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 5, 2007

News of the Day for Sunday, August 5, 2007

A girl cries while waiting to claim the body of her father, killed in a mortar attack, outside a hospital morgue in Baghdad August 5, 2007. A barrage of mortars at a petrol station killed 11 people lining up to fuel their vehicles and wounded 15 others in eastern Baghdad, police said. In another petrol station in a nearby district, six people were wounded by mortars, police added. REUTERS/Kareem Raheem (IRAQ)









Reported Security Incidents

Baghdad

UPDATE:Two Multi-National Corps Iraq soldiers die in combat Aug. 5. No further details at this time.
U.S. soldier reported killed by a roadside bomb on Saturday.

Mortar barrage kills 13, injures 14 in Shiite neighborhood of Mashtal. Rounds hit a gas station, many deaths result from burning fuel. Reuters gives the death toll as 11 with 15 wounded, says strike on another station nearby wounds six.

Reuters reports that Hazim al-Araji, a leader of the Sadrist movement, escapes assassination attempt by men wearing army uniforms as he leaves his office in the Kadhimiya district. However, AP has a somewhat different version, a gun battle between Iraqi Army and Mahdi Army forces, in which five of al-Araji's bodyguards were injured. McClatchy supports the AP version, says the battle lasted for 2 hours.

Iraqi forces surrounded a headquarters for the General Motors Corporation in southeastern Baghdad's Oqba Ibn Nafi square and arrested all its security guards, a source from the corporation said on Sunday. I am assuming this is not the U.S.-based corporation of the same name. VoI gives no further explanation for this incident except that there was an arrest warrant for the guards.

Bomb injures three Iraqi soldiers on Saturday in Bab al-Muadhem, central Baghdad.

A physician is murdered in western Baghdad.

Police find 21 bodies dumped in various parts of the capital.



Mahmoudiya

Car bomb kills one civilian, injures three.

Reuters reports that a car bomb targeting a vehicle workshop killed two and injured five. Not clear if this is the same incident as above.

Sulaimaniyah area

Roadside bomb hits a truck on the Kirkuk–Rashad road, two injured taken to hospital.

Kirkuk

On Saturday, an officer of the police directorate was assassinated in a drive-by shooting.

Mosul

Police find the bodies of six people who had been tortured, including two children.

Officers put down a prison riot, killing one prisoner and injuring two.

Iraqi Army spokesman says six militants killed, ten others arrested after they ambush a patrol. The Iraqi Army generally reports the outcome of these incidents as being totally one-sided. Judge the credibility for yourself. --C

Iskandiriya

Eleven people injured by a mortar attack on Saturday.

Mahaweel

Bodies of three people who had been tortured and shot were found on Saturday.

Basra

British convoy attacked on the road from Kuwait, British say they killed one insurgent in the incident.

British forces bomb an oil refinery, starting a huge fire. Apparently they were targeting a source of mortar fire on their Joint Coordination Center in central Basra. Well okay, but this is about the last thing that Iraq needs right now. -- C

Kut

Iraqi forces arrest four members of the Mahdi Army.

Suwayra

Tribal leader dies from injuries sustained in an attack on Saturday.

Samarra

U.S. says that a week-long crackdown has netted 80 al-Qaeda suspects.

U.S. says that it has killed the al-Qaeda leader for Salah ad Din province, Haitham Sabah Shaker Mohammed al-Badri, in an airstrike. They identify him as the mastermind of the bombing of the Golden Dome, although there seems to be confusion about whether they are blaming him for the original attack last year, or only the subsequent destruction of the minarets.

Duhuk province (Kurdistan)

Turkish artillery barrages destroy crops. Villages attacked include Bandour, Sharansh, Winsdour, Kashani, Kista, Bitkar, Nirawa and Rikani.

Reports that 350 Turkish commandos have entered Kurdistan following the artillery barrage.

Khalis

Gunmen in Iraqi Army uniforms kidnap 10 people at an apparently fake checkpoint on the Baghdad-Kirkuk highway.

Muqdadiya

Large military operation by Iraqi and U.S. forces begins. "Residents of Muqdadiya told VOI that U.S. forces were placing concrete blocks on all the roads leading to the main market in the district of al-Muqdadiya. "The Americans used some buildings in the souk (market) as headquarters and denied both vehicles and pedestrians access to the area," an eyewitness said. Most of the merchants and shop owners took their goods and moved to another market in al-Mualimeen neighborhood," he added.

Afghanistan

Whisker sends in this link to the AFP report, which details several incidents resulting in 20 deaths.

Other News of the Day

Benchmarks Department

Iraq power grid is collapsing. AP's Steven R. Hurst reviews the sorry tale. Excerpt:

BAGHDAD -- Iraq's power grid is on the brink of collapse because of insurgent sabotage, rising demand, fuel shortages and provinces that are unplugging local power stations from the national grid, officials said Saturday.

Electricity Ministry spokesman Aziz al-Shimari said power generation nationally is only meeting half the demand, and there had been four nationwide blackouts over the past two days. The shortages across the country are the worst since the summer of 2003, shortly after the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, he said.

Power supplies in Baghdad have been sporadic all summer and now are down to just a few hours a day, if that. The water supply in the capital has also been severely curtailed by power blackouts and cuts that have affected pumping and filtration stations.

Karbala province south of Baghdad has been without power for three days, causing water mains to go dry in the provincial capital, the Shiite holy city of Karbala. "We no longer need television documentaries about the Stone Age. We are actually living in it. We are in constant danger because of the filthy water and rotten food we are having," said Hazim Obeid, who sells clothing at a stall in the Karbala market.


Maliki says he refuses to accept the resignations of Iraqi Accordance Front ministers, but they say they're still quitting. (Maliki has been meeting with Jalal Talabani and Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi to try to resolve the crisis, but that seems rather beside the point. -- C) Excerpt:

The Accordance Front said its decision to pull out of government was sealed by what it called al-Maliki's failure to respond to a set of demands: the release of security detainees not charged with specific crimes, the disbanding of militias and the participation of all groups represented in the government in dealing with security issues.

After meeting Sunday with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi, the prime minister signaled he was not ready to give in completely to the Front's demands.

"We are not talking about meeting all of their demands. We have to deal with them according to our political program," al-Maliki said at a news conference at his office in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

But he said the three had "agreed to exert effort to bring the brothers of the Accordance Front back to their roles. "The government is going through big challenges," al-Maliki said. "We are in need of the spirit of cooperation and integration to succeed in this political process, which unfortunately faces big internal and foreign challenges."

Talabani told reporters Sunday that he discussed with al-Maliki the "demands raised by the Accordance Front and the means to meet them." "We hope they change their stance," Talabani said.

Talabani and Abdul-Mahdi said a five-member summit, involving Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi and Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, would be held next week to address the Accordance Front resignations.

But Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the Accordance Front, said Sunday that the ministers were committed to resigning their jobs. "We are still insisting and determined to abandon al-Maliki's government because of its failure. If all our demands are met, then we will have another say at that time," al-Dulaimi told The Associated Press.

"We will not abandon any of our demands, as we will not abandon any of our detainees," he said.


BBC tracks the post-"surge" indicators. Why won't they report the good news for a change? -- C Excerpt:

During the seven-day period from 26 July to 1 August there were 482 violent deaths across Iraq. This is a rise of nearly 70 people on last week's total.

Of the groups charted in the graphic above, only the Iraqi police saw their number of fatalities fall.

Iraqi civilians had both the greatest rise in their number of people killed and the greatest total number of deaths; as has been the case since this series of reports began seven weeks ago.

Looking back over the whole of July, Iraqi officials say more than 1,600 civilians were killed. This figure is higher than the number of deaths for February this year, when the US surge began.

snip

Fuel shortages worsened for two out of the three families this week. The Palestine Street family saw their access to power plunge from an hour a day to 10 minutes, while the Zayouna family received no power for the entire week. The third family experienced no change at 30 minutes a day.

There have been some improvements; the al-Hurriya district of Baghdad has had a very limited access to electricity this week for the first time in three weeks.

The people of the Adhamiyia district are again without power.

Day-long petrol queues are still being reported by some, as are waits of between seven and eight hours, by others.

The price of fuel at forecourts is 9,000 Iraqi dinars ($7) for 20 litres. After falling last week black market prices are rising again; 20 litres of fuel now costs 25,000 dinars.

Prices for gas cylinders range from 7,500 dinars at petrol stations, up from 4,000 dinars, to 30,000 dinars on the black market in Baghdad, and 40,000 dinars on the black market in Falluja, where cars are not allowed into town.

Food is scarce in the Adhamiyia district, as food trucks are all being checked by the Iraqi army before being allowed inside.

The shortages come as a report by Oxfam and Iraqi NGOs has said that nearly a third of Iraq's population needs emergency aid, while US authorities say corruption in the country is so bad that it amounts to "a second insurgency".


And in Other News

U.S. House of Representatives passes $459.6 billion defense budget, a $40 billion increase over the previous year. White House complains that Democrats cut the administration request by $3.5 billion, and transferred the money to domestic programs, but AP reports these cuts are likely to be restored in a supplemental anyway. Administration also complains about a 3.5% military pay raise, wants it reduced. Support our troops! This probably sounds like a lot of money, but it does not include funding for the war in 2008, which will be considered separately. -- C

Pfc. Jesse Spielman, a participant in the rape and murder of Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and the murder of her family, is sentenced to 110 years in prison. Oops, not exactly. He's eligible for parole in 10 years. Although prosecutors do not say he personally participated in the rape, he served as lookout. Spielman was convicted late Friday of rape, conspiracy to commit rape, housebreaking with intent to rape and four counts of felony murder. Now what do you think the sentence would be for a soldier who was accessory to the rape and murder of a 14 year old American girl and the murder of her family? How do you think Iraqis will view this sentence? -- C

Quote of the Day

I secretly wish that someone would invent me a new nationality, a nationality that does not exist and is specially tailored for people like myself who no longer recognize, accept, or stomach what has become of this country.

Sometimes my disgust is so great that I have this persistent fantasy assailing my mind, the fantasy of vomiting it all...

Vomiting it all over the government, the ministries, the militias, the Green Zone, the peshmergas, the politicians, the prisons, the torture centers, the American camps and their soldiers...then the fantasy transports me to the Pentagon, the White House...and all the way up to the Statue of Liberty.

Oh yes, vomit my way from Sadr city to New York City. One humongous pool of vomit.
And even then, my disgust will not abate...


Layla Anwar

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