The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Monday, April 16, 2007

Security Incidents for 04/16/07

Photo: Iraqis protest, 16 April 2007, in the southern oil city of Basra. Radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has pulled his six ministers out of Iraq's beleaguered coalition government, upping the political stakes after a weekend of savage sectarian violence.(AFP/Essam al-Sudani)

BAGHDAD - Gunmen killed a U.S. soldier on patrol in southwestern Baghdad, the U.S. military said. One other soldier was wounded. A roadside bomb also killed a U.S. soldier and wounded another in southern Baghdad.

BAGHDAD - Coalition forces killed an armed man during a raid in Baghdad on Monday, the U.S. military said. The military was investigating claims by local Iraqis that the dead man was an airport highway security guard. Four armed men with suspected ties to al Qaeda were detained during the raid.

BAGHDAD - The Iraqi army has killed seven insurgents and arrested 83 others in the past 24 hours in different parts of Iraq, the Defence Ministry said.

BAGHDAD - The bodies of 30 people who had been shot were found in different districts of Baghdad on Sunday, police said.

BAGHDAD - The final death toll from two car bombs in a mostly Shi'ite district in southwestern Baghdad on Sunday has risen by two to 17, with 50 wounded, police said.

BAGHDAD - The death toll from a car bomb targeting a police patrol on Sunday has risen by four to nine, with 17 wounded, in the predominantly Shi'ite district of Karrada, police said.

RAMADI - U.S. forces killed three Iraqi policemen on Monday in a case of friendly fire during a raid against suspected al Qaeda militants in Ramadi, the U.S. military said. It said American forces had come under small arms fire and returned fire. Seven insurgents were arrested.

MAHMUDIYA - Mortar rounds killed three people and wounded 18 in Mahmudiya, about 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

NEAR HIMREEN - Gunmen kidnapped nine workers and killed one on the way to Himreen, about 90 km (55 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

FALLUJA - The bodies of seven people were found shot in the Sunni stronghold of Falluja, police said. There were signs of torture

FALLUJA US military base was attacked by five mortar shells. No reports of injuries.

HAWIJA - Gunmen killed the imam of a Sunni mosque in the town of Hawija, 70 km southwest of Kirkuk, police said.

HAWIJA - The bodies of three people were found tortured and shot near the town of Hawija, police said.

BAIJI - Gunmen killed a tribal leader and wounded his son on a road near Baiji, 180 km north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL - The bodies of six people, including a policeman, who had been shot were found in different districts of Mosul, police said.

MOSUL - Police in Mosul said the death toll from an attack by two suicide truck bombers outside an Iraqi military base on Sunday had risen to six. The U.S. military said four Iraqi soldiers were killed and four others wounded.

MOSUL - Gunmen killed Talal al-Jalili, the Dean of the Political Science College, in a drive-by shooting in Mosul, police said.

MOSUL - Gunmen killed Mohammed Abdullah al-Zubaidi, a senior member of the former Baath party in western Mosul, about 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, a medical source at the Mosul morgue said.

MOSUL - Gunmen killed 13 soldiers and wounded four in an attack on an Iraqi army checkpoint near Mosul, police said.

MOSUL – Gunmen killed Dr. Jaafar Hassan Sadeq, a professor form the Faculty of Arts of Mosul University.

ISHAQI - Gunmen kidnapped five civilians in their cars in Ishaqi, police said.

ISHAQI - A suicide car bomber targeting a police directorate killed nine people and wounded 10 others in Ishaqi, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad. Ten cars were destroyed.

KIRKUK - Gunmen assassinated an imam and severely wounded his son in an attack in the district of Huweija in Kirkuk, while policemen found three unidentified bodies on the road linking Huweija to Kirkuk city, Iraqi police said.

KURKUK - A policeman was wounded while trying to defuse an explosive charge in southern Kirkuk, while another device went off near a police traffic patrol, severely damaging one of the vehicles, a Kirkuk police source said.

KUTU.S. forces arrested two people who set up a fake checkpoint in northeastern Kut, while an explosive charge targeted a house in the city but left no casualties, eyewitnesses said.

ZAKHU (Dahuk) – Border forces in Zakhu, Dahuk province, arrested 12 people from the area of Sinjar in Mosul, near the Iraqi-Turkish borders, for attempting to enter Turkey illegally, an official source said.


Update: BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb known as an explosively formed projectile killed a U.S. soldier and wounded two others in a southern section of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement. An Iraqi interpreter was also wounded.

Baghdad:

Two huge explosions rocked central Baghdad midmorning — apparently the sound of mortar shells slamming into a schoolyard at Baghdad University, along the Tigris river. No casualties were reported.

3 civilians were killed and 17 injured when mortar shells fell in Mahmoudiyah town south Baghdad around 2,00 pm.

Rasha Hameed a female student was killed by a sniper in Um Al Ma’alif neighborhood south Baghdad around 2,15 pm.

Two citizens were injured including a policeman when gunmen opened fire targeting a police patrol in Al Amil neighborhood south west Baghdad around 2,30 pm

A civilian was wounded when gunmen opened fire randomly in Al Jihad neighborhood south west Baghdad around 2,30 pm.

Around 3,00 pm mortar shells fell on Adhamiyah police center in north Baghdad. No casualties were reported.

An IED exploded in Zayouna neighborhood east Baghdad around 10,00 am. No casualties were reported.

One civilian was killed and 3 others were injured when a mortar shell fell in Um Al Ma’alif neighborhood south Baghdad around 3,30 pm

Two civilians were injured when a mortar shell fell in Zafaraniyah area south east Baghdad around 5,00 pm

Eleven anonymous bodies were found in Baghdad today. 10 bodies were found in Karkh, the western part of Baghdad in the following neighborhoods, (2 bodies in Doura, 2 bodies in Bayaa, 2 bodies in Hurriyah, 1 b oy in Risalah, 1 body in E’alam, 1 body Jihad and 1 body in Amil.) 1 body was found in Sadr city in the eastern part of Baghdad knopw as Rosafa side.

FALLUJA - Two U.S. soldiers were killed and two others wounded in a roadside bomb attack in the city of Falluja on Saturday, the U.S. military said.

Najaf:

The body of a policeman abducted last week was found strangled in the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf, police said.

Basra:

Meanwhile, thousands upset about poor city services marched peacefully through the streets of Iraq's second largest city on Monday, demanding the provincial governor's resignation despite calls by top government officials a day earlier to call off the protest. Some 3,000 demonstrators gathered near the Basra mosque, then marched a few hundred yards to Gov. Mohammed al-Waili's office, which was surrounded by Iraqi soldiers and police officers. The protest ended without incident a few hours later. Residents have complained of inadequate electricity, garbage disposal and water supplies in Basra, situated 340 miles southeast of Baghdad.

The spokesman of Basra province police Colonel Kareem Al Zubaidi said that a civilian was killed and 3 others were injured including a woman in clashes happened a British patrol and insurgents west Basra city early morning today. Al Zubaidi said “ the clashes happened in Al Hussein neighborhood west Basra city while the British patrol was searching and raiding the area.”

Tikrit:

Police sources in Tikrit city said that 3 Iraqi policemen were killed and 6 civilians were injured in a suicide car bomb attack targeted Al Eshaqi police directorate north of Baghdad today morning.

Thanks to whisker for most of the links above.


REPORTS – LIFE IN IRAQ

Visitor

Um Noor (mother of Noor) is a sweet soul in a tiny frame, who used to come help me with household duties once a week, from 2000 until I went away in Feb, 2003. I am ecstatic! I have been trying to find her ever since I came back; she is so energetic and so proud of her faultless work. I open the door with a cry of welcome on my lips, and she comes in. She looks at me and bursts out crying. And the story comes pouring out. She was happily married for twenty years, when Iraq was occupied. After a while strange, little used words start flying around.

Sunni … Shiite … Sunni … Shiite … Then fighting started breaking out because of this long submerged difference. In her neighborhood, as in the greater majority of Baghdad's neighborhoods, no one is really sure who on their bloc is Sunni, or Shiite; and nobody really cares. Soon after, the IEDs and car bombs started taking their toll from people still bewildered as to: Why is this happening? BOOM! She loses her husband, on his way to work, a Shiite. Being a Sunni herself, she is urged - very strongly - to move away; their part of Amil is Shiite controlled. Having nowhere to go, she stays. A car stops in front of their home.

BANG, BANG, BANG! She loses her son (20), her brother, and nephew. She takes her remaining children and flees, finding no haven - except in Abu Ghraib, (Sunni controlled) where she lives in perpetual fear lest her dark secret be uncovered: that her kids are – of course – Shiite. Her two remaining sons (16 and 10) live imprisoned in their hut; she has buried all their IDs and tells everyone that they got lost …………and as a result they cannot receive rations. They are starving to death. How, and why, has it suddenly become important, this Sunni – Shiite business; and since when did Iraqis care? I myself had not even heard the terms until I was an adult. How to help???????? Can anyone see a light at the end of this dark, dark, tunnel?

VIDEO: An Iraqi Women and Her Library

Much was made of the looting of Iraq’s National Library, after the fall of Baghdad and the collapse of order in the capital. Less is known about the role of small private libraries and how they continue to provide some of the only access to scholarly material for Baghdad’s intellectuals and academics. Hameeda Al-Bassam, a disabled Shi’a woman, describes her work as a librarian, as well as the difficulties she faces, not only as a woman, but also as someone bound to a wheelchair.

Government Denies Gays Are Targets of Killings

The Iraqi lesbian and gay community and NGOs dealing with gay issues have called for urgent action to protect gays and lesbians in the country. The groups say that the number of victims of "sexual cleansing" is growing on a daily basis. "In the past three months, more than 30 gays have been executed in Baghdad. The bodies have been found tortured, mutilated - sometimes with signs of rape," said Mustafa Salim, spokesman for the Rainbow for Life Organisation (RLO), a Baghdad-based gay rights NGO. "Notes were found near some of the bodies with messages saying that this is going to be the fate for any Muslim who denies the Islamic religion," Salim added. RLO was set up in 2005, and Salim claims that since then they have recorded more than 230 cases of abuses against gays and lesbians, including more than 64 deaths - with the last three months being the most bloody. "The gay community continues to be subjected to systematic terror by Shia militias, especially the Mahdy Army controlled by the religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr. The government of Iraq is refusing to offer protection," he added.

Thousands Demonstrate in Basra

Thousands of residents of Basra poured into the streets on Monday, in a demonstration calling for the resignation of Gov. Mohammed al-Waili on charges of corruption and mismanagement. The protestors complained about the failure of the government to improve the city services--electricity, water supplies, and garbage disposal--by all accounts some of the most improved and reliable of all metropolitan areas in Iraq. “We call for the resignation of the Basra governor,” read one banner carried by demonstrators. “We call for the government to remove the governor,” read another. Others waved Iraqi flags and chanted “No, no to the governor!,” reported AP. A previously unknown “Masses of Basra" distributed leaflets after Friday prayers calling for peaceful demonstrations to demand the governor's resignation. Residents said the leaflets were actually distributed by Sadrists, who clashed in Basra last month with fighters of Wali's rival Shiite Fadhila party.

Where Al-Qaeda Reigns

Refugees from Baquba city who have now found shelter in Damascus describe their hometown as a "dead city" where armed men roam the streets and al-Qaeda reigns. Dahr
Jamail speaks to Baquba residents who have fled their home city for Damascus. Baquba, capital city of Iraq's Diyala province is located 50km northeast of Baghdad on the Diyala river. In 2002 the estimated population was 280,000. The city has been inhabited continuously since pre-Islamic times and is the trade centre for Iraq's commercial orange groves. The city become a hot spot of resistance from early on in the occupation. It has been torn apart in fighting between occupation forces and the Iraqi resistance -- and also between various militia groups and al-Qaeda, its fleeing residents say. Al-Qaeda has emerged as a distinct new group, refugees from the city say. By the end of 2006 the city was largely under the control of Sunni resistance groups, but by early 2007 residents report that al-Qaeda has formed a larger presence in the city.

Attacks Surge as Iraq Militants Overshadow City

They maneuver in squads, like the American infantrymen they try to kill. One squad fires furiously so another can attack from a better position. They operate in bad weather, knowing American helicopters and surveillance drones are grounded. Some carry G.P.S. receivers so mortar teams can calculate the coordinates of American armored vehicles. They kidnap and massacre police officers. The Sunni guerrillas and extremists who now overshadow this city demonstrate a sophistication and lethality born of years of confronting American military tactics. While the “surge” plays out in Baghdad just 35 miles to the south, Baquba has emerged as a magnet for insurgents from around the country and, perhaps, the next major headache for the American military. Some insurgents have moved into Baquba to escape the escalation in Baghdad. But the city has been attracting insurgents for years, particularly after American officials in Baghdad proclaimed it and surrounding Diyala Province relatively pacified over a year ago and drew down their troop presence. When 70 insurgents broke out of a Mosul jail in March, for example, escapees from Chad, Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan were apprehended here, the Iraqi police said. And Sunni fighters continue to heed calls by insurgent leaders to converge here.

Iraq Returns To Its Persian Heritage

Persian script laces and flows across the walls of Najaf's seminaries. Shiite Muslim religious scholars in the ancient city's turquoise-tiled edifices bury their noses in Koranic texts illustrated with Persian calligraphy, in scenes that evoke Mesopotamia's rich history. For centuries, Najaf has been a key shrine city and center of worship for much of Iraq's people. But for centuries, Iraq's Ottoman and Arab rulers rarely considered Najaf part of their own history. It was always considered a troublesome outpost of the enemy: Iran. They were right, for the most part. Historically and culturally, Najaf has long been under Persia's sway. But so has much of Iraq. The reading of the Koran in this country differs from the rest of the Muslim world: The rhythm and cadence of Sunnis are unique to Iraq and the Shiites' are unique to Iran. Persian dishes such as fesenjan, a pomegranate stew, are a standard part of Mesopotamian fare. Even this nation's capital carries a Persian name, Baghdad. The sectarian nature of the war between Shiite and Sunni Arabs in Iraq reflects a centuries-old battle between Persia and the Arab world. It is a point often misunderstood by U.S. policymakers and ground commanders, who perceive the reemergence of Persian influence among Iraq's newly powerful Shiite Muslim majority as proof of meddling by the regime in Tehran. Rising Persian influence is a sign of Iraq's ascendance, not Iran's. "Iraq has been part of the Persian sphere of influence for more than 400 years," said Karar Dastour, an Iraqi Shiite intellectual who lives in southern Tehran and travels to Iraq. "But governments have always tried to crush anything that had the scent of Shiism or Iran. They were never accepted." Violent Sunni Arab rejection of Iraq's Persian roots plays out daily on the streets of the capital. In February, three bombs went off in the Shorja market in central Baghdad, killing more than 70 people. It was the fifth time the place, whose name means "salty well" in Persian, was struck in less than a year. Shiite Muslims were the intended targets, but so too was a landmark established long ago by Iranian merchants.


REPORTS – IRAQI MILITIAS, POLITICIANS, POWER BROKERS

Sadr Loyalist Ministers Quit Iraq Government

The political movement of the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr today ordered its six cabinet ministers to quit the Iraqi government. Sadr officials confirmed the move at a news conference, saying it had been caused by the refusal of the Shia prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, to set a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. Referring to last Monday's mass rally of Sadr supporters in the city of Najaf, Nassar al-Rubaie, the head of the Sadrist bloc in parliament, said: "They went out in a demonstration in their millions, asking for a timetable for withdrawal. "We noticed the prime minister's response did not express the will of the people. "For the public benefit and lifting the suffering of the patient Iraqi people ... we found it necessary to issue an order to the ministers of the Sadrist bloc to withdraw immediately from the Iraqi government." Mr Rubaie also revealed Mr Sadr had demanded that all detainees held by "occupation forces" be transferred to Iraqi authorities. Although Mr Sadr's support played a large role in Mr Maliki coming to power, today's resignations are unlikely to bring his administration down. The Sadr ministers did not hold any key ministerial portfolios, and officials indicated that his bloc's 30 members of parliament would continue their normal participation in the Iraqi parliament.

Sadr's Rising Star to Eclipse Bush's Surge?

Public opinion polls are valuable chips to play for those engaged in a debate of national or international consequence. In the end, however, they are abstract numbers. It is popular demonstrations which give them substance, color, and -- above all -- wide media exposure, and make them truly meaningful. This is particularly true when such marches are peaceful and disciplined in a war-ravaged country like Iraq. This indeed was the case with the demonstration on April 9 in Najaf. Over a million Iraqis, holding aloft thousands of national flags, marched, chanting, "Yes, yes, Iraq/No, no, America" and "No, no, American/Leave, leave occupier." The demonstrators arrived from all over the country in response to a call by Muqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric, to demand an end to foreign occupation on the fourth anniversary of the end of Baathist rule in Baghdad. Both the size of the demonstration and its composition were unprecedented. "There are people here from all different parties and sects," Hadhim al-Araji, Sadr's representative in Baghdad's Kadhimiya district, told reporters. "We are all carrying the national flag, a symbol of unity. And we are all united in calling for the withdrawal of the Americans." The presence of many senior Sunni clerics at the head of the march, which started from Sadr's mosque in Kufa, a nearby town, and the absence of any sectarian flags or images in the parade, underlined the ecumenical nature of the protest. Crucially, the mammoth demonstration reflected the view prevalent among Iraqi lawmakers. Last autumn, 170 of them in a 275-member Parliament, signed a motion, demanding to know the date of a future American withdrawal. The discomfited government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki played a procedural trick by referring the subject to a parliamentary committee, thereby buying time. Opinion polls conducted since then show three-quarters of Iraqi respondents demanding the withdrawal of the Anglo-American troops within six to twelve months.


COMMENTARY

Endgame: Iraqi Insurgents Press For Final Blow

"Iraq's Sunni insurgency is not going to patiently wait for American will to collapse," writes Adam Elkus. "They know that they can strike a fatal blow at public support
for the war and possibly shorten the conflict, preserving their strength for the inevitable internecine feuding that will result after an American withdrawal." In this lucid
piece, Elkus examines insurgent tactics and opportunities and how these may erode American public support for a gradual withdrawal.

Who Pushed America into War in Iraq?

A shadowy Pentagon unit -- the Office of Special Plans, headed by Douglas Feith, former U.S. Under Secretary of Defence for Policy -- deliberately fabricated intelligence linking Saddam Hussein's regime to al-Qaida in order to incite the United States to make war on Iraq. This conclusion, long suspected by most observers of the Middle East, has now been confirmed by Thomas F. Gimble, Inspector General of the U.S. Defence Department, in a declassified report, released on April 5 at the request of Carl M. Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Together with his boss, Paul Wolfowitz, then Deputy Defence Secretary, Douglas Feith was one of an influential group of pro-Israeli neo-conservatives in the Bush administration who exploited the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack on the U.S. to campaign and intrigue for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. According to the Inspector General's report, Feith produced intelligence assessments which claimed that there was a 'mature, symbiotic relationship [between Iraq and al-Qaida]' in no fewer than ten specific areas, including training, financing and logistics. To bolster his case, Feith made much of an alleged meeting in Prague in April 2001 between Muhammad Atta, one of the Al-Qaida hijackers, and an Iraqi intelligence officer, Ahmad al-Ani.

Quote of the day: "The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do." - Samuel P. Huntington

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