Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Photo: A boy inspects an Iraqi army jacket arranged together with a sheep skull and parts of a damaged Iraqi army vehicle left after a car bomb attack in west Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, March 6, 2007. A car bomb went off Monday in west Baghdad's Jamiaa neighborhood, targeting an Iraqi army patrol. (AP Photo/Asaad Mouhsin)
Bring 'em on: Six Task Force Lightning Soldiers died as a result of injuries sustained following an explosion near their vehicles. Three other Soldiers were wounded and taken to a Coalition medical facility for treatment. (MNF - Iraq)
Bring 'em on: Task Force Lightning Soldiers were attacked while conducting combat operations in Diyala Province Monday. Three Task Force Lightning Soldiers died as a result of injuries sustained following an explosion near their vehicles. One other Soldier was wounded and taken to a Coalition medical facility for treatment.
Bring 'em on: The DoD has just announced a new death, not previously reported by CENTCOM: California Army National Guardsman Specialist Christopher D. Young, 20, of Los Angeles, California. Young died in a roadside bomb attack in the vicinity of Safwan just north of the Kuwaiti border on a main convoy route in Basrah Province on Friday, March 2nd. (DefenseLink)
Bring 'em on: The DoD has announced a new death, not previously reported by CENTCOM: Navy Lieutenant Commander Morgan C. Tulang, 36, of Hilo, Hawaii. Morgan died of "natural causes" in Kuwait on Friday, March 2nd. (DefenseLink)
Bring 'em on: The British Ministry of Defense has announced the death of a British soldier who had been deployed to Iraq. Private Jonathon Dany Wysoczan, 21, had been sent out with a patrol last week in south Basra to investigate the site of a possible mortar firing. While serving as top gunner on his vehicle, he was struck by a single bullet from a sniper's rifle. He was immediately evacuated to a nearby medical facility, and from there was flown to a hospital in the United Kingdom. He died, however, on Sunday, March 4th. (MoD UK)
Insurgents slaughtered at least 118 Shiite pilgrims in a surge of attacks across Iraq on Tuesday that included a double suicide bombing on a crowded street that claimed 90 lives.
The attacks marked one of the bloodiest days since the start of a US-led security plan designed to quell sectarian violence, and triggered fears of reprisal attacks by Shiite militiamen on Sunni targets. (See below under "Other Security Incidents")
Dozens of gunmen stormed an Iraqi jail in the northern city of Mosul and freed up to 140 prisoners in one of the biggest prison breaks since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, police said. Militants attacked Mosul's northwestern Badoush prison just after sunset in the ethnically mixed city and overwhelmed police, who were forced to call the U.S. military for backup. Most of the prisoners were believed to be insurgents, police said. It was unclear if there were any clashes between gunmen and police during the incident.
There were at least three shootings and three bomb attacks against groups of pilgrims making the journey Tuesday. Four were killed when a parked car bomb exploded in western Baghdad's Yarmouk neighborhood, police said. More than a dozen people also were wounded in the attack, they said.
At least 20 Shiite Muslims were killed on their trek to Karbala, where they would mark the end of a 40-day mourning period after the death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson.
At least 28 Shiite pilgrims heading to the shrine city of Karbala were among 43 Iraqis killed on Tuesday in a spate of insurgent attacks
A total of seven pilgrims were killed in three separate car bombings in Baghdad, which also wounded 42 others, security and hospital officials said.
Another pilgrim died in a roadside bomb attack in Waziriya, in northern Baghdad, police said. Five others were wounded in attacks across southern Baghdad.
A roadside bomb targeting pilgrims heading to the holy city of Kerbala wounded two in the Ilaam district of southern Baghdad, police said.
A roadside bomb exploded near pilgrims, wounding two in northern Baghdad's Sulaikh neighbourhood, police said.
A car bomb killed two pilgrims and wounded 10 others when it targeted a group of pilgrims passing through southern Baghdad's Doura district, police said.
A car bomb killed 12 pilgrims and wounded 23 others when it targeted a group of them passing through southern Baghdad's Doura district, police said.
Five policemen died when a bomb exploded near their convoy in Maamil, a southeastern suburb of Baghdad, police said.
A police convoy was hit south of Baghdad, killing a commander and wounding four guards, police said.
A roadside bomb exploded next to a fuel tanker in north Baghdad's Sarafiyah neighborhood, killing two people and wounding four others, police said.
(update) One possible sign of brewing troubles was 30 bullet-ridden bodies found across Baghdad. Many of those killings are blamed on Shiite death squads, and Monday's figure was the highest in weeks.
A mortar attack in Baghdad's Al-Dura district claimed the lives of two civilians, an official said.
A roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol killed two civilians and wounded 10 others near a fine arts college in central Baghdad, police said.
A bomb targeting an Iraqi army checkpoint killed four soldiers and wounded one civilian in eastern Baghdad's Ubaidi district, police said.
Diyala Prv:
Gunmen attacked Turkmen Shi'ite pilgrims heading to the holy city of Kerbala
, killing two pilgrims and wounding 15 in a drive-by shooting near the town of Khalis, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, police said
Gunmen killed two men, including a former Baath Party member, in separate attacks south of Baghdad, police Capt. Muthana Khalid said. The first attack took place in Musayyib, about 40 miles south of Baghdad, when gunmen in a sedan killed a man who was walking in the street, Khalid said.
A roadside bomb exploded outside a house, wounding a man on Monday in the town of Mussayab, about 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.
A Baathist was killed when gunmen in a BMW attacked him in the al-Hur al-Gharbi area, about 16 miles west of Hillah.
Two suicide bombers exploded themselves in a crowd of Shiite pilgrims south of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 10 people, police said. The coordinated attack happened on a main street in Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, said Capt. Muthana Khalid. Sixteen others were wounded in the blasts, he said.
Two suicide bombers blew themselves up Tuesday in a crowd of Shiite pilgrims streaming toward a shrine south of Baghdad, killing up to 90 people, police said. The coordinated attack happened on a main street in Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, said Capt. Muthana Khalid. More than 150 others were wounded in the blasts, he said.
"Among the wounded, there are 50 in a critical condition. Eighty percent of the casualties are young men, but there are women and children among the dead," he told AFP at the hospital.
A police commander from Kut was shot dead and four of his security guards were wounded after being ambushed by unknown gunmen while on patrol, police said. The ambush occurred at Suweira, 60 kilometres (38 miles) south of Baghdad.
In Iskandiriyah, also to the south, a civilian was killed and two were wounded in a bomb explosion, a security official said.
Gunmen opened fire on pilgrims in two separate incidents in Latifiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad, police said. Three people were killed and at least nine hurt.
Another five were gunned down in two separate attacks near Latifiyah, 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of the capital. At least 15 more were wounded.
The commander of Wassit police’s 2nd regiment was killed and three of his security force were wounded on Tuesday when an explosive charge went off targeting his motorcade near Kut city, 180 km southeast of Baghdad, a security source said. "An explosive device detonated in the early hours of Tuesday targeting the motorcade of Colonel Salam Fakhri, commander of Wassit police’s 2nd regiment, while it was traveling on a highway north of Kut," the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq.
"An attack occurred on Monday night on a British base in the central Basra area of al-Saie, where the shells hit a house adjacent to the base, wounding two civilians as reported by the police," Capt. Katie Brown, the media spokeswoman for the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) in the south told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq.
Gunmen attacked in another incident the same base with light guns and British forces fired back, wounding two of the gunmen, she said.
The British bases in the former presidential palaces in central Basra, the base in the Basra International Airport in northwest of the city and the base at the Shatt al-Arab hotel came on Monday night and Tuesday morning under several attacks but no losses were reported.
Gunmen ambushed and killed three Shi'ite pilgrims and wounded 13 others near the town of Tarmiya, 30 km north of Baghdad, police said.
Gunmen killed at least three pilgrims and wounded 10 others, including women and children, police sources said.
At least three Shi'ite pilgrims were killed and 25 wounded when gunmen opened fire at their convoy near the town of Udhaim, 100 km north of Baghdad, police said.
(s. of?) Kirkuk:
Gunmen attacked a convoy carrying an Iraqi lawmaker and his family and killed four of his relatives as they were heading towards Baghdad on their way to Karbala, the Shiite Turkoman politician told AFP. Mohammed Mahdi al-Bayati, a member of Iraq's main Shiite parliamentary bloc, said he was heading from his hometown of Kirkuk south towards Baghdad when his armed three-car cortege was attacked. "Gunmen ambushed us between Himrin mountain and the Mudaim dam. Clashes went on for 17 minutes and four of my relatives were killed and two others injured," he told AFP by telephone from the scene.
Five people were wounded when three mortar shells hit a police station and the house of a police official in Kirkuk, an Iraqi police source in Kirkuk said on Tuesday. "A group of unidentified gunmen fired three mortar shells in the direction of al-Adala police station, south of Kirkuk, and one of them landed near the house of Brig. Munis Saed Isahaq," a source from the police joint operations room told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq.
A police patrol found two unidentified bodies in the area of Wadi Akkab, in the city of Mosul, the Ninawa police command's operation room director said.
A car bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol in Mosul killed five and wounded 18, mostly civilians, police said.
The Sadr City Municipal Council rejected a proposal to open a joint security center with U.S. troops in the Shi’ite district, after media reports that representatives from Sadr City had reached an agreement with the U.S. military to allow American presence, the Sadrist Nahrain Net website reported.
Council chairman Abdul Hussein Al-Ka’abi said that the talk of security cooperation with U.S. troops is “illogical” since it contradicts the demands of the city’s residents for the withdrawal of Americans from Iraq. “Citizens of the city reject American participation in security because they feel the city is stable and is one of the safest areas of Baghdad,” Al-Ka’abi said.
Al-Ka’abi also denied media reports yesterday that Rahim Sayhoud, one of the two mayors of Sadr City, had agreed to the suggestion. Nahrain Net comments that U.S. troops plan to increase their presence in Sadr City in order to strike the Sadrist Movement and the Mahdi Army in one of their main strongholds in the country.
For the first time since the beginning of the Baghdad security plan, armed Mahdi Army fighters have been observed in the capital.
Slogger eyewitnesses saw a vehicle Tuesday carrying four Mahdi Army fighers with their weapons clearly visible, heading for the al-Risala area of the city, which had suffered heavy Sunni militant attacks during the day in the al-Risala area of Baghdad.
Civilians in the al-Risala and surrounding areas were under attack by the Omar Brigades, an extremist Sunni group, sources in the capital say.
Before the Security Plan, the Mahdi Army had protected civilians in the area, but since the beginning of the crackdown has not maintained a visible presence.
Whether this is an isolated event or the change in the militia's policy of laying low during the plan is still unknown.
The number of U.S. troops needed to carry out Bush's Iraq security plan could approach 30,000, significantly more than he projected in January, a senior Pentagon official said on Tuesday.
Water no longer flows in the fountain in the lobby. Razor wire ascends the still steps of the escalators. The shops are shut but full of goods abandoned when the owners were forced to quit by the encroaching violence.
Midday at the Al Adel Shopping Centre in Baghdad should have seen middle class families wandering between clothing and bric-a-brac shops laid out over four levels. Instead a lone American sniper from a Brigade Reconnaissance Team platoon took position on the roof.
A motorway flyover intersection and busy roundabout lay in his immediate line of sight. Nearby an Iraqi National Police checkpoint, set up to intercept car bombs and militia gunmen, came under fire from two directions.
On the ground the nervous policemen were poised to do the "death flower" - the Iraqi tendency to fire wildly in all directions in response to incoming fire.
The attacker to the north wasn't visible but an assailant firing from a rooftop to the south with an AK47 assault rifle was spotted from the sniper's higher vantage point. A clean hit from the American sniper silenced the gunman and the checkpoint was able to remain in position, continuing to screen vehicles passing through a busy section of the city.
read in full…
Published 16 September 2002.
The repeated American propaganda weapon to rationalise the deaths of more than one million innocent Iraqis since 1991 through economic sanctions is that Saddam Hussein used poison gas against Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war and against Iraq’s own Kurdish citizens. The accusation is now being invoked to launch a full-scale American assault on Iraq. This claim of Iraq gassing its own citizens at Halabjah is suspect. First, both Iran and Iraq used chemical weapons against each other during their war. Second, at the termination of the Iran-Iraq war, professors Stephen Pelletiere and Leif Rosenberger, and Lt Colonel Douglas Johnson of the US Army War College (USAWC) undertook a study of the use of chemical weapons by Iran and Iraq in order to better understand battlefield chemical warfare. They concluded that it was Iran and not Iraq that killed the Kurds.
read in full…
I don’t think that news agencies reported what former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz today said today:
Aziz testified today that:
Iraqi forces didn’t use poison gas against the Kurds, but Iran did, pointing out that Iraq did not possess mustard gas, and this was also mentioned in a report published by the Pentagon in 1989 and confirmed by “The New Yorker” newspaper.
He said: In1991 both Kurdish [warlords] Talabani and Barazani visited Baghdad in different delegations and met with Saddam Hussein, they never mentioned any attacks with poisonous gas on Kurds or destroying their villages.
read in full…
Video: Washington Post: GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB
Ghosts of Abu Ghraib," a new HBO documentary produced and directed by Rory Kennedy, daringly approaches a scandal that hardly anyone wants to see reexamined -- least of all, one can safely assume, the Bush administration and the Pentagon.
The reason is not just that what happened at Abu Ghraib is, to understate in the extreme, unpleasant. The documentary says it's also because this breakdown was not so much nervous as inevitable -- and not so spontaneous, having been sanctioned by the top brass, including former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Video: Alive in Baghdad: FPS, ANOTHER IRAQI MILITIA
The Facility Protection Service, or FPS, was first created in 2003, to deal with the drastic problem of looting and defacing of government buildings, as well as museums, mosques, and other historic and cultural structures.
The FPS quickly became a funnel for money going to various factions on opposing sides of Iraq’s loomming sectarian conflict. Men such as Muhammad Yaseen Taha were hired by the Sunni Endowment to protect Sunni mosques and cultural centers, while other men were hired to protect Shi’a monuments. These men quickly became more loyal to their direct, sectarian employers than thee Iraqi government or the Iraqi state as a whole.
Now there are men paid with money earmarked for the FPS on all sides of Iraq’s conflict. It has been rumored that Shi’a members of the FPS, loyal to Muqtada Sadr or others were largely responsible for the large outbreak of attacks after the Samarra shrine bombing in February 2006.
Muhammad Yaseen Taha speaks about his work as an agent of the FPS, and his feelings about the situation in Baghdad. It remains to be seen how the FPS situation will be resolved. On one side they are being linked to Iraq’s death squads, on the other side Lt. General Petraeus and others are depending on the FPS and other mercenary forces for the success of the new security plan.
On a steamy night in 1974, Mohamed Ali fought George Foreman for the World Heavyweight boxing title. This was the most-publicized event in the history of boxing. The media followed both fighters daily and broadcast their training sessions and posed myriad questions to them. Ali was in his element in front of the cameras, while Foreman tried to keep a lower profile.
The undefeated Foreman was the odds-on favorite. He was the reigning champion and younger and stronger than his opponent. In addition, he was mainstream America’s challenge to the brash, draft-dodging Ali. When Foreman won the boxing gold medal at the 1972 Olympic Games, he sat in his corner and waved a small American flag.
For the first seven rounds, Ali stayed on the ropes and blocked Foreman’s punches. The fight announcers were bewildered. "Why is he doing this?" they pondered. "Why doesn’t he fight back?" By the end of the seventh round, many broadcasters were openly saying that Ali was over the hill. Foreman had pummeled him for seven rounds and taken away much of the former champ’s strength.
The eighth round began with the "experts" thinking it was just a matter of time until Foreman floored the braggart. Ali took to the middle of the ring for the first time, danced like the Ali of old, and knocked out Foreman. The shock was heard around the world.
It quickly became evident that Ali had planned what all the world saw. When interviewed, he called his strategy "rope-a-dope." Within a day, all the sportswriters who predicted his demise were praising his foresight and intelligence.
The illegal invasion and ensuing occupation of Iraq holds many similarities to the Ali-Foreman fight. A seemingly quick U.S. military victory in March and April of 2003, with fewer casualties than anybody predicted, ended with a victory statement on May 1, 2003 by George Bush standing under a huge banner stating, "Mission Accomplished."
The pro-war pundits were euphoric. They told of how the Iraqi Republican Guard who were supposed to defend Baghdad disappeared before a definitive battle and inferred they were scared to stand up to the U.S. military.
Just weeks prior, the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, stated: "We will welcome the Americans in Baghdad. Unfortunately, we’ve run out of candy and will have to substitute bullets." The West laughed. The press said that Aziz was only a puppet for Saddam and that he would make any foolish statement to placate his boss.
The press reported the one-sided victory, but few asked "why?" Why did the Republican Guard disappear? Why was there no one to be found in the Iraqi government? Why was there little opposition to the occupation of Iraq for a few weeks? The answer lies in a plan that had been implemented a few years before the March 2003 invasion that organized a resistance to the occupation. Iraqi officials knew full well that their dilapidated military was no match for the U.S. and if they stood head-to-head, the entire military and government would have been destroyed.
On April 8, 2003, Mohamed Sahaff (The Iraqi Information Minister) made a statement to the press that produced even more laughter than that of Tariq Aziz. He was talking about Baghdad becoming the graveyard for many U.S. soldiers. Then, a reporter pointed to a U.S. tank and hollered to Sahaff, "Look! The Americans are already in Baghdad." Sahaff turned around, saw the tank, and stated, "We’ve got them right where we want them." He walked off the podium and has not made a public appearance since.
Both Aziz and Sahaff made accurate statements. They knew of the plan to let a resistance movement take over the hostilities. A few months after Sahaff’s statement, in an interview from Qatar, a journalist asked him if he had any regrets about making the statement "We’ve got them right where we want them." Sahaff replied that it was early days and history was still to be written and no one should jump to conclusions. Within a few months, a full-blown resistance was at battle with U.S. forces.
Within a few weeks of Bush’s victory announcement, Iraqis began firing back at the U.S. military, only this time on their terms, using ambushes and guerrilla tactics. The U.S. is infatuated with assessing names to any military action. In Iraq, there have been hundreds of "operations." If we compare Ali’s victory to the pre-invasion plans for the Iraqi resistance, we can call it "Operation Rope-a-Bush."
read in full…
The achievements of U.S.-style democracy which the current U.S. administration has tried to apply in Iraq are numerous.
The benefits Iraqis have gained from these achievements have prompted the administration to try and spread them throughout the Middle East, taking Iraq as a small experiment.
And here are a few examples of these achievements and their advantages in case you have not yet heard of them or have not experienced them for the bad luck of not being able to live in Iraq.
The U.S. democracy has interrupted power supplies and caused chronic fuel shortages.
Iraqis have given up even dreaming of going on a picnic to their once beautiful tourist spots like the Habaniya Lake or the ancient Akarkouf.
Iraqis now dread to go to the cinema - if there any cinemas left in the country. Eating out is a dream of the past and taking the children for an outing is unthinkable.
Under the U.S. democracy in Iraq you must be a prisoner of your own house or you risk being killed, injured or kidnapped.
Even staying home is no longer safe. It is very likely for unidentified gunmen to storm your house in the middle of the night or in broad day light.
Millions of Iraqis are now on holiday in Syria or Jordan, spending the extra foreign cash they have been earning due to massive U.S. reconstruction works.
There have never been so many Iraqi tourists in foreign countries. Internal tourism is also booming, with whole quarters, towns and villages currently on holiday.
If you happen to be in the capital Baghdad, a major advantage of U.S. style democracy is denial of sleep.
U.S. warplanes, helicopter gun ships, tanks and other armored vehicles spring to life at night. The U.S. military love Baghdad nights and their warplanes are fond of low-flying when it is dark.
The U.S. thinks democracy can only take roots if practiced at night amid deafening noises, indiscriminate shelling and bombing and breaking of doors and windows.
read in full…
24 Steps to Liberty: NO ELECTRICITY UNTIL 2013!
The Associated Press reported today that "Getting full-time electric power turned on in Baghdad….. won't be accomplished until 2013," quoting U.S. officials.
I couldn’t link to the story at the time of writing this entry, because I got it from a wire service that requires subscription. So, I think you can wait until it is in newspapers and read it.
The news didn’t surprise me, but it did strike me that they come out and say this now. In a time when all the efforts are said to focus on quelling violence in Iraq, especially in Baghdad, and bringing Iraqis the hope back of a better future, I don’t think this news is the right thing to say now.
The story talked about how much power the Baghdadis get now. "In January, it was 4.4 hours; in February, it was 5.9," the story said. That isn’t true! I talk to my family every morning and they’ve been telling me that my neighborhood, which is a hardcore Sunni neighborhood, has been getting ONE hour of electricity per day and for months now!
The U.S. has spent $4.2 billion on the power issue in Iraq so far, the AP said. Where did the money go?
I just cannot convince my stubborn mind that the U.S. is that stupid that no one is figuring out where the money is going. Sometimes I think that they "trust" the Iraqi officials that much that they hand them all these billions and say "go ahead and spend it on electricity projects. No, you don’t have to report to us." But then I remember: it doesn’t work this way.
I know it is corruption, but I don’t know for sure what the U.S. is doing to prevent that.
If it were for me, I wouldn’t deal with the same people for four years if I see my money disappears and don’t see any progress. Therefore, I ask myself "if I think this way, is it possible that the U.S. administration has no one to think like me!"
Left I on the News: PERSPECTIVE
The "Mega Millions" lottery jackpot is up to $355 million. The San Jose Mercury News provides this helpful comparison about what you can use the money for if you win (on its front page!):
273 Bugatti Beyrons, the most expensive production car, at $1.3 million @
17 tickets to outer space, at $20 million a trip
An 80 GB iPod for everyone in San Jose ($349@)
...or... about a day of the war in Iraq
It's not the usual comparison about what the money being spent on war could be used for (schools, housing, health care, etc.), but it certainly brings home the message!
It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a Royal Marine from 42 Commando, today, Tuesday 6 March 2007, in Helmand province, Afghanistan. The Royal Marine was killed when his unit came under fire during a deliberate clearance operation in the Kajaki area. (MoD UK)
Taliban rebels are claiming to have abducted a British journalist in Afghanistan's violent Helmand province. A source close the rebels said the man was seized along with two Afghans after they entered a Taliban-controlled area without permission. He said they were being held on suspicion of being spies. The British man has been named as John Nichol, but no further information about him was immediately available.
NATO-led troops launched an offensive against Taliban militants in a volatile southern Afghan province where hundreds of militant fighters have amassed. The operation, which will eventually involve 4,500 NATO troops and 1,000 Afghan soldiers, was launched at the request of the Afghan government and will focus on the northern region of Helmand province, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "What is happening in Baghdad is a new kind of tactics that comes prior to the tempest. The attacks are expected to be harsher and more painful." -- one Sunni leader, associated with an insurgent group with ties to Saddam Hussein's banned party, speaking to AP on condition of anonymity


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