Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Photo: Iraqi citizens plead with foreign occupation soldiers from U.S. 2nd Platoon Charlie Troop, 3rd Squadron of the 61st Cavalry Regiment not to destroy their belongings. They are forced at gunpoint to get out of their own home while the foreigners search it, taking away whatever they want. (GI Special 5C13 caption)
Bring 'em on: March 13, a MND-B unit struck a roadside bomb while on a combat patrol in a southern section of the Iraqi capital, killing one Soldier and wounding three others. (MNF- Iraq)
Bring 'em on: March 13, a MND-B unit struck a roadside bomb while conducting these types of combined security operations in a northeastern section of the Iraqi capital, killing one Soldier and wounding another. (MNF- Iraq)
Bring 'em on: A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed Mar. 13 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province. (MNF- Iraq)
In western Baghdad, a suicide car bomber slammed into an Iraqi army checkpoint in the neighbourhood of Yarmouk , killing two civilians and wounding four others, police said.
Gunmen wounded the head of Baghdad's Adhamiya Municipality, and killed two of his bodyguards, police said.
A Sunni mosque was badly damaged when gunmen planted bombs inside it in the town of Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.
Gunmen killed two police officers and wounded another in a drive-by shooting in the southern city of Diwaniya, 180 km (110 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.
The head of the local Iraqi Red Crescent Society branch in Tikrit was abducted by gunmen on Monday night.
Tuz Khormato:
A suicide bomber struck a market in northern Iraq, killing at least eight people and wounding 25, police said. The explosion occurred just before noon as the market was crowded with shoppers in Tuz Khormato, 210 kilometres north of Baghdad.
An Iraqi civilian was killed when an explosive charge went off near his private car in southwest of Kirkuk, 250 km northeast of Baghdad, a security source said Wednesday. "An explosive charge detonated late on Tuesday near a civilian car on the highway linking Tikrit to Riadh in southwest of Kirkuk," the source, who asked not to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq.
The bodies of two men were found, with gunshot wounds and signs of torture, near the Sunni Arab stronghold of Falluja, 50 km (35 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.
"Unidentified gunmen opened fire against an army vehicle patrol in al-Julan neighborhood, north of Falluja, on Wednesday afternoon," the source, who asked to be unnamed, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). "Fierce clashes erupted after the attack between Iraqi forces and the armed men," the source added, giving no further details.
Two cleaners were killed by U.S. forces in Falluja, the source said. "Bullets were fired from a U.S. base in Arbayeen Street, near to a mosque in al-Dubat neighborhood in central Falluja, wounding two cleaners who were rushed to the hospital. However they died of their wounds," he noted. The U.S. forces are using a residential house as a military base in al-Dubat neighborhood.
The bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons and a grandson have been exhumed and reburied near the ousted leader's grave in his hometown north of Baghdad, tribal officials said Wednesday.
Saddam's sons, Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37, and his 14-year-old grandson Mustafa died July 22, 2003, in gunbattle with U.S. troops in the northern city of Mosul and had been buried in the main tribal cemetery in Tikrit, 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital.
But Sunni leaders of Saddam's tribe decided to move the remains Tuesday to the courtyard of the ornate building in which the ousted leader was laid to rest after he was hanged on Dec. 30 after being convicted for crimes against humanity. He was buried the next day in a grave chipped out of an interior floor of a building he had built for religious events.
"We wanted to put the bodies of Saddam's family in one place," said Thaer Ismael of Saddam's tribe.
> The Pentagon is actively considering a series of fallback positions for Iraq in the event that President George Bush’s plan of expanding the US military presence fails.
Among the options are adoption of the El Salvador model, which would see Washington withdraw most of its 150,000-plus troops and replace them with a few hundred, or few thousand, military advisers.
A more drastic option also being looked at is to retreat inside Baghdad’s Green Zone and the heavily fortified airport on the outskirts of the city.
An adviser familiar with discussions inside the Pentagon said there was great pessimism about whether Mr Bush’s troop "surge" would work, and military planners were studying a range of alternatives.
Winslow Wheeler, a senior fellow at the Centre for Defence Information thinktank, who was involved in El Salvador, also said the El Salvador model was not viable in Iraq. "It is not sufficient to train indigenous forces.
They have to have a government they are willing to die for. There is no moderate centre in Iraq for which people are willing to die."
Referring to the chaotic scenes that accompanied the US pullout from Saigon, Mr Wheeler said retreat into Baghdad’s fortified zones would be tantamount to "bringing in the wooden steps for helicopters to take us out.
"That is just the final stage before the failure becomes apparent."
> Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki fears the Americans will withdraw support for his government — effectively ousting him — if parliament does not pass a draft oil law by the end of June, close associates of the Iraqi leader told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The legislature has not even taken up the draft measure for a fair distribution of the nation's oil wealth — only one of several U.S. benchmarks that are now seen by al-Maliki, a hardline Shiite, as key to continued American support for his troubled government.
Beyond that, the al-Maliki associates told AP, American officials have informed the prime minister they want an Iraqi government in place by year's end that would be acceptable to Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.
"They have said it must be secular and inclusive," one al-Maliki associate said.
To that end, al-Maliki made an unannounced visit Tuesday to Ramadi, the Sunni insurgent stronghold, to meet with tribal leaders, the provincial governor and security chiefs in a bid to signal his willingness for reconciliation to end the bitter and bloody sectarian war that has riven Iraq for more than a year.
> Less than half of Americans think the United States can win the war in Iraq, according to a CNN poll released Tuesday.
Forty-six percent said the United States could not win the war in Iraq.
And although 46 percent also said the United States still could win, the results mark the first time since the war began four years ago that a majority of Americans said the United States is not capable of winning. (Watch what the latest polls say about the war )
An even smaller percentage, 37 percent, said the United States will in fact win the war in Iraq; 54 percent said it will not. An all-time low of 29 percent said things were going well in Iraq. (Interactive: Poll results)
Fifty-four percent of Americans said the Bush administration deliberately misled Americans about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the U.S.-led invasion.
Drawing an analogy with Vietnam, a long-time Iraqi dissident says the armed resistance in his country against the US is winning, but it will take a long time to make the American troops go home.
Kamal Majid, a Professor Emeritus in the University of Wales (Cardiff), also said here that Iraqis had every right to invite foreigners to join the fighting against the US troops as Washington too had other governments on its side.
"The Iraqi people are optimistic that they will succeed (against the US)," Majid told an "International Conference on War, Imperialism and Resistance" here, drawing thunderous applause at the end of an impassioned speech.
And soon afterwards, the 77-year-old academic, who counts Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih and Irrigation Minister Latif Rashid as his students, told IANS that he expected violence in Iraq to continue for a long time.
"It will take a very long time (to make the Americans pull out)," Majid said. "After all 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."
An Iraqi Kurd, Majid said he had not visited Iraq for decades - first because he was bitterly opposed to deposed ruler Saddam Hussein and now because he feared death at the hands of Americans and "these people" - a reference to Deputy Prime Minister Salih and minister Rashid. "I hate them," he added.
Majid squarely blamed the Americans for the Shia-Sunni sectarian conflict in Iraq that has claimed hundreds of lives and threatens to rip apart the country as never before.
"There was no such conflict before the Americans came," he said. "My own uncle, a Sunni, had nine children, six of whom married Shias.
"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.
"We do hope that once the Americans leave," Majid added, "Shias and Sunnis will realize that they need to live in peace, and for 200 centuries more." (…)
And in comments that appeared to justify the use of suicide bombers, he went on: "The Americans decide where to fight and what weapons to use. We also need (to do that). War has no laws. War has no logic. The enemy uses their own bombs, the resistance uses its (weapons).
"The US uses armies from other countries. So it is also our right to invite people from other countries to fight for our rights. They are not foreigners, they are fighting for us."
read in full…
Marc Lynch, Guardian: AN EYE ON ALLAWI
Will Iyad Allawi, the rotund one-time Iraqi Prime Minister and current London resident, be the next Prime Minister of Iraq? He certainly seems to want the job, and he suits the Bush administration's agenda suspiciously well. But his return to power would not only fail to end the civil war - it would also signal a decisive end to democratic aspirations in Iraq and the Arab world, increase America's role at a time when most Americans would prefer to leave, and pave the way to a confrontation with Iran.
While Allawi has only recently returned to the headlines, his bid for a return to power has actually been going on for more than half a year. Allawi's re-emergence dates back to last November, when he began appearing frequently in the Saudi-owned Arab media, and popped up in Amman, Jordan, as a key interlocutor in "secret" talks between the Americans and the Sunni insurgency. Last week, as Allawi's name started to flood the local papers, the Fadhila Party split off from the Shi'ite United Iraqi Alliance and made noises about joining with Allawi's Iraqi National List. While Fadhila has not formally joined with Allawi, the talk of forming the non-sectarian, anti-Iranian "National Salvation Front" long mooted by the Sunni leader Saleh al-Mutlaq continues to grow. Allawi has been negotiating widely, including a recent trip to Kurdistan, ostentatiously accompanied by American Ambassador Zal Khalilzad (Kurdish leader Mahmud Othman says that they are "interested", and KDP leader Masoud Barzani today traveled to Riyadh with Allawi). Iraq-watchers these days entertain themselves by counting votes to see if he might be able to somehow cobble together a Parliamentary majority to unseat Maliki (Moqtada al-Sadr hopping on board is the latest, rather unlikely, rumor).
Allawi's return reflects more than his own considerable appetite for power: the fact is that his political profile fits American objectives in the region far better than Nuri al-Maliki, Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, or any of the other major Shia candidates. Allawi is Shia, but, unlike his long-time rival Ahmed Chalabi, does not even pretend to have rediscovered his religious roots. Allawi presents himself as an Iraqi nationalist, able to appeal across sectarian lines and - most importantly - eager to pursue a hard line against Iran. The anti-American edge which he cultivated last December, when he reached out to the insurgency and flirted with Sadr, seems to have faded as American interest in him has grown. And he is much-admired in Amman and Riyadh, key players in the Bush administration's shiny new coalition of "Sunni moderate states" (pro-American dictators on board with the anti-Iranian campaign).
read in full…
Norman Solomon, Dissident Voice: THE PRAGMATISM OF PROLONGED WAR
The days are getting longer, but the media shadows are no shorter as they cover the war in Iraq through American eyes, squinting in Washington’s pallid sun.
Debated as an issue of politics, the actual war keeps being drained of life. Abstractions thrive inside the Beltway, while the war effort continues: funded by the U.S. Treasury every day, as the original crime of invasion is replicated with occupation.
More than ever, in the aftermath of the Scooter Libby verdict, the country’s major news outlets are willing to acknowledge that the political road to war in Iraq was paved with deceptions. But the same media outlets were integral to laying the flagstones along the path to war -- and they’re now integral to prolonging the war.
With the same logic of one, two, and three years ago, the conformist media wisdom is that a cutoff of funds for the war is not practical. Likewise, on Capitol Hill, there’s a lot of huffing and puffing about how the war must wind down -- but the money for it, we’re told, must keep moving. Like two rails along the same track, the dispensers of conventional media and political wisdom carry us along to more and more and more war.
read in full…
A massive explosion in a Kabul bazaar where guns and ammunition are sold killed at least 13 people and injured 15 others early Wednesday. The blast left a 10-foot crater and damaged hundreds of buildings, some more than a block away, the BBC reported. After initial confusion, an Afghan deputy interior minister said the explosion was not terror-related, CNN reported.
An Australian helicopter carrying Australian troops and reporters has narrowly avoided an attack by a rocket in Afghanistan, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio reported Wednesday.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Haditha is like a police state, surrounded by a dirt berm topped with concertina wire, with two tightly controlled entrances and no private cars permitted to drive in the town proper." -- from "Gains in stability slow but tangible in Haditha" in the Washington Times


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