Tuesday, February 28, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, February 28, 2006 Bring 'em on: Four British soldiers killed and another injured by roadside bomb on the outskirts of Amara, southern Iraq, Iraqi security sources said Tuesday. The UK Ministry of Defence confirmed the death of only two. Bring 'em on: U.S. soldier killed by small-arms fire west of Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Italian patrol attacked in Nassiriya by apparent IED. No damage to either personnel or vehicles. Bring 'em on: Roadside bomb targeting convoy of a defense ministry adviser kills five soldiers and wounds seven others. The adviser, Lt. Gen. Daham Radhi al-Assal, was not injured. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Alleged suicide bomber blows himself up at gas station in New Baghdad neighborhood, killing 23 people and injuring 51. Car bomb targeting police patrol in the same neighborhood kills nine people and injures 17, all civilians. Car bomb explodes near Shiite mosque in Baghdad's southeastern Karada neighborhood, killing four people and injuring 16. In Baghdad, gunmen in two speeding cars open fire on the Sunni al-Salam mosque in western Mansour district, killing the guard. Mortar round lands in open area not far from National Theatre in downtown Baghdad, Mohammedawi said. No immediate reports of casualties. Sunni Arab mosque damaged by bomb early Tuesday morning. Mortar round falls near TV station run by Iraqi Islamic Party wounding two senior employees. Iraqi soldiers find bullet-riddled bodies of nine people near two burned minibuses in Iraq's Diyala province. The victims included a Sunni Muslim of the influential Mahamdeh tribe, and two of his nephews. In Tikrit, near Saddam's birthplace north of Baghdad, bomb blast damages dome and blows out doors and windows at Hussein al-Majid mosque, which houses his father's grave. No reports of injuries. Two bodies of civilians with multiple gunshot wounds found north of Falluja. Gunmen in Mosul kill four police and a doctor of the city general hospital. The motive was not known. Car bomb explodes as police patrol passes in Kirkuk, wounding three civilians. OTHER NEWS Violence since bombing of Shi'ite shrine kills 379 and wounds 458, Iraq government says: In an unusual statement, issued in English, the office of Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, said media reports that the death toll was well over 1,000 were "inaccurate and exaggerated." Iraqi prosecutors submit to court trying Saddam Hussein alleged execution order signed by former Iraqi dictator, as his lawyers once again storm out of tribunal: Documents were presented linking Saddam to the trial and execution of 148 villagers from Dujail, north of Baghdad in some of the most significant documentary evidence to have been presented by the prosecution so far. Saddam's lead lawyers, Khalil al-Dulaimi and Khamis Ubaydi, had walked out of the courtroom at the start of the hearing after the judge rejected their pleas for proceedings to be postponed and for the judge and chief prosecutor to be dismissed for alleged bias against the accused. They were immediately replaced by court-appointed lawyers who represented Saddam during an earlier defence counsel walkout. The hearing, markedly quieter than previous sessions that threatened to descend into chaos owing to noisy interventions by the defendants, lasted two hours before being adjourned until Wednesday. More than 7,000 Afghans protest against cartoons of Prophet Mohammad and condemn attack on Shi'ite Muslim shrine in Iraq as "plot by infidels": Tuesday's protests were in Ghazni, a town southwest of the capital, Kabul, and involved more than 7,000 people, including minority Shi'ite and majority Sunni Muslims, officials said. Sayed Ghulam Sakhi, head of the government-appointed Islamic Council in Ghazni, called the printing of the cartoons, the attack in Iraq and desecration of the Islamic holy book, the Koran, by U.S. forces the work of "Zionists". "(They) are linked together and the work of the infidels," he said. Another senior cleric in Ghazni, Mawlavi Jailani, charged that the attack on a Shi'ite shrine in Iraq last week, which has sparked bloody sectarian violence, was part of a "plot by the infidels to create hostility" between the two Muslim sects. REPORTS Iraqi bloggers wonder why Western media wants to see a civil war so badly in Iraq: From what I have seen the Western media has shown too much of a morbid facination with civil war. They are to fast to declare a new war while at the same time frightened by the consequences. The result is that you get a false picture of what is going on. This duality is understandable. The political editor will say "tone it down - a civil war will threaten our interests" while the managing editor will shout "play it up for all its worth - this sells newspapers." So, for the sake of balance I dedicated my Global Voices Online column to reports from those who are looking for lights at the end of the tunnel. (…) Iraq Pundit takes the Western media to task:
Why do these reporters want to see a civil war so badly in Iraq? It looks to me that they hate Bush so much that they will stop at nothing to prove that he’s wrong about Iraq and they are right. The reporters have sunk so low as to take this cheap angle of insisting that an all out civil war has been underway for three years. When will they wake up and realize that this is not a White House scandal. This is about Iraq and its people.
24 Steps To Liberty is amazed by a picture he posts from his TV:
Iraqi clergymen, Shiites and Sunnis, have met in a mosque in Baghdad and decided to contribute to ending the crisis… What was amazing about it is the unity they showed on TV. In the picture, Kubaisi [spokesman of the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars] is shown leading the prayers and all the clergies behind him are Shiites from Sadr trend. This is the first time I see this. I’ve never seen a Sunni clergyman leading Shiite prayers…. This is a huge encouragement to Iraqis and a huge defeat also for those who predicted a wide civil war in Iraq.
- Salam Adil is an Iraqi blogger who lives in the United Kingdom COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS "They're going to Baghdad next": The biggest difference in Baghdad from two or three years ago is the nearly total absence of U.S. troops on its streets. In a major gamble, the city largely has been turned over to Iraqi police and army troops. If those Iraqi forces falter, leaving a vacuum, U.S. pressure elsewhere could push the insurgency into the capital. "I think they're going to go to Baghdad next," worried [Maj. Daniel] Morgan [a battalion operations officer]. But other U.S. officers argued that such a move is unlikely because it is more difficult to intimidate a city of 5 million than a rural village. The Middle East as a chessboard: For the most radical-right neoconservative Jacobins amongst the Bush-Cheney team, the possibility that Iraq might fall apart wasn't even alarming: they just didn't care, and in their obsessive zeal to overthrow Saddam Hussein they were more than willing to take the risk. David Wurmser, who migrated from the Israeli-connected Washington Institute on Near East Policy to the American Enterprise Institute to the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans to John Bolton's arms control shop at the State Department to Dick Cheney's shadow National Security Council in the Office of the Vice President from 2001 to 2006, wrote during the 1990s that Iraq after Saddam was likely to descend into violent tribal, ethnic and sectarian war. In a paper for an Israeli think tank, the same think tank for which Wurmser, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith prepared the famous "Clean Break" paper in 1996, Wurmser wrote in 1997 : "The residual unity of the nation is an illusion projected by the extreme repression of the state." After Saddam, Iraq would "be ripped apart by the politics of warlords, tribes, clans, sects, and key families," he wrote. "Underneath facades of unity enforced by state repression, [Iraq's] politics is defined primarily by tribalism, sectarianism, and gang/clan-like competition." Yet Wurmser explicitly urged the United States and Israel to "expedite" such a collapse. "The issue here is whether the West and Israel can construct a strategy for limiting and expediting the chaotic collapse that will ensue in order to move on to the task of creating a better circumstance." Such black neoconservative fantasies-which view the Middle East as a chessboard on which they can move the pieces at will-have now come home to roost. For the many hundreds of thousands who might die in an Iraqi civil war, the consequences are all too real. Like the Sarajevo assassination that precipitated World War I, the attack on the mosque may trigger a war, but it won't be the cause. The cause is far more deep-rooted, embedded in the chaos and bitterness that followed the U.S. invasion of Iraq and America's deliberate efforts to stress sectarian differences in creating the Iraqi Governing Council and subsequent government institutions. If the current crisis doesn't spark a civil war, be patient. The next one will. It's all about the oil: Iraq cannot be physically lost - territorially conceded - to the Iraqis without monumentally dire consequences to American Empire. If abandoned, Iraq's significant share of "the greatest material prize in history" can only be left to the control of others, an outcome that is unacceptable to American policymakers for (again) "very good [imperial] reason[s]." The fully and ugly truth is that the self-proclaimed universal state and global super-power Uncle Sam has no intention of granting management of the world's most "stupendous source of strategic power" and "critical" global political-economic "leverage" to the people who happen to live on its merely national, not-so sovereign topsoil. At this precarious and potentially late point in the history of its global dominance, the U.S. can be expected to hold on to that control with an impressive imperial death grip. It will likely exhibit a fierce determination to defend that grasp through even the most terrible conflicts and violence abroad and at home, where more and bigger 9/11's seem all-too likely in coming years. The risks of not holding on are simply too great, as far as those structurally super-empowered U.S. actors who crave planetary (and indeed inter-planetary) supremacy (the real objective of U.S. foreign policy) are concerned. Withdrawal from Iraq is a most unlikely thing for Uncle Sam to seriously contemplate in light of his tendency to value hegemony over survival, consistent with deadly choices made by concentrated power through the long, reckless, and criminal record of empire. BEYOND IRAQ Here we go again!: Now it's Iran. Bush, again mumbling something about Iran's being a threat to the world, the same crap as about Iraq. But this time, the west European countries (the "traditional" allies) are at it, too. Isn't it strange how all these countries, the USA, Israel, England, France, Germany...with all their weapons of mass destruction, feel so easily threatened? Why shouldn't Iran be a nuclear power? The U.S, England, France, Israel, Russia, China, Japan (yes! Japan, too), India and Pakistan are. These idiots are the cause of nuclear proliferation. If they are so concerned about the safety of the world they should lead by example and dismantle their nuclear weapons. When the U.S, Israel, England France and Germany talk about the safety of the world being their main reason to object to Iran's possessing nuclear technology, what world are they talking about? They are the only ones (as always) who feel threatened. I don't hear about Thailand, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Latvia, Vietnam, Zambia... feeling threatened. I mean, really, what world is in question? The world comprised of the U.S, England, Israel, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Japan? The O.E.C.D world? The world made up of the G7 the E.U the IMF, World Bank, WTO, N.A.T.O, the UN Security Council, NAFTA, Wall Street, OIL interests, cheap OIL. Is this the world we hear so much about? Because, if this is the world the West is worried about, then it is a world of SHAME that is in question, a world of deceit, greed, wars, theft, colonialism, capitalism, imperialism... An opulent white world born out of mainly colored peoples slave work, sweat and blood and their natural resources. If this is the world that is in danger then it might as well be done away with! We hear again words of shame, words like "the UN Security Council", "UNSC resolutions", "International community"... I thought all this didn't exist anymore. I thought the UN was finally dead, the coup de grâce being the (another) illegal US-UK-led war against the Iraqi people in order to rob them of their OIL. But let's face it, the UN was never very much alive. Actually, there never was a UN. All there was was the(UN) Security Council, a band of criminals bent on tearing the natural resources of the world at any cost. Although I am far from being a fan of the ruling Mullahs in Teheran, I still remember the Shah, Reza Pahlavi, a friend of the West, which means "the International Community" and oppressor of the Iranian people, a vicious dictator who was propped up and kept in power by the West, robbed his people blind and made himself and the West even richer and who eventually gave birth to the Mullahs. So, I urge Iran not to put its fate into the hands of "the International Community". When you hear "International Community" on the news, what countries pop up in your mind? Albania, Burkina Faso, Burundi...? Of course not! The countries that pop up in our mind are usually the US and whoever follows (pretty much the same faithful dogs : Israel, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan...) or G7, EU, NATO, W.B., IMF, WTO... it's always the same gangsters anyway. This "International Community" that is so worried about the safety of the "world", that claims the higher moral ground, a higher sense of justice and is so vociferous in its proclamations of being the defender of democratic values, human rights and protector of the "civilized" world, this "International Community" is the same one that has betrayed millions of people around the real world in need of human rights, democracy, justice... Millions have been killed, tortured, oppressed, persecuted, exploited...as a result of the criminal policies of our angelic "International Community", because what mattered and still matters the most today is the economic interests of this "International Community" of SHAME! When the "International Community" threatens Iran to force it to give up its nuclear program in order to make the world safer, I wonder if its thoughts of safety include the Chechens, the Palestinians, the Iraqis, the Sudanese in Darfur, the campesinos and the Indios being massacred in Colombia by death squads backed by the cheap - natural resources - hungry U.S. and its west European vassals and Japan (read: "International Community") ...or the 30 000 daily deaths caused by hunger due to economic policies of the "International Community"...Will all these peoples and many other oppressed ones feel safer once they find out that Iran has agreed to get rid of its nuclear technology? Who or What will really be safer? The flow of cheap OIL to the West and Japan (the "International Community")? In light of this record of atrocities Iran should really hurry and develop whatever it needs to protect itself from us, I mean, "the International Community". Drug smuggling made easy: Profits from the heroin trade are astronomical. Those of us who work for a living just to keep on top of paying the rent can't even grasp the amount of money involved. It's a lot. In 2004, Prof. Michel Chossudovsky of the University of Ottawa stated that, "The Afghan trade in opiates constitutes a large share of the worldwide annual turnover of narcotics, which was estimated by the United Nations to be of the order of $400-500 billion." Prof. Chossudovsky goes on to state that, aside from oil production and weapons sales, the sale of opiates is the largest producer of revenue in the world. And everybody who listens to KPFA or even reads the New York Times knows that 85% of the world's heroin supply now comes from American-occupied Afghanistan. Just Google "Heroin/Afghanistan" and see what sh! ows up. This is NOT a closely-guarded secret. Okay. We now understand that the heroin drug trade represents big bucks. And we also understand that most of the world's heroin supply is coming from American-occupied Afghanistan. But what we don't understand is, with all those drug-sniffing dogs poking around American airports, how can all these billions of dollars worth of heroin sneak their way into our country? Through the ports! And now George W. Bush is insisting that our ports are to be handed over to his friends. Think about it. Now George and his friends are now in control of the ports where heroin enters America. How convenient for them. Now they have a monopoly on the production AND the distribution of drugs. This is a perfect example of the free enterprise system at work. Only it's only free for Bush and his friends. We who work for a living -- and our drug-vulnerable children -- still have to pay. PS: Am I saying that the Bush group will do anything to make a profit, even sell hard drugs to children? Yeah, duh. Never forget that the Bush bureaucracy's motto is, "We will do ANYTHING for cash." These guys did market research. They found out what sells best: Guns, drugs and oil. These are their products. And they have just been voted "Salesmen of the Year". You gotta admit that the Bush bureaucracy's sales campaign is brilliant. Their "divide and conquer" jingle is being hummed on every street corner in the world. These super-entrepreneurs have turned red state Americans and blue state Americans against each other. They've turned the American middle-class against the poor. They've turned Jews, Christians and Muslims against each other. They've even turned Muslims against Muslims. And in the resultant confusion, they make trillions of dollars in profit on drugs, guns and oil. Drugs, guns and oil. Is that what we want our troops to die for? Is that what "Christians" value most? Are "Muslims" willing to soil the words of the Prophet (PBUH) by killing non-Muslims who have done them no harm? And by killing other Muslims? Are the CEOs of Bush Incorporated creating a whole world of avid consumers, zealously killing for drugs, guns and oil? Is this what the human race has come to? We are being used. American Gulag: I represent six Kuwaiti prisoners, each of whom has now spent nearly four years at Guantanamo. It took me 2 1/2 years to gain access to my clients, but now I have visited the prison camp 11 times in the last 14 months. What I have witnessed is a cruel and eerie netherworld of concrete and barbed wire that has become a daily nightmare for the nearly 500 people swept up after 9/11 who have been imprisoned without charges or trial for more than four years. It is truly our American gulag. On my most recent trip three weeks ago, after signing a log sheet and submitting our bags to a search, my colleagues and I were taken through two tall, steel-mesh gates into the interior of the prison camp. We interviewed our clients in Camp Echo, one of several camps where prisoners are interrogated. We entered a room about 13 feet square and divided in half by a wall of thick steel mesh. On one side was a table where the prisoner would sit for our interviews, his feet shackled to a steel eyelet cemented to the floor. On the other side were a shower and a cell just like the ones in which prisoners are ordinarily confined. In their cells, prisoners sleep on a metal shelf against the wall, which is flanked by a toilet and sink. They are allowed a thin foam mattress and a gray cotton blanket. The Pentagon's files on the six Kuwaiti prisoners we represent reveal that none was captured on a battlefield or accused of engaging in hostilities against the U.S. The prisoners claim that they were taken into custody by Pakistani and Afghan warlords and turned over to the U.S. for bounties ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 - a claim confirmed by American news reports. We have obtained copies of bounty leaflets distributed in Afghanistan and Pakistan by U.S. forces promising rewards - "enough to feed your family for life" - for any "Arab terrorist" handed over. The files include only the flimsiest accusations or hearsay that would never stand up in court. The file on one prisoner indicated that he had been seen talking to two suspected Al Qaeda members on the same day - at places thousands of miles apart. The primary "evidence" against another was that he was captured wearing a particular Casio watch, "which many terrorists wear." Oddly, the same watch was being worn by the U.S. military chaplain, a Muslim, at Guantanamo. When I first met my clients, they had not seen or spoken with their families for more than three years, and they had been questioned hundreds of times. Several were suspicious of us; they told me that they had been interrogated by people who claimed to be their lawyers but who turned out not to be. So we had DVDs made, on which members of their families told them who we were and that we could be trusted. Several cried on seeing their families for the first time in years. One had become a father since he was detained and had never before seen his child. One noticed his father was not on the DVD, and we had to tell him that his father had died. Most prisoners are kept apart, although some can communicate through the steel mesh or concrete walls that separate their cells. They exercise alone, some only at night. They had not seen sunlight for months - an especially cruel tactic in a tropical climate. One prisoner told me, "I have spent almost every moment of the last three years, and eaten every meal, here in this small cell which is my bathroom." Other than the Koran, prisoners had nothing to read. As a result of our protests, some have been given books. Every prisoner I've interviewed claims to have been badly beaten and subjected to treatment that only could be called torture, by Americans, from the first day of U.S. captivity in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They said they were hung by their wrists and beaten, hung by their ankles and beaten, stripped naked and paraded before female guards, and given electric shocks. At least three claimed to have been beaten again upon arrival in Guantanamo. One of my clients, Fayiz Al Kandari, now 27, said his ribs were broken during an interrogation in Pakistan. I felt the indentation in his ribs. "Beat me all you want, just give me a hearing," he said he told his interrogators. Another prisoner, Fawzi Al Odah, 25, is a teacher who left Kuwait City in 2001 to work in Afghan, then Pakistani, schools. After 9/11, he and four other Kuwaitis were invited to dinner by a Pakistani tribal leader and then sold by him into captivity, according to their accounts, later confirmed by Newsweek and ABC News. On Aug. 8, 2005, Fawzi, in desperation, went on a hunger strike to assert his innocence and to protest being imprisoned for four years without charges. He said he wanted to defend himself against any accusations, or die. He told me that he had heard U.S. congressmen had returned from tours of Guantanamo saying that it was a Caribbean resort with great food. "If I eat, I condone these lies," Fawzi said. At the end of August, after Fawzi fainted in his cell, guards began to force-feed him through tubes pushed up his nose into his stomach. At first, the tubes were inserted for each feeding and then removed afterward. Fawzi told me that this was very painful. When he tried to pull out the tubes, he was strapped onto a stretcher with his head held by many guards, which was even more painful. By mid-September, the force-feeding had been made more humane. Feeding tubes were left in and the formula pumped in. Still, when I saw Fawzi, a tube was protruding from his nose. Drops of blood dripped as we talked. He dabbed at it with a napkin. We asked for Fawzi's medical records so we could monitor his weight and his health. Denied. The only way we could learn how Fawzi was doing was to visit him each month, which we did. When we visited him in November, his weight had dropped from 140 pounds to 98 pounds. Specialists in enteral feeding advised us that the continued drop in his weight and other signs indicated that the feeding was being conducted incompetently. We asked that Fawzi be transferred to a hospital. Again, the government refused. When we saw Fawzi in December, his weight had stabilized at about 110 pounds. The formulas had been changed, and he was being force-fed by medical personnel rather than by guards. When I met with Fawzi three weeks ago, the tubes were out of his nose. I told him I was thankful that after five months he had ended his hunger strike. He looked at me sadly and said, "They tortured us to make us stop." At first, he said, they punished him by taking away his "comfort items" one by one: his blanket, his towel, his long pants, his shoes. They then put him in isolation. When this failed to persuade him to end the hunger strike, he said, an officer came to him Jan. 9 to announce that any detainee who refused to eat would be forced onto "the chair." The officer warned that recalcitrant prisoners would be strapped into a steel device that pulled their heads back, and that the tubes would be forced in and wrenched out for each feeding. "We're going to break this hunger strike," the officer told him. Fawzi said he heard the prisoner next door screaming and warning him to give up the strike. He decided that he wasn't "on strike to be tortured." He said those who continued on the hunger strike not only were strapped in "the chair" but were left there for hours; he believes that guards fed them not only nutrients but also diuretics and laxatives to force them to defecate and urinate on themselves in the chair. After less than two weeks of this treatment, the strike was over. Of the more than 80 strikers at the end of December, Fawzi said only three or four were holding out. As a result of the strike, however, prisoners are now getting a meager ration of bottled water. Fawzi said eating was the only aspect of life at Guantanamo he could control; forcing him to end the hunger strike stripped him of his last means of protesting his unjust imprisonment. Now, he said, he feels "hopeless." The government continues to deny that there is any injustice at Guantanamo. But I know the truth. On being "good Americans" in a time of torture: As a teenager, I could not understand how the German people could claim to be "good Germans," unaware of what the Nazis had done in their names. I could understand if these ordinary German people had said they had known and been horrified, but were afraid to speak up. But they would then be "weak, fearful or indifferent Germans," not "good Germans." The idea that only the Nazis were responsible for the Holocaust made no sense. Whatever the Germans as a whole know about the concentration camps, they certainly knew about the systematic mistreatment of Jews that had occurred before their very eyes, and from which so many had profited. And if they were not really "good Germans," I wondered, what should or could they have done, given the reality of Nazi tyranny? The issue became personal for me in the summer of 1961, when I hitchhiked through Europe with a lovely German woman named Inge. Still in love after an idyllic summer, we visited Hyde Park the day before I was to return home. A bearded, middle-aged concentration-camp survivor was angrily attacking the German people for standing by and letting the Jews be slaughtered. I was moved beyond words. Suddenly the woman I loved began yelling angrily at him, screaming that the Germans did not know, that her father had just been a soldier and was not responsible for the Holocaust. Our relationship essentially ended then and there. I understood intellectually that she was just defending her father and was neither an anti-Semite nor an evil person. But there it was. She on one side. The survivor on the other. A gulf between them. Whatever my head said, my heart knew that the world is divided into evil-doers, their victims, and those like Inge who do not want to know. And that I had no choice but to stand with the victims. I never dreamed at that moment that I, as an American, would a few years later face this same question as my government committed mass murder of civilians in Indochina in violation of the Nuremberg Principles. Or that more than four decades later I would still be struggling with what it means to be a "good American" after learning that a group of U.S. leaders has unilaterally seized the right to torture anyone it chooses without evidence and in violation of international law, human decency, and the sacrifice of the many Americans who have died fighting autocracy and totalitarianism. (…) We are in some ways more morally compromised than the "good Germans" of the 1930s. To begin with, we are far less able to claim we do not know. Our daily newspapers regularly report new revelations of Bush Administration torture. Second, by opposing torture, we face far less severe threats than did Germans who tried to help Jews. Even the strong possibility that we could become targets of illegal spying by this Administration for protesting its torture is far less frightening than the death or imprisonment faced by Germans who helped Jews. And, third, unlike the Germans, we cannot reasonably claim that it is futile to oppose our leaders. Creating or joining an organized effort to prevent torture can succeed because we possess one great advantage that human rights advocates in Germany did not have: the public is with us. (…) Whatever a movement to abolish torture will achieve for society, it is clear what participating in it means for each of us as individuals. It means above all that our children and grandchildren will not remember us with shame, that they will not one day have to try to justify to our victims our failure to oppose the torture being conducted in our names, and that the term "Good American" will mean just that, and not an excuse for fear or indifference, like the idea of the "Good German." When we fight to end torture we not only fight for human decency, international law, democracy, and freedom. We fight for ourselves.


Monday, February 27, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR MONDAY, February 27, 2006 Bring ‘em on:: U.S. soldier killed by small-arms fire on Sunday in central Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: U.S. soldier killed and three wounded after improvised explosive device detonates near Stryker vehicle in Mosul on Sunday. One soldier listed as very seriously injured and evacuated to Balad, Iraq. IRAQ NEWS Two “insurgents” killed and another wounded while trying to plant a bomb which exploded prematurely in main road between Iskandariya and Latifiya, south of Baghdad. Three civilians killed when roadside bomb explodes in Riyadh town, 60 km (40 miles) south west of Kirkuk. Mortar attack kills four and wounds 17 in Shola, a district in western Baghdad on Monday. Gunmen shoot dead owner of a glaze shop and an employee and wound five others in Baquba, 60 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad. Iraqi police arrest three suspects while planting bombs near a Shiite Shrine of al-Hur al-Riyahi near Kerbala, 110 km (68 miles) south of Baghdad. Civilian killed by Iraqi soldiers while he heading to work in Falluja, 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad. Iraqi police arrest 16 suspects on Saturday and Sunday in Tuz Khurmato, 70 km south of Kirkuk, and Dibis, 40 km (25 miles) northwest of Kirkuk, two of them while trying to plant bombs near Shiite mosque. Head of education directorate escapes assassination attempt when gunmen throw hand grenade on his office in Tuz Khurmato. Jill Carroll alive and Iraqi authorities optimistic about her release, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq says. Gunmen kill two youths playing soccer in Diyala and wound five in an attack Sunday. Two Iraqi soldiers wounded in ambush Monday in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of the capital. ”Insurgents” set ablaze oil pipeline in Safra U.S. soldier dies from non-combat related injuries Iraq lifts daytime curfew: Iraq has lifted the strict daytime curfew slapped on Baghdad for the past three days after sectarian unrest triggered by the bombing of a revered Shia shrine. Vehicle traffic and pedestrians were seen on the streets of Baghdad on Monday after the three-day security measure. Iraqi authorities had imposed a vehicle ban on the streets of Baghdad until Sunday. However, the night curfew that comes into effect from 8pm (1700 GMT) to 6am (0300 GMT) will continue in the capital and three other central provinces of Salah al-Din, Bail and Diyala, officials said on Monday. Despite the draconian security measures in the capital on Sunday, insurgents killed at least 23 Iraqis across the country. Saddam ends hunger strike: Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi president, has ended his hunger strike after foregoing food for 11 days, his lead lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi said on Monday. "I met my client for seven hours on Sunday. At our request he had earlier ended the hunger strike he had been on for 11 days and he has lost four to five kilos (about 10 pounds)," al-Dulaimi said. "He is doing OK." Iraqi Sunnis in Samarra working tirelessly to rebuild Golden Mosque: "The initiative came soon after the explosion in solidarity with our Shiite brothers," Abu Oqba Al-Samarrai told IslamOnline.net Monday, February 27, after collecting golden pieces of the mosque's destroyed dome. He said people of different age groups have volunteered to remove the ruble in a love demonstration. "Elderly, women, children and men of [predominantly Sunni] Samarra rush to the tomb to remove the debris, using shovels and manual carriages," he explained. Women provided food and water to exhausted men after a long day of hard work to get the job done as soon as possible. "The men chant in unison Islamic songs to kill time," Samarrai said. Chairman of the Sunni Waqfs Ahmad Abdul Ghaffor Al-Samarrai has declared that his body will donate two billion Iraqi dinars ($1,350 million) to reconstruct the shrine. Top Zarqawi lieutenant #345,876 captured: Iraqi Interior Ministry forces have captured a senior aide to al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraqi state television said on Monday. Iraqiya television named the man as Abu Farouq and said he was captured with five others in the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, west of the capital. REPORTS British firm to reshape holy Iraqi city of Najaf: In Britain, Milton Keynes has become a byword for soulless postwar urban planning. But the planning agency which created the town northwest of London from scratch in the 1970s, has now been asked to remodel the Iraqi holy city of Najaf. In 2004, Najaf in southern Iraq became the target of a full-scale US military assault aimed at ousting radical insurgents. Many died in the three-week onslaught that also devastated the centre of the historic Arabic city. Najaf's roots are said to date back to the 8th century, and the city attracts millions of pilgrims every year. In what is thought to be the first commission of its kind in post-war Iraq, the Baghdad authorities have appointed a British firm of town planners to remodel the entire centre of Najaf. While most of the residents of the holy city have probably never heard of Milton Keynes, the company assigned the job of reshaping Najaf was responsible for designing Britain's most infamous new town. Much has changed since 1970, when Richard Llewelyn Davies laid down plans for a new settlement to cater for the growing number of families fleeing London in search of a better life. By the 1980s Milton Keynes had become a byword for the pros and cons of post-war British urban planning. It was to some a spacious, modern, landscaped town, and to others a dystopic, soulless home to shopping centres and skateboard parks. By the late 1990s, some 170,000 people had moved to Milton Keynes, well below the intended target of a 250,000 population. Critics will doubtless ask why an Anglo-Saxon firm should be charged with re-planning a historic Arabic city. Iraq War depleted uranium contaminates Europe: "Did the use of Uranium weapons in Gulf War II result in contamination of Europe? Evidence from the measurements of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Aldermaston, Berkshire, UK," reported the Sunday Times Online (February 19, 2006) in a shocking scientific study authored by British scientists Dr. Chris Busby and Saoirse Morgan. The highest levels of depleted uranium ever measured in the atmosphere in Britain, were transported on air currents from the Middle East and Central Asia; of special significance were those from the Tora Bora bombing in Afghanistan in 2001, and the "Shock & Awe" bombing during Gulf War II in Iraq in 2003. Out of concern for the public, the official British government air monitoring facility, known as the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), at Aldermaston, was established years ago to measure radioactive emissions from British nuclear power plants and atomic weapons facilities. The British government facility (AWE) was taken over 3 years ago by Halliburton, which refused at first to release air monitoring data. After the "Shock and Awe" campaign in Iraq in 2003, very fine particles of depleted uranium were captured with larger sand and dust particles in filters in Britain. These particles traveled in 7-9 days from Iraqi battlefields as far as 2400 miles away. The radiation measured in the atmosphere quadrupled within a few weeks after the beginning of the 2003 campaign, and at one of the 5 monitoring locations, the levels twice required an official alert to the British Environment Agency. Why Has the U.S. Military Refused to Show Depleted Uranium Hazard Awareness Training Video To Troops Now Serving In Iraq? Morrissey investigated for criticising Bush: Rock star Morrissey has revealed he was quizzed by the FBI and Special Branch over his criticism of the US and Britain. Morrissey, 46, has previously branded George Bush a terrorist and blasted the Iraq war. The ex-Smiths singer, who lives in Los Angeles, said: “The FBI and Special Branch have investigated me and I’ve been interviewed and taped. “They were trying to determine if I was a threat to the government and similarly in England. “It didn’t take them long to realise I’m not.” The star, who said he did not belong to any political group, claimed it showed neither the UK nor America was truly democratic. He added: “You can’t really speak your mind and if you do, you’re investigated.” In 2004, Morrissey claimed Mr Bush had made America the world’s most “neurotic and terrorobsessed country”. Earlier that year, he told a Dublin gig he wished Mr Bush had died instead of Ronald Reagan. COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS AFTERMATH OF THE SAMARRA MOSQUE BOMBING Tehran press: Occupying troops involved in Iraq's terrorist bombing: A morning daily commented Sunday on recent bitter developments in Iraq saying that the occupying troops and intelligence services were directly involved in terrorist acts in the war-torn country. Criticizing the 'barbaric attacks' on the holy shrines of Imam Hadi (AS) and Imam Hassan Al-Askari (AS) in Samarra last Wednesday, the English-language daily 'Kayhan International' said that the occupying forces have failed to act based on the Geneva Convention. "The Geneva Convention signed by the majority of countries -- just like many other international conventions -- has become a useless law on paper, leaving nations no other option but to rely on their own capabilities for ensuring national security and defense," the paper argued. It noted that based on the Geneva Convention, the US-led occupying forces, 'are fully held responsible' for what was currently underway in Iraq. Stressing that according to the existing evidences, American and European troops played a central role in committing horrible crimes in Iraq, the article said, "Samarra has been under the strict control of American troops since the beginning of occupation. "The cold-blooded terrorists took their time before planting the heavy explosives inside and outside the holy shrines in the early hours of the dawn," the daily noted. The daily further added given all facts which 'prove the direct involvement of occupying forces and intelligence services in the terrorist acts, particularly the recent bombings of the holy shrines in Samarra', the only way in front of the Muslim nations is to rely on their own capabilities to ensure their national security. The perfect controlled demolition: Take a good look at the picture above because I will tell you what I see. I see a damaged dome caused by an explosion set very professionally that the two minarets from the both sides weren’t effected by the explosion. Not even one single “gold plate” fall down from the minarets while the explosion was so heavy that caused the collapse of the dome. Tell me, Is this work of few terrorists who wants to finish the job as fast as possible? The one who did this, entered the mosque comfortably carrying explosions, he had all the time to study the construction of the building and find the perfect angles to set the explosions in a way that only the dome will be destroyed. This is a professional, controlled demolition and the bombs set by demolition experts. Now, let’s talk about the death of the three Iraqi journalists. TV anchor Attwar, age 26 years is a significant young woman born in Samarra, moved to Baghdad just 3-4 years ago, Attwar worked for Al-Jazeera first and then she moved to Al-Arbyia. I am not writing Attwar’s autobiography here but this has connection to the events, Attwar (I think you are smart enough to know that she is a Sunni) was well-known of her support for the Iraqi cause and blaming the occupation for the mess in Iraq. One ex-Abu Ghraib prisoner tells this story about Attwar: When I came out through the gates of Abu-Ghraib there was TV team waiting outside asked me for an interview, I said yes, then came TV anchor Attwar and asked “How do you fell no…. “she couldn’t finish her question because she burst in tears when she saw how do I look like, bare feet, torn clothes…. This is an example of Attwar mentality. What the media didn’t told on Attwar’s death is this: Attwar and her other two colleagues found dead but the TV team was four members, bad news four the US but one of the team survived the assassination to tell this: Attwar being born in Samarra, her relatives and friends are still there, she managed to interview eyewitnesses on the explosion and people live in the area around the mosque. Notice, they found the TV-team’s bodies later but didn’t found the documentary she made, Who benefit from killing Atwwar, Sunnis? She is a Sunni. Resistance? She sympathise with the resistance. Shiite riot? Samarra is dominated by Sunnis. The answer is simple, Attwar killed because she knew “too much”. Sunni Clerical Association of Muslim Scholars, issued a 4 points condemnation letter to the bombing of shrine in Samara, You can see a picture of the letter here (Arabic), I don’t want go translating the whole letter but point 2 in the letter is a very important point. It says the following: We were suspicious when the US ambassador in Iraq (Zalamy Khalil) said: “A sectarian government who run their own ethnical militias to be incharge of the security (in Iraq) will not be acceptable”, such announcement should be addressed in secret meetings and not through “Satellite TV channels”, such public announcement will rally and moblize the shiia supporters of the “list 555” (Shiite alliance party). SCAS are right, Zalamy Khalilzad announcement in public was meant to hit two birds in one stone, first an advertisement to the world that the US wants a united Iraq (for the public consumption only), second and the mean reason is he wanted to remind the Iraq alliances Shiites that they still under the US control. Worth to notice that all news agancies wrote Khalilzad announcment as: During a rare news conference, Khalilzad….example Shiite alliances didn’t understand the seriousness of Zalamy Khalil and they condemned “Khalilzad” announcement (Hakim, Jaffri..etc), several times they repeated that Iraq can make it’s own decisions and we don’t want an interfering in Iraqi matters from any external power, one Iraqi official said: “Zalmay Khalil went too far with his demands” Was the mosque explosion a continuation in the US and Shiite “dialog” but this time the US uses a “harsher language”?. By the way today the so called Al-Qaeda in Iraq condemned the bombing, Baath party condemned the bombing and many fractions of Iraqi resistance condemned it also. Who benefits from the Samarra attack? A short 'history': Juan Cole (see below two postings of February 24 and 25, 2006 for background) further states: "As a historian, I try not to comment on things for which I don't have good documentary evidence. It just becomes speculation. I'm at a disadvantage in saying anything at all about what goes on in Iraq, since I am not there and can't see it. I finesse this by trying to make a judicious choice with regard to published accounts in Arabic. I didn't see anything I trusted on this issue." At one level, Cole's academically 'safe' response is totally in order. On another level, some extra effort to discern and connect the dots behind the glare of the Corporate Media's superficial coverage, especially for a mini-historian, as I may humbly claim to be, would be in order, even though I also "am not there". In the end, the approach does reflect the interests (as in: Regard for one's own benefit or advantage; self-interest), doesn't it? "The sectarian violence that has shaken Iraq this week has demonstrated the power that the many militias here have to draw the country into a full-scale civil war, and how difficult it would be for the state to stop it, Iraqi and American officials say. The militias pose a double threat to the future of Iraq: they exist both as marauding gangs, as the violence on Wednesday showed, and as sanctioned members of the Iraqi Army and the police. (emphasis added)… The ascent of the militias inside the security forces was quick and quiet. Soon after the Shiite-led government swept into power last spring and Bayan Jabr, a senior Shiite politician, become interior minister, a housecleaning began, in which about 140 high-ranking officials were dismissed and political allies of the Shiites were put in their place, according to several former ministry officials who feared reprisals if they gave their names. In addition, recruitment drives brought hundreds of ordinary Shiites into the security forces, many of whom identified more strongly with their political parties than with the Iraqi state. By summer, an American government adviser to the ministry, Mathew Sherman, recalled writing in his notes that "the ministry is quickly being infiltrated by militia and by Badr people." "The bombing of a revered Shiite shrine which sparked a wave of violence in Iraq was the work of specialists, Construction Minister Jassem Mohammed Jaafar said Friday, adding that the placing of the explosives must have taken at least 12 hours. (emphasis added) "According to initial reports, the bombing was technically well conceived and could only have been carried out by specialists," the minister told Iraqia state television. Jaafar, who toured the devastated thousand-year-old shrine on Thursday a day after the bombing which brought down its golden dome, said "holes were dug into the mausoleum's four main pillars and packed with explosives." "Then the charges were connected together and linked to another charge placed just under the dome. The wires were then linked to a detonator which was triggered at a distance," the minister added. To drill into the pillars would have taken at least four hours per pillar, he also estimated." Note: The third eye-witness (see previous posting), who emailed his version of what he saw before the above report, had said exactly that. Since it is in Arabic, I shall translate. "My name is Ahmad Al-Samarrai and I own an Internet Cafe in front of the shrine. The National Guard arrived at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday and surrounded the shrine and prevented us from leaving, but we usually sleep at night in our shops fearing theft of the computers. The National Guards and the Americans surrounded the shrine and left by 9 p.m.. They returned about 11 p.m. and strolled around till 6 a.m. on Thursday when all left at 6:30 a.m.. Two explosions occurred, one at 6:40 a.m and the louder one at 6:45 a.m.". Not to mention that Samarra was/is under curfew from 8:00 p.m. till 6:00 a.m. every night; and that "... Sand "walls" built around Fallujah and Samarra in recent months have quelled restive insurgent cells. Army commanders in Samarra said the number of attacks dropped drastically after an 11-mile barrier was built around the city." "Insurgent attacks in Iraq reached a postwar high in the four months preceding Jan. 20, according to a Iraq progress report issued Friday by the Pentagon.More than 550 attacks took place in Iraq from Aug. 29, 2005, to Jan. 20, 2006, according to the latest “security and stability” report the Defense Department is required to send lawmakers every four months. Speaking to Pentagon reporters Friday, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs said that the survey’s conclusions “were not good,” but that “loving us is not what it’s about.” Awareness of the relative unpopularity of U.S. troops “is one of the reasons we want to turn over the battlespace” to the Iraqi security forces, Rodman said. (emphasis added) "In an attempt to end violence sparked by a bombing this week of a revered Shi'ite mosque in Samarra, the Iraqi government imposed an all-day curfew. The ISF are enforcing the curfew through patrols, roadblocks and loudspeaker announcements throughout Baghdad's mixed Sunni and Shi'ite neighborhoods amid one of the worst campaigns of Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. "We have a partnership with two Iraqi army brigades ... and what we have done is we've prepositioned our forces out in that area of responsibility," said Army Col. Jeffrey Snow, whose 10th Mountain Division brigade is responsible for northwest Baghdad. "I want to make clear to everyone that there is no question that Iraqi security forces are clearly in the lead here." American brigades have embedded advisers among more than 50 Iraqi brigades. Equipped with radios, the advisers can call in U.S. reinforcements if the Iraqis become overwhelmed by demonstrators or attackers. The U.S. Army is launching spy drones to monitor Iraqi troops. "The Iraqi security forces stepped up and immediately took steps to enhance a security posture within our area," Col. Snow told reporters at the Pentagon via a teleconference. "Our forces are postured as a quick-reaction force." CNN Pundit: Mosque Bombing Shows Bush Strategy Is Working In Iraq: This afternoon, Terry Jeffery — the editor of Human Events who is paid by CNN to provide political analysis — was asked about the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Iraq. Jeffery said the bombings — part of a wave of violence that have left 200 people dead in the last 24 hours — is evidence that the Bush strategy is working. Watch It: BLITZER: Terry, is Iraq falling apart right now? TERRY JEFFERY: Well, I certainly hope not, Wolf. But I think actually these attacks on Shia shrines can be attributed to the potential success of the Bush strategy. Question for Mr. Jeffery: What, exactly, would be evidence that Bush’s strategy in Iraq isn’t working? Transcript continues below: JEFFREY: Right now the ambassador there is pushing hard as he can to get Shias to bring Sunnis into the government that’s forming. Try and get enough power handed over to the Sunnis so they feel comfortable with the political process. Zarqawi who is the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq has quite literally declared sectarian war against the Shias. He’s trying to keep these Sunnis in the insurgency mode. I think this is his biggest gambit yet to do it. If we can get past this crisis maybe we can form a government that does bring stability to Iraq. Is the U.S. Pursuing a "Divide and Conquer" Strategy in Iraq?: Why wouldn't the U.S. bomb Shiite holy places in Iraq and shift the blame to Sunnis? Why wouldn't the U.S. want a civil war in Iraq? Hasn't the U.S. Always pursued "divide and conquer" strategies, starting with the earliest days of conquering the native inhabitants of Turtle Island? Didn't the British allies of the U.S. get caught with SAS soldiers in Arab garb driving around Basra with bomb-making materials in their vehicle? Weren't the Brits so concerned over the capture of their covert operators by Iraqi police that they broke them out of custody, using tanks to destroy a local jail? Anyone who doubts that the U.S. wouldn't deliberately provoke hostility within the Iraqi population is naive, ignorant, or stupid. Didn't the U.S. set up an Iraqi constitution that subdivided the nation by religion and culture in order to provoke resource disputes between the subdivisions? Wouldn't a united Iraq that insisted on full Iraqi sovereignty and control of Iraqi assets and wealth be a bigger challenge to U.S. hegemony that a divided Iraq, no matter how great the intra-Iraqi violence patterns? After all, the U.S. personnel can stay relatively safe within the Green Zone or military bases with patrol aircraft and mechanized infantry providing security while Iraqis blow the hell out of each other all over the country. The U.S. can send Navy Seals or Delta Force operatives to bomb golden mosques or any other locations they can get access to. Haven't U.S. personnel been photographed in native garb in Afghanistan? Why wouldn't they do the same in Iraq? Divide and Conquer. That strategy is as old as warfare itself. Much is at stake, and letting the divided enemy self-destruct is much more painless than head-on confrontation. OTHER IRAQ TOPICS The United States needs to lose the war in Iraq as soon as possible: Even more urgently, the whole world needs the United States to lose the war in Iraq. It would be nice if Iraq doesn't lose too, but that is a lesser consideration. What is at stake now is the way we run the world for the next generation or more, and really bad things will happen if we get it wrong. The temptation to take charge of the world was bound to be great when the United States emerged from the Cold War as the only superpower, for it seemed like a goal within easy reach. It was nevertheless resisted, by Republican and Democratic administrations alike, for almost a decade. Then a random event - for 9/11 might easily not have happened - unleashed forces in Washington that were itching to make a takeover bid, and now we live in the middle of a train wreck. The idea that the United States can remain 'the world's sole military superpower until the end of time' is comically overambitious, but there it is, embedded in a 34-page document submitted to Congress in September 2002 entitled The National Security Strategy of the United States. 'The United States will not hesitate to strike preemptively against its enemies, and will never again allow its military supremacy to be challenged.' As it becomes clear what the project to turn the United States into the world's policeman (or, more precisely, its judge, jury, and executioner) will cost in American lives and in higher taxes, American voters themselves will pull the plug on it sooner or later. Or maybe the world will pull the plug on the project first, by refusing to go on holding dollars as the gradual collapse in the value of the US currency deepens. The risk is that it will all take too long. If an American defeat in Iraq takes another four or five years, huge and maybe irreparable damage will have been done to the international institutions that are our fragile first line of defence against a return to the great-power wars that could destroy us all. We need the United States back as a leading architect of global order, not a hyperactive vigilante, and we need it back now. If American troops are home from Iraq a year from now and the idea of American global hegemony has lost favour in Washington, then we get the world of the late 1990s back relatively undamaged, and we can pick up from where we left off with the job of building the multilateral institutions that we need to see us through the international storms that are sure to come. If, however, the United States stays in Iraq, then sooner or later most of the other great powers will give up on the United Nations and the rule of law in favour of getting together to counterbalance the weight of the rogue superpower - especially if the United States really is pursuing a coherent strategy of redefining the world in terms of a perpetual, global 'war on terror' with itself as leader. The stakes are much higher than they seem. The foundations of the World War I were laid by decisions that were made ten to twenty years before 1914, and after that it was very hard for anyone to turn back. There is a strong case for saying that we have arrived at a similar decision point now; what happens in the next year or so matters a lot, so we need some answers fast. Is the terrorist threat really worth worrying about? Is there a serious bipartisan project for restoring American global hegemony, or is it merely a bunch of neo-conservatives dreaming of lost glories - or is it just the usual cock-up on an unusually large scale? It’s the Cambodian get-away scheme all over again: Nixon bombs Cambodia back to the Neolithic from 1970 to 1973, killing somewhere in the six figures, destabilizing the country with Lon Nol’s complicity and setting the stage for the Khmer take-over and ensuing genocide. Nixon shrugs, acts blameless. It was a civil war, after all, and he had his own civil war on his hands, compliments of a couple of reporters from the Washington Post. With Kissinger as his Oz, Nixon spun Cambodia into just another American attempt at battling Communism in the name of freedom. The Khmers mucked it up. And by 1973, Kissinger was throwing in the towel, Nixon was facing impeachment, and the Khmers were biding their time until their final, if brief, victory in 1975 (until the Vietnamese finally ended their killing spree in 1978). A similar scenario is unfolding in Iraq. The United States has done nothing if not destabilize the country under the guise of building up democracy for the last three years. Bombings and night raids tend not to do democracy’s bidding. Insurgents have picked up strength. On both sides. A Khmer-like genocide might not be in the offing, although with Lebanon and the Balkans in recent memory, and with Saddam’s tradition of facile massacres still humidifying the Mesopotamian air with the scent of unavenged blood, you never know: a genocide may well result still, giving the region’s Vietnam—Iran—an opportunity to intervene. The moment the United States invaded the way it did and occupied the nation as boorishly as it did, the outcome couldn’t have been any different than it is now. It isn’t the Arabs who are repeating history. It is the United States repeating its own, a few time zones to the east. Same continent. Same errors, same Nixonian hubris. Naturally, Arabs — those “barbaric” Sunnis and Shiites — will get all the blame. But the vilest fanatics are in the White House, comfortably enabling destruction from their “situation room.” The only difference between them and the barbarians who blow up mosques is a matter of dress and language, and, of course, method. The results are the same. Der Spiegel: The clash of cultures on the big screen: The cinema has turned into a new forum for revenge, for the uninhibited expression of opposition to the images from Abu Ghraib. The Turkish film "Valley of the Wolves," for example, is a pure cinematic slap in the face against Hollywood and Bush administration propaganda, an angry indictment of America and the west that's as naïve as it is perfidious. The technically complex action film simply reverses the perspective, turning American heroes into thugs, while Muslim patriots heroically defend their homeland, their culture and their honor. The "Axis of Evil" no longer lies in the Orient, but in the West. A mirror is held up to the United States that projects a cleverly distorted image: good versus evil, the noble versus the lowly, the honorable versus the underhanded, Islam versus Christianity and Judaism. The latest round in the battle over images and cultures begins with a bloodbath. The location is a village somewhere in northern Iraq where a wedding is being celebrated, a peaceful gathering of Turks, Kurds and Arabs. The men dance and the women look on, while children play in their midst. But then some of the men, in a burst of enthusiasm not uncommon in the region, raise their weapons and shoot into the sky. This is the signal US soldiers who have been hiding nearby have been waiting for. "Okay, now they're terrorists," says an officer, commenting on the celebratory gunfire. Then his group of Rambo-like warriors storms the village, threatening the guests and assaulting the women. When a young boy shyly touches an American soldier's gun, the soldier shoots the boy, triggering a massacre in which dozens of wedding guests are killed. The groom is executed with a gunshot to his head. The film, which cost €10 million to produce, making it the most expensive Turkish production of all time, has already brought record numbers of viewers into cinemas since it was first released in early February: more than 2 million in Turkey, but also hundreds of thousands in England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland. In Germany, where "Valley of the Wolves" is being shown in Turkish with German subtitles, 236,000 people, mainly Turks, saw the film in the first week following its Feb. 9 premiere. Whenever American villains and sadists die in the film, enthusiastic audiences applaud. BEYOND IRAQ U.S. prison in Afghanistan grows to fill Guantanamo's role: While an international debate rages over the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the military has quietly expanded another, less-visible prison in Afghanistan, where it now holds some 500 terrorism suspects in more primitive conditions, indefinitely and without charges. Pentagon officials have often described the detention site at Bagram, a cavernous former machine shop on a U.S. air base 40 miles north of Kabul, as a screening center. They said most of the detainees are Afghans who might eventually be released under an amnesty program or transferred to an Afghan prison to be built with U.S. aid. But some of the detainees have already been at Bagram for as long as three years. And unlike those at Guantanamo, they have no access to lawyers, no right to hear the allegations against them and only rudimentary reviews of their status as "enemy combatants," military officials said. Privately, some administration officials acknowledge that the situation at Bagram has increasingly come to resemble the legal void that led to a Supreme Court ruling in 2004 affirming the right of prisoners at Guantanamo to challenge their detention in U.S. courts. While Guantanamo offers carefully controlled tours for members of Congress and journalists, Bagram has operated in rigorous secrecy since it was opened in 2002. It bars outside visitors except for members of the International Committee of the Red Cross and refuses to make public the names of those held there. From the accounts of former detainees, military officials and soldiers who served there, a picture emerges of a place that is in many ways rougher and more bleak than its U.S. counterpart at Guantanamo. Men are held by the dozen in large wire cages, the detainees and military sources said, sleeping on the floor on foam mats and, until about a year ago, often using plastic buckets for toilets. Before recent renovations, they rarely saw daylight. "Bagram was never meant to be a long-term facility, and now it's a long-term facility without the money or resources," one Defense Department official said. Military and administration officials said the growing detainee population at Bagram, which rose from about 100 prisoners at the start of 2004 to as many as 600 at times last year, according to military figures, was in part the result of a Bush administration decision to shut off the flow of detainees into Guantanamo after the Supreme Court ruled that those prisoners had some basic due-process rights. The question of whether those same rights apply to detainees in Bagram has not yet been tested in court. "Guantanamo was a lightning rod," said a former senior administration official who like many of those interviewed would discuss the matter in detail only on the condition of anonymity. "For some reason, people did not have a problem with Bagram. It was in Afghanistan." American Conservative: Small events sometimes reveal large truths: Last month’s U.S. missile strike in the remote Bajaur district of Pakistan was such an event. Aimed at taking out Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s chief deputy, the strike missed its intended target and killed as many as 18 residents of the small village of Damadola. But the episode did not end there: outraged Pakistanis rose up in protest; days of highly publicized anti-American demonstrations followed. In effect, the United States had handed Muslims around the world another grievance to hold against Americans. In stark, unmistakable terms, the Damadola affair lays bare the defects of the Bush administration’s response to 9/11. When President Bush in September 2001 launched the United States on a global war against terrorism, he scornfully abandoned the law-enforcement approach to which previous administrations had adhered. To all but the most militant true believers, it has become increasingly evident that in doing so Bush committed an error of the first order. For the United States to unleash a salvo of missiles at a Pakistani village thought to house an al-Qaeda chieftain is the equivalent of the Mexican government bombing a southern California condo complex suspected of harboring a drug kingpin. Even if, as the Pakistani government has subsequently claimed, the missiles killed a handful of unidentified “foreign militants,” that minor success can in no way justify the use of force that takes the lives of women and children. Morally, the arithmetic doesn’t work. Politically, it’s even worse. For the United States government to shrug off those deaths with expressions of regret or offers of monetary compensation simply confirms the worst that others have come to believe: that Americans are callous and arrogant with little regard for the lives of Muslims. By the time this essay appears, the Bush administration will have moved on. As far as official Washington is concerned, the nameless, faceless dead of Damadola are already forgotten. Our warrior-president will continue to insist that we have no choice but to press on, seemingly blind to the moral havoc wreaked by his war and oblivious to the extent to which he is playing into the hands of our adversaries. But our own interests demand that we not forget those whom we have killed. At Damadola we have handed the Islamists a victory of considerable proportions, further enflaming antipathy toward the U.S. in Pakistan and among Muslims generally. And the lesson to be taken from this self-inflicted defeat is clear: four bloody years into President Bush’s war, the time to think anew is at hand. Is American diplomacy going to be always based on guns, bullets, military involvements and wars?: It is very obvious that the United States would not hesitate to wage a war against Iran unless it brings this Asian nation under American political control. Why should the USA demand Iran not to have one nuclear weapon when this American nation has already more than 70,000 nuclear weapons and it is still manufacturing more? In accordance with the philosophy of this American government, the United States can launch a pre-emptive strike against any nation on earth even without warning. Would it not then be natural for every country to equip itself with the most devastating weapons possible as way of counteraction against the United States? Moreover, since the United States manufactures and sells more weapons than all the nations of the world combined, it means that this American nation pollutes our air and water very badly with toxic wastes that is causing two millions of people incur cancer every year in the USA alone. Why is it that when the whole world wanted to take drastic action to curb air and water pollution from our planet, the USA was virtually the only dissenter? It is very obvious that this capitalistic nation is concerned merely with the financial interests of big corporations and nothing else matters, not even the very health and life of the American people. Its top priority is to cater to special interests. This explains why the present U.S. government especially continues to cut significantly the budget on health care and education as to spend more and more money on corporate interests, generally headed by the weapons industry, the construction companies and the oil enterprises. In fact, every year the budget for the military and the waging of wars keeps on going higher and higher, while the budget on the vital needs of the people keeps on going lower and lower. All of this explains why the American people in general and of the whole world at large tend to feel overwhelmed and powerless. But there is always hope. We learn from history that when good and evil struggle against each other, initially evil tends to take the upper hand until all of a sudden it disintegrates and collapses. Regardless of the vicious governments nations might have had, people always ended up getting what they viewed as positive and constructive. Like U.S. President Eisenhower said in his farewell address to the U.S. Congress, “all people of all countries want peace, only their government wants war.” The world finds it's too hard to do business with the US: Lucrative opportunities taken away on a political whim; the danger of being locked up by an over-mighty government agency; the brick wall of protectionism - the business community expects to do battle with all these things in an emerging market. Yet this suddenly seems to be a description of doing business in that most developed of all markets, the United States of America. In the UK, in the cash-rich Gulf states and in fast-growing India, different incidents in the past week have made people ask the same question: is it worth doing business with the US? Critics say the outcry over the £3.9bn acquisition of P&O by Dubai Ports World, which will transfer the running of five US ports to a state-controlled Middle Eastern company, has exposed the US Congress at its xenophobic worst. But it has also revealed more starkly than ever the protectionist tide that is waxing in America under the guise of national security. Protectionism has already won some significant victories. Last year, the Hong Kong-based oil company Cnooc blamed "unprecedented political opposition" in the US for its decision to abandon a $18.5bn bid for the Californian oil firm Unocal - what would have been the biggest Chinese takeover of a US company. Law makers are now pushing a number of Bills that would impose economic sanctions unless greater efforts are made to narrow a trade deficit with China that hit $202bn last year, the largest bilateral imbalance ever. The US government has promised tougher enforcement of trade laws and created a China enforcement taskforce to try to placate Congress. Stephen King, managing director of economics at HSBC, says no one should be surprised that US politicians are reacting to the emergence of China and the threat it poses to US manufacturing jobs. "The employment risk is immediate and it is the workers that vote." There have been periods in the past, he adds, where the US has become more protectionist in order to get through a period of economic upheaval - notably against Japan in the late 1980s. It is not just law enforcement agencies in the US that are reaching across the seas, but US financial regulators too. Foreign businesses with American shareholders have become subject to the provisions of the onerous Sarbanes-Oxley legislation pushed through after the collapse of Enron. This demands that executives take legal responsibility for the accuracy of their financial results, and insists on upgraded audit procedures that are estimated to cost a minimum $1m per year. In the insurance industry, the US is demanding that foreign-owned reinsurers deposit big sums in a trust fund to compensate US partners should they fail. This was slammed last week by Lloyd's of London chairman Lord Levene as discriminatory and totally unacceptable. Perceived discrimination in other areas might also damage America's economic future. The head of chip maker Intel, Craig Barrett, has complained repeatedly that the US is losing out on international talent because of the tightening of immigration laws after 9/11, which led to lots of hi-tech engineers losing their work permits. Intel, Microsoft and others are channelling investment into India that might otherwise have stayed in the US. Across the world, friends and free traders are concerned about the course set by the US. They say that while its motives are diverse - national security, energy supply concerns, the protection of investors - there is a single conclusion: it has become riskier, costlier and harder to do business with the US and, unless that changes, fewer people will want to. Putting Palestinians on a diet: America’s threat to cut off most aid to the Palestinians in response to Hamas’ victory is foreboding, despite recent statements by President George W. Bush, saying that the U.S. will continue humanitarian aid to the Palestinians even if a Hamas-led government takes office. The condition is still there- that Hamas stops its military struggle against the Israeli occupiers and recognises the Jewish State, demands that had been rejected by the Islamist anti-occupation movement in many occasions. "The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger," Dov Weisglass, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, told the Israeli media- comments that were condemned by Ali Abunimah, a founder of the Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian website based in Chicago as "chilling and cruel". "There will be hunger," he said. Cutting the aid coming from the U.S., which provided about one-third of the nearly $1.1 billion in aid to the Palestine Authority last year, will undoubtedly lead to greater deprivation in the West Bank and Gaza, said an editorial published on CSMonitor. The aid amounts to about $300 per man, woman, and child. “Palestinians live next door to first-world Israel, with a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of about $22,200 last year. Israel gets about $420 per capita each year in aid from the US, partly as a result of the 1979 Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt”, CSMonitor editorial added. Another worthwhile point is that the Palestinian population grows more than 3 percent a year. Each woman in Gaza has close to six children on average; in the West Bank, 4.4 children is the average. Economists explain that rapid population growth makes a rise in economic prosperity difficult, especially in a country that suffers limited resources. Scott Lasensky, a researcher at the United States Institute of Peace, says, "Clearly there is room for leverage." But he doubts the aid cutoff will proceed to the point of "mass starvation," even though humanitarian assistance might continue, and despite the fact that many contributors to Palestine may resist U.S. pressure for cuts. Also Iran offered to assist Hamas' government with financial contributions. Also there could be more malnutrition. According to a report released by the UN two years ago, malnutrition among Palestinians was widespread at the height of the Intifada where commerce was tightly restricted by Israel to force the Palestinians end their armed struggle against the occupying forces. So Hamas' government has to make a difficult choice- choosing between continuing its fight to liberate the occupied Palestinian lands or risk starving the Palestinian population.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2006 Iraqi police inspect the wreckage of a bus used today in an explosion in Hilla, south of Baghdad. (AP photo) THE CURRENT SITUATION IN IRAQ Note: I've decided not to use our standard "Bring 'em on" format today because I find the occasion too solemn for snarkiness. The compilation of incidents of violence today is undoubtedly even less complete than usual because both CentCom and the Iraqi Interior Minister have been attempting to suppress news accounts. (See below, Thannasis Cambanis article.) In spite of a continuing lock-down of the capital city, with a 20-hour-a-day curfew extended until Monday, the following incidents have been reported: Knight-Ridder reports a car bomb in An-Najaf killed at least seven and wounded 54. Apparently intended to attack a Shiite shrine, stopped at security cordon. Bomb kills five at bus station in Hilla,, a mostly Shiite town south of Baghdad. Two U.S. soldiers killed by roadside bomb in western Baghdad on Sunday. Total U.S. military killed in theater now stands at 2,290, according to AP. This story from AFP may refer to the same incident, but it gives the total killed to date as 2,291. Other incidents from Reuters:

MADAEN - One police officer was killed and two were wounded when their patrol was hit by two roadside bombs near Madaen, the Interior Ministry said. BASRA - Explosives packed into the washing area of a Shi'ite mosque in the southern city of Basra blew up on Sunday, causing minor injuries, police and witnesses said. Police said they suspected three men wounded in the blast had been planting the bomb when it exploded prematurely. RAMADI - A Baathist officer in the previous Iraqi regime was killed in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, police said. FALLUJA - Three bodies with their hands bound and bullet wounds to the head were found near Falluja, west of Baghdad, police said. The killings took place some three days ago, according to a medical source. **BAGHDAD - A mortar round landed near a Shi'ite mosque in eastern Baghdad, police said. No casualties were reported. Juan Cole, who can read Arabic, which I cannot, relays some additional incidents from Arabic language sources. He says that according to Karbala news,

Guerrillas blew up a Shiite shrine in Bashir, south of Tuz Khurmato. This Turkmen region near Kirkuk is largely Shiite. It was not clear how much damage was done to the shrine. The people of the region formed units to guard the shrines and places of worship from any further destruction. The same source says that Iraqi officers announced that 20 guerrillas attacked the shrine of Salman the Persian. They killed the guards and placed explosives at the tomb, then blew it up, destroying it. Salman al-Farisi was a companion of the Prophet Muhammad who advised the early Muslims on military tactics, and is said to have introduced the technique of digging a trench to trip charging enemy cavalry. Because he was from Iran, and because the Iranians largely became Shiites after 1500, Salman is especially beloved by Shiites. The desecration took place 24 hours after 48 Shiites were killed in the same region. They had been on their way to a peaceful demonstration against Wednesday's destruction of the Askariyah Shrine at Samarra.
Six killed, 38 injured in mortar attack in southern Baghdad. Gunmen fire on soccer game in Baquba, two dead. POINT OF VIEW FROM THE GROUND Christopher Allbritton was very afraid on Saturday night:
It’s clear the authorities, at least the ones who appear on television with titles such as “Defense Minister” and “U.S. Ambassador,” have no clue what to do. Their strategy seems mainly to consist of betting that Moqtada al-Sadr and the hardline Sunni group, the Muslim Clerics Association, really will make nice. Four sheikhs associated with al-Sadr and MCA spokesman Abdel Salam al-Qubasi publicly pledged a “pact of honor” and promised to end attacks. That’s nice. While these men were on television playing political footsie, we had reports that their followers were still trying to kill each other. There’s a real history here of saying one thing and doing another. We’ll have to see. More balderdash from the Americans, of course. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad gave another press conference tonight in which he said the Iraqi “government” was holding lots of meetings, and that was good. Also, the Iraqi “government” has decided to ban people “who should not have arms” from patrolling the streets. “I think the government decision to ban that was a good thing,” he said. Well, sure. But in my experience, men with guns in their fists and rage in their hearts don’t wait around for their weapons license to come through when there’s killing to be done. And who is going to enforce this ban? The police? Badr Brigade members control the police of most of the southern cities. An entire Public Order Battalion in Baghdad is composed of Mahdi Army. In Anbar, most of the Army units are Shi’ites and Kurds. What happens when Mahdi militiamen run into a squad of their brothers in the police? Do you think they’ll turn in their guns? Or what happens in Anbar, where many of the police forces in the cities are now local (Sunni Arab) guys? Do you think they’ll confiscate the AK-47s of their mujahideen brothers off to fight the Shi’ite members of the 1st Division down the road?
Today, he's decided to hope for the best:
Readers of this blog in recent days know that I’ve been very alarmed about the violence going around me. I don’t live in the Green Zone, so I’m not insulated from it as much as they are, and I don’t give much heed to diplomatic happy talk. But so far today, it seems quiet around Iraq and politicians seem — for the moment, at least — to have convinced their followers to stand down. The Sunnis have made noises about coming back to the negotiating table and that’s a good sign. There also was no evidence of any conflict between various parts of the security forces, which was a chief concern of mine, considering how deeply embedded the various militias are to the police, Army, etc. But still… The curfew is due to lift tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. Baghdad and its surrounding towns are still piano-wire tense. The potential for mayhem remains high. That said, I hope we won’t see a resumption of violence tomorrow, despite the carnage of the past four days.
NEWS ARTICLES AND ANALYSIS Agence France Press has some tidbits.
al-Sadr, returning from Iran, says "'I call on all Iraqis, Sunnis and Shiites, Muslims and non-Muslims, to take part in a demonstration of unity in Baghdad to call for the withdrawal of the forces of occupation, even if this has to take place over time,' he told supporters. 'Sunnis and Shiites must back each other and help each other because there is no difference between a Sunni and a Shiite. Iraqis must avoid division and unite in the face of the Crusaders," he said, speaking of US-led coalition forces.'"
Also, contrary to indications from other sources, Khalilzad says U.S. forces are stepping up their activity:
"In the last 24 hours, we are conducting between 270 and 300 (patrols) in that range," US ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said in a conference call Saturday, up from 60 a few nights back. "We are getting a lot of requests for more and our military leaders are looking at those requests." He said however that the overall situation was improving.
However, Britain's former ambassador to Iraq appears to disagree with the optimism.
Iraq is slipping into a state of low-level civil war, Britain's former ambassador to the country said Sunday. Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who was London's senior representative in Baghdad until 2004, said the conflict is increasingly pitting the country's rival ethnic and religious groups against each other. The sectarian fighting, he added, bore a resemblance to ethnic cleansing in some parts of the country. "One could almost call it a low-level civil war already," Greenstock told British television channel ITV1's Jonathan Dimbleby program. He said that though he didn't believe a "classic civil war" would follow, he feared that local communities will look increasingly to militias for protection, ignoring central authorities in the process.
No news on kidnapped journalist Jill Carol, although today is the deadline given by her captors to kill her if their demands are not met. (Note that although they initially demanded that all Iraqi women in U.S. custody be freed, they have subsequently made other demands which have not been made public.) Talabani calls for emergency meeting of various sectarian leaders to defuse violence. This story from KUNA is quite vague about what Talabani has in mind. This may be a reference to the meeting last night with government and party leaders, and Khalilzad. Not a major deal. Sure, this will fix everything. George the Conqueror calls Iraqi leaders, tells them to work together.
Robert Reid, AP: In an unusual round of telephone diplomacy, President Bush spoke with seven leaders of Shi'ite, Sunni Arab, and Kurdish political parties in a bid to defuse the sectarian crisis unleashed by the bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samarra on Wednesday. Bush ''encouraged them to continue to work together to thwart the efforts of the perpetrators of the violence to sow discord among Iraq's communities," said Frederick Jones, a spokesman for the White House's National Security Council. A second straight day of curfew in Baghdad and three surrounding provinces kept the city relatively calm, raising hopes the worst of the crisis was past. Authorities lifted the curfew in the areas outside Baghdad but decreed an all-day vehicle ban today for the capital and its suburbs. Still, the violence continued. . . .
The Globe's Thanassis Cambanis has a good overview. (Free registration may be required.) He mentions a couple of points I haven't seen elsewhere. in particular efforts to minimize the situation by some officials.:
Not since the 13th century, when Mongols sacked Baghdad, have Iraq's Sunnis faced such an assault on their community and houses of worship, Imam Ahmed Hassan al-Samaraei told worshippers at the Abu Hanifa mosque. ''These events serve only the enemies of Islam, Iraq, and the people of Iraq," said Samaraei. ''The Iraqi people should not be dragged into this sectarian war." Since Wednesday, when the golden dome of the Samarra shrine was blasted into a pile of rubble, hundreds of retaliatory attacks have been reported. Sunni groups assert that dozens of members and supporters have been murdered and that hundreds of mosques have been attacked. . . . Both Iraqi government and US officials dispute those reports. The spokesman for the US military in Iraq, Major General Rick Lynch, said yesterday that US forces investigated at least 25 reports of mosque attacks that proved false. and that since Wednesday only 22 mosques had been attacked. According to US military figures, 119 civilians were killed since Wednesday. The Iraqi government and Sunni groups put the number of deaths at more than 200. ''There have been pockets of violence, but we don't see that as a precursor to civil war," Lynch said. Interior Minister Bayan Jabr -- considered by Sunnis to be the power behind one of the most feared Shi'ite militias, the Badr Corps of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq -- said the government would arrest member of the news media and others who ''incite sectarianism" and spread false information about attacks. Still, over the television stations, in the mosques and political party offices, Shi'ite leaders repeated reports of Sunni terrorists killing Shi'ites, while Sunni leaders tallied a constantly growing number of retribution attacks against Sunnis, including death squad murders and mosque takeovers. Even the US military and Iraqi Army have reported instances of death-squad killings, but the extent of the phenomenon is not known.
According to the Gulf Times, Ayatollah Sistani has called for the Iraqi tribes to raise militias to protect the shrines.
NAJAF, Iraq: Shia spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called yesterday for Iraq’s powerful tribes to be deployed to protect the country’s holy places after three attacks on Shia shrines in four days, his office said. “Ayatollah Sistani, who received a tribal delegation from Kufa, asked that the Iraqi tribes reclaim their role of protecting the shrines,” said an official in Sistani’s office in the Shia clerical centre of Najaf. “After the crimes against the places of worship, including the blowing up of the mausoleum in Samarra and the attacks against the tombs of Salman al-Farsi and Imam Ali bin Mussa al-Rida, the tribes must take a stand and claim a role in the protection of these sites,” Sistani was quoted as saying.
This does not bode well for the prospects of secular government in Iraq, obviously UN's former Human Rights Chief tells The Independent that hundreds of Iraqis are tortured to death every month by Interior Ministry death squads COMMENTARY AND OPINION Robert Fisk: As torture in iraq was being exposed, Rumsfeld grovelled before Saddam. Excerpt:
Everyone in the Middle East rewrites history, but never before have we had a US administration so wilfully, dishonestly and ruthlessly reinterpreting tragedy as success, defeat as victory, death as life - helped, I have to add, by the compliant American press. I’m reminded not so much of Vietnam as of the British and French commanders of the First World War who repeatedly lied about military victory over the Kaiser as they pushed hundreds of thousands of their men through the butchers’ shops of the Somme, Verdun and Gallipoli. The only difference now is that we are pushing hundreds of thousands of Arabs though the butchers’ shops - and don’t even care. . . As Bouthaina Shaaban, one of the brightest of Syria’s not always very bright team of government ministers, noted: “What is the nature of the kind of Middle East sought by the United States? Should Middle East states adapt themselves to that nature, designed oceans away?” As Maureen Dowd, the best and only really worthwhile columnist on the boring New York Times, observed this month, Bush “believes in self-determination only if he’s doing the determining … The Bushies are more obsessed with snooping on Americans than fathoming how other cultures think and react.” And conniving with rogue regimes, too, Dowd might have added. . . . Rumsfeld’s latest pronouncements have included a defence of the Pentagon’s system of buying favourable news stories in Iraq with bribes - “non-traditional means to provide accurate information” was his fantasy description of this latest attempt to obscure the collapse of the American regime in Baghdad - and an attack on our reporting of the Abu Ghraib tortures. “Consider for a moment the vast quantity of column inches and hours of television devoted to the detainee abuse [sic] at Abu Ghraib. Compare that to the volume of coverage and condemnation associated with, say, the discovery of Saddam Hussein’s mass graves, which were filled with hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis.” Let’s expose this whopping lie. We were exposing Saddam’s vile regime, especially his use of gas, as long ago as 1983. I was refused a visa to Iraq by Saddam’s satraps for exposing their vile tortures at - Abu Ghraib. And what was Donald Rumsfeld doing? Visiting Baghdad, grovelling before Saddam, to whom he did not mention the murders and mass graves, which he knew about, and pleading with the Beast of Baghdad to reopen the US embassy in Iraq. . . .
Martin Chulov, The Australian: The gates of hell are open. Excerpt
Since at least March 2005, a secret campaign has been fought in communities that co-existed for more than 30 years under the iron fist of Saddam Hussein. Sectarian killings have been commonplace - a dozen Shia Muslims one day, about as many Sunnis the next. Just as had happened across the global ethnic killing fields of the past three decades; Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Lebanon and Kosovo, the bodies were strewn where they fell, their homes and villages seized by those who slayed them. When the dictator Saddam strode the land, the Sunni minority walked with him, enjoying power and spoils that far outweighed their numbers. The Shias of Iraq, by far the largest ethnic group, mostly stayed silent, waiting for their turn to wield the levers of power - which was finally delivered to them in December. . . Jordanian regional analyst Labib Qamhawi says the beleaguered country is on a precipice. "I would say the threat of civil war is very, very imminent now," he says. "Unless the religious leaders and the political leaders on all sides join forces in preventing this possibility, we might see ourselves in the middle of a vicious civil war in a country that lacks effective central power. "This is a recipe for disaster because a large country like Iraq cut into pieces and partitions on various grounds [will not work]. The Iraqis must now gather forces and form a government of national unity that would prevail in the country, that would act as central government. The failure [to do so] is fusing various types of tension, whether religious or ethnic. The Sunnis must be rehabilitated within the Iraqi political system." The fledgling Iraqi democracy is nowhere near robust enough to see off the threat from mavericks such as Zarqawi, or even the Shia extremists certain to take the battle to him. Even in the eyes of Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbours, Saddam was an undisputed tyrant - but he was a strongman. Just as the former Yugoslavia was bound together by the iron rule of Tito, Saddam was his nation's glue. Once Tito was gone, Yugoslavia fell apart - with Croats, Serbs and Bosnians going their separate ways. History is in the process of repeating in Iraq.
Note: this is a fairly standard analysis, some may question its premises LOCAL NEWS Clatskanie, Washington soldier still struggling to recover two years after nearly dying in bombing Pocatello, Idaho Marine returns home to recover from severe injuries. Pineville, Missouri soldier killed on Friday along with Staff Sgt. from Salt Lake City who leaves widow and four children, and two othe soldiers. The "Reverend" Fred Phelps and his fellow sociopaths show up at the funeral of Army 1st Lt. Garrison Avery of Lincoln, Nebraska. Maybe somebody will come up with an IED for this gang I posted this at 11:00 Eastern Time. Reports of new incidents are coming over the wires as I publish. Commenters will undoubtedly keep us up to the minute. Quote of the Day:
It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.
in Mark Twain, The War Prayer By Cervantes


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?