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, May 31, 2007

Security Incidents for Thursday, May 31, 07



(1) MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier from a non-hostile, unspecified cause on Tuesday, May 29th. We are assuming the death occurred in Baghdad.

(2) Earlier today, an article appeared on the website for Watertown (New York) station WWTI that cited a Fort Drum official as saying that two 10th Mountain Division soldiers were killed south of Baghdad, supposedly on Tuesday, May 29th. Now MNF-Iraq has issued a press release that states that two Multi-National Division - Center soldiers were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near their dismounted patrol "today". The release is dated Wednesday, May 30th, and does not give a place of death. Because MND-C troops are operating south of Baghdad, and because 10th Mountain Division troops are attached to MND-C, we are inclined to believe that these reports are describing the same two deaths. For now, we'll use May 29th as the date of death until the DoD issues their formal confirmation of death.

(3) MNF-Iraq is reporting that a Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier who was seriously wounded in an IED attack northwest of Baghdad (likely in the Taji area) on May 28th, died of his injuries in a Baghdad military medical facility on Tuesday, May 29th.

(4) MNF-Iraq is also reporting the deaths of two Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldiers in an IED attack in a southwestern neighborhood of Baghdad on Wednesday, May 30th. Two other soldiers were wounded in the attack.

(5) According to an article from Reuters AlertNet, NATO has now confirmed that seven soldiers were aboard the Chinook helicopter that was shot down in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, May 30th: five crewmen and two military passengers. The aircraft went down in the Kajaki region of Helmand Province. According to the report, enemy fighters ambushed troops who were responding to the scene of the crash, and an air strike had to be called in.


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Baghdad:
#1: A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died from a non-battle related cause May 29.

#2: Two Multi-National Division-Center Soldiers were killed while on dismounted patrol when a roadside bomb exploded today

#3: Multi-National Division – While conducting combat operations in the southwest section of the Iraqi capital, two Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated May 30. Two other Soldiers were also wounded in the attack.

#4: Iraqi Security Forces and Multi-National Division – While conducting combat operations northwest of the Iraqi capital, a Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was seriously wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated May 28. The Soldier was taken to the Combat Support Hospital but died of wounds May 29.
#5: U.S. forces backed by helicopter gunships clashed with suspected al-Qaida gunmen in western Baghdad in an engagement that lasted several hours. The fighting in western Baghdad's Amariyah neighborhood exploded after residents there called for U.S. help. Members of al-Qaida, who consider the district part of their so-called Islamic State of Iraq, were preventing students from attending final examinations, shooting randomly and forcing residents to stay in their homes, according to an official of the district council. He spoke on condition of anonymity fearing retribution from al-Qaida. Clashes continued into Thursday afternoon, and the council official said the al-Qaida leader in the region, known as Haji Hameed, was killed and 45 other fighters detained. There was no immediate word on the fighting from the U.S. military.

#6: Five gunmen killed Wednesday an Iraqi national police officer outside a bank in the Sheik Marouf neighborhood of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the US military disclosed Thursday. Five gunmen shot dead Lt. Col. Mohammed Shaka Mohammed as he prepared to enter the bank to make a withdrawal. A US-led coalition forces patrol nearby responded to the sounds of small-arms fire. A firefight between the extremists and coalition forces ensued, with one of the gunmen killed. Three civilian vehicles were damaged and there was light damage to surrounding buildings.

#7: A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol wounded three policemen in al-Khadhra district in western Baghdad, police said

#8: Gunmen attacked a police commando patrol, killing a policeman and wounding three others in the Jihad district of southwestern Baghdad, police said.

#9: Around 11.30 am, a roadside bomb exploded at Baladiyat neighborhood( east Baghdad) when an American patrol passed through this area. No casualties recorded.

#10: Around 1 pm, gunmen opened fire on police patrol at Jihad neighborhood( south west) killing 1 policeman and injuring three others.

#11: Around1.30 pm, mortars hit Amil neighborhood ( south west Baghdad ) without casualties recorded. Diyala(66 Km north of Baghdad)

#12: A suicide car bomb detonated at a temporary vehicle checkpoint in the Adhamiyah District of the Iraqi capital, wounding eight U.S. Soldiers and three Iraqi civilians, including a child May 30.

#13: A GWENT father-of-two working as a security guard in Iraq was killed when his vehicle was blown up by an insurgents' roadside bomb just two days before he planned to return home. Kenneth David Clarke, 39, suffered multiple burns in the attack on June 11 last year. Ex-soldier Mr Clarke, from Brynmawr, was in the lead vehicle of a five-strong convoy of lorries transporting ammunitions to and from American Forces base 100 miles north of Baghdad. His widow Karen Clarke told Newport Coroners Court her husband had been unhappy working for Dubai-based company Rover Global Services and was concerned for his safety. He was due to return home on June 13.

#14: In separate incident, a roadside bomb detonated near a U.S. patrol in the Baladiyat district in eastern the capital, according to the source. He, however, added that it was not clear whether there was any casualty among the U.S. soldiers as the troops blocked the area, preventing the Iraqi police from approaching the scene.

#15: 21 bodies in west Baghdad ( Kharkh bank ) ; 4 in Amil , 4 in Bayaa , 3 in Doura , 2 in Jihad ,2 in Saidiya , 2 in Hurriyah , 1 in Jamiaa , 1 in Yarmouk. While there were 8 bodies in east Baghdad ( Rusafa bank) ; 4 in Fadhil , 2 in Sadr city , 2 in Ur. Anbar ( 110 km west of Baghdad)

#16: An Associated Press Television News cameraman was shot twice and killed in Baghdad on Thursday while walking to a mosque near his home on his day off. Saif M. Fakhry, 26, was the fifth AP employee to die violently in the Iraq war and the third killed since December.


Diyala Prv:
Ulaybat:
#1: "Residents of Ulaybat village alerted the police that they found four bodies of farmers dumped in their field in early Thursday," the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq. "The corpses had gunshot wounds in different parts of the body and all of them were blind-folded with hands were tied behind their back," he noted.

Khalis:
#1: Meanwhile, the same source said that "unidentified gunmen opened fire this morning against a civilian in the main marketplace of Khalis city, killing him immediately and fled to unknown place." The source did not identify the dead man or the cause of the killing.

Baquba:
#1: 20 civilians were wounded in clashes that erupted this afternoon between armed groups and U.S. forces in Baaquba," the source, who asked not to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq. He said "the clashes broke out when gunmen attacked a U.S. vehicle patrol near al-Mafriq area in northern Baaquba." The U.S. forces fired back and engaged in clashes with the attackers, the source said. The source, who could not say if there were casualties among the U.S. troops or gunmen, told VOI "20 civilians were wounded in the cross-fire."


Iskandariya:
#1: Gunmen attacked the house of Ubaid al-Masoudi, a tribal leader, injuring him and his wife in the town of Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said


Basra:
#1: Early Thursday, gunmen killed Dr. Muhammad Aziz, who works as a lecturer at Fine Arts Academy in Basra.

#2: Thursday morning, a dead body was found for a servant at Usama bin Zaid mosque in Zubair district ( 35 km west of Basra)who was kidnapped Wednesday evening from his neighborhood at Hay Al-Askri in Zubair .


Tikrit:
#1: Police killed one gunman and arrested two others after attacking their patrol in Tikrit, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

#2: Thursday morning, a policeman was injured in Tikrit by a sniper fire while he was on duty at a check point near Tikrit's bridge


Mosul:
#1: Mosul city mortuary received the bodies of five men, including three Iraqi soldiers, in the northern city of Mosul, a hospital source said.


Kirkuk:
#1: Around 3 pm of Wednesday afternoon, a roadside bomb exploded in front of a policeman's house at Irouba neighborhood in Kirkuk having some damage to the house only.

#2: Wednesday evening at 7.30 pm, gunmen opened fir on people in Kirkuk at Tisaeen neighborhood nea Kirkuk education directorate injuring two civilians .

#3: Wednesday night , gunmen opened fire on a sedan car on Kirkuk –Biji motor way injuring one civilian and kidnapping an official employee.

#4: Around 10 50 am, a roadside bomb targeted an army patrol near Siuf roundabout at Arafa neighborhood in Kirkuk injuring two policemen and two people who were accidentally nearby. Basra ( 549 km south of Baghdad)


Tal Afar:
#1: One man was killed in a rocket attack in Tal Afar, police said

#2: A roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol killed an officer and wounded another soldier in Tal Afar, police said.

#3: A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol wounded four policemen on the road between Sinjar and Tal Afar, 420 km (260 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.


Al Anbar Prv:
Fallujah:
#1: A suicide bomber hit a police recruiting center in Fallujah on Thursday, killing at least 25 people and wounding 50, police said. At least 10 policemen were among the dead in the Fallujah attack, which occurred about 11 a.m., according to a police official in the city who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. Police said the bomber detonated his explosives vest at the third of four checkpoints as he stood among recruits who were lining up to apply for jobs on the force. The center had only been opened on Saturday in a primary school in eastern Fallujah

Ramadi:
#1: A suicide truck bomber killed five people and wounded 15 in Ramadi, 110 km (70 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.




Afghaniatan:
#1: It is with much sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that a British soldier was amongst the seven ISAF soldiers killed on Wednesday 30 May 2007 when the Chinook helicopter that they were travelling in went down near Kajaki in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan.

Seven ISAF soldiers are known dead after a Chinook helicopter flying an ISAF mission went down in Helmand province near Kajaki just after 9 p.m. May 30. The entire crew of five died in the incident; there were also two military passengers who died. One Afghan civilian was injured by small arms fire after the crash.

A BRITON, five Americans and a Canadian died when a Chinook helicopter was apparently shot down in Afghanistan's most volatile province.

#2: Taliban guerrillas ambushed a convoy on Thursday in Afghanistan's southern province of Zabul and killed 16 police officers, an interior ministry spokesman said, the deadliest such attack against the police recently.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

News & Views 05/30/07

Photo: Iraqi's mourn during a burial service for a victim after a raid, in Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Wednesday, May 30, 2007. The victim was the one of two killed people when joint Iraqi American force raided Sadr city early Wednesday, with 2 civilians killed and 4 others wounded as they were sleeping on roofs of their houses the police said. Also two other civilians were arrested on the operation. (AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani)

REPORTS – LIFE IN IRAQ

Iraq Blames Shi’ite Militia for Kidnapping Britons

American forces raided Shiite militia strongholds in eastern Baghdad on Wednesday after the brazen daylight kidnapping of five British contractors from a finance ministry building. The Britons -- a consultant and his four armed bodyguards -- were snatched on Tuesday by a large group of gunmen in Iraqi police uniforms, with the finger of suspicion being pointed at Shiite militias. "We are pursuing this case very vigorously, I would say, because the nature of this kidnapping is very strange," Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told AFP. "The location of this finance ministry computer centre and the nature of the operation and the number of people involved, I think all indicate more a militia than a terrorist group, let's say," he added. In an interview with BBC radio, Zebari noted the raid had taken place near Sadr City, a stronghold for radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, but he told AFP it was too soon to blame a specific group. Nevertheless, the minister said the nature of the kidnapping clearly pointed to the involvement of one of the Shiite militant groups that has infiltrated Iraqi forces, rather than to a Sunni insurgent outfit such as Al-Qaeda.

The US military reported two raids in Sadr City, one of which netted two members of a kidnap gang and the other a six-strong "terrorist cell" accused of smuggling guns, shells and roadside bombs from Iran. Sadr City residents said two of those arrested were Iraqi police, but the military could not confirm the raids were linked to the missing Britons. "We will give support with whatever is necessary to the British embassy, the US embassy and the Iraqi government in order to find these missing British civilians," said US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Garver. Representatives of Sadr's movement, which fields thousands of militia fighters, categorically denied any involvement in the abduction. "Kidnapping operations conflict with the peaceful steps that Sadr advocates and are in direct contradiction with the course his office is adopting now," spokesman Salah al-Ubaidi told AFP from the movement's base in Najaf. The Iraqi presidency, prime minister's office and interior ministry refused to comment.

Witnesses outside the downtown ministry building where the kidnapping took place, said the operation appeared well organised and was carried out by gunmen in official vehicles and uniforms. "They went inside and escorted out the foreigners, but one managed to hide in the basement," said one of ministry's security guards, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals. US forces arrived on the scene an hour later, cordoned off the area and conducted a number of searches, witnesses said. The American troops took the foreigner away, along with several more finance ministry guards.

US Troops Raid Sadr City Again

US forces in Baghdad performed another raid on the impoverished suburb of Sadr City early on Wednesday, killing at least two civilians and wounding four others. According to residents, the operation began early in the morning when US forces began searching houses in the area. The owner of the raided house told the Associated Press that a US armored vehicle stormed the house, smashing through the wall and into their living room. "They (the troops) started shooting at us to lie down on the ground. They were waving their machine guns around and a helicopter was flying very close overhead." He said US troops blindfolded them and started beating them, shouting 'Release the Britons, Release Britons'. "I told them we don't know any Britons, how can we release them if we don't have them? They just kept shouting: 'Bring them out'," he added.

Hospitals Stretched to the Limit

Under-resourced state hospitals struggle to cope with the carnage from suicide attacks and car bombings. Conditions in Baghdad hospitals are never pleasant, but on certain days they can only be described as infernal. April 18 was such a day. A total of five car bombs and suicide attacks across the city killed 191 people and injured several hundred others. Hospitals swelled with victims suffering from internal bleeding, severe burns, and broken bones. Hadi Ahmed, a physician at Kindi hospital, in the Rusafa district of east Baghdad, recalls that on that particular day, more than 600 casualties were brought in. A shortage of beds meant bodies lay strewn in corridors, and even spilled out in the hospital’s garden, he said. Throughout the wards and in the emergency room, over-stretched medical staff struggled to treat the hundreds of injured and traumatised Iraqis caught up in the blast. With car bombings and suicide attacks a frequent occurrence in Baghdad, the massively under-resourced state hospitals are struggling to cope with the resulting carnage. Of the 14 public hospitals scattered throughout the city, most of them are old, cramped and dirty. They lack the staff and equipment to deal with the often-critical injuries sustained by bombing victims. Kindi, the second largest hospital in Baghdad, is located on the quieter eastern side of Baghdad. It receives the bulk of bomb-blast victims, as many injured Baghdadis and taxi drivers refuse to go to hospitals in more volatile areas - such as the largest hospital Madinat al-Tub on Haifa Street, which is an infamous insurgent hotbed. But when people are brought to Kindi with severe burns, mutilated bodies or organs punctured by shrapnel, there is very little doctors can do, as they lack the means to perform sophisticated surgery. “Many of them die because of the small number of staff and the lack of medical supplies,” one doctor there, who wished to remain anonymous, told IWPR. “We even lack the basics to provide first aid,” said Ahmed.

Iran spent millions to restore Iraqi Shia sites

Iran has spent more than 64 million dollars to restore Shia holy sites in neighbouring Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the ISNA news agency reported on Saturday. Mansour Haqiqatpour, who heads Iran’s organization for preserving religious sites, told ISNA that 600 billion rials (64.5 million USD) had been spent to restore sacred sites in Iraq over the past four years. Iraq is home to Shia Islam’s holiest sites, including the tombs of Imam Ali in Najaf and Imam Hussein in Karbala -- both scenes of suicide attacks and sectarian violence since the US-led invasion of Iraq. “One of our plans is to expand the area of the Imam Ali Shrine, building a 70,000 square-meter hall and restoring the interior and the dome,” Haqiqatpour said. “We would be ready to help expand and fortify the holy site of Samarra if security is implemented there,” he said of the mosque where two Shia Imams are buried and whose dome was destroyed in a bomb attack in 2006. Banned for decades, hundreds of thousand Iranian pilgrims have visited Najaf, Karbala and other holy sites since the downfall of Saddam Hussein..

U.S. warplanes pound residential area in Mosul

U.S. warplanes pounded a residential area in Mosul wounding four civilians, a police official in Ninewa province said on Tuesday. "U.S. aircraft bombarded the al-Islah al-Ziraaie neighborhood, southwest of Mosul, on Monday night, seriously wounding a woman and three men," Brig. Abdul-Kareem al-Juburi, director of the Ninewa police command's operations room, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) on Tuesday. The attack also caused severe damage to a number of residential buildings, Juburi added. The source said the U.S. attack was likely waged on the suspicion that there were gunmen present inside one of the houses in the area.

Women forced to give up their jobs, marriages

When Suha Abdel-Azim, 38, received a letter from her boss saying she had to stop working for security reasons, she couldn't believe it. After three years as an engineer for a local company, she was fired without compensation. "I was shocked when they told me I was being fired. I was an excellent worker and had done many fantastic and profitable projects but they didn't want a woman with them any more. They tried to explain, saying it was too dangerous for the company to employ women: the company had received threats," Suha said. "I tried to convince them that I could work from home. I have two children to bring up, and have been alone since my husband was killed by insurgents in 2004 for working for a foreign company, but in vain. They just sent me home," she said. Suha is now unemployed. She has been trying to find a job but as a woman she is finding it difficult.

For other women in Iraq the problem goes beyond unemployment. With spiralling sectarian violence, they are being forced to marry men from their own sect even if they were in love for years with a man from a different sect. "I was in love with a colleague in my college for more than three years. My family were going to accept our marriage but last year when my cousin was killed by [Shia] militants, my parents prohibited me from marrying him," said Nur Abdel-Amir, 23, a Baghdad resident. "For two months now I have been in a forced marriage. He is from my own sect but I don't like him and nor does he love me but we don't have a choice. If I refuse I would die and so I will have to live the rest of my life with a man whom I cannot imagine sleeping with," Nur added.

Women have also been prohibited by Shia militias from teaching other women. The threat has become real after two teachers - one in the mostly Shia Sadr City district and one in Kadhmiyah neighbourhood - were killed after giving lessons to illiterate women near their homes. "They were brave women who stood up against the violence, and tried to promote education among those who had never had the opportunity," Nuha said. "They were killed just because they wanted to help other women to read and write." In many villages, girls have been taken out of school and forced to stay at home without education.

Protests in southern province over powers cuts

Thousands of people went to the streets in the southern Province of Muthana, protesting power and fuel shortages. The demonstration took place in Samawa, Muthana’s capital, with the organizers warning of grave consequence if the current shortages of fuel and power were not addressed. Demonstrations also took place in Rumaitha, a provincial town. Residents say the province has been without electricity in the past few days. The total outage has had detrimental impact on public services. The outage has been aggravated by chronic fuel shortages. The crisis, officials say, is unprecedented in the province’s history. A senior provincial official, Ridaydh Dwaini, blamed the Ministry of Electricity for the crisis. He said the province does not have its own power-generating plant and totally relies on the national grid for supplies. But the ministry says acts of sabotage, particularly of pylons, have increased substantially recently making it very hard to control the national grid.

Uninvited Guests

“We’re caught in the middle here,” says her husband. The middle, for families like this, is between the largely Shiite national police and hard-core Sunni insurgents. He’s grown oranges and dates for years but this year he wasn’t able to spray the trees – his wife shows me a fig with worms in it. Gaines sits down on a wooden bench and waits. It’s a simple house – the rooms radiate out from an interior courtyard with benches cushioned by folded quilts. The huge poster of Mecca favored by Sunni families with a young girl in white praying is neatly taped to the wall. A ceiling fan powered by an electrical line they’re run from a nearby government building moves the still air. The kitchen is a propane gas stove in one room and a refrigerator in the other with plastic dishes stacked in the sink to dry. The family has grown oranges and dates for years but this year the government hasn’t sprayed the orchards in their area. Selma tears open a fig with her fingernail – showing me the tiny worms in it. “There’s no police in this neighborhood – no Iraqi national guard. How am I not supposed to be afraid?” Selma asks. Gaines has heard this before. “They say that because they don’t want me to hang out here. The terrorists know these people don’t really have a choice and we can use whatever house we want and she doesn’t really have a choice either. So really what she needs to do is move in that room for her safety and we will be out as quickly as we can be.” He tells her the family can leave if they like while they use the house. “Where would we go? My relatives live a long way from here. This house is the only thing we have.” It turns out though that her brother-in-law lives near by. Selma and her husband worriedly discuss it and finally decide to leave. “How will we know when we can come back?” she asks. “When the Strykers are gone from the street then you can come back,” Gaines says. They pack up small loaves of bread and food in a plastic tub and go. Gaines stays near the radio. The soldiers who aren’t posting guard stretch out to sleep.

REPORTS – IRAQI MILITIAS, POLITICIANS, POWER BROKERS

'Iraqi police cannot control crime'

Even the Iraqi government today admitted that it could barely trust its own interior ministry police. Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari was frank in spelling out the shortcomings of the interior ministry, well-known for its infiltration by Shia militias from the Mahdi army and other groups. As Mr Zebari pointed out, yesterday's brazen kidnapping was a sophisticated operation, requiring substantial numbers of people to seal off the building, set up roadblocks and to get into the building with such confidence. [When the Interior Ministry was kidnapping and murdering Iraqi civilians, few seemed to note or care. And they have been doing it for years now. – dancewater]

In North Iraq, Sunni Arabs Drive Out Kurds

The letter tossed into Mustafa Abu Bakr Muhammad's front yard got right to the point. "You will be killed," it read, for collaborating with the Kurdish militias. Then came the bullet through a window at night. A cousin had already been gunned down. So Muhammad and three generations of his family joined tens of thousands of other Kurds who have fled growing ethnic violence by Sunni Arab insurgents here and moved east, to the safety of Iraqi Kurdistan. "We had our home in Mosul and it was good there, but things are now very bad between Arabs and Kurds," said Muhammad, 70, standing outside his new, scorpion-infested cinderblock house in the nearby town of Khabat. While the American military is trying to tamp down the vicious fighting between rival Arab sects in Baghdad, conflict between Arabs and Kurds is intensifying here, adding another dimension to Iraq's civil war. Sunni Arab militants, reinforced by insurgents fleeing the new security plan in Baghdad, are trying to rid Mosul of its Kurdish population through violence and intimidation, Kurdish officials said. Mosul, Iraq's third largest city, with a population of 1.8 million, straddles the Tigris River on a grassy, windswept plain in the country's north. It was recently estimated to be about a quarter Kurdish, but Sunni Arabs have already driven out at least 70,000 Kurds and virtually erased the Kurdish presence from the city's western half, said Khasro Goran, the deputy governor of surrounding Nineveh Province and a Kurd.


REPORTS – US/UK/OTHERS IN IRAQ

Turkey bolsters troops on Iraq border

Turkey has reinforced its border with Iraq with large contingents of soldiers, tanks and armored personnel carriers as it urged the U.S. to crackdown on Kurkish rebel bases there and debated staging a cross-border offensive. The Turkish military has said it routinely reinforces the border with Iraq in the summer to prevent infiltration by the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. "The target is to achieve results," Erdogan said Tuesday. "Our patience has run out. The necessary steps will be taken when needed." Casey said the United States wants to continue working with Turkey "to confront the challenges that are posed by PKK terrorism." He said cooperation between the U.S., Turkey and Iraq was the best way to ensure the border region remains peaceful. "Our expectation from the United States and Iraq is to scatter and destroy the bases of the terrorist organization in northern Iraq," Erdogan said. "They either turn them over or send them elsewhere."

COMMENTARY

OPINION: The Meager Food For Souls Forgot

The United States and Iran traded accusations Monday about responsibility for violence in Iraq, but agreed that the goal there should be a stable, democratic country at peace with its neighbors. And if that's not possible, both sides said they'd accept an oil producing hell on earth.

U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker told the Iranians they had to stop arming, funding and training Shiite militants. "We can do that ourselves," said Crocker. "We don't need to farm this out."

Ten American soldiers were killed in Iraq on Monday as Americans back home observed Memorial Day. "I appreciate their sacrifice," said Corban Brett of Salt Lake City, Utah, "but I'm really angry that the Spurs beat the Jazz. I don't know if I'll ever get over that."

Iraqis also observe Memorial Day -- seven days a week, 365 days a year. "We don't have cookouts like the Americans," said Jassim al-Ali of Baghdad, "but you'd be amazed how much meat a burning car can grill in an hour."

Cindy Sheehan has resigned as the "face" of the anti-war movement. "I was the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party," said Sheehan, adding that liberals began attacking her as well when she "started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party." Liberal blogging mastermind Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos said he was sorry that Sheehan felt that way, but conceded, "We still have Dennis Kucinich to shit on."

How to Help Iraqi Refugees

Quote of the day: "To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a wilderness, they call it peace." - Tacitus


Security Incidents for Wednesday, May 30, 07


Boys stand amongst the rubble of a damaged house after a raid by U.S. soldiers in Baghdad's Sadr City May 30, 2007. U.S. forces detained five suspected insurgents and one suspected cell leader during a raid in Sadr city in northeastern Baghdad, the U.S. military said. The raid targeted members of a network suspected of importing roadside bombs and weapons from Iran. REUTERS/Kareem Raheem (IRAQ)


(1) The DoD has announced a new death, not previously reported by CENTCOM. Marine Lance Corporal Emmanuel Villarreal, 21, of Eagle Pass, Texas, died in a non-hostile vehicle accident at Kuwait Naval Base in Kuwait on Sunday, May 27th

(2) The DoD has announced a new death, not previously reported by CENTCOM. Army Specialist Mark Ryan C. Caguioa, 21, of Stockton, California, was severly wounded in a roadside bomb blast in Baghdad on May 4th. He was medically evacuated to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, but died there of his injuries on Thursday, May 24th. Caguioa's godmother has written a lovely tribute to her godson at her blog. She says that he was his mother's firstborn ... and that he will be buried this coming Saturday at the San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio.


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In Country:
#1: Turkey has sent large contingents of reinforcement soldiers, tanks and armored personnel carriers to its border with Iraq as debate heated up over whether to stage a cross-border offensive to hit Kurdish rebel bases.


Baghdad:
#1: Hundreds of American and Iraqi troops have conducted a series of raids in Baghdad. They're apparently searching for five British citizens abducted from a government building yesterday. Residents of Sadr City said the area was sealed off overnight and troops carried out a series of arrest raids that lasted until dawn. Police say two civilians were killed and four others injured in crossfire from gunbattles that broke out during one raid.

#2: Elsewhere today, two people were killed in a roadside bomb attack on a convoy carrying a police commander south of Baghdad.

#3: A civilian was also killed in another roadside bombing targeting a passing police patrol in the Sadr City area of the Iraqi capital

#4: Three people were wounded by a mortar attack in Jamiaa district of western Baghdad, police said

#5: Gunmen killed Colonel Mohammed Shakir, the officer in the directorate of the external roads in the ministry of interior affairs. The incident happened near Buratha mosque in Utefiyah neighborhood north Baghdad around 3,40 pm.

#6: 1 civilian was killed and 3 were injured when a mortar shell hit Al Rasheed wholesale market south Baghdad around 4,15 pm.

#7: 4 civilians were injured in an IED explosion in Amiriyah neighborhood west Baghdad around 5,30 pm.

#8: 1 Iraqi army soldier was killed and 2 others injured in an IED explosion targeted their vehicle in Al Jami’s neighborhood west Baghdad around 6,30 pm.

#9: 23 bodies were found in Baghdad today. 21 bodies were found in Karkh, the western part of Baghdad in the following neighborhoods (10 bodies in Amil, 3 bodies in Doura, 3 bodies in Bayaa, 2 bodies in Mansour, 1 body in Kadhimiyah, 1 body in Shalchiyah, 1 body in Ali Al Salih). 2 bodies were found in Sadr city in Rusafa, the eastern side of Baghdad.
#10: We can confirm that two local embassy employees are missing in a suspected kidnapping," said Gonzalo Gallegos, a State Department spokesman. "We are working with the Iraqi authorities in a sustained effort to find and recover them." Gallegos could not say when the pair went missing and could not confirm reports that they are a married couple who had been killed by insurgents.


Diyala Prv:
#1: The town commissioner Uday Al Khadran said that the police had orders to arrest one of the wanted men from Al Ably family and when they arrived the place, they were attacked by a sniper which led to the death of 3 policemen. He added that the situation developed when a bother of one of the killed policemen broke in the hospital where tow snipers were taken and he killed them. After that many gunmen related to Al Ably family spread in the town and heavy clashes happened which required the involvement of the Iraqi army and the MNF.

Khalis:
#1: Ten people were killed, including four policemen and an Iraqi soldier, on Wednesday in gunfights that erupted in a small town north of Baghdad during a raid to arrest suspected Sunni Arab insurgents, police said. Police imposed an indefinite curfew in Khalis, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, in volatile Diyala province, after the clashes broke out. Five other people, including three policemen, were wounded. Mortar rounds were being fired in the fighting, police said. "The situation now in the town is very dangerous," a police source told Reuters.


Iskandariyah:
#1: Gunmen wounded three policemen when they attacked a checkpoint on Tuesday in the town of Iskandariya, 40 km south of Baghdad, police said.


Amarah:
#1: In Amarah, 320 kilometers (200 miles) southeast of Baghdad, gunmen mowed down Nazar Abdul-Wahid as he stood on a city street, according to a police official in the city who refused to give his name for fear of retribution from militants. Abdul-Wahid worked as a reporter for several Iraqi newspapers and the Voices of Iraq Internet news agency. The 33-year-old father of two was standing on the sidewalk in central Amarah when gunmen in a pick up truck shot him dead at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, police said. Abdul-Wahid also was chairman of a non-governmental organization for young journalists that is funded by the Iraqi government.


Madaen:
#1: A roadside bomb targeting police commandos wounded four policemen on Tuesday in Madaen, 45 km south of Baghdad, police said.

#2: Gunmen killed Brigadier General Ala’a Abdul Razzaq Qasim (a member interior ministry intelligence) and two of hid guards in AL Mada’in town south east Baghdad around 3,30 pm.


Karbala:
#1: Unknown armed men in three civilian cars managed to capture salaries of an Iraqi army unit, 350 million Iraqi dinars, in an ambushed prepared for two army vehicles,” the source, who asked not to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq. “The gunmen stopped the two vehicles, which were carrying six officers, from a military unit in al-Nasr neighborhood, southwest of Karbala, disarmed them, confiscated the money and fled to unknown place,” the source explained. “The police arrested the six officers and started an investigation on the incident,” he noted, adding no further details.


Al-Hamza:
#1: A roadside bomb targeting a police intelligence officer's convoy killed two of his bodyguards and wounded three others, including the officer, police and medical sources said


Salah Ad Din Prv:
#1: “Four senior officers from Tikrit’s Western Region Customs, Salah ad-Din province, have disappeared while in their way to Tikrit coming from Baghdad,” the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).He said that the officers were most likely kidnapped on the road between al-Dujail district and Samarra, 120 km north of Baghdad. “The officers are: Chief of the 2nd Customs Police Department Brigadier Khedr Mahdi, two colonels and a fourth officer,” the source noted.

#2: Meanwhile, the same source said that unknown armed men shot and killed an Iraqi soldier, Mohammad Ibrahim Jasem, on Wednesday in al-Mazaree region in Salah ad-Din province.


Balad:
#1: Five bombs went off consecutively targeting two U.S. patrols in Balad city, destroying a U.S. hummer and minesweeper, a police source said on Wednesday. “Three roadside bombs planted by unidentified gunmen on the main road in Yathereb district, east of Balad, went off in succession on Wednesday, targeting a U.S. vehicle patrol and destroying a minesweeper,” the source, who asked not to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq. “Fierce clashes erupted after the blast between gunmen and the U.S. forces,” he added, noting that the U.S. forces were shooting randomly, killing two passing by civilians.”

#2: Two more bombs exploded on Tuesday night targeting a U.S. military vehicle in al-Qadissiyah neighborhood in Balad city, destroying a hummer,” the source also said.The U.S. forces are cordoning off the neighborhood and “U.S. choppers are still hovering over the area,” he explained.


Basheer:
#1: 3 policemen were injured in 2 IEDs explosions targeting their patrol. The source said that the police patrols responded to a call from one of the farmers who informed about fire in one of the farms near Basheer village today early morning and while the police patrols were in the way to the place, the two IEDs exploded causing the injury of the policemen


Hawija:
#1: A source in the Iraqi police in Hawija district (45Kms west of Kirkuk) sadi that the head of the judicial committee of Hawija had survived from an assassination attempt implemented by gunmen who shot his convoy near Al Khan village on the street of Kirkuk- Hawija north of Baghdad before mid day. The source said that 3 gunmen were killed and one of the guards of judge was killed while two others were injured.


Mosul:
#1: A woman was killed and two policemen were wounded in clashes between gunmen and police in Mosul, police said

#2: A roadside bomb targeting a U.S. patrol wounded two civilians in Mosul, 390 km north of Baghdad, police said.

#3: Two Iraqi policemen were wounded on Wednesday when a car bomb exploded near their patrol vehicle in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, a police source said. "A car bomb detonated today afternoon near a police vehicle patrol in al-Maaridh area in eastern Mosul, wounding two policemen," Brigadier Abdel Karim al-Juburi, head of Ninewa police command's operation room, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq

#4: Meanwhile, head of the police operation room told VOI "two bodies crammed with explosives were found in al-Thawrah neighborhood in western Mosul today." A U.S. vehicle patrol cordoned off the area and managed to defuse the explosives planted inside the two bodies, Brigadier al-Juburi noted.


Kirkuk:
#1: An officer in the Iraqi army was injured when an IED exploded targeting a joint force of Iraqi army and the MNF. The explosion happened in the intersection of Kirkuk- Rashad street west of Kirkuk city at 9,30 am police said. The source added that the targeted vehicle was damaged.

#2: A vehicle of the Iraqi army was damaged in an IED explosion targeted an Iraq patrol near Zghetoon valley on Kirkuk


Al Anbar Prv:
#1: At least nine Iraqi civilians have been killed in a mortar attack apparently targeting a US military base in the city of Fallujah today. The mortars missed their target and slammed into a court building and a residential neighbourhood.

A mortar round hit the Falluja court in al-Jumhouria neighborhood this morning, killing five persons and injuring 20

#2: another mortar shell landed on a residential house in al-Baath neighborhood in central Falluja, killing a civilian and wounding three others from the same family,” the source,

#3: “A third mortar shell hit a U.S. base in central Falluja,” the police source also said, adding no further details on casualties.

#4: Unknown armed men on Tuesday night stormed the house of Abul Rahman al-Essawi, a journalist, in Abu Saleh town in Ameriyah Falluja district, south of Falluja, and opened fire against him and his six-member family, killing them immediately,” the source, who asked not to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq

Abdul-Rahman al-Essawi was killed Monday afternoon when gunmen broke into his home about 15 kilometers (10 miles) west of Fallujah, a former insurgent stronghold in Anbar province. Al-Essawi was shot to death along with his wife, son, father, mother and three other relatives, said Dr. Anas al-Rawi of Fallujah General Hospital where they bodies were taken. Other family members told an Associated Press reporter in Fallujah that al-Essawi was working as a reporter the online NINA news agency and as the media representative of Anbar Salvation Council. The council was formed recently among Sunni tribes in Anbar to fight al-Qaida in Iraq.


Afghanistan:
#1: Coalition and Afghan forces, acting on intelligence reports, were conducting a raid early Wednesday on a compound suspected of housing Taliban fighters near the eastern city of Jalalabad when they came under fire, the coalition said in a statement. A brief gunbattle killed six militants and wounded another, it said, adding that no civilians or coalition forces were wounded. Four militants were detained for questioning, the statement said.

#2: Also Wednesday, a roadside bomb killed four policemen and wounded another in the southern province of Uruzgan, provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Qassim Khan said.

#3: A roadside bombing killed three Afghan guards working for a U.S. security company in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, an official from the company Rahmatullah told Xinhua. The incident took place in Gereshk district at noon, killing three guards of the private U.S. Protection and Investigation (USPI), Rahmatullah said.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

News & Views 05/29/07

Photo: A boy lights candles on a street, for the victims of recent shelling in the Shiite neighborhood of Karradah, Baghdad, late Monday, May 28, 2007. Many occupants of Karradah have been killed in , the last week by mortal shells attacks. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

REPORTS – LIFE IN IRAQ

New Mass Grave in Iraq

Of the 120 reported killed or found dead nationwide on Tuesday, 35 were bodies dumped or buried in a newly dug mass grave in Diyala province. A morgue official in Baqouba, the provincial capital, and a spokesman at the provincial police operations center in the province both reported the same figure, but refused to be named fearing reprisal from al-Qaida militants and Shiite militias battling for control of the region.

In Iraq, Every Day Is Memorial Day

The Shi'ite militias that forced Azhour Ali Mohammed from her home in Baghdad's al-Dolai district last month shot her husband Amer dead before her eyes and torched all her worldly possessions. And the fear that the killers may come back for her and her two little children prevented her from mourning her husband. "I could not hold a proper wake for him," says the young widow. "He deserved at least that." A society with as much experience of violence as Iraq — up to half a million soldiers and civilians were killed in the war with Iran in the 1980s, hundreds of thousands were massacred on Saddam Hussein's orders in the 1990s, and tens of thousands have died in the Shi'ite-Sunni sectarian carnage in the past two years — learns to adapt its mourning traditions to its circumstances. During the war with Iran, Saddam barred newspapers from publishing wake notices; he worried that the sheer numbers of such notices would advertise just how badly his ill-judged war was going and demoralize his subjects. (Ironically, the current Iraqi government has taken a page out of the Saddam's rulebook, suppressing monthly death tolls and barring journalists and photographers from the scene of bomb blasts.) Undeterred by the dictator's orders, Iraqis developed a new custom: families in mourning painted notices on black banners — the name of the deceased, the manner of their death and the date and location of the wake — and posted them on street corners. The practice continued after Saddam's fall. Many of Baghdad's major intersections became festooned with black banners. The mounting death toll from suicide bombings and roadside explosions led to a boom in the funerary industry — coffin makers, grave diggers, caterers. Wakes were often held in mosques, and before sectarian hatreds flared up it was not uncommon for Sunnis to use Shi'ite mosques, or the other way around.

VIDEO: Baghdad Refugees Flee to Kurdistan

Arab Iraqis fleeing to Kurdistan have become an increasingly strong indication of the deteriorating situation in Baghdad. More than 30,000 Iraqis are believed to have fled their homes to Arbil in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region. This week Isam Rasheed takes us to Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish region and one of many cities in Kurdistan now brimming with refugees fleeing violence in the south. The hardships expressed by two families in this episode are just a small indication of the difficulties Iraqis are finding in their new home. According to Ron Redmond, a spokesman for UNHCR, “Those who have fled are becoming increasingly desperate as they and their host communities run out of resources.”

REPORTS – IRAQI MILITIAS, POLITICIANS, POWER BROKERS

Kurds and Shia Fight for Power in Baghdad

An eyewitness to the 14 Sunni men being detained by the Mehdi army spoke with IPS, requesting his name withheld. He believes the U.S. military has taken sides between the militias and are pitting them against one another. "This area was peaceful and the mixture of Shia and Sunni had no dispute whatsoever," he said. "It's the militias who started all the killing in order to divide people and rule them." The situation at southwest Baghdad is so tense that daily gun battles are heard and people cannot leave their houses for work or shopping for food. As of Sunday, U.S. forces in the area are applying a curfew in order to control the situation. During his speech on Friday, al-Sadr announced, "I say to our Sunni brothers in Iraq that we are brothers and the occupier shall not divide us. They are welcome and we are ready to cooperate with them in all fields. This is my hand I stretch out to them." This followed a move a few days prior where Shia leaders from Sadr City in eastern Baghdad met with Sunni tribal heads from western Iraq. Both sides promised to work together for national reconciliation and against extremism. However, most Sunnis do not believe reconciliation is part of al-Sadr's agenda. "The Americans will arrest the Sunni young men only and clear the way for the Mehdi army to work their electric drills on people's bodies," 35-year-old Khalid Aziz told IPS. Aziz claimed he is a member of the Iraqi resistance. "It is all planned by the Americans who now want the Kurds to be involved in the sectarian fighting they engineered," he added. Many analysts in Baghdad believe the U.S. military is attempting to involve the Kurds in the escalating conflict by sending armed groups and death squads of other sects or ethnicities to engage the Kurdish forces in Baghdad in order to drag them into the conflict. However, the Kurds are reportedly attempting to not take sides and to remain neutral in the sectarian conflict, although most of them are Sunnis.

REPORTS – US/UK/OTHERS IN IRAQ

“Security Contractors” in Iraq

At least half a dozen British security companies work in Iraq for the coalition forces, the Iraqi government and private security companies. The figures fluctuate but there may be more than 2,000 contractors, often drawn from special forces or from the armed forces of countries such as Fiji and South Africa. The lead UK company is Aegis Defence Services (ADS), run by the controversial former mercenary Lt Col Tim Spicer, the central figure in the arms-to-Africa scandal of the late 1970s. Three years ago Lt Col Spicer controversially won the $293m contract from the US Army's corps of engineers to coordinate the work of all security companies involved in reconstruction projects. ADS's turnover of £554,000 in 2003 rose to £62m in 2005, three-quarters of which came from Iraq. The Iraqi contract is up for renewal with ArmorGroup, chaired by the former Conservative foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind, as a chief contender. ArmorGroup earned 50% of its £129m revenues from Iraq last year. It is one of the largest security firms in Iraq, with more than 1,200 employees. It says it is the largest convoy escort contractor in Iraq and was involved in about 1,200 missions last year - about 30% of the total number of convoys. ArmorGroup also provides security for the foreign office and the department of international development, and helps with the Iraqi police mentoring programme in Basra.

……. The UK companies are dwarfed by the big American outfits such as Blackwater and DynCorp. DynCorp has been training the Iraq police. The number of US contractors has recently been put at more than 120,000. Since the overthrow of Saddam more than 900 have been killed. The number of UK civilian casualties is unknown.

Check out the new pool in Baghdad

COMMENTARY

Military leaders doubtful about success in Iraq

US MILITARY leaders in Iraq are increasingly convinced that most of the broad political goals President George Bush laid out early this year when he announced his troop build-up will not be met this year and are seeking ways to redefine success.

Worse than the worst

Iraq: it's worse than you can possibly imagine, and worse than we can possibly know. That was the message when the brilliant Middle East reporter, Patrick Cockburn, spoke on stage today at Hay, publicising his book about the British and American occupation of Iraq. Iraq, he said, is a country that's been "hollowed out". Two million people have left. At least 3,000 civilians are murdered every month. The rest live in terror. He told of details that give a real sense of what's going on. Because there are no more open-air markets, since so many have been bombed, people have set up stalls in side streets or their back gardens instead. Before the war, there were 32,000 doctors in Iraq; now 2,000 are dead, 12,000 have left, and the remainder, who are seen as having money and are thus targets for kidnappers, must work from armed-guarded clinics.


IRAQI REFUGEES

Desperate Iraqi Refugees Turn to Sex Trade in Syria

Back home in Iraq, Umm Hiba's daughter was a devout schoolgirl, modest in her dress and serious about her studies. Hiba, who is now 16, wore the hijab, or Islamic head scarf, and rose early each day to say the dawn prayer before classes. But that was before militias began threatening their Baghdad neighborhood and Umm Hiba and her daughter fled to Syria last spring. There were no jobs, and Umm Hiba’s elderly father developed complications related to his diabetes. Desperate, Umm Hiba followed the advice of an Iraqi acquaintance and took her daughter to work at a nightclub along a highway known for prostitution. “We Iraqis used to be a proud people,” she said over the frantic blare of the club’s speakers. She pointed out her daughter, dancing among about two dozen other girls on the stage, wearing a pink silk dress with spaghetti straps, her frail shoulders bathed in colored light.

How to Help Iraqi Refugees

Quote of the day: "You who make harmony in the ultimate reaches of the universe, teach us to make harmony within ourselves, among ourselves and peace for all the children of Abraham and all who dwell upon this planet." ~ Rabbi Arthur Waskow of Philadelphia's Shalom Center.


Security Incidents for Tuesday,May 29, 07

Iraqis ride past a damaged Sunni mosque in Baghdad. (Ceerwan Aziz/Reuters)

(1) MNF-Iraq is reporting the deaths of two Task Force Lightning soldiers in a helicopter crash in Diyala Province on Monday, May 28th. Although the body of the release does not state whether the incident was a result of enemy action or a case of mechanical failure, the title of the release does say "Task Force Lightning Soldiers attacked".

(2) MNF-Iraq is also reporting the deaths of six Task Force Lightning soldiers when "explosions" occurred near their vehicles in Diyala Province on Monday, May 28th. Three other soldiers were wounded in the attack.

(3) Yesterday, we had placed Arkansas National Guardsman Spc. Erich Smallwood in one of these slots for lack of a better place to put him. As Smallwood doesn't appear to match any other previously announced death, we've moved him to a slot of his own and are considering him a new death, not previously reported.
(4) MNF-Iraq is reporting the deaths of two Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldiers in an IED attack in a southern neighborhood of Baghdad on Monday, May 28th.

(5) The British Ministry of Defense has now posted confirmation of the death of a 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment soldier from enemy action in Helmand Province on Monday, May 28th. The NATO posting for the death can be found here.


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In Country:
#1: Escalating fighting and sectarian violence are forcing hundreds of families in Iraq to flee their homes on a daily basis, aid agencies say. According to a report released on Sunday by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), an estimated 822,810 Iraqis are now displaced within their country.


Baghdad:
#1: Gunmen wearing police uniforms abducted at least three western lecturers from a finance ministry building in Baghdad today. The German computer experts were addressing ministry personnel in the city centre building when the kidnappers burst in, a witness told Reuters. Led by a police major, the gunmen entered the conference room shouting: "Where are the foreigners, where are the foreigners?" the witness said.

Five Britons are among a group of foreigners kidnapped in Baghdad Tuesday, the BBC reported. The Foreign Office had said earlier that it was 'urgently' looking into reports that four British security guards were among a group of seven Westerners kidnapped in Iraq. All seven, including three computer programmers thought to be German, were reportedly taken from a finance ministry building in central Baghdad, said the Foreign Office. But the BBC reported later that their correspondent had been told by sources in the Iraqi capital that five Britons and one German were involved.

#2: Earlier today, at least 22 people were killed and 55 others wounded in a bomb explosion in a parked bus in central Baghdad, police said. The blast happened near a major intersection in Tayaran Square, a busy commercial area usually filled with markets. Many day workers, mostly poor Shias, often wait in the square for work.

#3: A civilian was killed and five people were wounded in a car bomb attack targeted the Iraqi police in downtown Baghdad on Tuesday, a well-informed police source said. "A booby-trapped car parking at the busy downtown Baghdad square of Taiyaran, detonated around 1:00 p.m. (0900 GMT) near a police patrol," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. The attack killed a civilian and wounded five others, including two policemen, the source said.

#4: A second car bombing in the Amil district in western Baghdad killed 15 people and wounded 36, police said. No further details on the second blast were immediatly available. Cars were riddled with shrapnel, pushcarts flipped upside down and smoke rose into the sky, witnesses said. Firefighters rushed to the scene and rescuers tried to pull the wounded out of cars, they said.

Casualties from the car bomb explosion that took place on Tuesday afternoon in Baghdad’s southwestern neighborhood of al-Aamal increased to 37, including 22 dead and 15 wounded, a security source said.

Diyala Prv:
#1: An American helicopter went down in restive Diyala province, killing two soldiers.

#2: Six Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed when explosions occurred near their vehicles while conducting operations in Diyala Province, Monday. Three other Soldiers were also wounded in the incident and were taken to a Coalition Forces’ medical treatment facility

Baquba:
#1: The Baaquba public hospital received 21 unidentified bodies on Tuesday, a medic from the Diala health department said. "The hospital's forensic medicine received 21 bodies found by policemen or reported by residents in the city," the source, who asked not to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq


Suwayra:
#1: Police retrieved the bodies of five men, two of whom were decapitated, from the Tigris river in the town of Suwayra, 40 km south of Baghdad, police said


Basra:
#1: Unidentified gunmen opened fire at Capt. Munther Rahim in the area of al-Jumhuriya in Basra on Monday evening, killing him instantly," the source, who refused to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) by telephone. He said Rahim used to work as director of a criminal intelligence department in Basra.

#2: In a separate incident two policemen were wounded during the early hours of Tuesday when a Joint Coordination Center building in al-Haikimiya, central Basra, came under shelling attacks, the source added.

#3: Another policeman was injured in clashes on Tuesday between the British forces and gunmen in the area of al-Qibla, (8 km) west of the city," the source said


Balad:
#1: police patrols in Balad district, Salah al-Din, found on Tuesday a civilian's body that showed signs of having been shot, the source said, giving no further details


Samarra:
#1: In other violence, gunmen in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, set up fake checkpoints on the outskirts of the city and abducted more than 40 people, most of them soldiers, police officers and members of two tribes that had banded together against local insurgents, police said.


Shurqat:
#1: Two policemen were killed and three others wounded when an explosive charge went off near their patrol in the city of al-Shurqat, 80 km south of Mosul, on Tuesday, a police source said.

#2: (?) Gunmen killed two policemen and wounded three in the town of Shirqat, 80 km south of Mosul, police said.


Kirkuk:
#1: Unidentified gunmen killed the editor-in-chief of a weekly newspaper published in Kirkuk in front of his house in the predominantly-Turkoman neighborhood of al-Musalla, northern Kirkuk, a police source said. "Mahmoud Hassib al-Qassab, the editor of al-Hawadeth weekly, was an ethnic Turkoman and the fourth journalist to be killed in Kirkuk this month," the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq


Mosul:
#1: U.S. warplanes pounded a residential area in Mosul wounding four civilians, a police official in Ninewa province said on Tuesday. "U.S. aircraft bombarded the al-Islah al-Ziraaie neighborhood, southwest of Mosul, on Monday night, seriously wounding a woman and three men," Brig. Abdul-Kareem al-Juburi, director of the Ninewa police command's operations room, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) on Tuesday. The attack also caused severe damage to a number of residential buildings, Juburi added.


Al Anbar Prv:
Fallujah:
#1: Unknown gunmen booby trapped the bridge linking al-Amiriya and al-Khalidiya city, 30 km southwest of Falluja," the source, who refused to have his name mentioned, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). The perpetrators planted explosive charges at the edge of the bridge, which caused severe damage to the structure when detonated. However, the source did not indicate whether any casualties resulted from the blast.

Monday, May 28, 2007

News & Views 05/28/07

Photo: A medic helps an injured Iraqi woman at Kirkuk hospital Monday , May 28, 2007. The woman is one of the six who was injured after a roadside bomb exploded in Kirkuk city center, and which targeted a police patrol, injuring 5 policemen and one woman, Kirkuk police said. (AP Photo/Emad Matti)

REPORTS – LIFE IN IRAQ

Wounds run deep for children of Iraq war

The day his mother and brother died is permanently one that eight-year-old Iraqi Ziad Irhaima will never forget, as the cauterised stump of one of his arms serves as a permanent reminder. Irhaima’s lost family members are only two of the countless and largely anonymous victims of the more than four years of bloodshed that has convulsed Iraq and inflicted deep and lasting wounds on its children. The UN children’s fund Unicef has called for an additional $42 million to fund child health initiatives and warned of the dire state of children’s health in the war-torn country. The spectre of disease is all the more frightening because of the gutting of the country’s public health system, which has suffered from a mass exodus of doctors and other trained professionals. The violence and displacement has also cut off thousands of families from health care, preventing children from receiving treatment for the physical and psychological wounds inflicted by the appalling violence. “I will never forget the image of my mother and brother lying on the ground covered with blood,” Ziad says, referring to the aftermath of a car bomb intended for the local courthouse in his hometown of Kirkuk, north of Baghdad. His physical injuries will not prevent him from one day leading a relatively normal life, but the psychological impact of the attack will last a lifetime, as it will for thousands of Iraqi children.

…… The relentless violence in Iraq will leave behind not only an entire generation of traumatised children like Nawzad, but hundreds of permanently disabled children without proper medical care.

Iraqi Deputy Claims US, British Forces Killed 15 Civilians

An Iraqi deputy claimed that US and British fighter jets bombarded civilian areas in Baghdad and Basra, 550 kilometres south of the capital, killing at least 15 people and wounding 20 others. Salih al-Ekeily, a member of the Sadr faction in parliament, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that buildings - homes to civilians - and a large crowd of people near a gas station were struck by US forces near dawn, in the Shiite-dominated Sadr City. He claimed that 10 people were killed, 10 others wounded and 30 cars caught fire in this incident. Referring to a second violent incident, al-Ekeily said that five people were killed and 10 were wounded when British forces 'targeted civilians in Basra overnight.' The deputy added: 'This is a crime. Both the Iraqi and foreign forces should take full responsibility for these acts.'

"Baghdad is a smashed city..."

Baghdad is a SMASHED city…no roads to drive on…most of them are closed off by concrete obstacles with concertina wire. In addition, the presence of the Iraqi military, who cover their faces with black masks and hold their guns in such a way that when you see them you will definitely be afraid that they will shoot you. The shops in most of the area I went to see are closed. I asked one of the shop owners I know, 55-year-old Abu Fadhil, since I heard that his shop was robbed. I found his door closed and locked and he was nowhere to be found. Later, on my way to Sadr City, I found that two of the three roads which lead all the way from south to north Baghdad are either partially or totally closed in some places. You still remember the highways in Baghdad…well now most of them are closed, or at least fenced off with obstacles, yet they say there is some progress in the security situation inside the city! Everyday two or three cars explode across Baghdad, killing big numbers of civilians. When I returned to my neighborhood of al-Adhamiya, I couldn’t get in unless the soldiers checked my ID and my car, even though the guards are from the same neighborhood and they know me personally. But they had to check it to ensure that no car bombs might happen. Nevertheless, daily mortars shell my neighborhood and those are out of control, despite this concrete wall placed by the Americans which now surrounds our neighborhood. Despite all that they do, they cannot bring security to our small neighborhood.

Extremists Threaten New Gov’t Internet Project in Universities

Islamic extremists who believe that the Internet can spread immoral and un-Islamic behaviour say that they will sabotage plans by the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to link the country’s science centres electronically and offer free Internet access to students. “On the Internet, the youth can find different kinds of information, many of which is unhealthy. Couples strike up friendships through the Internet and spread vice,” said Abu Muhammad, who said he is a spokesman for the Islamic Army, an armed insurgent group in Iraq. “We don’t agree that such services should be offered and will do whatever is needed to prevent this system from working properly in Iraq. Pornographic sites are easily accessible and the youth adopt bad habits which cannot be accepted in an Islamic country,” Abu Muhammad added. Nearly 200 Internet centres are to be set up in universities across the country with the aim of helping students do their research work. “The use of the Internet was banned under [former President] Saddam Hussein’s regime. The ban led the country to lag behind in information technology. The current proposal is to improve the culture of our students and help them to acquire more knowledge about what is happening in the rest of the world,” said Hisham Abdul-Azim, a senior official in the education ministry and one of the project designers.

Thank you, appreciated …

After four years of liberation we've got a lot of things and we've realized a lot of achievements like: We don't like the government which we've elected and it's obvious that we regret voting for it. We started feeling ashamed of saying that we are Muslims because of all of the continuous crimes that have contorted true Islam. But the world needs to know that the Iraqi Muslims are not behind these crimes as we have been living together for hundreds of years and we haven't witnessed this kind of sectarian and racist issues. We mustn't forget the freedom and the respect that we've gained as individuals from the Iraqi leaders and the leaders of other countries. The President of Iraq has left to the United States of America for medical treatment while my wife has cancer and I can't take her even to Syria for treatment like many other Iraqis do.

“We Couldn’t Even Get A Single Chair To remind Us of the Good Old Days”

Mustafa Abdul-Muta'al, 42, says he cannot bear seeing his nine-member family live as displaced persons. He blames his plight on the government which did not compensate him after his house was destroyed two years ago in an insurgent attack in Ramadi. Abdul-Muta'al says he is tired of hearing promises that his compensation will soon be paid. With his wife suffering from cancer and two sons seriously malnourished, he is desperately trying to find a way to win his rights and take his family back to a safer place.

"We had a prosperous life and for years we lived in our house with full security. After an attack in my neighbourhood in Ramadi, my house was totally destroyed and one of my sons died during the assault. He had remained behind in Ramadi to look after the house while we had fled to Baghdad to escape the violence in our home city. "Of course, the tragedy that took my son's life is the worst, but I couldn't believe it when I saw my beautiful house that took me years to build with everything inside destroyed. "We couldn't even get one single chair to remind us of the good old days because everything was burned. When we fled to Baghdad we didn't take with us more than a few clothes and some food. When we returned to Ramadi we found we were not only homeless but had lost everything in our home. "The government promised to compensate all families who lost property during the attacks but two years have since passed and all I hear is that they intend to pay soon, and that because of a shortage of funds, some families will be paid later.

US, Iraqi troops find Qaeda prison camp in Iraq

U.S. and Iraqi troops raided a suspected al Qaeda prison camp north of Baghdad and freed 41 men, some of whom said they had been held for four months, the U.S. military said on Monday. The air and ground operation on Sunday followed a tip-off from a local resident. The camp was six miles south of Baquba in Diyala province, where many insurgents have set up new bases to escape a major security crackdown in Baghdad. "The individuals, who were living in a small, concrete and mud compound ... were sleeping in cramped rooms on dirty blankets and pillows," the military said in a statement. Iraqi police confirmed the raid and said the whereabouts of the prisoners' captors were not known. Al Qaeda militants typically kill their captives soon after abducting them and have not been known to operate such camps. [No mention of all the prisoners in US camps in Iraq. – dancewater]

REPORTS – IRAQI MILITIAS, POLITICIANS, POWER BROKERS

Gathering the Tribes

At his home in Ramadi, capital of Anbar province and a onetime Iraqi insurgent stronghold, Sheik Shakir Saoud Aasi is enjoying after-dinner cigars with his guest of honor, battalion commander Lt. Col. Craig Kozeniesky of the 2/5 Marines. Around the room, Marines and Iraqi tribesmen and police are sitting together, swapping jokes and stories. Some of these Iraqis were probably shooting at Americans less than a year ago. Now they and the Marines are fighting side by side against Al Qaeda. "We are not just friends but also brothers," the sheik tells Kozeniesky. "This is a new beginning for both of us." Kozeniesky can only agree: "Things have changed dramatically." A 5-year-old Iraqi boy in traditional robes and headdress is racing around the room and vaulting into U.S. troops' laps. What does he want to be when he grows up? He proudly announces: "American general named Steve!" The Pentagon is praying that its new allies will reconfigure the war. The success of the Ramadi experiment has given rise to hopes that the model can be applied elsewhere in Iraq. A year ago insurgents were launching nearly 30 attacks a day in the city; now the daily average is less than one.

………. But even as the Americans rejoice in Ramadi's transformation, they worry that it may not last. [No kidding. – dancewater]

Sadr purges movement following defection of aide to U.S.

Shiite Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is reported to be keen to put a new face to his movement already embroiled in sectarian revenge and death squads. Since his resurfacing following nearly four months of absence from Iraqi political scene, the young and charismatic Shiite leader has held several meetings with his aides to “restructure the movement whose ranks has been infiltrated by enemies,” officials close to the cleric said. Speaking on condition of anonymity, they said Sadr’s sudden emergence and his meetings have been prompted by the defection of one of his most senior aides, former Health Minister Ali al-Shammari. Shammari, who had resigned his post on Sadr’s orders for his movement to leave the government, has sought asylum in the U.S. which Sadr sees as an enemy. The sources said Shammari was close to Sadr and had insider information of the movement’s influence, spread and organization. The movement fears that Shammari might have passed to the U.S. confidential information on how the movement procures arms and training and the links it has with Iran. Since Shammari’s defection, U.S. generals in Iraq have been producing what they described as ‘evidence’ of Iran’s involvement in arming Iraqi insurgent groups and militia factions. Shammari is also reported to have passed lists of the movement’s military leaders, their whereabouts and functions. Shammari was moved to the U.S. from Baghdad by a special military plane. His defection is seen is a blow to Sadr. But one the movement says Shammari was not that senior and influential.


REPORTS – US/UK/OTHERS IN IRAQ

What Congress Really Approved: Benchmark No. 1: Privatizing Iraq's Oil for US Companies

On Thursday, May 24, the US Congress voted to continue the war in Iraq. The members called it "supporting the troops." I call it stealing Iraq's oil - the second largest reserves in the world. The "benchmark," or goal, the Bush administration has been working on furiously since the US invaded Iraq is privatization of Iraq's oil. Now they have Congress blackmailing the Iraqi Parliament and the Iraqi people: no privatization of Iraqi oil, no reconstruction funds. This threat could not be clearer. If the Iraqi Parliament refuses to pass the privatization legislation, Congress will withhold US reconstruction funds that were promised to the Iraqis to rebuild what the United States has destroyed there.

U.S. ambassador describes talks with Iranians as positive

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker described as positive the outcome of the U.S.-Iranian talks that were held on Monday in Baghdad. At a press conference, Crocker said the U.S. and Iranian stances towards Iraq are similar to a great extend. "But the U.S. wants to see some Iranian acts complying with what was declared today," he said. About the Iranians' consideration of the Multi-National forces in Iraq as occupation troops, the U.S. diplomat said these forces are present in Iraq upon the request of the Iraqi government, adding that the U.S. side spent millions of dollars to rehabilitate the Iraqi security forces. Regarding the Iraqi role in the talks, Croker said that Iraq had no role, but was the host and the leading country for the negotiations. [Yeah, that will work! – dancewater]

US “Security” Forces Open Fire in Baghdad

Employees of Blackwater USA, a private security firm under contract to the State Department, opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days last week, and one of the incidents provoked a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. A Blackwater guard shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday near the Interior Ministry, according to three U.S. officials and one Iraqi official who were briefed on the incident but spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation. On Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle in which the security contractors, U.S. and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing in a congested area.

….. Blackwater's security consulting division holds at least $109 million worth of State Department contracts in Iraq, and its employees operate in a perilous environment that sometimes requires the use of deadly force. But last week's incidents underscored how deeply these hired guns have been drawn into the war, their murky legal status and the grave consequences that can ensue when they take aggressive action.

……. A statement released by the military said that the "security unit" requested assistance and that Apache helicopters attached to the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, arrived before ground forces. Mohammed Mahdi, 37, an employee at a veterinary drugstore, said the combined American forces unleashed a fury of gunfire near the Amanat, the municipal headquarters located in the heart of downtown Baghdad. Before taking cover in his store, Mahdi said, he saw two people killed and one wounded near the city's legal registry. A U.S. Embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Blackwater contractors "did their job," enabling the State Department employees to be extracted without injuries. The U.S. military said no American soldiers were killed or wounded during the attack. Mahdi said that the battle lasted for nearly an hour and that when he emerged he saw four mini-buses, a taxi and an Opel sedan containing dead and wounded. He said that he saw "at least four or five" people "who were certainly dead" but that he did not know how the people were killed, who killed them or whether they were civilians or combatants. There were people yelling: 'There's someone dead over here! Come!' " he said. "And another saying: 'There's someone wounded over here. Come and get them.' "

Doubts Grow as GI’s In Iraq Find Allies in Enemy Ranks

“In Mosul, in 2003, it felt like we were making the city a better place,” he said. “There was no sectarian violence, Saddam was gone, we were tracking down the bad guys. It felt awesome.” But now on his third deployment in Iraq, he is no longer a believer in the mission. The pivotal moment came, he says, this past February when soldiers killed a man setting a roadside bomb. When they searched the bomber’s body, they found identification showing him to be a sergeant in the Iraqi Army. “I thought, ‘What are we doing here? Why are we still here?’ ” said Sergeant Safstrom, a member of Delta Company of the First Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. “We’re helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us.” [And anyone who is surprised at this development should go get a ‘color me stupid’ teeshirt and wear it constantly. – dancewater]


COMMENTARY

I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose. We Were Both Doing Our Duty.

Among the hundreds of messages that my wife and I have received, two bore directly on this question. Both held me personally culpable, insisting that my public opposition to the war had provided aid and comfort to the enemy. Each said that my son's death came as a direct result of my antiwar writings. This may seem a vile accusation to lay against a grieving father. But in fact, it has become a staple of American political discourse, repeated endlessly by those keen to allow President Bush a free hand in waging his war. By encouraging "the terrorists," opponents of the Iraq conflict increase the risk to U.S. troops. Although the First Amendment protects antiwar critics from being tried for treason, it provides no protection for the hardly less serious charge of failing to support the troops -- today's civic equivalent of dereliction of duty. What exactly is a father's duty when his son is sent into harm's way? Among the many ways to answer that question, mine was this one: As my son was doing his utmost to be a good soldier, I strove to be a good citizen. As a citizen, I have tried since Sept. 11, 2001, to promote a critical understanding of U.S. foreign policy.

…….. Not for a second did I expect my own efforts to make a difference. But I did nurse the hope that my voice might combine with those of others -- teachers, writers, activists and ordinary folks -- to educate the public about the folly of the course on which the nation has embarked. I hoped that those efforts might produce a political climate conducive to change. I genuinely believed that if the people spoke, our leaders in Washington would listen and respond. This, I can now see, was an illusion. The people have spoken, and nothing of substance has changed.

Comment

In the shadow of 9/11, dissent has been at pains to demonstrate its patriotic vigor. While holding on to some inchoate sense of America's wholesomeness, we prefer to see the nation as having been misled into war rather than bear responsibility for our own willing acquiescence. In truth, American troops are now stuck in Iraq because most Americans were willing to accept the flimsiest of justifications for war. Bush and Cheney tricked the nation and Congress into supporting the war but it's easier to focus on their trickery than on the ease with which this country could be tricked. What does it say about a country (and not simply its government) that war could be embarked upon so casually? The war in Iraq -- the casual war -- won popular support for no better reason than that it served to boost American pride in the aftermath of the humiliation of 9/11. The promise of an easy victory sealed the deal. That there is now popular opposition to the war says nothing about any self-knowledge or critical awareness that America as a nation might have acquired in the last four years. Now, just as then, America sees itself set apart from the world. An adventure in domination has turned sour; in its wake comes the desire to retreat. The world we cannot master, remains a world by which we still seem unwilling to be instructed. [I remember pre- Iraq war days and how amazed I was at how many people in America who “drank the kool-aid”! And this commentator is right: they have mainly learned nothing, except that we are losing. – dancewater]

Behind the eyes of the warmongering US hawks

While the foreign policy think-tank Chatham House declares Iraq to be on the point of total collapse, the intellectual architects of pre-emptive war continue to attract surprisingly respectful media attention. One can be revolted - but not surprised - at the spectacle of Bush and Blair, the Laurel and Hardy of the War on Terror, congratulating each other on their strategic vision from the White House lawn. But whose bright idea was it to let Richard Perle, the US hawk known as the 'prince of darkness', make a PBS documentary arguing that the world needs more military 'interventions'? And what explains the ubiquitous media presence of John Bolton, the troglodyte former US ambassador to the UN? Only last week Bolton was interviewed by John Humphrys on the Today programme. ………… It wasn't just that Bolton's arguments were bizarre and illogical to the point of insanity, such as his description of Humphrys and the millionaire philanthrophist George Soros as members of the 'extreme left'. Or his ludicrous assertion that the invasion of Iraq has laid the basis for a more stable and peaceful Middle East. It wasn't even his fanaticism, his arrogance and his utter contempt for the opinions of the non-American world. What is striking about Bolton is the savagery and homicidal intent that shows through the statesmanlike patter. [Why is this guy not in prison? – dancewater]

…….. Perle, Bolton and co often pontificate on the unique moral evil of terrorism. But in their contempt for human life and their appetite for war they are not that different from Osama bin Laden. Unlike Osama, they will not be found in the Hindu Kush carrying a Kalashnikov. They are war trolls, endlessly manipulating the public from TV studios. In this sense they are more like the Roman senators who grew rich and fat while the legions went out to 'create a wasteland and call it peace', as Tacitus once put it.

Operation Freedom From Iraqis

WHEN all else fails, those pious Americans who conceived and directed the Iraq war fall back on moral self-congratulation: at least we brought liberty and democracy to an oppressed people. But that last-ditch rationalization has now become America’s sorriest self-delusion in this tragedy. However wholeheartedly we disposed of their horrific dictator, the Iraqis were always pawns on the geopolitical chessboard rather than actual people in the administration’s reckless bet to “transform” the Middle East. From “Stuff happens!” on, nearly every aspect of Washington policy in Iraq exuded contempt for the beneficiaries of our supposed munificence. Now this animus is completely out of the closet. Without Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz to kick around anymore, the war’s dead-enders are pinning the fiasco on the Iraqis themselves. Iraqis are clamoring to get out of Iraq. Two million have fled so far and nearly two million more have been displaced within the country. (That’s a total of some 15 percent of the population.) Save the Children reported this month that Iraq’s child-survival rate is falling faster than any other nation’s. One Iraqi in eight is killed by illness or violence by the age of 5. Yet for all the words President Bush has lavished on Darfur and AIDS in Africa, there has been a deadly silence from him about what’s happening in the country he gave “God’s gift of freedom.” It’s easy to see why. To admit that Iraqis are voting with their feet is to concede that American policy is in ruins. A “secure” Iraq is a mirage, and, worse, those who can afford to leave are the very professionals who might have helped build one. Thus the president says nothing about Iraq’s humanitarian crisis, the worst in the Middle East since 1948, much as he tried to hide the American death toll in Iraq by keeping the troops’ coffins off-camera and staying away from military funerals. [bush does not care about our troops, much less the Iraqis. – dancewater]

How to Help Iraqi Refugees

Quote of the day: Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.'s life is priceless. Don't believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier's life: I've been handed the check. It's roughly what the Yankees will pay Roger Clemens per inning once he starts pitching next month. – Andrew J. Bacevich