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

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

News & Views 10/17/07

Photo: The brother of Ahmed Hadi, one of seven police men who were killed after a roadside bomb attack in Affak, mourns above his coffin during his funeral in Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007. A roadside bomb exploded next to a police patrol near the area of Affak, 30 kilometers (20 miles) east of Diwaniyah, killing seven police officers including the commander of the patrol who was a Major, police said. (AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani)

REPORTS – LIFE IN IRAQ

Truck Bomb Kills Up to 16 Iraqis in Mosul

A suicide truck bomb killed as many as 16 people and wounded more than 50 others when it destroyed a police station in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday, according to a Health Ministry official there. It was not clear how many Iraqi policemen were among the dead and wounded. Some news reports quoted officials as saying that the police death toll was four. One witness, Ali Mishal, said the bomber evaded blast walls and other defenses near the police station by approaching on side streets. “The explosion was huge, and the windows of all the houses in the neighborhood were blown out by the huge power” of the blast, he said. [Yesterday’s report said that four were killed by this bomb. – dancewater]

Bombings and bullets reminds me of your love

An Iraqi blogger, Nabeel, wrote a love story he once lived… a girl he met in a bus and a clash started near by. She couldnt move out from the bus because of fear and he helped her. They ran to a near by building to take cover with other passengers. he falls in love and she does the same. She had to leave, her father was threatened, she had to leave the country with her family. He stayed, he said: bombings and bullets reminds me of your love.

The Truth Will Prevail

I don't know what the reason that makes the people here feel bored and wishing that they could leave Iraq. Najma, for example, is reading a book called Faster Than The Speed of Light and she is reading something about transport across time!! (I told you she is weird, But you didn't listen!) She wants to live the future without living the present!! *yuk* Why did anybody want to live in the future since everything is going to worse? why does anybody want to live another second, another hour, and another day? Who said she will find herself in the future anyway? Who said she will be alive? Who said there will be a life? It's very difficult to understand the incentives and the reasons that make her think that there will be a better future.

Art of death in the Mesopotamian

Once before I started blogging I saw a video in one of my friends' laptop for a dead body of an old man being dragged by his beard through the streets of Alsadir city by member of Al-Mahdi Army or should I say thugs of Muqtada which seems more appropriate , he did nothing except that he was a Sunni , while they were dragging him they were hitting him with the sandals (which is the maximum humiliation in the Iraqi and Arabic culture) and they were spitting on him and kicking him , after some time of dragging and hitting his face couldn't be recognized because of the blood that covered it , the blood and dirt that covered his whole dead body , every human being dead body deserves respect no matter what he was , why this hatred , why this enjoyment in killing and taking lives ? if it's just for the money and number of people they kill , they can kill him with one shot in the head and the story is over , why do they do these things ?

It's not for the sect or even the religion , Islam is not like this , Islam is never like this , the other name of Islam is the religion of forgiveness , they are criminals and not any criminals they are the most twisted criminals hiding behind religion to convince stupid ignorant people of what they are doing , they are simply gangs , no more and no less. Those stories , or should I say tragedies are a tiny fraction of what happens daily in Baghdad and Iraq in general , in the best days at least 10 unidentified dead bodies are found with another 10 identified , each one of them has a story needs to be told.

Warning: here are some links to some victims of these gangs , it contains explicit violence and horrifying scenes , I wouldn't recommend people with soft feelings to watch them , that's why I made them as links. in Buratha Mosque which is the headquarter of Jalal Alsageer who is a high rank in Al-Daawa party and Badir brigade where they used it for torturing and killing place for the Sunnis by Al-Daawa party and this mosques is heavily guarded by the national guards and the ministry of interior's Commandos .

Photo 1 Photo 6
Photo 2 Photo 7
Photo 3
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Photo 5


after seeing those photos , I think many will agree with me that death isn't that bad if it was without such a brutal torture , as long as the one can be identified and buried respectfully!!??? it's too much to ask in Iraq , isn't it?

IRAQ: Hundreds forced to scavenge for food in garbage bins

Barira Mihran, a 36-year-old mother of three, scavenges every day in other people’s dustbins in Baghdad for leftovers on which to feed her children. Widowed and displaced by sectarian violence, the unemployed mother said she had no other way of providing for her children. “In the beginning it was very difficult. I never imagined that one day I was going to be forced by destiny to feed my children from the remains of other people’s food,” Barira said. “We always had good food on our table when my husband was alive but since he was killed in August 2005, my life has gone from bad to worse.” “My children are under age and so cannot work or beg in the streets,” she said. “Sometimes you have to fight for a dustbin. Many women know which houses have good leftovers and so they wait for hours near the houses until the leftovers are thrown in the bins outside. Then you can see at least 10 people, women and children, running to get it, and I will be in the middle of the crowd, for sure,” Barira added. Barira, an educated woman, has now joined hundreds of other mothers who rummage through rubbish bins for food to feed their children, according to the Baghdad-based Women’s Rights Association (WRA), which conducted a survey of displaced families and people living on the streets in 12 provinces (excluding the Kurdistan region) between January and August 2007.

COLUMN-The price of an Iraqi life-$500 to $8 mln:Bernd Debusmann

The price of an Iraqi life, for purposes of compensation for the families of civilians killed by Americans, can be as low as $500 and as high as $8 million. It depends on who does the assessment. On the low end, $500 was paid to the brother of a man caught in a firefight outside the gate of his house. The $8 million is what the Iraqi government is demanding for the families of each of the 17 people it said were killed when private security contractors guarding U.S. diplomats opened fire in a crowded Baghdad square on September 16. In between those poles, payments are frequently in the $3,000 to $5,000 range. High-profile victims whose death might have an impact on U.S.-Iraqi relations command more. Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi's bodyguard, Raheem Khalif, for example. He was shot dead last Christmas Eve by a drunken contractor of the U.S. private security company Blackwater, whose men were also involved in the September shooting. The incident raised fresh questions over the use of civilians in roles previously carried out by the U.S. military. One of the most remarkable quotes from a U.S. official on conditions in Iraq, five years into the war, has come in an email discussing the size of compensation for the bodyguard. Made available during a Congressional hearing early in October, the email said: "The...Charge d'Affaires (acting ambassador) was talking some crazy sums at first. Originally, she mentioned $250k and then later on $100K...I think that a sum this high will set a terrible precedent. "This could cause incidents with people trying to get killed by our guys to financially guarantee their family's future."

SUICIDE-BY-AMERICAN? Excuse me? Suicide by provoking an American to shoot you? Is there so little prospect, so little hope, so little confidence in the future, so few opportunities that the only way to provide long-term for a family's future is through a U.S. compensation payment for your death? The email was sent by a Special Agent of the Diplomatic Security Service in Baghdad after he discussed the matter of the dead bodyguard with the Army's Criminal Investigation Command. The desperation suggested in the notion of suicide-by-American is at odds with the official view of the Bush administration, which has been seeing slow but steady progress towards stability and reasons for Iraqis to hope for a brighter future.

REPORTS – IRAQI MILITIAS, POLITICIANS, POWER BROKERS

Iraqi PM: Blackwater Must Go

Iraq's prime minister wants private military contractor Blackwater out of his country after an Iraqi probe found Blackwater guards randomly shot civilians without provocation in a Baghdad square last month, an aide said Tuesday. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and most Iraqi officials are "completely satisfied" with the findings and are "insisting" that Blackwater leave the country, al-Maliki adviser Sami al-Askari told CNN. The U.S. State Department and the FBI are conducting their own investigation into the September 16 killings in western Baghdad's Nusoor Square, and a joint U.S.-Iraqi commission is reviewing the results of both probes. Mirembe Natango, a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman, said policy recommendations would be up to that commission.

US buying out loyalty of Iraqi tribal leaders

US commanders are unashamedly buying the loyalty of Iraqi tribal leaders and junior officials, a strategy they trumpet as a major success but which critics fear will lead to hidden costs in terms of militia and sectarian strife. These low-level Iraqi leaders from the Madain area south of Baghdad are meeting top US military brass for the second time in four days. Their first gathering featured the overall commander of US forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, proof that concerned citizens are now right at the forefront of the US war effort. “Tell me how I can help you,” asks Major-General Rick Lynch, commander of US-led forces in central Iraq. A Sunni sheikh who lost his son to an Al Qaeda suicide bomber says he needs more bodyguards as he has hardly left his house in three months for fear of attack. Others list money, drinkable water, more uniforms, more projects. One mentions weapons, but the general insists: “I can give you money to work in terms of improving the area. What I cannot do - this is very important - is give you weapons.” [This is also known as bribery. I think there are three ways to deal with a counter insurgency – civil war, genocide, and bribery. I think bribery is the best answer here. – dancewater]

Tribes playing vital role in fight against terror, says official

A year ago, the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda was the kind of scourge which not only U.S. occupation troops feared but a source of terror for the population at large. Today al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia the appellation the terror groups has given itself in Iraq is in retreat. The reversal is not due to better or more effective U.S. military tactics. Thanks for the dramatic slump in devastating Qaeda car-bombings and suicide operations go to Iraqi tribes. And the man who is rallying the tribes, both Sunni and Shiites to help bring some semblance of normalcy to violent and restive areas is none but Shaikh Maad Muzher al-Samrawi, the Emir or prince of the Zubaid tribe in Iraq. Samrawi is Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s adviser for tribal affairs and has been spearheading efforts to mobilize Sunni tribes particularly in the restive provinces of Anbar and Diyala against Qaeda. His efforts have borne much fruit so far to the extent that the government has now come to believe that one important way for it to exercise its authority in the country is in the hands of Arab tribes. Maliki now has a special committee headed by Samrawi comprising representatives from major Iraqi tribes whose main role is to liaise between the government and tribal chiefs. “Iraqi tribes have nothing to do with sectarian strife and feuds from which the society suffers. The composition of Iraqi tribes demonstrates the unity of Iraq as tribal memberships crosses sectarian divides with Sunis and Shiites belonging to one tribe and vowing allegiance to it,” Samrawi said in an interview.

Senior officials said to have forged degrees

Many parliamentarians, deputy ministers, governors and other senior officials have submitted forged certificates in order to keep their positions and earn higher salaries and additional bonuses. Cultural attaches in foreign countries particularly in Europe are reported to be under increasing pressure from these officials to certify university degrees despite lack of evidence that holders have attended classes in them. The disclosure that senior Iraqi officials have obtained their posts after submitting fake degrees is yet another blow the government and the post-U.S. invasion Iraq.

REPORTS – US/UK/OTHERS IN IRAQ

Turkey votes on incursion, Iraq scrambles to head off threat

The Turkish parliament met Wednesday to vote on authorising the government to order military strikes against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, as Baghdad pleaded for time and promised to purge the militants. Scrambling to dissuade Ankara from military action, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said he was determined to act against the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which attacks Turkey from its bases in northern Iraq, the Anatolia news agency reported. Maliki told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the telephone that Baghdad "is absolutely determined to end the activities and the presence" of the PKK in Iraq, the semi-official agency said, quoting unnamed sources. He said he had given orders to the autonomous Kurdish administration in northern Iraq to take action against the PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, the report said. Maliki asked for "a new opportunity" to resolve the issue through diplomatic means and proposed talks.

U.S. Mercenary Army: A Law Unto Itself

A defiant Blackwater Chairman Erik Prince said yesterday he will not allow Iraqi authorities to arrest his contractors and try them in Iraq's faulty justice system. "We will not let our people be taken by the Iraqis," Mr. Prince told editors and reporters at The Washington Times. At least 17 of 20 Blackwater guards being investigated for their roles in a Sept. 16 shooting incident are still in a secure compound in Baghdad's Green Zone and carrying out limited duties. Two or three others have been allowed by the State Department to leave the country as part of their scheduled rotation out of Iraq and are expected to return. "In an ideal sense, if there was wrongdoing, there could be a trial brought in the Iraqi court system. But that would imply that there is a valid Iraqi court system where Westerners could get a fair trial. That is not the case right now," said Mr. Prince. Mr. Prince also expressed his disappointment that the State Department has not come to the company's defense, even though it has never lost a State Department client in years of protecting them. "For the last week and a half, we have heard nothing from the State Department," said Mr. Prince. "From their senior levels, their PR folks, we've heard nothing — radio silence. "It is disappointing for us. We have performed to the line, letter and verse of their 1,000-page contract," he said. "Our guys take significant risk for them. They've taken a pounding these last three years."

Military: Suspect in U.S. base attack captured

The man believed to be responsible for last week's rocket attack on the U.S. Army's Camp Victory was captured in an early morning raid Monday, the U.S. military said. In addition to the Camp Victory suspect, three other known associates of that man were captured in the Iraq Ministry of Agriculture compound in eastern Baghdad's Rusifiya district. The four were hiding, which prompted U.S. soldiers to enter the compound to detain them, the military said. The attack on Wednesday killed two U.S. soldiers and wounded 38 at Camp Victory, which is near Baghdad International Airport. Two third-country nationals were also wounded in the attack, but the military did not clarify their nationalities.

US 'to build 14 permanent bases in Iraq'

A Finnish lawmaker has revealed that the US is planning to stay in Iraq by building as many as fourteen permanent bases in the country. Jaakko Laakso told a group of Arab journalists-- who visited the Finnish Parliament in Helsinki recently-- that "the bases are not the bases the US government plans to build on the Iraq borders with Syria, but they are permanent bases located in the heartland of the country. " "There is no difference between Republicans and Democrats as far as these permanent bases are concerned," Laakso added, according to Arabnews website. The Finnish MP said that it is very unlikely that the EU would criticize the permanent presence of the US in Iraq.


IRAQI REFUGEES

VIDEO: Displaced Iraqis

AUDIO: Iraqi Refugees in the USA

Abood al-Khafajee and his family settled in Brooklyn, N.Y., in June. They had to leave Iraq after al-Khafajee, who had worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Marines, was threatened with death. Back in Iraq, he was warned that Americans hate Muslims. But in Brooklyn, he found friendly neighbors. What he failed to find were other Iraqis. He is one of the few allowed to resettle in the United States. And he doesn't quite believe it yet. "Even my wife sometimes [says], 'Don't tell our families there that we are in America because maybe they will envy us," he says. So how did al-Khafajee escape the threats of Baghdad? You could say he was rescued — by the Marine captain he once worked for in Iraq. Capt. Zack Iscol told a Senate hearing that without al-Khafajee's help, his Marines were as good as deaf and dumb on the battlefield. Six months later, al-Khafajee and his family were allowed into the United States. His wife, Batul, wonders why Americans allow other nationalities to settle in this country but Iraqis who helped the Americans have to wait. Shaima, one of their daughters, adds that Americans should try to help not just the thousands of Iraqi interpreters like her father, but all the Iraqis who have fled the country — more than 2 million of them.

FEATURE-Alone, Iraq's teenage migrants head for Sweden

Alone and vulnerable, teenage boys such as Said Karim and Muddher Mahmod are among the 4 million people who have fled their homes in Iraq. Like many other refugees, they made the long and dangerous journey to seek sanctuary in Sweden, the only country in Europe that could be described as welcoming for Iraq's displaced. "I want to achieve things I would not be able to achieve in Iraq," 16-year-old Said told Reuters through a translator at a centre for Iraqi underage refugees on the outskirts of Stockholm. "I last saw my family two years ago. They are happy because I am away from death." Sitting in the centre's spotless kitchen with two other boys recently arrived from Iraq, Said said he left his family in Baghdad two years ago at the age of 14 as sectarian violence between his Sunni Arab community and Shi'ites began to rise. He fled to Iraq's more peaceful northern Kurdistan region, where he worked for his keep in a garage. But he decided to flee again when the Kurdish government, unable to cope with rising numbers of Shi'ites and Sunni Arabs fleeing the rest of Iraq, began refusing access to new arrivals.

How to Help Iraqi Refugees

ANOTHER Way to help: The Collateral Repair Project


COMMENTARY

Are Presidents Entitled to Kill Foreigners?

What is the common term for ordering soldiers to kill vast numbers of innocent people? A war crime. But not when it is done on the command of the U.S. president. Killing innocent foreigners seems to be a perk of the modern presidency — akin to the band’s playing “Hail to the Chief” when he enters the room. Bush is revving up the war threats against Iran. Seymour Hersh reported in the current issue of the New Yorker that the administration is advancing plans to bomb many targets in Iran. British newspapers have confirmed that the Pentagon has a list of thousands of bombing targets. Hardly anyone claims that Iran poses a threat to the United States. Yet few people in Washington seem to dispute the president’s right to attack Iran. It is as if the presidential whim is sufficient to justify blasting any foreign nation that does not kowtow to the commands of the U.S. government.


RESISTANCE

89 House Members Tell Bush: No More Money for Occupation

The occupation in Iraq will begin to end on the day that Democrats -- and responsible Republicans -- in Congress decide to stop meeting the demands of the Bush-Cheney administration for more money to fund their imperial endeavor along with the massive war-profiteering by administration-linked firms such as Halliburton and Blackwater.

It’s the resistance, stupid

The ultimate nightmare for White House/Pentagon designs on Middle East energy resources is not Iran after all: it’s a unified Iraqi resistance, comprising not only Sunnis but also Shi’ites. “It’s the resistance, stupid” - along with “it’s the oil, stupid”. The intimate connection means there’s no way for Washington to control Iraq’s oil without protecting it with a string of sprawling military “super-bases”. The ultimate, unspoken taboo of the Iraq tragedy is that the US will never leave Iraq, unless, of course, it is kicked out. And that’s exactly what the makings of a unified Sunni-Shi’ite resistance is set to accomplish. At this critical juncture, it’s as if the overwhelming majority of Sunnis and Shi’ites are uttering a collective cry of “we’re mad as hell, and we won’t take it anymore”. The US Senate “suggests” that the solution is to break up the country. Blackwater and assorted mercenaries kill Iraqi civilians with impunity. Iraqi oil is being privatized via shady deals - like Hunt Oil with the Kurdistan regional government; Ray Hunt is a close pal of George W Bush.

Political deals in the Green Zone are just a detail in the big picture. On the surface the new configuration spells that the US-supported Shi’ite/Kurdish coalition in power is now challenged by an Iraqi nationalist bloc. This new bloc groups the Sadrists, the (Shi’ite) Fadhila party, all Sunni parties, the partisans of former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, and the partisans of former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. This bloc might even summon enough votes to dethrone the current, wobbly Maliki government. But what’s more important is that a true Iraqi national pact is in the making - coordinated by VicePresident Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, and blessed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani himself. The key points of this pact are, no more sectarianism (thus undermining US strategy of divide and rule); no foreign interference (thus no following of US, Iran, or Saudi agendas); no support for al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers; and the right to armed resistance against the occupation.

Dissent From the Front Lines

When will we listen to the troops? I'm not talking about soldiers used as props for a George Bush photo op, telling reporters what Washington wants to hear. The military is disciplined and thus accustomed, from Gen. David Petraeus on down, to toeing the official line. But the Iraq war has also produced brilliant messages of dissent from the ranks that should cause us to stop in our tracks and reconsider what we have wrought. First, a group of sergeants came forward, and on Tuesday it was the captains' turn to speak out. In "The War as We Saw It," an eloquent Op-Ed article published in The New York Times in August, seven sergeants summarized the futility of their 15 months of fighting in Iraq: "To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is farfetched." After penning that crie de cour, two of the soldiers died in Iraq and a third was severely wounded.

Quote of the day: The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions. ~ Robert Lynd (1879-1949), Anglo- Irish essayist, journalist

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