Thursday, March 08, 2007

Photo: An Iraqi Shiite mourns over the body of a relative at the Hilla hospital morgue, central Baghdad. Thousands of Shiite pilgrims braved a deadly gauntlet of sectarian attacks on Wednesday, amid fears that a backlash against Sunnis could undermine the US-led Baghdad security plan.(AFP/Majed Ahmed)
Bring 'em on: A Lafayette soldier injured in Iraq last week died Wednesday in a San Antonio hospital, according to family members. Mark Graham, a 2002 graduate of St. Thomas More, was on patrol Friday in northwest Baghdad when his Bradley vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device.
Four mortar rounds crashed into the heavily fortified Baghdad International Airport compound
on Thursday, including one which struck the main terminal, but there were no casualties, security sources said. "Nobody was hurt, two of them landed in an empty area but one of the mortars hit the seventh floor," a security source speaking to Reuters from the airport said. Attacks on the large airport compound are fairly common but rarely does a mortar round land within the direct vicinity of the terminal building.
A cameraman with privately-owned Biladi TV, was killed in a car-bomb blast
yesterday in the al Dawra district in the south of Baghdad as he was filming Shiite pilgrims leaving the capital for the holy city of Kerbala, 110 kilometres south of the Baghdad. Biladi TV is affiliated to the Shiite al-Dawa political party.
Iraq gunmen in Baghdad have opened fire on Shiite pilgrims, wounding two of them and sending pilgrims and onlookers running for cover.Today's machine gun assault is the second attack this week on Shiites heading to Karbala for religious celebrations which start tomorrow.
Iraqi soldiers killed four insurgents and arrested 176 suspected insurgents during the last 24 hours in different parts of Iraq, the Defence Ministry said.
Iraqi students rallied and prevented a U.S. force from entering the campus of the second largest university in Baghdad, an eyewitness student said. "U.S. forces tried this morning to raid the campus of al-Mustansiriyah university, east of Baghdad, but students gathered in rallies to protest the move," a student, who was present there, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). He added "the rallies led the force to withdraw from the location."
Dozens of militants stormed two police stations and confiscated all the weapons there
and kidnapped a policeman in the town of Dhuluiya, 80 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, local police said.
A group of gunmen attacked three police stations in Dalouiya, Salah ad-Din province, abducting two policemen and seizing an amount of weapons, a police source said.
"A booby-trapped car and an explosive charge went off at a U.S. vehicle patrol that was trying to back up the police forces," he added. No immediate comment on the number of casualties from among the U.S. personnel was available.
U.S. aircrafts and choppers bombarded al-Basateen, al-Jubur districts for more than two hours. Billows of black smoke were seen rising from the shelled areas, the source noted. Dalouiya, a Sunni town, is 90 km north of Baghdad.
Gunmen killed an Iraqi soldier on Wednesday in the town of Balad, police said.
Gunmen opened fire at an army checkpoint, killing two soldiers and wounding three others in the town of Balad, 80 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, police said
A roadside bomb killed two civilians in the town of Hawija, 70 km (40 miles) southwest of Baghdad, police said.
Gunmen killed a man in the town of Hawija
, police said.
Gunmen killed two Iraqi soldiers in a drive-by shooting in the town of Hawija
, police said
Gunmen killed two policemen when they attacked a police checkpoint in the town of Shirqat, south of Mosul, police said.
U.S. forces killed seven insurgents and arrested six others during an operation while targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq, the U.S. military said.
A suicide car bomber struck a police patrol in the city of Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, on Thursday, killing four policemen and wounding eight civilians, local police chief said. "A suicide bomber blew up an explosive-laden car into a passing police patrol near the Mosul Hotel in western city," Brigadier Muhammad al-Wagga, the city's police chief told Xinhua by telephone. The attack completely destroyed a police vehicle, killing four policemen aboard and wounding eight bystanders, he said.
Five civilians were wounded when a car bomb went off in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, a police source said.
Unknown gunmen launched an attack with machine rifles and small arms against an Iraqi army base in Falluja, a security source said. "Unknown gunmen launched this afternoon an attack on an Iraqi army base in al-Sinaa district in central Falluja," the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). The source added "the attack occurred today at 1:30 pm, followed by 15 minutes of clashes." "The gunmen used small arms and machine rifles in their assault against the base," the source added. The source could not say if there were casualties among the Iraqi soldiers.
Diyala Prv:
Gunmen killed the secretary of Diyala governor
, while he was heading back to his home in Khaniqeen city. The gunmen attacked his car near Imam Wais area killing him and injuring one of his companions on Tuesday’s night.
Gunmen killed a woman and injured a man in central Baqouba on Tuesday night, police said.
Gunmen stormed a house of a displaced family that returned to their home recently in Hibhib town (25 Km north of Baqouba). Gunemen using three vehicles with no plate numbers parked in front of the family's house. The gunmen stormed the house using Kalashnikovs and other machineguns killed the old mother along with her two sons on Thursday's afternoon.
Gunmen killed an Iraqi police officer as he was leaving his home in Sharban town today early morning.
Gunmen stopped a bus and killed an old man and kidnapped a young man was with him in the bus in Al Aswad area. The incident occurred on a main road not far away from an American base in the area, security sources said.
On Thursday morning police found a disfigured chopped head in Al Hadida area (north west of Baqouba.
> Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki plans to suspend cooperation with British forces in southern Iraq until the completion of an investigation into the Sunday raid on Basra's police headquarters, according to statements made by Minister of State for National Assembly Affairs Safa al-Din Mohammed al-Safi and reported on Alsumeria TV.
Alsumeria also reported that Maliki may file an official complaint with the UN Security Council if the investigation reveals any wrongdoing.
The Basra police headquarters houses an intelligence detention center, and the raid uncovered a number of prisoners who showed signs of having been tortured during interrogation.
> The Fadhila party, representing 15 seats in the Iraqi parliament, has withdrawn from the governing coalition, according to reports in the Arab media. The general secretary of the party, Nadim al-Jaburi announced in statement read at a press conference in Baghdad on Wednesday. The party will join a newly formed parliamentary coalition formed by a major Sunni bloc and the Iyad Allawi's Iraqi List.
Jabiri said that the withdrawal happened after his party became convinced of the need for “a national project built on the basis of the unity and sovereignty of Iraq.”
Fadhila is the strongest party in the Basra area and its supporters are predominantly Shi'a Arabs. It had been a member of the governing Shi'a-based coalition since the formation of the government after the most recent elections.
> Insurgents have sought to intensify attacks during a Baghdad security crackdown and additional U.S. forces will be sent to areas outside the capital where militant groups are regrouping, the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said Thursday.
U.S. Gen. David Petraeus said the troop buildups outside Baghdad will focus on Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, a growing hotbed for suspected Sunni extremists fleeing the U.S.-Iraqi security operation in Baghdad.
But Petraeus stressed that military force alone is "not sufficient" to end the violence in Iraq and political talks must eventually include some militant groups now opposing the U.S.-backed government.
"This is critical," Petraeus said in his first news conference since taking over command last month. He noted that such political negotiations "will determine in the long run the success of this effort."
> The Pentagon is to send more soldiers to Iraq on top of the extra troops announced in January which may now have to stay in the country until February 2008.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday that the US commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General David Petraeus, had asked for an additional 2,200 military police to help guard Baghdad jails which risk overflowing as a security clampdown bites.
Petraeus had also asked for additional troop reinforcements, but that request has not yet been approved, Gates said.
> In a direct challenge to President Bush, House Democrats unveiled legislation requiring the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the fall of next year. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the deadline would be added to legislation providing nearly $100 billion the Bush administration has requested for fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
> Portugal will close its embassy in Baghdad for security and financial reasons, media reports said Thursday.
The man known as Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, alleged leader of the militant Sunni organization Islamic State of Iraq, led the attack on the Badoush prison in Mosul yesterday, according to a “high-level” security source in Mosul.
The Iraqi newspaper al-Mada carries an exclusive report, in which the anonymous source also states that the Iraqi security apparatus has evidence that al-Baghdadi is in the Mosul area, having arrived there at the beginning of March, leading operations in the area, the most recent being the attack on the prison building.
High level operations were underway to track al-Baghdadi, the source added.
The attack on the prison was the biggest of its kind, with 200 armed fighters in more than 40 vehicles overwhelming the prison guards who numbered only 40. 147 prisoners escaped in the raid, among them 40 prisoners of “Arab nationality” and 50 who were rounded up after attacks on Mosul airport last year.
All but 47 of the prisoners had been recaptured, the source told al-Mada, and a “wide security operation” was underway to track the remaining fugitives.
Contradictory reports circulated in the media about the alleged capture of individuals involved in the attack. One source said that 40 attackers were captured, while other local security officials refused to confirm that figure, saying that an official announcement would come in a press conference Thursday or Friday.
- Since I am not allowed to link directly to the video, then I will link to Al-Jazeera report which shows clips from the video.
A new video released by the resistance called “Hunters of the Demining Vehicles”
The video shows and counts all the sorts of vehicles used by the US army, and its specifications, year released on duty and how much did it cost to manufacture the vehicles….etc.
Give you an example:
Type of vehicles used in Iraq are:
1- Buffalo
2- Cougar
3- RG-31 Nayala
4- Meerkat
Made of very hard steel, in a “V” shape, contains a digital camera connected with a screen in the driving chamber….etc.
What the group also claim that they made an electronic circuits that distorting the deminers capabilities to discover mines, the video shows some electronic schemes of these circuits.
Also said that they formed a research group led by a former Iraqi retired officer to study US army weapons with a budget of 7 Billion USD.
Here is Al-Jazeera report:
- Is Baghdad security plan really working or it is just the “Green Zone” government are reporting less.
Iraqi writer Sarmad Al-Iraqi counts 17 violence operations not mentioned by the media for yesterday, these operations are from 8 o’clock in the morning until 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
He accuses the “green Zone” government with misleading the public saying they are making progress while they are just reporting less.
Here are the incidents:
1- car bomb exploded on police check point in Al-Saydiya district – Baghdad.
2- clashes between the resistance and the US occupation forces in Al-Dora district.
3- clashes near Al-sarafiya Bridge, and mortars fires – 2 dead, 3 injured.
4- bomb explosion near Art Academy, 1 dead, 4 injured.
5- explosion on a Iraqi national gaurds, the dead and injured not counted.
6- at 11 o’clock morning, clashes started again in Al-Dora between resistance and American forces.
7- car explosion near Yarmouk hospital, 7 dead and others injured.
8- car explosion on the lead to Al-sania’a district.
9- bomb explosion in Yarmouk and fire clashes erupted after that.
10- armed guards escorting the pilgrems to Karbala, fired on houses in Al-Saydiya.
11- clashes with three police check points in Al-baya’a.
12- car explosion in Al-Bayia’a tank station.
13 bomb explosion in Al-wazeriya, 4 dead.
14- bomb explosion in bab-Al-Muatham, dead and injured not counted.
15- bomb explosion in Al-Sulaikh, 2 dead.
16- bomb explosion under Al-baiya’a bridge.
17- clashes started again in Al-Dora between Iraqi army and the resistance continued after 3 o’clock.
read in full…
Steve Simon, CFR senior fellow and Middle East security expert, in an interview posted today perfectly articulates the dilemma faced by the Bush Administration in timing the military withdrawal from Iraq:
"They can wait to withdraw as part of a victory or they can withdraw in advance of a rout. That seems to me really to be the choice, because public opinion in the United States has turned very decisively against the war, and casualty tolerance is a very brutal thing under these circumstances. So, public opinion and the way in which politicians act on it could well force a withdrawal sooner rather than later, or at least sooner than the administration would like. And it makes sense given that possibility for the United States to disengage militarily from Iraq while it can still do so as a deliberate and methodical volitional act, instead of one being forced upon it."
The idea of what "victory" in Iraq might look like is constantly under revision, but the Bush Administration may be hoping that the surge will improve the situation just enough to allow a withdrawal under the imprimatur of success--no matter how fleeting.
read in full…
Citizens For Legitimate Government: THE IRAQ THAT GEORGE BUILT
One quick read of this article on the estimated two million refugees from Iraq* and the other two million left homeless inside Iraq and one sees the story of the war and the Iraq that George built.
Bush and Cheney have more than decimated Iraq. That is, in a country of 26 million people, Bush and Cheney have killed directly, caused the deaths indirectly, or caused the evacuation, of over four million people. That is, over 15% of the population has been cut up, root and branch, from the nation. Focusing on two people, a doctor and spouse, CNN tells the story of far too many Iraqis. Abtan, a doctor, fled to Jordan to avoid certain decapitation. He has lost ten relatives and four friends to violent death, "including two doctors murdered at work. His wife has lost three relatives. They have no plans to return to Iraq anytime soon, but they want better lives now."
Further, those fleeing Iraq are, like Abtan, of the professional class consisting of doctors, lawyers, engineers and professors seeking work elsewhere. In other words, Iraq is undergoing a literal brain drain, with the intelligentsia either losing their heads or becoming cells of a national intelligence hemorrhaging, leaving only the most rabid lunatics and their helpless victims behind. The country has actually lost its mind.
This is the Iraq that George built. This is the democracy that the invasion has produced. This result alone should be enough to impel the US Congress to impeach Bush and Cheney, try them for treason and war crimes, and take over the executive office until the next "election." The world needs to be made safe from them.
But for reasons that involve both political allegiance of the most despicable sort-the kind that allows people to keep dying to protect party interests-and political cowardice of the most egregious kind-Democrats afraid of being called names-we have nothing but tepid and tumid resolutions with built-in waivers for Bush to violate them.. In other words, we get nothing but the same carte blanche to continue on the path of no-return.
How far down to hell will we allow Bush to dig in Iraq before we remove the shovel from his hands and…
Smack me over the head when this is over. That's what it will take to convince me that I've woken up from the nightmare.
Gen. David Petraeus calls those who attacked Shiite pilgrims “thugs with no soul” and says we must “control the demons responsible for the vicious sectarian violence of the past year - demons who have torn at the very fabric of Iraqi society.”
In the last 12 hours we have reporting that "the surge" is going to be bigger (US approves more troops for Iraq,) longer (Buildup in Iraq Needed Into ’08, U.S. General Says,) broader ("additional U.S. forces will be sent to areas outside the capital,") and more violent (U.S.: Iraqi insurgent attacks intensifying) than promised.
Not that I'm surprised by any of these, but the real story is that all of these represent a planning recognition that what was proposed will not work.
Nobody wrote that story.
A top Taliban commander said the group has 4,000 fighters bracing to rebuff NATO's largest-ever offensive in southern Afghanistan
, now in its second day. Suicide bombers are ready, land mines have been planted and helicopters will be targeted, Mullah Abdul Qassim, the top Taliban commander in Helmand province told the Associated Press.
Taliban and NATO troops fought battles in southern Afghanistan as the alliance pressed ahead with its biggest offensive to quash the insurgents. With more than 4,500 NATO troops and 1,000 Afghan soldiers deployed, Taliban fighters sheltered in houses, NATO said. This could not be independently verified and the Taliban could not immediately be contacted for comment.
It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death today, Thursday 8 March 2007, of a member of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He died in hospital at Camp Bastion from injuries sustained when a grenade was fired at a UK base in Sangin. (MoD UK)
The British army is sending some heavy artillery to Afghanistan. Not big (155mm) guns, but big rockets. Several MLRS launchers are being sent, equipped with GPS guided rockets (MLRS). Despite requests from the troops for heavier artillery, the British have only sent a few 105mm howitzers.
A German working for a humanitarian aid group in northern Afghanistan has been shot to death, the organization said Thursday.
Two Canadian convoys have been hit in separate attacks in the Kandahar area. Maj. Dale MacEachern of Task Force Afghanistan says one attack involved a suicide bomber in a vehicle. The other involved what the military calls an improvised explosive device. No Canadians were hurt, and there was no word on civilian casualties.
While most Americans are concentrating on extricating the US government from the debacle in Iraq, and most peace activists are simultaneously concerned that the Bush administration will launch a war against Iran, the leaders of the Pentagon are planning how to win wars 10, 20, and 50 years from now.
Washington is preparing for every contingency, from rooting out a handful of suspected terrorists halfway around the world to possible wars with Russia and China.
The Defense Department's drawing boards are groaning under the weight of blueprints for sustaining total military dominance of land, sea, air and outer space throughout this century. The costs of supporting the US government's martial propensities will be astronomical in terms of the social programs and benefits denied American working people, not to mention the consequences of living in a state of permanent warfare.
The recent decision to escalate the Iraq war with a "surge" of 21,000 more troops, the plan to increase the armed forces by another 92,000 troops, and President George W Bush's request for US$716 billion to meet the Pentagon's warmaking needs in fiscal year 2008 are a harbinger of what's coming next - new technologies for fighting future wars on the ground, improvements in the nuclear stockpile and delivery systems, and the militarization of outer space, among other military goals.
read in full…
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We will export death and violence to the four corners of the Earth in defense of our great nation." -- President George W Bush in Bob Woodward's book Plan of Attack (quoted in "The Futuristic Battlefield"; see above)


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