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

Sunday, August 12, 2007

News of the Day for Sunday, August 12, 2007

A man walks between the shelves containing historical documents in Iraq's National library in Baghdad August 12, 2007. Saad Eskander, Director of the National Library and Archive said on Saturday he feared for the country's priceless collection of historical documents after Iraqi soldiers occupied the roof of his building and threatened his staff. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen See below for a message from Mr. Eskander

Security Incidents


A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed by small arms fire while conducting a dismounted patrol southeast of Baghdad August 11. The exact location is unspecified, but southeast of Baghdad generally is farm country along the Tigris.

Four Task Force Marne Soldiers were killed and four others were wounded by an explosion during combat operations south of Baghdad Aug. 11.

The Iraqi Army says it has killed 7 insurgents and arrested 70 in the past 24 hours in unspecified locations around Iraq. Separately, the U.S. says it has arrested 30 suspects during operations against al Qaeda in Iraq, including 17 in the western suburb of Karmah.

A police officer said two civilians were killed and four wounded when the joint forces backed by helicopters stormed into houses in Baghdad's Shiite district of Sadr City. The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information, also said 16 people were detained. The U.S. military said it was looking into the report.

Also from AP, A local tribal leader in Albu Khalifa, a village west of Baghdad, was gunned down by militants who broke into his home late Saturday, police said. Sheik Fawaq Sadda' al-Khalifawi had recently joined the anti-al-Qaida alliance in Anbar, said a police officer in the town of Karmah, 50 miles west of Baghdad. The police officer declined to be identified for fear of more reprisals.


Joint U.S.-Iraqi forces backed by air power also raided the house of an aide to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the holy city of Kufa, 100 miles south of Baghdad, according to al-Sadr's office. The U.S. military had no immediate word on that report. Sheik Fouad al-Turfi was detained, according to an official and a relative who declined to be identified because he feared retribution.


Nine gunmen were killed and two Iraqi soldiers wounded in fierce clashes in the district of al-Muqdadiya, Diala province, during the early hours of Sunday, an official security source said. "An armed group clashed with a joint force of the Iraqi army and the Multi-National Force (MNF) in al-Sadour area, Muqdadiya, (45 km) northeast of Baaquba, leaving nine gunmen killed," the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). In the district of al-Wajihiya, two Iraqi army patrol soldiers were wounded in clashes with gunmen, the same source said, adding the wounded were rushed to a hospital for treatment and the gunmen escaped to an unknown place.


U.S. forces arrested Sheikh Fouad al-Ghozzi, a prominent aide of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, in the holy city of Najaf during the early hours of Sunday, a source close to Sadr said.


Three Iraqi policemen were killed and another wounded in an armed attack on their patrol in southern Kirkuk on Sunday, an official security source said. The patrol was attacked by unidentified gunmen in two vehicles near the village of Arab Kawi, Daqquq district, (25 km) south of Kikruk," the source, who asked not to have his named mentioned, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).

al-Huweija (Southwest of Kirkuk)

One Iraqi soldier was shot down by gunmen near the al-Zab garage.

Daquq (north of Baghdad)

Insurgents opened fire on a police patrol, killing three policemen and wounding two others, police said. Also from Reuters, Insurgents killed one civilian and wounded two others in a drive-by shooting.


British forces wounded some Iraqi civilians in cross-fire after one of its vehicle patrols came under attack in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, the Multi-National forces in south of Iraq said on Sunday. VoI also reports that mortar attacks on the British bases in Basra continued, without casualties.

Other News of the Day

We received a forwarded e-mail from Saad Eskander, Director of the Iraq National Library and Archive. As was reported on August 8, U.S. and Iraqi troops occupied the library to use as a base of operations during the recent Shiite pilgrimage. Iraq's national heritage -- which is of course also the heritage of all humanity -- has been horrifically damaged in the war and occupation. I thought our readers might appreciate the chance to hear from Mr. Eskander directly. -- C

I hope this message finds well.
I would like to inform you that the unruly national guards are continuing their aggression against the INLA and its staff. This morning, (8 August), a group of Iraqi national guards has broken into the National Library and Archive's main building. By this action, the national guards have violated the instructions of the Council of Ministers, which clearly assert that Iraqi security and armed forces cannot enter any state-run institution without a prior approval of the government and the concerned authorities.

The national guards took their action without consulting or asking me; they simply entered the building by force. As the government declared 4-day curfew period, I was not able to go the INLA to be with the INLA's guards, who did not know what to do. Therefore, I talked to the commander of the national guards by phone, asking him politely to leave the building immediately. He refused to consider the idea of evacuating the building, claiming that he had orders from his superiors and the Americans to occupy the NILA. He justified his action by claiming that the national guards wanted to protect Shi'i visitors of the holy shrines of al-Kadhimiyah, which is 30 km away from the INLA!!

I would also like to draw your attention to the fact on Monday (6 August), a US military patrol entered the INLA's main building without my permission. The commander of the patrol interrogated the INLA's> guards and ordered them to show their IDs. Please note, this was not the first time in which US patrols entered the INLA without my permission. In July, US soldiers entered the INLA three times. It seems clear to me that the actions of US soldiers' have encouraged Iraqi national guards to do the same, i.e. entering and then occupying the building by force.

By the way, US army units and the national guards have their own bases in the same old building of the Ministry of Defense, where they coordinate their security efforts. The old building of the Ministry of Defense is just opposite the INLA. I contacted US authorities In Baghdad indirectly, hoping to stop the violations and the unlawful actions of both US soldiers and Iraqi national guards against the INLA and its staff. They showed no interest whatsoever.

As you and others are fully aware, my staff and I have spent a lot of time and efforts on the reconstruction of the INLA, after it was destroyed in mid-April 2003. The reckless actions of US Army and the Iraqi National Guards will put the INLA's staff and library and archival collections in real danger. I hold both US Army and the Iraqi National Guards responsible for all future material damages, cultural losses and human casualties.

I need your support and that of your colleagues. I will ask some of my friends in Europe to support us whatever the means I will not cease my efforts to expose the wrong doings of the national guards and those who are behind them.

> > As Ever
> > Saad Eskander

Maliki says he will call for a "crisis summit" of Iraq's political leaders in the next few days. I'm sure this will change everything. -- C

Adnan al-Dulaimi, leader of the Sunni bloc the Iraqi accordance front, appeals to neighboring Arab countries to rescue Iraq's Sunni Arabs from "Persians" and "Safawis," meaning Iran. Note that his complaint is directed at the Iraqi government which the United States has been arming and defending with the blood of its own young people. Excerpt:

An influential Sunni leader issued an impassioned appeal Sunday for help from Arab countries against what he called Iranian-supported death squads and militias in the latest blow to the Iraqi government's reconciliation efforts.

Adnan al-Dulaimi, the leader of the largest Sunni bloc in parliament, the Iraqi Accordance Front, warned that Baghdad was in danger of falling into the hands of the "Persians" and "Safawis," using terms referring to Iran.

"Arabs, your brothers in the land of the two rivers and in Baghdad in particular are exposed to an unprecedented genocide campaign by the militias and death squads that are directed, armed and supported by Iran," al-Dulaimi said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press by his office.


Al-Dulaimi's words reflected growing frustration among Sunnis with al-Maliki's government, which is widely accused of having a Shiite bias and has failed to stop the execution-style killings believed carried out mainly by Shiite-led death squads. Bombings usually blamed on Sunni extremists also have persisted.

However, the Accordance Front will participate in Maliki's crisis summit.

Number of mercenaries in Iraq now approximately equal to number of U.S. combat troops. They operate without accountability. Excerpt:

By DEBORAH HASTINGS, AP National Writer Sat Aug 11, 2:10 PM ET

There are now nearly as many private contractors in Iraq as there are U.S. soldiers — and a large percentage of them are private security guards equipped with automatic weapons, body armor, helicopters and bullet-proof trucks.

They operate with little or no supervision, accountable only to the firms employing them. And as the country has plummeted toward anarchy and civil war, this private army has been accused of indiscriminately firing at American and Iraqi troops, and of shooting to death an unknown number of Iraqi citizens who got too close to their heavily armed convoys.

Not one has faced charges or prosecution.

There is great confusion among legal experts and military officials about what laws — if any — apply to Americans in this force of at least 48,000. They operate in a decidedly gray legal area. Unlike soldiers, they are not bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Under a special provision secured by American-occupying forces, they are exempt from prosecution by Iraqis for crimes committed there.

And, of course, U.S. is $200 million over budget for mercenaries.

The U.S. military budget for private security in Iraq is more than $200 million over budget because of the extreme danger faced by guards, it was reported. "To pay a man or a woman to come over here ... knowing that people want to blow them up and kill them, you gotta pay to get that level of dedication," Col. Douglas P. Gorgoni, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq, told Sunday's Washington Post.

During the past three years, the U.S. military has paid $548 million to two British security firms, Aegis Defense Services and Erinys Iraq, to protect the Corps of Engineers' reconstruction projects. That amount is more than $200 million over the original budget, The Post said.

Lawmakers are just beginning to realize the immense scope of private security in Iraq, said U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, a member of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee. "We're in the wake of this speedboat. We can't even catch up to the contracts," said Kaptur, who opposes the use of private forces and initiated an audit of Aegis.

Najaf is suffering through a days-long blackout, apparently due to a dispute between the national Ministry of Electricity and the Najaf Municipal Council. It isn't reported, but you know this means people are dying. -- C Excerpt:

Najaf, Aug 4, (VOI) – The holy Shiite city of Najaf suffered from a power cut during the past two days after the National Electricity Network turned off the power station that provides the city with electricity, adding to the agony of local residents who struggled to withstand the scorching heat of August.
A source from the Najaf Electricity Department told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) that the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity turned off the northern and al-Hizam power stations after the Najaf municipal council detached the local natural gas station from the national network.
With a temperature of 48°C, the price of ice cubes increased dramatically. Muhammad al-Ghazali, a local resident told VOI, "I have been searching for ice cubes since the early morning, but to no avail. (Large) ice cubes are sold at 16,000-20,000 Iraqi dinars (12.9-16 U.S. dollars) and people are fighting over them."
Wondering why Najaf's residents should be punished for a dispute between the Ministry of Electricity and the local municipal council, al-Ghazali called on the government to provide basic services for the Iraqi people.

Quote of the Day

Remember the scene in "A Clockwork Orange" where Alex has his eyes clamped open and is forced to watch a movie? I imagine a similar experience for the architects of our catastrophe in Iraq. I would like them to see "No End in Sight," the story of how we were led into that war, and more than 3,000 American lives and hundreds of thousands of other lives were destroyed. . . . Although Bush and the war continue to sink in the polls, I know from some readers that they still support both. That is their right. And if they are so sure they are right, let more young men and women die or be maimed. I doubt if they will be willing to see this film, which further documents an administration playing its private war games. No, I am distinctly not comparing anyone to Hitler, but I cannot help being reminded of the stories of him in his Berlin bunker, moving nonexistent troops on a map, and issuing orders to dead generals.

Film critic Roger Ebert


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