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

Thursday, October 4, 2007

News & Views 10/04/07

Photo: An Iraqi girl holds hands with a younger boy as she crosses a street in front of a US soldier, securing the area in Baquba. Bombs and a shooting in Iraq have killed at least 18 people and seriously wounded a tribal sheikh involved in fighting Al-Qaeda, the day after an attack on the Polish ambassador, officials said.(AFP/Alexander Nemenov) [Life under occupation. – dancewater]

To our Muslim readers: Ramadan Mubarak

REPORTS – LIFE IN IRAQ

Talafar bombing casualties rise to 60

"The death toll of the car bomb blast that took place this afternoon in Talafar reached three dead and 57 wounded," Brigadier Ibrahim al-Juburi told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). The police chief added "among the wounded were women and children and there were 13 wounded men in critical condition." Brigadier al-Juburi also said that the wounded will be taken to hospitals in the nearby Duhuk, an Iraq's Kurdistan province, for treatment.

Scores killed, injured in Baghdad bus blast

An explosive charge planted inside a bus in Baghdad's northern neighborhood of al-Waziriya was detonated, killing and injuring scores of individuals, an Iraqi police source said on Thursday. No information was provided by the source about the number of casualties. Meanwhile, eyewitnesses told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) that Iraqi security forces cordoned off the area immediately after the blast.
The neighborhood is one of the most frequented neighborhoods by university students who pass by it on their way to the faculties of administration, economics, and political science, and the Iraqi Scientific Council. As part of its eight-month-old security plan in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, Iraqi forces have staged an army checkpoint in the neighborhood to prevent violent acts.

IRAQ: Difficult to access the needy in Diyala Province, say aid workers

The humanitarian situation in Diyala Province, eastern-central Iraq, is deteriorating because of continuing tension between armed factions and the difficulty of accessing internally displaced persons and the needy, said local aid workers. “We are unable to reach thousands of families because of the serious security situation in the area. Many armed factions have prevented us from delivering humanitarian assistance to groups opposed to them, leaving families without food and other support,” said Nafie Obeidi, vice-president of the Iraq Aid Association (IAA), a local nongovernmental organisation. “We were advised to leave the delivery of aid to the [Iraqi] military or to warring factions but with the increase in violence we doubt if food will reach local families,” Obeidi added. According to him, in some parts of the province there are two or three checkpoints controlled by different factions every kilometre. Volunteers tend to turn back rather than confront insurgents or militants.

Poor Duck

Duck is one of the most beautiful birds that everybody love especially those who care about nature. There are many kinds of ducks all over the world. In Iraq, we have few kinds of duck. People in some of the southern area have duck in their houses and when they have visitors, they made the best food and one of the main dishes would be duck meat. But did anyone hear about duck that eat people! I bet no one did. It happens only in Iraq. In Iraq, we used to give local names especially animals names for many different things. For example, the German small car (the Volkswagen) we used to call this car (the turtle). Also we used to name one of the Russian cars (the camel). Now it’s the turn of the Japanese cars. As everybody knows, Toyota Motors Company is one of the biggest Japanese motors company and they have great cars. In Iraq, we have few Toyota marks and one of them is (Crown), Iraqis gave the name (The Duck) to some of the nineties models of this kind of cars. Toyota Crown Sedan is not any more Toyota. Its now very well known as The Duck. Now, some readers may ask about the relation between the ducks and eating people. The duck and here I’m talking about the car is used by some insurgents to kidnap people. As some people said that the gunmen put the kidnapped people in the trunk of the duck. Some of these kidnapped people were found dead in one of the neighborhoods of Baghdad. This is how those gunmen corrupted the pure reputation of this lovely bird in Iraq. Now when the Iraqis hears the word duck, they don’t think about that lovely bird with the beautiful colors, they think only about the views of the dead bodies and one color only, the red color.

IRAQ: Rayhan Nasir, Iraq: “We never saw my father again”

Rayhan Nasir, 24, is losing hope after two years spent searching for his father, who disappeared on his way home from work. Nasir Muhammad, then a 53-year-old pharmacy owner, telephoned the family to say he was leaving his shop, would buy some bread and cheese, and join them for dinner. That was the last time the family had any information about the father of four. “The last time we saw my father was on 23 August 2005. We never saw him again. Since that date we have been searching for him but cannot get any information. Police officers tell us that probably he has been killed and that because of the situation in Iraq it is useless to open an investigation into his disappearance. “The owner of the bakery told us that on the day he disappeared my father bought many pieces of bread and asked him to go with him to the mosque the following Friday. “On the night of the same day, during curfew time, someone entered the pharmacy, looted everything and left the key in the main door. “We don’t believe my father is dead. The war is taking everything from the people in Iraq but my father cannot be a victim. He is a very good man, friendly, good with us and my mother, who since his disappearance suffers from serious depression and needs medication to sleep and eat.

IRAQ: Shortage of cancer treatments puts thousands at risk

Hospitals specialising in cancer treatment have urged the Iraq authorities to replenish supplies because they say a shortage of essential medicines is putting the lives of thousands of patients at risk. “Patients are dying from cancer because of a lack of medicines in public hospitals. Private pharmacies are selling the products but at very high prices, which cannot be afforded by poor families,” said Ibraheem Muhammad, a senior official at the Cancer Research Centre at the Ministry of Health. “Indispensable drugs like methotrexate, largely used in breast [cancer], bone [cancer] and in certain cases of leukaemia; cyclophosphamide used in lung and breast cancer and lymphomas, as well as vindesine, used in all those cases, are seriously short in all hospitals in Iraq,” Muhammad added. “To make the situation worse for patients, some machines used for radiotherapy are broken, waiting for repairs.”

REPORTS – IRAQI MILITIAS, POLITICIANS, POWER BROKERS

Call of Duty

This week on War News Radio, we hear about an ongoing initiative to re-integrate former soldiers into Iraq’s new military. Then, we look at the plight of Iraqi refugees in Syria. They are rapidly running out of money and have nowhere to go. Finally, in our A Day in the Life series, we hear from an Iraqi policeman trying to enforce the law in a lawless city.

Parliament sacks MP for joining armed resistance

Iraqi parliament on Thursday decided after marathonic debate to sack the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front legislator Abdul Nasser al-Jenabi for he "joined the armed resistance and expressed regret to take part in the political process." The House of the Representatives decided in Thursday's session to sack MP Abdul Nasser al-Jenabi, and ordered that the Sunni Accordance Front, to which Janabi was a member, shall nominate a replacement. Earlier, Accordance Front demanded to agree to consider al-Janabi as resigned, leading parliament's session to witness a controversy on the legal position of MP Abdul Nasser al-Jenabi following his decision to join the armed resistance. "Member of Parliament Abdul Nasser al-Jenabi did not present his resignation, and his bloc presented a demand, in which it urged to consider him as a resigned member. This demand is illegal and parliament cannot approve it," Sheikh Khaled al-Attiya said.

Iraq MP found at al Qaeda meeting: U.S. military

A member of Iraq's parliament is in U.S. custody and being questioned after an Iraqi special forces raid on a suspected al Qaeda meeting, the U.S. military said on Thursday. A spokesman for the Iraqi parliament said the lawmaker was from the assembly's main Sunni Arab bloc. The man was held after a raid in the Sunni Arab town of Sharqat, 260 km (160 miles) northwest of Baghdad, in volatile Salahuddin province on September 29, the U.S. military said in an email in response to queries from Reuters. "The man being held is one of the 275 members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives," the military said. "Officially, he is not considered a 'detainee' at this time. He is being held for questioning after being found at a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq meeting during a combined Iraqi Security Forces/Coalition operation," it said. The military said it would not release the man's name. It is believed to be the first time a member of Iraq's parliament has been detained by Iraqi or U.S. forces. The Iraqi parliament spokesman said Accordance Front member Naif Mohammed Jasim had been taken into custody while he was attending a funeral in Sharqat on Wednesday.

'United we stand'

The Iraqi parliament is expected to reject a non-binding US senate measure calling for the country to be divided along sectarian lines into three parts. The measure, championed by democratic senator and presidential hopeful Joseph Biden, has finally managed to unify the Iraqis if only in opposition to it, with the exception, of course, of the Kurds. Kurdish leaders called the measure a perfect solution to the country's multi-faceted problems. "The people and government of Iraq Kurdistan welcome the US Senate's decision to rebuild the Iraqi state on a federal basis, and finds this decision to be in harmony with the Iraq constitution," said the official website of the Kurdish northern government. Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki lashed out at the Senate's decision. He told Al-Iraqiya television that, "those people who passed the measure should stand by Iraq and reinforce its unity and sovereignty instead of proposing a partition, which would be catastrophic not only for Iraq but for the entire region."

Iraqi leaders turn against US-created 'militias'

The Iraqi government lashed out on Thursday at a US military initiative that pits civilians against Al-Qaeda fighters, accusing it of creating new militias in the war-weary nation. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's media adviser Yasin Majeed said the Shiite-led government was now trying to bring armed groups set up by the US military under the control of the Iraqi army. "There are groups which have set up checkpoints without coordinating with the government," he said. "Apparently they coordinated with the (US military). They should be placed under army control." Maliki and his Shiite United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) parliamentary bloc this week sharply criticised what it said was a US policy of creating armed groups outside the control of the central government. "The (project) involves founding new militias outside the law. It is also an interference in the security and political affairs of the country and creates a serious situation now and in the future," the UIA said on Tuesday.

REPORTS – US/UK/OTHERS IN IRAQ

New U.S. military leaders question Iraq mission

Four and a half years after the nation's top military leaders saluted and fell in behind President Bush's pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, their replacements are beginning to question the mission and sound alarms about the toll the war is taking on the Army and the Marine Corps. The change at the Pentagon is striking but little-noticed, in part because Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a longtime veteran of the CIA, is quiet where his predecessor Donald H. Rumsfeld was not. "It's part of a sea change," said Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute, a national-security research center in Washington. "The ideologues have been replaced by managers who view Iraq not as a cause, but a problem to be solved."

House votes to bring all Iraq security contractors under U.S. law

The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Thursday to bring all private security contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan under a federal code of conduct, despite strong opposition from the White House and some Republican members of Congress. The bill, by Rep. David Price, D-N.C., gained attention this week after a September shooting in Baghdad in which Blackwater guards killed at least 11 Iraqis. Witnesses said the shootings were unprovoked, though Blackwater defended its actions. The State Department, which employs the Blackwater guards, is investigating with the help of the FBI.

Marines recommend no murder charge in Haditha case

An investigating officer has recommended that no murder charges be brought against U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich in connection with a massacre of civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha in 2005, defense attorney Mark Zaid said on Thursday. Wuterich had been earlier accused of being the ringleader of troops who killed 24 Iraqi civilians in the November, 2005 incident. "The recommendation was for lesser charges, none of which include murder," Zaid told Reuters in a telephone interview.

US looking to speed up arms deliveries to Iraq: Gates

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday the United States is looking for ways to speed the delivery of arms to Iraqi security forces, acknowledging that the current system is too slow. His comments followed criticism by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani who said Iraq was buying 100 million dollars in light military equipment for its police from China because US arms producers could not meet Iraqi demands quickly enough. Gates said he was not worried about Iraq's purchase of AK-47 assault rifles from China, but was concerned that the US foreign military sales system was delivering weapons to customers too slowly. [Seems to me that they have too many weapons already in Iraq. – dancewater]

HISTORY

IRAQI REFUGEES

IRAQ-JORDAN: First death registered among refugees at border

A woman from a group of 193 Iranian-Kurd refugees who have been stranded at the border of Jordan and Iraq for the past two and a half years became the first fatality there after she died on 2 October as a result of a disease complication, according to refugees at the camp and international and local relief organisations.

How to Help Iraqi Refugees

ANOTHER Way to help: The Collateral Repair Project

COMMENTARY

Brown should listen to the military and quit Iraq now

Justice, as the cliche has it, must not only be done, but be seen to be done. By the same token, policy decisions must not just be taken - they must be declared. Otherwise their benefit is reduced or lost. As Gordon Brown visited Iraq yesterday to prepare for Monday’s formal announcement to parliament on Britain’s troop presence, he should ponder these truths. Some 42% of the public want Britain’s involvement in Iraq to end as soon as possible, and another 22% by the end of next year, according to a BBC poll last month. The prime minister talked yesterday of a reduction of a thousand troops by Christmas, but if he says nothing specific about a full withdrawal, he will be disappointing millions of people, as well as the troops themselves. There is an overwhelming desire among the country’s military commanders for an end to the British adventure in Iraq. However professionally they acted, they were given a mission that was unnecessary and wrongly conceived. Along with the much more decisive role of the United States, this mission has helped to plunge Iraq into political turmoil and the largest human emergency in today’s world.

RESISTANCE

Quote of the day: “After the invasion of Iraq, I again heard from Vietnamese the excuse that Americans were good people who happened to have bad leaders. I wondered how long we can get away with that one. My fear is that we are no longer a nation at war but have become a nation of war. My hope is that we will pull back from empire and once again embrace our republic.” - Peter Davis Biography - Filmmaker, Journalist, Writer

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