will go down in history as the fool who presented a passel of neocon lies and fairy tales in dog and pony show format before the United Nations, thus providing a transparent pretext to invade Iraq and systematically slaughter more than 650,000 of its citizens.
Back in February, 2003, I was insisting here that Powell’s evidence was little more than Brothers Grimm nonsense designed to scare small children and witless American adults who invariably believe everything the government tells them, no matter the inexhaustible track record of lies and deception stretching far back into history, not that history interests the average American, who is far more captivated by American Idol and Deal Or No Deal.
Ross begins his "report" by characterizing the Curveball story, admitted to be the neocon centerpiece for invasion and mass murder, as little more than an "intelligence failure." In fact, it was not an intelligence failure, but rather a contrived bit of disinformation planted by the neocons through their "cherry picking" operation at the Office of Special Plans.
read in full…
Carlos Latuff is a Brazilian cartoonist who deploys the style of classic US superhero comics – but for very different political ends.
“I try to use a traditional and established medium to spread the point of view of the anti-imperialist resistance,” he told Socialist Worker. “Usually the heroes, the good guys, are from the US.
“I thought it’s time to present a different sort of hero – the real ones, those who defend their homes from foreigner invaders.”
Juba The Baghdad Sniper, Latuff’s latest strip, is set in Iraq. It follows the adventures of a supershot Baghdad sniper and his battles to outfox US occupation troops. “Juba, as well as the Iraqi resistance fighters, are the modern heroes, just like the Viet Cong were in the past,” he says.
read in full…
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "[Spc. Jeremiah Westerfeld of 2nd Infantry Division's 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, the crack Stryker battalion dispatched from Baghdad's northern suburbs to "pacify" Diyala] bent over and offered a reporter his shoulder as a step to break her fall. They dropped down into a scruffy yard, thick with foliage and muddy ruts. A dog barked wildly. Smoke grenades were thrown for cover. Someone shot the dog." -- from "Strykers lose 10 on 1st day in Diyala" (see above)


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